ENGLISH SETTER CLUB OF AMERICA, INC. | SECOND 25 YEARS
The Second Twenty-Five Years
By George M. Rogers
Somehow, through the sheer fun and periodic joy which comes with occasional success, men, women and even boys and girls have contributed much to the second twenty-five years of the continued existence of the famed English Setter Club of America. It has, in fact, been far more then a mere existence. The Club has grown in stature during its late years. It has maintained the standards achieved and etched in time by the Club's founders. A face lifting so to speak, has not been its only obvious tribute to the country side, but it has soundly embedded its roots in the community in which it lives.
The club's small share of business in the area is sought after and it has glistened during good years and bad under an A+ credit rating. More than this, its facilities as a public boarding kennel have gained renown in many states. It was not uncommon during and after the second World War to receive cablegrams from overseas that dogs were being shipped to this country in care of the English Setter Club of America. Records are not available as to when the boarding kennels were established at the Setter Club. During the early years of the club, the grounds were known as the "Friends of the Hunting Dog." This was more or less a holding company, formed by the founders of the English Setter Club to retain the grounds for the club and for field trials. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the boarding kennels were opened to members and the public soon after 1916, perhaps not until 1918 or 1920. One of the early superintendents Harry Lenard and his regime carried well into the late twenties.
From 1930 through 1945, the kennels had two, perhaps three, periods of modernization, which involved sizeable capital improvements. Not less than ten to twelve thousand dollars have been invested in new building and kennel improvements during the past twenty years; the latest improvement was the new building with heat for winter service. Each year, except for an occasional downward line on the chart, has shown a steady increase in the public's acceptance of the kennel facilities. The peak vacation months during the summer often find the kennel filled with about a hundred dogs. The low periods are the shooting season when the average is between twenty and thirty, with occasional week-end boarders improving the average.
Soon after the second twenty-five years were under way, the English Setter Club Memorial Park established. The site selected was the hill back of the pines, overlooking the breakaway point for the field trial starters. Here in this final resting place are found many well-known names of great bird dogs, as well as the affectionate pets of homes. It has not been unusual in the past, as we have gathered for the burial of a fine hunting companion, to see men tenderly lift their dog's body from their car and carry it boxed to the Memorial Park, where they watched thoughtfully and tearfully, as their beloved dog was laid to rest.
Not all of the club's features have been so somber. Rather there have been many colorful programs and incidents. These include horse shows, bench shows, spring dog auctions, based upon the same principles as the annual yearlings horse sales, summer picnics and parties. Long and enjoyable meetings of the committees and membership planning for the future have been a part of the pleasant expectancy of membership in the Setter Club.
As in many organizations, there have been heartaches and misunderstandings, as well as a constant endeavor to establish and maintain good policies. This success story, and it is a success story, can be attributed to the Club's fine Presidents, its Board of Governors, and the honored men and women, living and dead, who are mentioned elsewhere in this Golden Anniversary book.
It is difficult to impartially highlight the most impressionable happenings of the Club during the last two decades and a half. Perhaps it was the renovation of the interior of the present club house or the arrival of the furnishings and antique furniture now in use, sent to the Club by Ray Hoagland's charming mother. It could have been the burning of the mortgage in 1938. The amount was $10,000 and was paid in full after eight exciting years of co-ordinated effort on the part of the membership and the Ladies Auxiliary. The mortgage was burned at twilight following the completion of one of the Club's impressive events. A great fire was kindled on the lawn in front of the club house, and the mortgage which had hung heavily over the grounds for many years was destroyed.
There are others who might think the reduction of the old barn to its present controllable size and the renovation of the outer buildings would be an accomplishment of strong significance. True there were springs, following the havoc wrought by winter storms and March winds, when it was highly questionable if it was safe to stable a horse on the ground floor of the massive old hay barn. Equally important in the parade of progress at the club were the new rest rooms in the old carriage shed.
Yet, these are material things for everyone to see and to know. We linger longer, we are sure, over memories of the exciting bird dog races we have seen around the hill at Medford. Based upon public opinion, the feature events of the English Setter Club have been the Free-For-All, the Spring Member's All-Age, and the Fall Amateur All-Age. Here again, fond memories flush through our minds in a whirlpool of colorful recollections. There were fine exhibitions of natural talents, of sterling nose, and unusual displays of speed and range. To draw a circle around a single exhibition would be next to impossible. There have been so many striking performances over the years. To place emphasis on a few items would be to arrest attention to the remark made some twenty years ago by the late Dr. T.W. Shore and Henry P. Davis. Both were judging that particular year. They rode up the incline from the bird field following the final race in the Free-For-All and ordered six dogs back for a second series. Quote by Henry Davis, "We have six dogs capable of winning this event, and the only way to eliminate them is to cross off the dog which winks an eye-lash after he points." This is a fair example of excellent exhibitions turned in by the starters over the years at the Setter Club.
Perhaps some of you will remember the sterling exhibition of Dr. Blue Willing over these grounds, or for that matter such dogs as Yankee Doodle Jack, Evergreen Jersey Mack, Seaview Rex, Carolina Frank, Seaview Babblebrrok Ben, Eagle Ferris, Sport's Peerless, Sport's Peerless Pride, Farmwood Yankee, Rumson Farm Queen, Young's Billie and many, many others. Many important bird dogs commenced their career on the hill at Medford. They have in the past exchanged hands for more than a clerk's salary for a full year. More than a few of these have moved on to important titles, bearing the banners of seasoned sportsman and under the careful tutelage of the top handlers who made an annual trek to the English Setter Club's Spring trials. All of this has played an important role in the education of men and dogs. For men, too, have risen to national recognition in the field trial world after running their first dog at the Setter Club.
It is fitting then that the club has not only lived to celebrate its Golden Anniversary but has lived with a purpose. Hard pressed men of the business world have not only found diversion but in a sense have become true sportsmen; young men have matured rapidly under the stiff banter of companionship which occurred beneath the spreading shade of the maples or by the bright fire in the club house. The education goes further still for such a club furnishes an opportunity for exploration of blood-lines and helps furnish a full understanding of the foundation of the pointers and setters in competition today.
True, a full complement of committees and a consistently substantial membership have contributed fully to the successful operation of the Club during its second twenty-five years. Yet there was a period following the financial crash of 1929, when the Club was balanced upon the very edge of despair. The problem was not limited to economics; rather the power plant had slowed for lack of encouragement. Absentee management was taking its toll. Perhaps all would have been lost had it not been for the tenacious insistence of the late lamented Raymond Hoagland. Ray Hoagland possessed the ingenious ability to suggest ways and means of lifting the Club up by its own boot straps. Coming from anyone else these suggestions would have most likely been discarded, but coming from Ray Hoagland they inspired and these inspirations were turned into acts and deeds, moving the club forward again to a strong position. Ray Hoagland's close vigilance and sage advice during the early portion of the second twenty-five years undoubtedly played one of the most important roles in the fifty years of the English Setter Club of America.