Horses are woven into the life of Florence Walrath, from beginning to end. She rode them, fell off of them, watched them, and at one point she said she understand there was something to them that was much more than four legs and a mane. On page 7, she tells the story of the Morgan Horse that saved her parent's lives and helped them see them in a special light that affected her entire life. Florence left school early, and her journal writing reflects the spare farmer's country idiom. It is not polished, but powerful and clear. And very succinct. The old farm journals I have read are lessons in clarity and economy of words. There was risk to life in the country then, a simple shopping trip could be a life or death experience.
"We sometimes sent to the movies in Cambridge."No cars then." Dad and my brothers drove Dock. Mother, Blanche and I drove dolly, the Morgan. On the way home the horses felt so good Dad would say we will race you. Dad and the boys always won. You see, Dolly was once owned by Bob Shephard, the mailman, and although she did not stop, out of habit, she turned in at each mail box. My excuse was that slowed us down."
The little Morgan was really some horse. She did not care for the boys and would not let them catch her in the field so Dad would say, go get Florence. I was always lucky she came to me. We could climb over, under and around her. The boys would back up to her, grab her back legs and lift her up. She never did a thing. The boys would try to rake hay with her and she often backed them down a hill or some other thing. So again, Dad would say, go get Florence…
The real story of Dolly was the day in January Dad and Mother went to Troy to shop. It was cold and snowing that day. It was early in the morning as they had to catch the train at Eagle Bridge. They put the horse in the stable at the old hotel and away they went. The storm really set into a blizzard all day. When they got back to Eagle Bridge that night, the man told them they would have to stay all night as no one had got through all day. Dad said I can't. We have four children at home. I've got to get there. The man said, I'll loan you a horse that little mare will never make the trip. Dad said, got any oats?, well, give her six quarts, which he did. After giving her time to finish her grain, he started for home. The man called him all sorts of fool, etc., not even a team had come through so there were no tracks, by that time it was dark and they only guess where the road was.
The going was so bad they broke traces, tipped over and snow was so deep the little mare would pick up one foot, place it and do the same with the others. Places like that was inch by inch. Dad had thoughts of wishing he had not been so stubborn, but start he did so on he must go. They were hours coming but Dad said the little mare never gave up trying. Dad feed her again, bedded her down and came in saying "That little Morgan is worth her weight in gold. No other horse could have done it, she has a home here for the rest of her life." Mother and Dad might have frozen had it not been for her."
Next: Memories Of Christmas.