Gpa Tales

The end of the saddlery or not!

Before the advent of the automobile, every town had a saddlery just like the one in our village, where you could get leather items such as bridles, saddles, horse collars and other leather items repaired, rebuilt or custom made. In a way the saddlery was the equivalent of the automobile repairs shop. Along with the saddlery was the cobbler or shoe maker as we called them. The shoe maker always had his apron and tools to resole shoes. The leather trade was a cottage industry, meaning that people did these jobs in their home, often in a spare room or a garage. The shoe maker would put new soles on your shoes and really make them shine with his polishing wheel.

Before world war II the automobile had replaced the horse and buggy, thus seldom if ever as a youth did I see a horse and buggy, as you now can see in Lancaster. It took longer for the tractor and truck to replace the team and wagon, thus I did see many farmers using a team and wagon, when I was very young. When I went to grade school Earn Anderson cleaned the snow from the walks with a simple A-frame snow plow pulled by a single horse. Many of the crops were harvested by a team and wagon. The beauty of working with a good team is they would respond to oral commands as you walked along. In fact a single person could gather hay and put it on the wagon by the fork full and the horse would go where it was told. Giddy-up meant go and whoa meant stop. In fact Cloyd (Tiny) Holden and Hank Simmons hauled bailed hay with pitchforks. They would walk along side of the wagon and pick up bails and place them on the wagon using a pitchfork. The control of the horses was completely done by word of mouth. These were two of the strongest men in town at that time. I am sure that Uncle Jim Mortensen was strong enough to haul bailed hay with a fork, but I was not at least for the second bail.

As the tractor replaced the team and wagon the automotive repair shop replaced the saddlery. This was a sort of sad era to see the demise of this cottage industry. The farmer soon had a truck and tractor and above head gasoline tank in place of a horse, wagon, and hay stack. As I look back I recognize that one of the major crops was hay and grain to feed the horses. As the powered machinery took, over much of the land formerly dedicated to feeding the work animals was used for cash crops. This change significantly increased the total production from the farm. Now I see that we are proposing that we can grow fuel to run our tractors and cars. I think that we have done this experiment. How much land are we going to dedicate to running tractors and cars. I predict that we will soon grow out of this foolishness.

One of the most interesting events that I have in my mind for America funniest home videos occurred at the end of this era. I was in Spanish Fork waiting in the car for Dad to finish some business. I noticed this unique small building with a large glass window. This small building was about twice the size of a phone booth or better a porta-potty. It was a unique wooden building labeled as a saddlery. I assumed that it was a place to drop of and pick up work. It had the appearance of being portable as it was setting on the side walk. It would be too small to do much work. It was sad to see this empty building that was ready to be shut down. I noticed that there was a brick on the side walk just in front of the building. Just then a young boy about 5 or 6 came walking down the street. He also noticed the brick, then looked at the large window front of the saddlery. He then bent down picked up the brick looked up and down the street and seeing no one decided to throw the brick through the glass window. He pulled back and threw the brick at the window from point blank range. There was no way he was going to miss. He was only two feet away. He let the brick fly and the brick hit the window just perfectly flat. The window bent and flipped the brick right back at the lad hitting him on the forehead. Startled but not crying he looked at the brick, at the window and then took off down the street leaving the window and the saddlery in perfect shape.