Monday, 21 January 2019


     This recently published 321-page book, a true story written by my daughter, Barbara Jagoda, provides a wide-ranging insight into the world of Arabian horse racing in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Montana, and Wyoming.
Barbara owned, trained, raced, and loved several other horses but this story is mainly an amazing tale of deep love, respect, and understanding between a horse and a human.  It recounts enough human and horse emotions, setbacks, injuries, and amazing successes to hold the reader’s interest.
It is a story of Barbara accepting the challenge of trying to tame for its owner an Arabian colt so high spirited that no one could ride it so it was destined for the meat market.  Barbara turned it into North America’s top Arabian horse, winning 50 races.  During the process she bought Smoky.
Not wanting to spoil a god read for you, I will try in this blog to simply give you some background, introduce the book and Smoky’s web site:  So, Just a few comments on the book:
  It is scary to me to read of her driving alone a 5-horse trailer through the endless congestion of Los Angeles traffic.  The book includes numerous descriptions of open lands, places and people such as owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, farriers, grooms, officials, and fans, 
It reveals that horseracing remains “the sport of kings” Few can afford the time and costs of breeding, selecting, raising, training and maintaining promising horses.  Then there are all the fees and costs of needed racetrack accommodation and personnel.  Thoroughbred racing remains dominant whereas Arabian is a newcomer.  Thoroughbreds are always faster but Arabs have far more endurance so can run longer distances, but there is little financial incentive for long races.  Barbara relates that almost all people associated with horse racing are honest, likable humans.  She encountered only one incident of a jockey, so vital to the strategies involved in a race, accepting a bribe to affect the outcome.
There was the constant lure of handsome offers from the Arab world to buy successful Arabian horses and many owners succumbed.  Barbara instantly rejected two offers to buy Smoky, one from the monarch of Abu Dhabi, the richest emirate in the U.A.E.  When horses were shipped to the Arab world, names were changed so it was impossible to learn what happened to them when their winning days were over.
While Joan and I helped Barbara in her pursuit of horses we flinched at the way she so naturally devoted  long hours, 7 days a week, into caring for them.  Trying to get her home for vacations was impossible. 
  Barbara’s love of horses started early.   In the book she frequently invokes the aid of her heavenly guardian, Grandpa Will Saunders.  Barbara was born 4 months after I was shot down in March 1943 to reside for 800 days as a guest of the Luftwaffe.  Joan, who would continue as my wife for 72 years, had returned home with Barbara to Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.  Will loved horses.  He was a sergeant in the Royal Horse Artillery in India pre-WW1 with the job of stopping  Kyber Pass hill tribes from raiding India.  He won awards for bringing back safely his horses and horsemen from skirmishes.  He also had high respect for India and Indians.  When WW1 came, he was sent to Egypt from where he was torpedoed going into Gallipoli, had to swim ashore, then engaged for months in the battle against the Ottoman Turks.  He was then sent to France where he lost a lung from a gas attack.  Medically discharged with no pension, he built up a dairy herd to produce and deliver the city’s best milk.  He also got an allotment to garden on a hill just a block away that was frequented by horses.  As soon as Barbara was old enough to sit on a horse’s back Will started to teach her to be comfortable on a horse.  They developed a great bond.  Wearing rubber boots and standing in a section of a large, divided, sink she passed milk bottles to him to wash.   It was a painful day for both when I had to move the family to Canada as soon as shipping for war brides became available at government expense in January 1946.
With the numerous moves of an RCAF career we had little chance to enhance Barbara’s association with horses until we were transferred in 1956 to Centralia, near Exeter north of London, Ontario.   There was a nearby riding facility frequented by Barbara so I asked her to take on weekend trail rides groups of NATO cadets from several countries undergoing pilot training.  How surprised I was when so many cadets on a Monday morning could not sit down in class, being too sore, They were too proud to admit that a mere girl could so outlast them on horseback so had endured all of Barbara’s lengthy ride.
Part of my RCAF responsibilities was to ensure good relations with the local community.  I discovered an auto dealer whose horse, “Charlie” had grown too fat because he lacked the time to ride and exercise it.  He was quite skeptical, due to Barbara’s young age of 13, when I suggested he let her exercise it.  He was satisfied when Barbara was so quick in finding a farmhouse just a short distance away where she could board Charlie.  When we were transferred to St. Hubert, Quebec, in 1958 we handed back to a highly surprised and delighted owner a horse,  slimmed down and in perfect condition.
In St Hubert it was a very worried and time-consuming task of driving 1,100 miles around the Montreal area  trying to find a house to rent, Finally I did in St. Bruno where Barbara was quick to find Jette’s Stables where I could assist her in getting daughter #4, Patricia (Trish), used to horses by copying Will Saunders’ techniques and leading her safely on horseback round and round the riding ring while avoiding the numerous chickens.  
All of our 5 daughters, Barbara, Diane, Valerie, Trish, and Linda, graduated from university in some form of biology.  Only Barbara and Trish owned horses.  Trish and Linda made careers in wildlife.
During her school years Barbara was far more interested in horses than boys.  There were many suitors, some of whom would beg me to plead with her to pay more attention to them.  Diane was considerably more social, giving me problem in keeping track of all of her suitors.  
After two years each at McGill in Montreal and the University of Colorado in Boulder we persuaded Barbara to accept a job teaching science at a local Junior High School.  This, we argued, would give her summer time with horses and the income to buy one.   Her impatience saw her buy a horse with her first pay cheque.
In 1998, when Smoky was 12 years old and still happy and healthy, Barbara knew it was the best time to give him a happy retirement that he had so richly deserved
Smokey had competed in 120 races, winning 50 of them.  He had more awards; had more articles written about him; and had earned more money (over $307,000) than any other Arabian.  He also had more fans.      
On 24 October 1998 the Los Alamitos Race Course organized its first-ever retirement ceremony.  Smoky knew the party was for him.  As the announcer, and the large TV screen, broadcast his accomplishments and the crowd roared its cheers, Smoky lifted his head, leaped into the air, kicking his hind legs to applaud his audience. 
Barbara, Smoky, her other horses, and Bryan Braithwaite with his horses returned to the ranch they shared in Kingman, Arizona.  Bryan, with amazing talent in understanding horses and the one who had chosen the mating that produced Smoky was her best friend, always helpful, especially when she was recovering from two broken arms from a horse falling on her while Smoky was mending from the removal of an infected eye to continue racing as the one-eyed marvel.  Yet Bryan persisted as her chief rival with his excellent race horses.  He gave up his smoking and drinking problems quite willingly after Barbara’s urging.
With a lot of horses to buy, condition, and sell these two strong-willed individuals argued a lot, so, in 2004, Barbara decided it best to return home, finding, after much searching, an ideal 44-acre ranch with lots of grama grass that Smoky liked.  It is 27 miles (43 km) southeast of what has been the family home since I was transferred here by the RCAF in 1963, retired in 1966, devoted 4 years to university, then 13 years to writing and teaching senior high school courses on the modular system, retiring again in 1982.   
We had hoped that Barbara would retire herself from her racing years of long, hard-working 7-days-a-week  dedication.  Now, close to home, she has been a tremendous help to me while making great improvements on her ranch, planting numerous trees, establishing gardens, helping wildlife, and providing great care to two or three horses.  By careful weeding and mowing large areas, she, her home, barn, garage and her animals were able to survive unscathed when two large grass fires suddenly raced over concealing ridges to result in police cars racing up her long road to order her to evacuate immediately.  The fires, however, split on reaching her manicured area to circle it and race on to burn other homes.  She provided a retirement home that Smoky loved along with two companions.
Smoky died in 2016 one day shy of his 30th birthday, leaving the ranch to his two friends and Barbara.        Not content to rest on her laurels, Barbara organized her numerous press clippings; wrote this book, contacting career associates for their permissions to include them; worked with Trafford Publishing; then scheduled several book-signing events with more planned.
Barbara considers herself very lucky, but I believe that I am the lucky one to have her and her 4 outstanding sisters who really deserve blogs devoted to their own accomplishments.
Ye Olde Scribe

Tuesday, 1 January 2019


For years I have been receiving, via e-mails, dire warnings of the imminent collapse of the US Dollar and thus the world economy. These are quite believable when I see so many examples of man’s inhumanity to man, inequalities, reluctance of people in power to sacrifice to save our environment from the calamities of climate change, and to allow greed to kill the empathy so necessary to alleviate the sufferings of the less fortunate of our only world.
As I am now on my 100th tour around the Sun, still seeking a meaning to Life, perhaps I should review my experiences with the Great Depression with a blog that may morph into one exploring viewpoints developed over my lifetime.
From 1928 to 1932 I happened to be living on a middle-class street that had pushed one block north of the Dufferin Street area of St. Clair Avenue. the northern end of Toronto, a city that had a population of about 600,000, yet vehicular traffic was light enough to permit us to play softball on our street, retreating when the odd car appeared.  Most traffic was by horse-drawn delivery carts that I often trailed to collect manure for our backyard gardens with their fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  Scenic hikes into rural areas were numerous for my brother, sister, me, and our friends.
For my family, schools and church were just a block south.  Streets of family-owned stores were within easy walking distance.  Excellent newspapers, with world coverage, were sold  on street corners from unmanned stands that had tin cups for the two cents each newspaper cost. Even during the Depression I know of no thefts from these open cups. 
We, mainly school boys who had taken great pride in Canada’s amazing contributions to victory in WWI, especially the air war where Canada had 4 of the world’s top 10 air aces, knew of the lingering depression in Germany and Austria which we blamed on the greed of US Republicans.  Only 4 nations, Britain, the USA, Canada, and Argentina, emerged from WWI as creditor nations.  Britain had prospered by forgiving debts owed her in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, then selling goods to a recovering Europe, so sought similar forgiveness in 1919.  Canada agreed, but US Republicans defeated Woodrow Wilson’s constant attempts to have the US join the League of Nations and bring Germany back into the family of nations.  Insisting on repayment of all debts, yet refusing to settle for offered coal as it would hurt the coal industry in Pennsylvania and Colorado, the US caused Britain and France to strip German factories of machines to send to the USA as payment, thus causing enormous inflation and deep depression - and paving the way for Hitler.
When the Austrian-German Depression reached us in 1929, I was 10, my brother 8, and my sister 6.  At first we welcomed the falling prices.  My Dad, a pioneer with the Bell Telephone Company, had kept his job but at a reduced salary so our Christmas still saw numerous presents.  After opening, and playing with, mine, I went for a walk, meeting  a friend whose Dad had lost his job.  To my question asking what he got for Christmas I got my first painful shock of the Depression when he replied; “Nothing.  Santa forgot me this year.”
“Oh, no, he did not!” I replied.  “He must have got confused because there is a present with your name on it that he left in my house.  Wait here and I will get it for you.” 
Quickly running home, I grabbed one of my best gifts, re-wrapped it, put his name on it, and ran back to him with it.  His joy at not being forgotten was a never-to-be-forgotten gift to me.
Soon, hardships and sufferings were much more than I, my family, my church, my city could cure.  By 1933 30% of the labour force was unemployed, a rate that would remain over 12% until 1939 and WWII.  Our prairie provinces were hardest hit as wheat demand lessened and drought arrived to turn farmlands into dust bowls.  Many were the care parcels I helped organizations fill to mail to drought areas in both Canada and the USA.
As I walked along the street to school I passed an increasing number of families whose savings were depleted and could no longer afford reduced rents, so they were evicted with their furniture sitting on the lawn with no place to go.  Our government provided some financial help but mainly Welfare was the domain of neighbours, friends, grandparents, and churches, not governments.
My mother seemed to be forever cooking meals for destitute families.  The only time I was to see my father cry was when he had to layoff several of his valued employees.  He drove all over Toronto, searching for other jobs for them.  Then, in 1932,  his own department was downsized and he was transferred 70 miles east to manage the Port Hope branch. 
In Toronto a favourite pastime was the Saturday 10-cent show at theatres that featured a full-length film, a travelogue, and a serial in which the hero and heroine were always left in a life-threatening situation only to escape at the start of next week’s episode.   To save money my brother, sister, and I  took turns attending with the responsibility of returning home to tell the other two complete details.  It was good training in accurate recall.
Prior to leaving Toronto, I had applied for a free art course being offered on weekends to promising students who applied with copies of their work to be assessed.  Also applying was the daughter of a family we knew and liked.  She was rejected, I was accepted, much to the surprise of all because she was a much more talented artist than I would ever be.  Realizing that a future for me in art was highly questionable and that women suffered unfair prejudice in the job training world, my mother sought out the art school executives to give my slot to her.
In Port Hope, we first rented, for $20 a month, a 3-storey brick house, but soon updated it, for $40 a month, to a modern bungalow with a full covered front veranda.  Here we had almost daily callers for food handouts and for handyman jobs at 20 cents an hour.  These men were mainly hopefuls riding, for free, empty box cars from the prairies.   In the treed area by one of our two railway stations they built a “Tramp Jungle” that my brother and I often visited.  One Christmas day one of these tramps knocked on our door.  I still have strong memories of my parents inviting him in to share a sumptuous meal complete with a cigar.  He was a very pleasant, intelligent, man whose business had gone bust so he was seeking better fortune in Ontario.  After a most pleasant stay we were pained in having to let him return to his cold jungle temporary home.
My Mother often walked several long blocks to shop along the store-lined main street.  After school I would get to fetch items that were too many for her to carry.  I preferred to patronize family stores and there was one a the far ends of 3 streets leading off in different directions.  We had to shop at a counter where we asked the owner for each item. He or she would bring the item from a shelf to the counter, record it on a sales pad, then repeat the process for each additional item - a slow process but full of good conversations.  
In Port Hope I completed 7 years of schooling, staying on for commercial courses after Grade 13 as jobs were scarce even in this farming and light-industry town of 5,000 people.
I took an early interest in world affairs, finding pen pals in Britain, France, Germany, Malaya, Gold Coast (Ghana), South Africa, Australia, and British Guyana.  This was also the start of a fabulous stamp collection that I now should sell.  It was alarmingly foreboding to see my German pen-pal, Hugo, change from a normal, likeable school boy into one filling with hatreds.  As I told him about my joys as a troop leader in the Boy Scouts, he told me of his training in the Hitler Jugend.  I tried to find him after the war but we had bombed his street to rubble and there was no trace of him.  My French, Malayan, and South African pen pals did survive.
    I grew up among veterans of the South African Boer War and WWI, many, including 2 uncles,  suffering from physical and mental war wounds.  Some of my school friends spent hours each day caring for their war-wounded fathers, prompting my father to write many letters to government officials for financial help for them to survive the depression.  It also led to anti-war essays I wrote for school.   My physics teacher was a major in the Militia so I joined his local artillery regiment for training in fear of the dictators emerging in Europe, having read Mein Kampf and Hugo's new views.   With the depression coupled with the need to rearm that increased Dad’s taxes, Canada could not afford to give us a real gun, using 25-pound shells, which were reserved for summer camps, so we practiced on mock-ups.
In 1938 I joined the Royal Bank of Canada at a salary of $400 a year which was increased to $500 when they transferred me 70 miles east to Napanee as I would have to pay $7 a week for room and board.  Bank salaries were increased $100 per year and you had to be earning $1400 to get bank permission to marry.
I was also transferred to the Napanee Militia artillery regiment where, in our spare time, we posted guard around the local armouries with WWI rifles and bayonets but no ammunition, a fact we kept concealed.  
Depression economics persisted until we were well into the massive buildup for WWII.  Three of Canada’s major banks had branches in town so competition was friendly but keen.  We had to be well dressed at all times and eager to participate in charitable functions in spite of our low incomes.  Often we helped, for free, business customers with accounting problems.  Each bank had a staff of 8 males and one female secretary.   When we asked a girl out we walked to her home, to the entertainment, and back to her home.  Occasionally an older member of the staff who owned a car would collect 5 cents from each of 5 of us to buy a 25-cent gallon of gas (no sales tax then) to drive us to scenic places or distant dance halls.  On weekends these car owners, for a small fee, would pack their cars with bankers whose homes were between Napanee and Toronto.
Yet, I remember these Depression years as happy years.  Healthy youths with good homes do not need much money to be happy.  
         And, it was an era of no gun violence.  Weekly I would stroll to the post office with a pocket bulging with thousands of dollars in torn, worn, and soiled dollars of various denominations, parcelled to be mailed to headquarters for replacement.   This was just a safe routine job given to unarmed bank juniors.

                                                                  Ye Olde Scribe