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On this Christmas Eve day, I hope you enjoy this cute photo of the children’s parade (kids! babies! a dog!) during the 1909 Midwinter Carnival in Upper Saranac Lake, New York.

The CAA office will be closed from tomorrow (Dec. 25) through next Friday (Jan. 2), and we’ll re-open on Monday, Jan. 5 … so I’ll see you then!

Thanks to Mindy Groff (our occasional guest-blogger from the Carriage Museum of America) for this post on amusing sleighing scenes …

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It’s been a week of rain here in Kentucky, but the Christmas music playing on my radio and the ever-present holiday decorations have put me in the mood for snow and for sleighs! Today on the blog I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite sleighing sketches, taken from the archives of the Carriage Museum of America.

Both illustrations feature Master Reggie, a repeat character with a tendency for getting into trouble. He and his friends certainly have some adventures!

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reggie tandem

These illustrations were featured in the periodical Harper’s Young People, which began in November 1879 as a weekly illustrated magazine for boys and girls ages six to sixteen. It featured fiction and non-fiction stories, with a variety of illustration styles and subjects. The magazine continued, although with a different format and name, until 1899.

If the drawings look familiar to you, there are a few possible reasons. For one, I believe they were featured in The Carriage Journal a few years ago, so you may be remembering them from that. Or you may just recognize the style, as these were drawn by the famous carriage illustrator Gray-Parker, whose work has been featured many times here on the blog, in The Carriage Journal, on the covers of trade journals, and in countless other carriages resources. His work is incredibly prolific and popular, for good reason.

Want to see more from the CMA? Follow us on Facebook! I feature images and other items from our collection a few times each week. I’m sure there will be no shortage of sleighs this winter!

I was doing some work-related Internet research — looking up some coaching detail or personage, as I recall — and came across this gem …

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Pig Rides in Cars Just Like a Baby

(The New York Times – April 17, 1911)

If it hadn’t been for a stifled squeal and a very pig-like wriggle the taxicab driver would never have known that one of his fares wasn’t human. In fact, the chauffeur rubbed his eyes several times before it finally dawned on him that Mrs. Marie Watson’s traveling companion was a pig instead of a baby.

The chauffeur wasn’t to blame for being deceived, for several conductors had made the same mistake. They don’t know even now that the bundle Mrs. Watson carried so tenderly in her arms was not a baby at all, in spite of its baby cap and fluffy little coat and the milk bottle which Mrs. Watson produced every now and then on her ride from Newark.

Mrs. Watson, as almost every vaudeville performer knows, is the wife of Sam Watson, who has a barnyard circus. One of the star performers was a wee pig, but it got so fat that Mrs. Watson decided another pig would have to join the show, one that she could hold in her arms without straining her muscles.

After some correspondence she found what she wanted in the pig line on a farm just outside of Newark. The pig’s owner agreed to sell free on board at Newark, but not Manhattan.

Mrs. Watson and her husband went into conference to decide how to get the pig here. “Leave it to me,” said Mrs. Watson. “I’ll just bring the pig on the train.”

Her husband suggested that pigs were not allowed on passenger trains. But Mrs. Watson knew what she was talking about. “Leave it to me,” she repeated, and Mr. Watson did so.

Mrs. Watson made the trip to Newark Friday and met the farmer and his pig. Mrs. Watson whispered a few words of pig language in the little fellow’s ear and proceeded to dress him up in baby attire. The cap was a cute affair of muslin and baby chiffon, with a near-blue ribbon at the tip. The baby coat was also blue, as was a blanket which Mrs. Watson had provided. When the dressing was finished the farmer departed chuckling over the transformation.

With the pig in her arms, Mrs. Watson proceeded to the Newark station of the Pennsylvania Railroad and boarded a train for Jersey City. The pig wasn’t making a sound. Perhaps it was because of those few whispered words of pig language of which Mrs. Watson says she has a smattering. Perhaps it was a bottle of milk which the pig tippled now and then. Anyhow, no one on the train imagined that it was anything else than a very quiet and well-behaved baby that Mrs. Watson was carrying in her arms.

At Jersey City, Mrs. Watson and her charge proceeded to the Hudson Tunnel station. While waiting for a tunnel trail an elderly man suggested to Mrs. Watson that she had better stand well back from the edge of the platform. “You know these drafts are very bad for babies,” said the elderly gentleman. Mrs. Watson smiled and thanked the solicitous old man. Never once during the trip to Manhattan did the pig betray himself.

At Thirty-third Street, Mrs. Watson hailed a taxicab, and in this the last lap of the journey was made. At the theatre Mrs. Watson alighted and paid her fare. The movement of getting into her purse must have disturbed the pig, for there was a sudden squeal and a very vigorous wriggle. The baby cap slipped back, displaying a very piglike face. It was then that the chauffeur began rubbing his eyes and pinching himself.

In a few days the little pig will take the place of the elderly porker in the barnyard scene. He is now undergoing the necessary preliminary training.

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Naturally, I had to find out more about the Watsons and their farmyard circus, so I did a little more sleuthing and found these two newspaper announcements, both published two years before the article above. And (bonus!) one of them even included a photo of Mr. Watson himself and a little piggy … presumably the very one who, in 1911, was being replaced by the piglet who rode the train dressed as a baby.

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Variety of Amusements for Summer Evenings 

(The Evening Chronicle – Spokane, Washington – June 26, 1909)

The inhabitants of a well-regulated farmyard appear in the act which heads the bill at the Orpheum theater for the week beginning with the matinee tomorrow afternoon.

“Sam Watson’s Farmyard circus has been described as a treat for children from six to 69, and it is true that everyone finds something appealing in this quaint European novelty,” says the manager.

Watson introduces a donkey, dogs, cats, roosters, and a tiny pink pig in his routine of comedy, and the results obtained by persistent training of presumably brainless creatures, such as roosters, are astonishing.

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Sam Watson at the Orpheum

(The Deseret Evening News – Salt Lake City, Utah – September 15, 1909)

Sam Watson, who is appearing this week at the Orpheum theater with his Farmyard Circus, is an old-time performer, and his animal act is the cleverest playing over the Orpheum circuit, while his “little pink pig” with which he appears in the above picture, is the provoker of extraordinary interest and merriment at every performance. Many people wonder how it is that Sam has trained some of his animals — to wit, his roosters and cats — to accomplish some of the stunts they perform. Sam avers, and it is easy on looking into his open countenance to believe, that it is all done by kindness, and though he may hold old-fashioned beliefs, he believes that a kind work or a pat of the head does more good than a swish from the whip. He never uses the hammer, either before, during, or after his act, and this is one of the principal reasons that his animals work with such a good will and display such fond affection for their master. Sam’s wife personally bathes all her pets, and they are all spotlessly clean and as white as snow. The animals should amuse many a youngster and grown-up, being all this week at the Orpheum.

Anyone who’s interested in traditional driving and/or coaching will no doubt have heard of Alfred G. Vanderbilt.

A.G.V. was, of course, a famous American coaching enthusiast. But he was clearly interested in other forms of horsepower as well. Here’s a photo, c. 1906, showing Paul Sartori, in A. G.Vanderbilt’s 250-horsepower car. Sartori drove for A. G. Vanderbilt in the early road races sponsored by his cousin, William Vanderbilt.

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AGV race car

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This photo is from the George Grantham Bain Collection in the Library of Congress.

Yesterday was our group’s first day at this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show, and a full, beautiful day it was.

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As I headed out from our hotel in the morning, I saw a man coming over the Thames footbridge with a hand-cart stacked with small beer kegs. And when I got over the bridge, to the Windsor side, I met this …

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Naturally, I had to stop to take a few photos and have a chat. The man you see here is the driver of this beer dray (the horses are Major and Tommy), and he said they do horse-drawn deliveries of this local microbrew, to Windsor and a few other nearby towns.

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Over at the horse show, it was a glorious, sunny day … if a bit warm.

But it was a good day to be a sleeping trade-fair dog.

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… Or to stick a cookie in your mouth, and run around with your bunny. This little guy was running laps around his family while they sat by one of the show arenas.

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… Or to watch the trade-vehicles competitors gather for their class. Would you just look at that glorious blue sky!!

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I’m still going through the bulk of the trade-vehicle photos, but here are a few of the awards presentation.

The Carriage Association had sponsored this class, so the CAA’s president, Dr. Thomas Burgess (in the tan suit), and his wife, Gloria, were on hand to present the awards.

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This pony and Pickering Float won the two-wheeled division …

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And this funeral vehicle, put to a pair of Friesians, won the four-wheeled division, plus the overall trade-vehicle championship …

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Later in the afternoon, before heading over to the Pimm’s party that our CAA group is invited to each year, I stopped off at the FEI-driving arena to watch a few of the four-in-hand competitors’ dressage tests.

I don’t often get the chance to actually watch dressage, as I’m usually photographing it. But I had filled up my camera’s memory card with photos from the trade-vehicles class, so I watched every bit of Chester Weber’s gorgeous test … except for the brief moment when I snapped this photo with, if you can believe it, my phone …

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After this brilliant test, which earned him a score of 31-point-something, Chester’s in the lead among the four-in-hands. We’ll see what happens in tomorrow’s marathon!

In this photo, c. 1909, Miss Ruth Vanderbilt Twombly (on the right) is shown with two other unidentified ladies.

The caption says they’re “beside coach on street,” but that is, of course, an automobile. Judging from the fact that Miss Twombly is wearing her driving apron, her coach and team must’ve been nearby.

Since we’re stuck in the middle of winter, here’s a photo of beach-goers and vacationers at Atlantic City, c. 1901.

It looks hot there, which may be just what we need in the middle of chilly December …

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