American Field
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Tales from the “Good Old Days”

Sep 18, 2019

Albert F. Hochwalt was heralded as the premier field trial reporter of his day, his field trial write-ups prosaically picturesque.

As the current field trial season begins in earnest, it is timely to quote from a letter by U. R. Fishel to then editor of The American Field, Fred E. Pond.

“As the field trial season draws near,” wrote Mr. Fishel, “I again wish it were possible for me to attend all the trials and see the working of the dogs, but as this is impossible for the greater number of lovers of the sport, we are compelled to see their work through the reports made by A. F. Hochwalt.

“I do not believe there is a man living who can report a field trial better than Mr. Hochwalt . . . In the many years I have been interested in field dogs and field trials, I have never heard anyone question Mr. Hochwalt’s reports as to their not being true and free from selfish motives. As a judge of a field trial dog, Mr. Hochwalt stands without a superior. It matters not if the dog wears long or short hair; if he displays the ‘class’ and handled the birds, he is awarded the place.”

U. R. Fishel was the owner of the great Fishel’s Frank, winner and prominent producer of winners, notably John Proctor, winner of the inaugural National Free-for-All Championship and the National Championship, both in 1916.

Albert Hochwalt was also a proficient raconteur, writing of humorous incidents that occurred at trials he covered.

Take for instance the Charles W. Tway incident at the Kentucky trials at Glasgow, Ky., in the fall of 1909. Charlie Tway was a man of great versatility. Always gay and happy and debonair with personality oozing from every pore, he possessed sublime confidence in himself and in the world in general.

Glasgow was the home of Mrs. Tway’s family and Charlie kept some of his dogs there, and during the trials the Tways made their home there.

One evening a tall, rather ponderous gentleman was striding back and forth in the local hotel lobby, evidently impatient about something. To all appearance he was a man of some importance and certainly striking individuality. First his size and weight were impressive and so was his apparel. Over his wide expanse of waistcoat which was of such bright red that is shrieked to heaven in its loudness, a gold chain of heavy links curved massively as he strode back and forth and with hands in his pockets he became even more conspicuous.

Jake Bishop was the first to enter the  lobby. The man approached Jake Bishop, asking where he could find Tway. He’d been told that Charlie was the guest of his wife’s folks but would probably be down a little later. The man became confidential and told Jake Bishop that he had purchased a dog from Tway, but that the animal was not satisfactory. He was going to return the dog and wanted to see Tway on that account. Jake, in his characteristic humorous way, assured him that Charlie Tway would be able to make things right, but added, “Look out that he don’t talk you out of that red vest before you get through with him.”

Later, Tway met the gentleman and suavely invited him to come out to the house. He was quite sure that everything could be satisfactorily arranged.

A few hours later, the gentleman returned still wearing the glaring red vest. His expression now was one of calm benignity. He spotted Jake Bishop in the group and went over to him.

“Well,” he said, “Tway took the dog back all right — but he sold me two more. I guess I got my money’s worth.”

Charlie Tway’s uncanny ability to make satisfied customers was ever his outstanding asset. He succumbed to injuries sustained in an auto accident in early 1939.

 

Then there is the escapade of I. T. Carter who had a good Derby in the setter Danny Stone. During the series of fall trials in Illinois in 1909 Fred S. Hall bought the dog, but it was stipulated that Danny Stone was to remain with I. T. Carter until the Derby was over and all winnings were to go to him. After that he was to go into Jake Bishop’s hands.

At the same time Fred Hall bought another dog through Carter, Gypsy Noble. She never did great things in field trials but became a great shooting dog in Fred Hall’s string.

Gypsy Noble was the apple of Isaac Carter’s one good eye. Carter, due to an injury, was almost blind in the other. But the good optic did justice for both, and Isaac Carter’s loquacity completed the combination.

He handled Gypsy Noble in that series of trials. She had a world of style on point; her work was so sparkling that she invariably brought down the galleries when she found birds.

On this occasion she pointed right out in the open. There she stood, rigid and sculpturesque, muscles tense, eyes bulging, tail pointing straight up, head aloft.

Isaac Carter was always more or less a grandstand player and before the judges invariably made the most of a favorable situation.

Gypsy was well broken, but who could ever fathom the impulses of a high-strung bird dog?

Gypsy Noble stood with just a splash of sunlight breaking through the leaden sky. Carter dismounted from his horse very deliberately; he never said a word to his dog, evidently having absolute confidence in her.

When he had approached within about ten steps of her he deliberately turned his back to her, faced the judges with a dramatic gesture and in a voice like Edwin Booth (famous Shakespearian actor of the 19th century) cried out:

“Judges, look at her. Look at her telephoning heaven proclaiming that she has found birds! Have you ever seen anything better?”

Jake Bishop, sitting on his horse back in the gallery, gave a warning cry:

“Better turn around and look at your bitch, I.T.!” As he uttered the words Gypsy, by one of those perverse impulses, gave one leap forward, dashed into the birds and chased them to the fenceline.

Carter turned in time to see Gypsy stop at the hedge. His jaw dropped, his one eye glared but he never said one word to the dog nor the gallery. He climbed back on his horse, a crestfallen and humiliated handler . . . .

 

Down through the years various handlers with a flair for showmanship have done similar things to impress the judges and spectators.

Just as in the case of I. T. Carter with Gypsy Noble, such occurred with the well known pointer Shanghai Express as a Derby.

John H. Parker had brought the dog out and was handling him in the Southern Illinois Open Derby near Ewing, Ill., in October, 1932. The dog’s ground work had been brilliant and when he slammed on point at a promising place it looked like he might take premier laurels. Parker felt the same way, too.

He had Rock, the dog’s kennel name, pretry well broken and so did not make a made dash. After dismounting leisurely, Parker discovered the absence of his pistol, and to etch the picture more deeply in the minds of all in the gallery, the Kansas trainer stood silently admiring the dog, then commented to the veteran handler James M. Avent who was judging with Glenn E. Wood of Lakeview, Mich., “Judge, I haven’t got a gun.”

“Someone in the crowd bring Mr. Parker a gun,” said Judge Avent.

A galleryite proffered the firearm and Parker, a smile on his beaming face, turned and started back for the gun. Just as he did so, Shanghai Express, which had posed rigidly all this time, could stand the pressure no longer. He leaped forward and out whirred the bevy of quail.

“John,” screamed Avent in high-pitched tones, “don’t you know better than to turn your back on your dog?”

[Shanghai Express won the National Amateur Quail Championship in 1934 and the National Free-for-All Championship in 1935.]

 

The veteran Edward D. Garr, the “Ol’ Kentucky Fox,” with his Chesterfieldian air and Will Rogers sense of humor, provided many amusing moments.

Hochwalt was fond of relating Garr’s “retort appropriate” to a member of the fair sex during a heat of Count Whitestone II at the United States trials at Grand Junction, Tenn., in January, 1908.

Count Whitestone II had accounted for second place. Count showed, in addition to his ability to find game, his superb style, his good bird sense and unimpaired endurance in the hour-and-a half heat, and had set tongues to wagging for he began to loom large as a championship possibility.

Like many others of the sons and daughters of Count Whitestone, with their overly sensitive noses, Count Whitestone II was prone to false point rather frequently, but he did very little of this in the United States All-Age stake, though now and then he would assume one of his statuesque poses with apparently no reason whatever.

On Count’s first stand Garr found him pointing in open woods. The gallery was large and as one of the riders came galloping up, Garr dismounted and tried to flush. All endeavors were in vain and, in disgust, the gallant Kentuckian took his dog by the collar and led him out in front of the gallery to send him on. As he passed a small group, one of the admiring ladies inquired:

“Oh, Mr. Garr, did your dog false point?” Ed was nettled, but masked his feelings in a way for which he was noted where the fair sex was concerned. Upon being interrogated, he removed his hat, bowed deeply and said:

“No, madam, Count knew there were no birds here, but was afraid he might not have another chance, so he took this opportunity to show how well he can pose before a gallery of charming ladies.”

The witty handler bowed again, replaced his hat, vaulted into the saddle and soon had his dog on a real point.

 

Back in the first decade of the 1900s, in Hutsonville, Ill., the principal landowners of the venue used there were various branches of the Newlin family. Without their cooperation and use of their farms it would have been difficult to lay out contiguous courses.

The head of the clan was Clint Newlin and his farm was, in a way, the keystone of the entire arrangement.

Clint Newlin was not much inclined to look upon the field trial project with favor, but somehow or other along in 1906 when a committee called, a responsive chord was struck and representatives of the field trial forces came away with an arrangement whereby they secured one of the finest field trial preserves north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi that bird dogs ever ran over.

Clint Newlin always was adverse to handlers running over his grounds for training purposes, and let it be known in no uncertain terms. Indeed, the Clint Newlin farm with its great stretches of grain fields and numbers of birds was always coveted by the trainers, but they respected the owner’s wishes and kept off, unless by chance one of their dogs, while being worked on adjacent country, slipped over and got lost. But woe to that handler who Clint Newlin caught on his place. Many stories were told of these involuntary infractions.

Handler Billy Beazell had a faculty for losing his bearings and coming out on the Newlin place. The story was told of the year when he was working Paliacho and others of that great lot of puppies.

Paliacho, in fact most of the Beazell dogs, were allowed to run at will, chase what they fancied and generally do as they pleased. It was the trainer’s well known policy not to try to break his dogs, but develop them through the natural process of self-hunting.

Nothing pleased Beazell more than to turn out a dozen or more puppies and watch them scatter in all directions, running at will.

Paliacho was a bold and fearless youngster and would tackle anything from a chicken to a steer, a trait he never relinquished up to the time of his death. When he was being developed, he and his brothers and sisters had merry times in Illinois.

Billy Beazell always told these stories himself followed by his Homeric unrestrained laughter, for to him it was a great joke.

For instance, the one about Paliacho chasing one of Newlin’s steers and actually catching it by one of the hind legs. The steer ran a short distance, could not shake the dog off and started for the fence. By this time the animal was thoroughly excited and, according to Fred Lockhart who always professed to being an eyewitness, the steer gave one more frantic lunge and actually kicked the dog over the fence. “That’s the way,” added Lockhart, “Paliacho got off Clint Newlin’s place.”

Al Hochwalt was responsible for naming the dog. It occurred when a group of field trialers were gathered in Grand Junction during the winter series of trials in 1909 and discussed with Fred S. Hall, the owner of the Prince Rodney—Mary Tudor litter, prospective names for the puppies. Hochwalt knew of Fred Hall’s fondness for opera and his predilection for opera titles as the names of his setters.

“Rigoletto” had been assigned to one of the prominent sons of Prince Rodney.

When Fred Hall spoke of a promising tri-colored youngster and wondered about a suitable name, Hochwalt offered “Pagliacci.”

Because it was thought that some might have trouble pronouncing this, when the registration made it in the Field Dog Stud Book the spelling was phoneticized to “Paliacho.”

 

The story started about Clint Newlin. John E. Lucas, who was in Illinois for the first time, brought with him a string of Pacific Coast dogs. John, perhaps, was unacquainted with the Newlin boundary lines; however, that may be, one morning one of his dogs made a wide cast and to all appearances crossed the line into the Newlin fields. Thinking that he might see the animal from some height far better than from the ground, Lucas climbed a tall walnut tree just inside the fence on the Newlin place.

Up among the topmost branches he clung, with his short-stemmed black pipe loaded with “Belfast Cut Plug” as he scanned the country roundabout, for he could see for miles from his vantage point. He was oblivious to what was passing below, for his mind was on his dog.

Just then Clint Newlin drove out of his barnyard. As he came down the road he espied the figure up in the walnut tree, who at the moment was blowing his whistle loud and long.

Newlin stopped his team of horses alongside the tree and looked. The fixture in the tree was scanning the horizon and did not see what was transpiring below. Suddenly the voice of Clint Newlin rang out.

“Come down out of that tree and come down quick!”

Jack Lucas was so startled that his whistle dropped out of his mouth and his pipe, which for the moment he was holding in his hand, fell to the ground. He looked down, saw the belligerent farmer, who had by this time alighted from his wagon and was standing under the tree.

“Come down out of that tree!” reiterated Newlin.

“I’m looking for a lost dog,” returned Lucas, in his most mollifying tones.

“I don’t care what you’re looking for,” retorted the irate landowner, “come down out o’ that tree!”

“I wasn’t hunting on your grounds,” Lucas repeated several times. “I am only looking for a lost dog.”

This had no effect.

“You’ll come down or I’ll get you down.”

The ground was strewn with walnuts which the frost of the night before had loosened from their bearings and Newlin found these excellent missiles for carrying out his threat. He picked up a handful and began the attack. One went singing past Jack’s ear, as he dodged to the other side of the tree. Newlin changed his position and let go again. Whang! This one hit the tree trunk just above Jack’s head.

“Look out!” cried Lucas, as he dodged just in time. Bing! came another. “Look out!” Jack repeated. And so the battle waged, with the farmer finding his range better and better and Jack Lucas dodging with greater agility; and all the while the argument proceeded.

About this time handler M. E. McMichael, according to his version, came driving along after his morning’s workout. He stopped in wonderment, but when he learned just what the situation was he poured oil on the troubled waters and after much talk Jack Lucas was allowed to come down, though in the negotiations that ensued he was not permitted to set foot on the Newlin lands in order to find his dog, which luckily had gone on and was found in town later in the day.

Jack Lucas never trespassed on the Clint Newlin lands again — not if he knew the master of the place was within twenty miles of his farm.

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