Sunday, May 17, 2015

A visit to the Fountain Valley Historical Society

New officers sworn in at Fountain Valley Historical Society.
 I spoke today at the Fountain Valley Historical Society (17641 Los Alamos St.). They were a fun audience and very gracious hosts. I must admit that I've never been over there when the clubhouse was open, so I was very pleased to find some interesting artifacts and collections. But naturally, my eye always goes to the "fun stuff " first, like this (possibly circa 1950s?) hand-lettered poster, donated by the Courreges family:
Talbert Whiskerino Contest /P.T.A. fundraiser poster
Like all historical societies, they have some items that they can't identify. Perhaps you can help by identifying one or both of the people in the following pastel portraits:
These are believed to be Fountain Valley residents, and both portraits are dated 1970.
The image below -- which hangs in a frame on the clubhouse wall -- depicts the "world's champion draft stallion 1902-1906." I can't quite make out the rest of the faint pencil notes written on the upper left of the photo. But on the lower right, the following is written in what appears to be Thomas B. Talbert's scrawl: "Owners Fred H. Bixby, W. J. Newland, S. E. Talbert, T. B. Talbert." Of course, these are all familiar pioneer names, but what's the story on this fat, bob-tailed horse?
 I'm pretty sure he's related to the horse (shown below) in "What's Opera, Doc?"
"Oh Bwunhilda, you're so wuv-wee..."
In his memoir, My Sixty Years In California, Tom Talbert wrote about various horses he owned, traded, sold and even raced. But I can't find a mention of this Rubenesque equine.

Speaking of horses, the exhibit shown below is a rather unique approach to displaying a historic saddle.
The panel attached to the plywood horse reads, "History from Eddie Booth. Story of the Silver Saddle. This famous saddle was owned by the Gisler  family. It was shown and enjoyed in many parades. The family donated it to the Fountain Valley Historical Society. It was displayed in the old barber shop building. Next, it was moved to Knott's Berry Farm for a few years. I was retiring from the Farm and the President of the Historical Society requested [that it] be returned. In the meantime, the Knott family sold the farm. I was told by the new owners that they purchased everything. A secretary discovered a letter stating the saddle was on loan. The owners honored the letter and I was able to return [it] back to Fountain Valley. It was placed on display in the lobby of the City Hall. It [has] now found its home in the Historical Society Building. Enjoy!!!!  Ed Booth"

Yet another Knott connection! (They're everywhere!)

Anyway, my thanks again to FVHS for having me over for lunch, conversation and a tour!


outsidetheberm said...

Chris, on the horse photo - Is it possible that the last line might read: Weight 1245 lbs? The faint top line may be the horses name in parenthesis - can't make it out. He's certainly a big boy!

outsidetheberm said...

That is, "quotations" instead of parenthesis. But you knew that!

Chris Jepsen said...

Yes, I think that's the weight, but I couldn't read it well enough to say anything definitive. Your eyes are almost certainly better than mine. (Just ask my ophthalmologist!) I think that could be the name up above, but I can't make it out with any degree of certainty. I'm pretty sure there's at least one vowel and one consonant in there somewhere.

Hally Soboleske said...

I think it's 2400 lbs. since their average weight is from 2000 to 2400 lbs. That's a shire horse - big farm worker and highly prized. Mr. Bixby bred them and the Shire was by far his favorite.

Unknown said...

The horse in the image is Omer, a blue roan Belgian stallion and Grand Champion of the 1903 Chicago International Livestock Exposition. Fred H. Bixby, of Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach, purchased Omer on 25 Jan 1905 with partners. It was Bixby's first purebred draft stallion. Bixby would go on to become a notable breeder of champion draft horses, including Shires. The image of Omer was featured on Fred H. Bixby's business stationery in the early decades of the last century. You can learn more about Omer and FHB's horse breeding operation at Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch & Gardens in Long Beach.