Almost sixty years ago this summer (about fifty six years ago to be precise) I received a WONDERFUL gift from my daddy. He took me along......to Clearmont to have shoes put on his Morgan mare, Lady.
I was a really horse crazy little girl. I ate, slept , BREATHED horses. I remember sitting on the front step of the house when I was three going on four and Daddy asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I remember telling him. I NEED a pony. Not I wanted a pony, not I would like to have a pony but I NEED a pony. I asked every year and for my sixth birthday I got:
Heidi. She was my best friend.
I think I was six turning seven that summer, maybe a year older. And Daddy looked at me as I got into the truck and he said "I want you to remember today. You won't see this anywhere else. It's like stepping back one hundred years. I'm worried you are too young to remember it well but I want you to see this and remember it."
And was it ever something to see. He took me to Reigel's Blacksmith Shop (link to story about shop) go to gallery to see photos.
When we pulled up to the shop, the doors were wide open. It had a horsey, smokey, metallic atmosphere and it was dark inside. There were no other horses there, just us and our one horse.
The Clearmont Iowa Blacksmith Shop
Interior of Clearmont Blacksmith Shop with blacksmith tools on the bench
Both From Clermontia.org website gallery
There were rings in the bricks all along the one wall and the blacksmith told Daddy to tie Lady to one of the rings.
The Smithy by John Sargent Noble
I don't remember the blacksmith as a tall man but he was a Powerfully built man with Big muscular arms, bald head, and a leather apron.
A painting of Burkhard Riegel who ran the shop from 1931 to 1967.
From Clermontia.org website gallery
I remember him holding a hammer in his big hands and there was a circular brick 'firepit' with a hood over it. It was rigged up to a big bellows that he could 'pump' the fire up with. First the blacksmith (who I now know was Mr. Riegel) trimmed each hoof and then took a horseshoe off a wall, which had hundreds of shoes hanging in rows on it) and measured it on the newly trimmed hoof. Lady was a perfect lady during the process and did not give him any fuss. Then he took the shoe over to the forge.
Charles Grant Beauregard "The Blacksmith"
He pumped up the fire and heated the shoe till it glowed red hot and then shaped it to exactly the shape of the hoof. The shoe would still be hot when he put on the horses' hoof and it would sizzle. I asked Daddy if it hurt the horse but he said she didn't feel it.
|Bellows for a forge|
Daddy, I wasn't too young. I remember EVERYTHING, how it looked, how it smelled, the bricks, the shop, the smithy. It was one of the greatest gifts you ever gave me. And thank you to Mr. Riegel for explaining what he was doing and letting a small young girl watch him at his craft.
Sometimes very special gifts come in surprising packages.
If you are ever near Clearmont, Iowa, you must stop. I know I will. I would love to see it again. I got to go again one other time with Daddy a year later but I've never been back since.
Horse and Buggy Days by Paul Defletson