Researching equine history from the 1940s and 1950s reminds me that, as I've said before, Southern California was a very "horsey" place back then. It always pleases, but never surprises, me to discover previously unknown connections between the horses and the people who lived in the area. And it's not uncommon (since I look for them) for me to uncover details of model horse history as well. The story of the Parade Morgan bookends illustrates one of those connections.
When my dear friend Linda passed away last fall, I became the new owner of her set of Morgan horse bookends designed by Gladys Brown Edwards. Linda and her father had bred, raised, and shown Morgans in Galesburg, Illinois in the 1950s-60s, and I think it is safe to say that even though she loved pretty much all things equine, the Morgan was her favorite breed.
Fortunately for equine historians (and model horse lovers), GBE and her husband Cecil Edwards saved the correspondence relating to the origins of this handsome set of bookends. The letters are in the Cecil and Gladys Brown Edwards collection at the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library at Cal Poly Pomona.
Owning a set of the bookends gave me a chance to review my notes on their creation, which show a direct connection between the artist and another Morgan horse lover who also lived in Southern California in the post-World War II era.
One of the letters is from Keith L. Morse, Secretary-Treasurer of the Morgan Horse Association of the West. It's dated October 26, 1946, and is addressed to Cecil, thanking him for sending the club one of the bookends that Gladys had designed.
Morse's letter identifies the inspiration for the headstudy as the Morgan stallion Abbott, a dark chestnut horse foaled in 1930, bred by the USDA in Vermont. Here's a picture of him.
However, the Morgan horse bookend was not the first connection between Merle Little and Gladys Brown. Merle had organized all the equestrian activities for the May 1933 Pioneer Day parade and horse show in the city of Monrovia, right up the road from Pomona; the Monrovia News-Post documented his trip to the Kellogg Ranch to recruit horses and riders for the events.
|Monrovia News-Post, 9 May 1933|
|Monrovia News-Post, 18 May 1933|
|W. K. Kellogg gave the Welsh Pony *Silverlight to a local Boy Scout troop.|
Cecil's letter enclosed a photo of a pencil drawing by Gladys of an "ideal" Morgan stallion; it was a composite of several mostly unnamed Southern California Morgan sires. Cecil noted, "A local horse, King Shoshone, owned by Mel Morse of Arcadia figured prominently in the drawing."
|Morgan stallion King Shoshone|
|"Ideal Morgan Stallion" by Gladys Brown (Edwards)|
With a very quick turnaround time, The Morgan Horse magazine featured the drawing on the cover of its February 1949 edition.
|Hagen-Renaker "Forever Amber" Morgan mare|