IRH - Horseshoes

This section is to honor the works of Russ Lancaster who started the “I Remember Hamlet” web site years ago. Without his pioneering the web at that time we might not have gathered all these memories of our Hamlet, NC. We thank you Russ for what you started in 1996, may you Rest in Peace. Russ was kind enough to let me download his web site before he took it down. Thank you Russ.

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David
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IRH - Horseshoes

Postby David » Mon July 16, 2018, 2:43 pm

Horseshoes
Fallen Heroes
1967-69
by: Russ Lancaster
Horseshoes is just one of the first games I ever learned how to play. My dad taught me when I was just a kid. I never played much as a kid, leaving that to the adults in my life.
One summer day in 1967, I was 26 at the time, I had a few extra dollars and purchased a set from one of the stores in Hamlet. It seems it might have been Roses, I'm not quite sure exactly where I got them. The box consisted of two stakes, four shoes and a set of instructions.
I worked for Pee Dee Bottling Co. at the time and was a strong young man. My strength came from hauling those heavy crates of bottled colas around all day long on my route. That work had strengthened my arms, legs, wrists and back tremendously yet kept my waist at a trim 28 inches. I was in the best shape of my life standing 5', 11' and weighing in at about 140 pounds.
I lived on a dirt road just off Highway 38 south of town, about a mile outside the city limits as they existed at the time. We had been fortunate to find the house. While delivering my supply of RC Cola and Nehi to the Hamlet Gin & Supply, I had mentioned to Inez Millson that I needed a house to rent. She steered me to old Sam Peele out on Highway 38. I haven't seen Inez in years and fear that Sam Peele may have passed by now. They both came through for me in time of need.
I had a long dirt driveway between my rented block house and an unattended field on the next lot. It left me lots of room to park my old 1957 Chevy and still have plenty of space to set up my horseshoes.
I began to practice pitching the shoes every afternoon after work and soon became pretty good, at least in my opinion. After work, I would invite my co-workers over to the house to pitch horseshoes. Frank Wallace and a few others (I can't remember their names all these years later) would come by and we would pitch until dark. On Saturday evenings, my dad would sometimes come over and pitch with us. He was one of the best horseshoe pitchers I ever saw. Sometimes, for fun, he would toss all four shoes at once. I would watch those four shoes rotate ever so slowly through the air and many times be amazed as three or even four rung their way onto the stob at the other end. He was good.
In 1968, I changed jobs and went back to work for the railroad. There I found more friends that were up to the challenge of horseshoe pitching. Off days would often find us beside the house and the ringing clatter of iron upon iron was a familiar noise. Sometimes neighbors from Bennettsville Road would be drawn by that sound and soon a full-fledged tournament would be in progress. Those summer evenings were special times, folks from the neighborhood, friends from work, my children and parents...we would all gather there and socialize, play and watch. It was inexpensive and relaxing. It was family and friends gathered under the late evening sun, telling tales, watching, pitching horseshoes and just forgetting our troubles and woes.
After the infamous ice storm of February 1969, I moved, thanks to Bill James, to a home at the very east end of James Avenue. It was a beautiful brick, all electric home but again it was at the end of a dirt road. But that was not detrimental, it was special. There would be no cars moving down my block, my house was the only one there. The hard packed dirt road out front was perfect for pitching horseshoes, the street light made it possible to play into the early hours of darkness in the evenings and my house was surrounded on two sides by deep woods. To this day, I remember that house as being the favorite I ever owned or rented as an adult.
As summer came again in 1969, the friends from work would begin coming by. We would pitch horseshoes to our heart's content and the clanging of the iron would bring new neighbors by to join in the fun. My mom and dad would again come by on the weekends and my dad would show new faces his fancy tricks with the heavy shoes. The women, after tiring of watching, would go out back and sit on the screened porch and gossip among themselves. Helga would keep them supplied with iced tea or they would sometimes bring their own refreshments.
My dad and I became a team, a sometimes unbeatable team, taking on all challengers. We were good but most of our expertise came from his hands, not mine. I just thought I was good...not understanding at the time that it was he that made me look good.
My best friend at the time, Jimmy Saunders, was an ever present guest and sometimes he and I would go one on one with the horseshoes. Jimmy was a great competitor and even better friend. He and I would compete nearly every day in golf, chess, pool, table tennis, bowling and even horseshoes. We were nearly equal in all sports but he had more of a killer instinct than I. If I ever got too far ahead, I had a tendency to ease up, to keep the competition keen. If he got ahead, he went for the kill. Though probably nearly equal in all our sports, he beat me more often than not by using that great killer instinct he possessed.
My dad and I found ourselves one night at the VFW on Boyd's Lake Road pitching horseshoes for money. We were beating all competition at $5 a game until we tired. We played for hours until my mom and wife came to drag us home. I was glad they came for us, we were tiring and beginning to lose. We had lost enough games at the end to just barely break even when they showed up. We were good, but we could be had. I should have known then that maybe we weren't as good as we thought.
My dad and I joined a bowling league at the bowling alley in Rockingham. Not one to be quiet about anything, he spread the news about our horseshoe pitching abilities one night at the bowling alley. The manager (I believe his name was Hartsell Simpson) overheard him and told us there were others in the county that might be just as good, if not better, than us. My dad couldn't stand hearing that and suggested we would take on any comers. That was the beginning of our downfall.
The next week, the Hamlet News Messenger or Richmond County Journal (I can no longer remember which) ran an advertisement for a horseshoe pitching tournament to be held the next Saturday at the bowling alley. It went so far as to say that Jack and Russell Lancaster proclaimed themselves the champions of the county unless someone could dethrone us. I may not have the wording down exactly as it appeared but I'm not too far off.
We showed up at the bowling alley that Saturday afternoon and found twelve teams waiting to compete. The tournament was set up as single elimination and we reached into a hat to draw numbers and be seeded. A coin toss was to determine which team's horseshoes would be used in each game.
My dad and I drew a couple of the Mabe brothers from Ellerbe. I had seen them before having had their market in Ellerbe on one of my RC Cola routes. They won the coin toss and we had to use their horseshoes.
I knew immediately we were in trouble as we were granted a few practice pitches. Their horseshoes came off real horses. They were a different weight and had no lip on the back like our "store-bought" shoes. I used that lip to flip my shoes once in flight.
My dad was not worried. He grew up on a farm in Louisburg and had pitched with real horseshoes before. He didn't use the lip anyway. He threw them the correct way with a slight rotation instead of a flip. He was comfortable with our situation, I was not.
My practice pitches were embarrassing. The first pitch sailed 15 feet past the stob and hit the brick wall of the bowling alley. The other teams and spectators laughed loudly at my lousy throw. I was in big trouble.
The game began and we were quickly eliminated. My dad scored our only points while I was useless from my end. I was humiliated. We were dethroned in the very first round after being proclaimed the best in the county. How embarrassing.
I felt even sorrier for my dad. I had let him down.
We stayed until the bitter end and were finally able to get some consolation from the fact that the winning team was the same Mabe brothers that had eliminated us in the first round. On the drive home, my dad brought that to my attention. I didn't have too much to say about it though..after that first throw, I felt a bunch of old retired folks from the rest home could have whipped me.
But I learned another valuable lesson that day. I learned not to brag and not to think I was better than anyone.. maybe equal...maybe not.. but certainly not better. From that day on, in any sport, I always gave my very best. If I won, I won quietly and if I lost, I lost with dignity. It is a lesson all of us should learn and practice.
Yes.. I remember those summer afternoons and evenings and the family fun we had in those neighborhoods. I remember my dad when he was young and I remember myself when I was so physically fit. I remember my friend Jimmy Saunders. I remember the iced tea and the voices of the people at our gatherings. I remember the horrible incident at the bowling alley and I definitely will not forget the Mabe brothers and their real horseshoes. I remember the clanging of iron on iron, the dust, the blisters on my thumb. I remember those days and those times with great joy and with the understanding that sometimes we over estimate ourselves.. But most of all.... I remember Hamlet

freddie hassler
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Re: IRH - Horseshoes

Postby freddie hassler » Tue July 17, 2018, 1:57 am

My first game of Horseshoes was played at Boyd Lake

sigmore
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Re: IRH - Horseshoes

Postby sigmore » Fri July 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

Now that you said that Freddie, I think I remember some horseshoe pits just west of the beach part, or I'm slowly losing my mind.

freddie hassler
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Re: IRH - Horseshoes

Postby freddie hassler » Fri July 20, 2018, 8:58 pm

Sigmore you are right with the location :roll:

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Re: IRH - Horseshoes

Postby sigmore » Mon July 23, 2018, 4:25 pm

I'll take that as a yes but you seem to have forgotten the "concur" clause in your contract. We'll let it slide this time.

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Re: IRH - Horseshoes

Postby freddie hassler » Tue July 24, 2018, 8:02 am

Concur on the Yes, one thing our Pal Gary Gregson(RIP) taught you before he left us was Forgiveness

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Re: IRH - Horseshoes

Postby freddie hassler » Tue July 24, 2018, 8:10 am

Sigmore Concur is the wrong spelling it's CONCURE with an E on the end :roll:

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Re: IRH - Horseshoes

Postby sigmore » Tue July 24, 2018, 4:13 pm

I beg to differ Mr Hassler, google is yoh buddie, concur? Yessir, I sure miss my ole buddy Mr Gregson. He was going to come down and visit the year he passed.


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