1935 IF Convention ~ A Blast from the Past!   by John Vance

The 2005, the 125th Anniversary Convention of the IF will he held in Philadelphia. I for one plan to attend this historic event even though I am not an IF member and personally disapprove of two national organizations for our sport. I will not let my personal opinions deter me from participating in this celebration. I believe we in the sport should set aside our differences and take the time to enjoy this historic anniversary celebration as an opportunity; for remembering who preceded us in the sport, and to enjoy the fellowship that this rare occasion offers.

On my bookshelf, I have a copy of the 1935 IF Convention Yearbook and interestingly the 1935 Convention was also held in Philadelphia. As my part in preparing for the 125 Anniversary Convention, I thought I would share some of the highlights and advertisements from the 1935 Yearbook with you. Not only will this article be a glimpse into the past concerning old time flyers, popular breeds of the times and race results, but it will also reminisce about a more caring time in our sport.

The Convention Race:

The 300 mile Convention Race was flown from Bedford, VA., with 276 participating lofts shipping 2083 birds to the race. 288 of these entries were from 68 Out of Area lofts representing 28 states and Canada. The race birds were released at 7:00 AM under clear skies into a light NW wind. The weather at Philadelphia was clear with strong NW winds when the first birds arrived.

The winning bird, 4703 IF 35 PCR; later named "Thriller", arrived at the loft of Shilton and Elliot, in the Frankfort area of Philadelphia, at 2:26:04 PM. The winning speed was 1202.57 ypm. The capital prize of $200.00 and a sterling silver trophy was awarded to the winner. The American Racing Pigeon News also awarded a Golden Jubilee trophy for the fastest speed by a subscriber of the magazine in the race. "Thriller" a chocolate cock, was bred by George Shilton and was a Bastin - Sion - Stassart cross.

Of course, George Shilton would later become famous for his Husken Van Riel's, but that would not happen until years after WWII. In fact, the team of Husken and Van Riel would not even begin competing together until after the war, and when these two men began competing together, what an astounding record they amassed. They simply dominated the Belgian sport for many years.

The second place convention bird, 3352 IF 35 PCR BCWft Hen, was bred by F. Lapinski and flown by Ben Kakolweski also of the Frankfort area of Philadelphia. This bird was Barker - Black Diamond blood and had a velocity of 1197.13 ypm. The capital prize as $125.00 and a silver trophy was awarded.

As a point of interest, the Black Diamond blood was a Philadelphia strain often referred to as Philadelphia Blacks. The origins of this strain go back to the 1870's and 1880's. At that time, two Belgian fanciers came to America, one was named Offerman and the other Posenaer. Both men only stay a few years before returning to Belgium but both had a lasting effect on the American sport.

Offerman, after his return to Belgium needed only a few years to rise again to the top of the sport when he won 1st and 2nd in the most prestigious long distance race (550 miles) in all of Europe. These two winning birds were a cock and a hen and in 1881, they were imported to the USA by Fred Whitly of Newark, New Jersey. This pair were the parents of Trenton 137, the bird that became the foundation of Conrad A. Mahr's Trenton strain. Posenaer also returned to Belgium, but his bloodlines remained and flourished in the USA. Years later, the crossing of the Posenaer blacks with the Trentons produced what became know as the Philadelphia Black Diamonds.

The third place 1935 IF Philadelphia Convention Race winning bird was a double banded Blue Check Cock; 4482 IF 35 PCR and 430 IF 35 Liberty Bell. This bird was the first Out of Area bird being bred by Dr. Fielden and Allen McDermott of Fall River, MA., and flown by Martin Kapusta also of the Frankford area of Philadelphia, with a velocity of 1196.58 ypm. The capital prizes totaled $327.50 ($75 for third overall, $100 for first OOA, and $152.50 for first Liberty Bell [gold band]), a sterling silver trophy and a gold band encrusted with a diamond, ruby and sapphire. This bird was a Bastin - Sion - Stassart Cross.

The fourth place bird, 845 IF 35 PCR RC Cock, was bred and flown by Herbert Munks of the Olney district of Philadelphia, and had a velocity of 1188.72 ypm. The bird was Logan - Wegge bloodlines and the capital prize was $50.00.

The fifth place bird, double banded 4153 IF 35 PCR and 172 IF 35 Liberty Bell, was a Blue Check Bricoux hen bred by Horace M. Hampton of Rosyln, PA and was flown by John Rose of the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. This bird had a velocity of 1183.84 ypm and won a capital prize of $116.00 ($25 for fifth and $91 for 2nd Liberty Bell [gold band]). Also awarded was a trophy and a wrist watch.

For those of you like myself that have no idea of the geography of Philadelphia, I did a little research and the Germantown neighborhood is a few miles west of Olney and the Olney neighborhood is about 2 miles WNW of the Frankfort neighborhood so we see that these birds hit along a five mile front that runs fairly perpendicular to the expected line of flight for the returning race birds. The airline distance between the long loft of Shilton and Elliot and the short loft of John Rose was 3.78 miles.

The bird placing second Out of Area / 10th overall was bred by M. Schuvart of Brooklyn, NY., and was flown by Charles Kerns of Norristown, PA. Charles Kerns also had a cute ad in the yearbook. He calls his birds "Kern's Krackers" and his slogan was; For that bad taste in the mouth on race day try a "Kern's Kracker" - they are good and they are good for you.

The bird placing third Out of Area / 19th overall was bred by Lew Curtis and flown by none other than John Mahaffey. I wonder how many lofts were founded on the birds of these two men? Many of the now gone old timers got their birds from these two great champions. As a side note, in 1934, John Mahaffey's Red Check Cock called "Journey's End Vindication", won the Great Eastern Championship Race against 405 lofts, 1832 birds @ 505 miles. Journey's End Vindication was also winner of the Hall of Fame award that same year. The next year, an aunt of Journey's End Vindication placed 4th in the Great Eastern Championship Race against 447 lofts, 2067 birds @ 505 miles.

Some other interesting historical information about these race results:

Lew Curtis also placed 4th Out of Area / 24th overall with a bird flown by E. Henderer.

Dr. Fielden and Allen McDermott also placed 5th Out of Area / 36th overall with a bird flown by R. Robinson.

Of interest to me is the mention of John Mahaffey placing 14th Out of Area / 75th overall in this race with a bird bred by Dr. E. W. Edlund of Maywood, ILL. This relationship between Mahaffey and Dr. Edlund and an advertisement placed by George Shilton, giving credit to Dr. Edlund for aiding George in the formation of his foundation stock, makes me wonder if Dr. Edlund was involved with Lew Curtis and John Mahaffey in the importation and development of the Bastin, Sion and Stassart strains? I have heard a lot about the Curtis - Mahaffey connection but do remember hearing about Dr. Edlund's involvement. If anyone has information about this connection please contact me.

I hope you have enjoyed the article thus far. In the next issue, I will share with you about the spirit of sportsmanship and advertisements from these earlier times and something about the general tone of advertising and how it has changed in the last 70 years. Until then...