A few facts about buggies

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

The other case — Deck was a tight-fisted man though prosperous He had had to be tight, of course, in order to survive and prosper. He once told Dad that he had milked his cows on the lee side of a barbwire fence when he first settled there. Accordingly, it is understandable that he usually tried to make do with what he had. This story requires a little explaining — the old fashioned one-horse buggy had wooden shafts that went up along each side of the horse to the hames at the shoulder. The harness tugs, also fastened to the hames, were hooked to a singletree at the buggy. Well, a proper buggy harness had a specially constructed hanger or boot on each hame to support and hold the shaft ends which had metal ferrules a foot or so long with a wider metal disk at the back end of the ferrule. Deck’s buggy was an old trap to begin with and he was too tight to buy a regular buggy harness; so, when the buggy was used, an ordinary harness was cobbled up to make it work. Dad’s system was to take a long hame strap fastened around each hame and then wrapped several times around the shaft and then buckled up good and tight. The horse pulled with the singletree and held back with the shaft ends.

One day, Mrs. Andrews had some lady guests — prospers relatives from the city. The ladies decided to visit on of the neighbors and Dad was instructed to harness the horse and hitch it to the buggy — which he did in the usual way — ‘and the ladies took the buggy and made the trip to where they were going without incident. It must be remembered that though women drove horses in those days, they did not normally pay any more attention to the horses or the equipment than most modern women do to their cars. Well — having arrived without mishap. the, ladies got out and went in the house. One of the menfolk unhitched the horse and put it in the barn. Later, when the ladies were ready to leave, someone — probably someone else — re-hitched the horse and, not being familiar with the wrap-around arrangement, merely slung the shafts loosely in the straps — which would have been satisfactory so long as the horse did not go downhill or stop suddenly. The ladies got part way home all right but somewhere, having to go downhill, the heavily loaded buggy pushed the shafts through the loose sling straps and the horse, frightened by the buggy hitting him in the hindparts, ran away, busted up the buggy and dumped out the womenfolk. Luckily, no one was seriously injured, but by the time Jen got home she was really stirred up. She told her husband angrily what had happened and he tried to blame it on Del (Dad). Mrs. Andrews said Dell had nothing to do with it. It was the man at the other place who didn’t know how to put together the mess of junk that she had to use. “And Dexter, there is no reason why we shouldn’t have a new buggy and harness, and what’s more you are going to get one!” For once, Deck broke down and bought some new equipment.

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