“Polo is the most inviting sport I’ve ever seen.” Nacho Figueras

1886-men-playing-polo-at-newport
Men playing polo at Newport.

“For many years, the U.S. Army supported polo, beginning in 1896 at Fort Riley, Kansas. Beyond improving the riding skills of cavalrymen, polo taught leadership, teamwork and strategy. West Point introduced polo in 1901. By 1914 there were 17 Army posts playing polo. In 1928, the U.S. Army team made it to the final of the U.S. Open, and there were Army polo teams across the U.S. as well as in the Philippines, Hawaii and Panama.

 

Although the increasing mechanization of the Army and the realities of World War II ended the Army’s reliance on horses, polo continued to be played by active members and veterans of all branches of the military. Today there are inter-service matches held all over the country, and international military matches contested worldwide.” Polo Museum

LINK: POLO HISTORY AT THE POLO MUSEUM

Fine-19th-Century-English-font-b-Horses-b-font-Eating-Pheasants-font-b-Antique-b-font

Fiction: The Trouble with Dead Horses

Last week Buck was rebuffed by the girl of his dreams and now this . . .

“Sir! I’m ruined for sure! What should I do?” Streeter whispered, his breath moist against Buck’s face.

“What? Why are you bothering me? Where were you?” Buck asked.

“By the horses, sir! Oh, I am a fool!” Streeter cried and pulled at Buck.

“Let go, Streeter. What are you on about?”

“I’ve come to you because I have no one else to turn to. You’re decent and, truly, I do consider you a friend.”

“What’s happened, Streeter?” Buck asked, sitting up with bleary eyes.

“I’m a damned fool. The stable workers . . . the privates, they’re the only fellows that chat with me, but you, sir. And I’m very grateful for your bravery.”

“I’m not brave—“

“Never mind that now, sir. You have intelligence and that’s what I need. The enlisted men at the stables let me ride the horses in the evening on occasion.”
“That’s against regulations, Streeter, and . . .”

“I know, I know, but horses, sir, are my weakness and it did no one any harm until tonight. The horse I rode got spooked. We figure it was that awful band practice. I only just escaped with my life, but not the horse. What shall I do? The men have turned on me now—they say that I’m solely responsible.”

“I don’t know that there’s anything I can do for you, Streeter. It’s hard to explain away a dead horse. How very stupid of you!” Buck said.

“I’ll be kicked from the school because of this!” Streeter cried.

Buck had his own problems and wanted to go back to sleep, but he remembered how proud his father had been of him taking a stand for Streeter. How many times had Buck broken the rules? And now he knew how terrible it was to be alone. “Streeter, I can’t promise you anything at all, but you must promise me that no one will ever know that you enlisted me to help you.”

“Of course! I promise. I knew you’d have ideas for me.” Streeter slapped Buck’s back.

Buck reached behind his cot and pulled out a small purse. “I’ve got some money from my father.”

“Sir, I can’t take your money.”

“No, we’ll use it at the stables. We can maybe buy the men’s silence; maybe buy a horse. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s your only hope to avoid punishment.”

“Sir, I can’t accept this generosity,” Streeter said taking the wad of cash. “This is . . . sakes alive! This is a lot of money!”

“Yes, my father is very generous with money. I’m not supposed to have it anyway. Father didn’t go through the proper channels here. I was saving it for an engagement ring.”

Streeter took his eyes off the money. “Sir, I take it that Miss Turner didn’t go for your proposal?”

Buck shook his head.

“I thought you were selling yourself too low, anyway.”

Buck whispered. “Let’s go before we’re found. I’m in enough trouble as it is, Streeter.”

“You are a blessing from God, sir!”

“Don’t push it, Streeter,” Buck warned, but felt giddy and laughed as he slipped into the night with the new cadet close behind.

As they approached the stables, Buck whispered, “I’ll go in and have a chat with them—they wouldn’t take too kindly to a colored, I mean a plebe, bribing them. You stand guard.”

Streeter nodded with a nervous grin, pointing to where the men smoked behind the building and Buck jumped the fence and introduced himself. The men listened silently, but intently as Buck negotiated.

“So, you see fellows, you stand to lose if Cadet Streeter is hived. No one’s going to believe he went unnoticed on the horses. This money should cover the cost of a fine new horse and should soften your feelings against the cadet.”

Buck handed them over four hundred dollars and their eyes lit, but a noise caught their attention and they pushed the money back. Buck wheeled around to find the officer of the guard—the very man who had sent him to his tent—standing and grim. “Buck Crenshaw! What the hell are you doing here? And what’s all this money?” he grabbed the thick wad of bills and sifted through it.

“I-I was . . .”
“He was trying to bribe us,” a private said.

“Buck?” The astonished officer waited for explanation.

“Well, Cadet Streeter. . .” Buck began.

“Cadet Streeter? What has that plebe got to do with you disobeying me?”

Buck hesitated. “Nothing, sir. It was my decision to get involved.”

“Involved in bribery? For what?”

“Sir, it was foolish, but a horse is dead and Cadet Streeter is a good cadet, mostly, but he loves to ride—did you know that his father was a trainer when he was a slave? So, anyway, it’s my father’s money. I know that I shouldn’t have let him slip it to me, sir, but it was for a ring for Miss Turner.”

“I know! I know, you explained about Miss Turner earlier. You have your hands in so many pots, Buck, it’s making my head spin. So you’re friends with Streeter then?”

“I guess I am, sir—though it’s brought me nothing but trouble.”

The officer turned to the stable men. “Is Cadet Crenshaw telling the truth?”

“No, sir, he isn’t.”

Buck stared.

“We would never allow a cadet to ride the schooling horses. It’s true the horse is dead, but that’s all we know. It’s this cadet who’s come to bribe us.”

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

PART FOUR HERE

PART FIVE HERE

PART SIX HERE

PART SEVEN HERE

PART EIGHT HERE

PART NINE HERE

Houses with Words and Stories (some of them true)

082

People lie. Do houses lie? Is it in their brick and mortar to start tales in a writer’s head? When does a house become old enough to pass on story ideas over the sound of cell phone ringtones and refrigerators humming in the background?

084My great-grandfather was a cabinet maker and lived for a time in the town I write about. The house still stands but I suspect his cabinets were tossed for Formica and fake wood in the 70’s. If ever I was granted an audience with this house I’d ask after the cabinets. Would the house tell the story of my great-grandmother’s fight with cancer and her husband’s grief? Maybe the house would play stoic as my great-grandfather does from the photograph I have of him.

I don’t mind if houses lie. A story is a story (and a gift) no matter how false. If a writer listens carefully especially to an old house (one on the verge of demolition is even better) a house will open its treasure trove of memories false and true. Bring a notebook. Bring your heart. Don’t bring a cynical or talkative friend.

083

Some people think historical fiction is a boring history teacher wrapped in sugar-coated romance, but old houses beg to differ. They tell me real people with dogs who scratched at the fine wood doors lived once. Arguments happened, furniture was bought and sold, children were sent to their rooms. The scars, the additions and subtractions on an older house tell of rising financial successes and the death of loved ones. A house down the street from where I live now told me all about the man who lived there for 89 years and only spent one night under a different roof. The old kitchen wood stove remains in the house like a senile relic–speechless.

You see, in that one disclosure my mind wonders what would take the man away for a night? What would keep him there for 89 years? Houses like to keep you guessing at details. In pantries of old houses I fill the shelves–researching the desserts. I discovered once that Buck Crenshaw (some of you know who he is) hates strawberries. In the yards of old houses I plant imaginary trees– Simon McCullough plants a willow in his mother’s garden upon returning from war–the houses gladly play along.

A friend of mine used to smell the cigar smoke of a previous owner of her house. He’d been dead for a hundred years. He moved things around sometimes. He appeared at her bedside more than once and was quite handsome, but writers don’t need ghosts when houses tell enough of what you need to know–or at least send you off pondering.

085

***Thank you Sharon Bonin-Pratt for the writing prompt!