Until well after the First World War, Agincourt’s motive power was the horse. I rode a horse once. Once was enough.
Horses are dignified creatures, majestic even, intelligent helpmates, partners in the advance of civilization. From the Gates of Thermopylae (the “hot gates”) to the Golden ones, humankind has depended upon the horse in the battlefield of war and plowing peacetime fields of grain.
My great-grandfather Peter Markiewicz was a teamster in Lemont, Illinois. His occupation kept its name long after horses were no longer involved. Moving things about town, back and forth from the Illinois Central depot at the foot of State Street across town and into the hinterlands, Peter hauled personal goods and the town’s early industrial output in his wagons.¹ Somewhere I’ve seen a posed photograph of him and a young co-worker seated on a large wagon hitched to two two enormous draft horses, possibly for advertising purposes; I’ll bet the horses had names. It’s good to know I come from that kind of stock. Could it also be the source of my admiration for the quiet strength of horses like his? And so it is that Agincourt has had its counterparts, its share of those sinewed bodies — some with two legs, some with four.
A real photo postcard view of Allen & Son has been my inspiration for Agincourt’s livery, Equus & Co., situated in the 100 block of SW Second Street. With improved photoshop skills, I may be able to alter that signage and convince you such a place once existed.
In reality (a word I use sparingly), Allen & Son once stood in San Bernardino, California and was the subject of a 1949 feature article in that city’s newspaper. The value of that article is the outline of its business history, the transition from horse to auto, the introduction of automotive repair, other adaptations to the new reality.
A better print of this will tell me more and help to flesh out a plausible parallel.
Oh, and The History Quill website may help me present the contributions of horses with greater authenticity.
¹ Peter had a brief public career as commissioner of highways for Lemont in 1905. You can read about it here. Roads were something more than a passing interest for him, obviously.
A friend has told me that his family hardware store employed both a blacksmith and a tack repair specialist, to deal with the needs of customers who still relied on horses.
Love to talk with them sometime.