Delivering Hope to the Next Generation

I’m late with this post, as I was absorbed last week in the Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference where I was a keynote speaker. I invite you to listen to the live streaming of my illustrated presentation that gives the back story of how I became the documenter of the seagoing cowboy history, the legacy of the seagoing cowboys and the Heifer Project, and the importance of continuing to deliver hope to the next generation. The speech, which you can find here: https://livestream.com/livingstreamcob/NOAC2017/videos/162425620 begins at 13 minutes into the session and lasts for 70 minutes. I know — that’s a long speech! But that’s what I was contracted for and that’s what I gave. If you wish to jump to the seagoing cowboy part, you can start at 25:30 minutes (including the reading of my picture book The Seagoing Cowboy) or start at 35 minutes to skip the picture book reading and stop wherever you wish. Enjoy!

Next post will pick up Part II of the pre-WWII seagoing cowboys.

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UNRRA expresses gratitude for Heifer Project

The work of the Heifer Project following World War II did not go unnoticed by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. A letter to the Heifer Project Committee from UNRRA’s Director General was published 70 years ago this week in the January 11, 1947, Gospel Messenger of the Church of the Brethren:

UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND REHABILITATION ADMINISTRATION
1344 CONNECTICUT AVENUE
WASHINGTON 25, D. C.

November 26, 1946

Heifer Project Committee
New Windsor, Md.
Dear Mr. Bushong:
I am informed that your organization, the heifer-project committee of the Brethren Service Committee, has assembled a boatload of heifers which you will contribute to UNRRA for shipment from New Orleans to China in December. This will be the first boat of cattle to go to China, and is one of the most important gifts that UNRRA has received. Thousands of the cattle you have donated are now in Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy and Poland helping the farmers there to restore their war-torn lands and feed the populations—rural and urban—of these countries which lost 50% of their livestock in the war. The artificial insemination program in Greece, set up by UNRRA with your assistance, has materially helped to improve the depleted breeding stock of that suffering country.
The fine spirit of practical Christianity and the faith that your group has shown are examples to us all in these days when, without faith, we cannot progress. Your movement, beginning modestly as it did, has spread its spirit and its work. Transcending barriers of nationality and religious conviction, it has drawn to itself members of many denominations, and illustrated what can be accomplished when conviction and efficient enterprise and fine Christian generosity are combined.
I understand that your organization has decided to continue its work for two years after UNRRA ceases. This is further exemplification of its validity. May I congratulate and thank you in the name of those we have all been trying to help and wish you every success in the future.
Sincerely yours,
F. H. La Guardia
Director General

Yet further exemplification of the Heifer Project’s validity is that it continues today as Heifer International. The organization was set in motion 75 years ago this week, as recorded in the January 10, 1942, minutes of the Church of the Brethren Northern Indiana Men’s Work Cabinet: “The Cabinet decided to support Dan West’s Calf Project. Dan West is to give more information at our April meeting.”

The shipment to China to which Mr. La Guardia refers left New Orleans November 19, 1946, on the S. S. Lindenwood Victory carrying 723 Heifer Project cattle and 32 seagoing cowboys. Watch for stories from this memorable trip in upcoming posts.

Photo courtesy of George Weybright family.

Photo courtesy of George Weybright family.

Photo courtesy of George Weybright family.

Photo courtesy of George Weybright family.

Special Crew #4: Second All-Mennonite Crew

Several months after the Mennonite student crew of the S. S. Stephen R. Mallory made their trip to Poland, a second all-Mennonite crew departed from Newport News, Virginia, on the S. S. Frederic C. Howe November 15, 1946. Bound for Trieste, Italy, they cared for over 700 horses that would be transported on to Yugoslavia.

Courtesy: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Courtesy: Henry Weaver, Jr.

This post will be told through the slides of Henry “Hank” Weaver, Jr., an eighteen-year-old student at Eastern Mennonite College who was taking a year off between his freshman and sophomore years when he made his trip.

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

 

 

“All but four cowboys got seasick,” Hank said. He was among the lucky four who didn’t.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

 

 

 

The “bosses,” Chris, Trimmer, Art, and Walt.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

 

 

Like the Mennoite crew that went to Poland, these cowboys were greeted in Trieste by the devastation of war.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

 

 

Hank and his friends take a “taxi” to see Trieste.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

An old Roman amphitheater was one of their stops.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

 

 

They took a bus to Venice, a bit uneasy about whether they’d make it back in time to catch the ship, but relaxed when they saw the Captain was on the bus, too.

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

Photo credit: Henry Weaver, Jr.

 

The ship was met by “bum boats” off the coast of Spain on the way home, with merchants wanting to sell bedspreads and table cloths. The basket goes up with the merchandise and down with the pay.

 

 

The Frederic C. Howe completed its trip on December 31, 1946, docking in New York City.

As I do with all seagoing cowboys I interview, I asked Hank if this trip had influenced his later life. He said it stoked his interest in other countries and led him to a career administering college study abroad programs. He started Goshen College’s program in Indiana and served as Deputy Director for Education Abroad in the University of California system. His work has taken him to over half the countries of the world.

Next post: the seagoing cowboy who made the most trips

Extra post: Passing of the cowboys

One of the most difficult parts of my work is receiving obituaries of the seagoing cowboys whom I have interviewed. To sit in their homes and have them share so intimately with me about their experiences at such a formative time in their lives is an honor that I will always cherish. These men become like family to me; so when I lose another one, I grieve.

Today’s notice was the passing of Donald W. Rummel, formerly of Manheim, Pennsylvania, on July 24, 2014. When he was a junior in high school, Don was on the SS Park Victory that left Baltimore October 25, 1945, with 485 horses and 322 heifers on board. The ship docked in Trieste, Italy, where the livestock were transported over ground to Yugoslavia.

Don went on to college and seminary and served as a pastor in the Church of the Brethren for many years. I interviewed Don together with his shipmate Quentin “Queenie” Buckwalter several years ago and was treated to a lovely meal at a local restaurant with their spouses afterwards. Don sent me many cheerful notes through the years I’ve known him. Don, I’ll miss you. Rest in peace.