Archive » May 24, 2012
By Pat Murphy, Contributing Writer
On the last weekend in April, an amazing event took place at Foxen Canyon Ranch. It was a giant auction of antique carriages and other historic items collected over the years by the late T. Hayer. Hundreds of people came to view and bid on the items that ranged from old frying pans, boxes of old horse shoes and farm equipment to a valuable Yellowstone coach, antique mud wagon, countless carriages and several grain wagons.
“This was, at least, a 30-year collection of American country history,” his wife, Laura Cotter Hayer, told us. It was both a nostalgic parting with things that had become like old friends, and a successful event. As luck would have it, as I was admiring some of the vehicles, John Crockett, the curator of our Santa Ynez Valley Carriage museum, joined me for a little tour. “This is an omnibus,” said John, indicating a shiny black vehicle with glass windows. “It will hold six inside and two upfront. This next one is a Mountain Wagon, and the top will fold down.”
Then we saw a handsome vehicle called a wagonette, which had been owned by Paul Burtness and he had decorated the sides with beautiful tooled leather. As we approached an attractive Surrey, John remarked, “This one has patent leather fenders, which was made by painting and baking the leather. This worked well because they could be easily cleaned. They put fringe along the edge of the top of the surrey because it moves back and forth to help keep the flies away. Under the driver’s seat there is a ‘cut under’ area to enable the wheels to make a sharper turn.”
Then we walked to another area with even more amazing vehicles. “Here is a little vehicle that T. took over to Michael Jackson for a party,” says John, and sure enough there is a photo with Michael and some children inside of it. Then we approach some large wagons and John explains, “These are all freight wagons that usually have a standard box, 10 feet long and 3 feet wide. The reason for that is they can automatically measure the grain which would be a bushel to the inch.” Then we admire one of the most unusual items – an old war-time ambulance wagon, with a canvas stretcher on the side – a real gem. John tells me the great news that, the SYV museum is going to bring back the stage coach rides again that were so much fun out at Chamberlin Ranch. Let’s hope they can also get the 20-mule team!
After the sale, we visited with Morgan horse breeder, Art Perry, who bought the miniature chuck wagon. “I’ll have it on display at my farm,” said Art. “I really think that there were almost 1,000 people at this sale and they were even bidding over the internet.” We know that the mud wagon (stage coach) went to Texas and other vehicles went to Illinois, North Dakota, Oregon and Iowa. Six of the wagons were purchased by a Ranchero friend of T. Hayer’s. Lynn Gildred bought some historic articles, too.
Perhaps some of the smaller items were purchased as keepsakes in memory of this man who had been such a beloved part of this valley’s life. He was known as T. Hayer (the T. stood for Temple) and he was in love with history and in particular horse paraphernalia, including carriages of every sort. He just loved to drive down our country roads listening to the music of the horse’s hooves and the rolling wagon wheels.
His ranch was a veritable museum of old vehicles that hailed from America’s heartland and some had been constructed by Amish craftsmen. He was a highly successful realtor in the Santa Ynez Valley for many years, but he always remembered that he came from a family of farmers in Illinois. He often returned to visit family and friends and also found time to look for other long-lost treasures.
T. had his own airplane and some of his relatives were noted fliers. In 1930, the Hunter brothers established a world record for staying aloft for 553 hours and 41 ½ minutes! T. once told me that cowboy film star Will Rogers came up in a refueling plane to say hello.
T. had a fine team of draft horses to pull his collection of large vehicles and was always on hand to take part in various carriage drives and celebrations, including the unforgettable Carriage Classic. He drove his draft teams and wagons in the competitions, and also displayed a part of his carriage collection on the show grounds for people’s enjoyment. The Santa Ynez Valley Carriage Museum has several of his finest vehicles on display including his C Cab Pie Delivery Wagon and also a Trap from the 1900s. Over the years, members of the local Carriage Club were often invited to enjoy a drive on his beautiful ranch.
T. was a longtime member of the Rancheros Visitadores and he often drove some of the older members on the historic ride to the Santa Ines mission for the annual blessing. This year, John Crockett drove his mountain wagon with a team of mules. Included in his group of passengers was T.’s business partner Terry Evans, Otis Caleb, and brother Roger Hayer. John will be driving another of Hayer’s vehicles in the parade at Mule Days in Bishop, Calif.
When T. Hayer passed last year, after a lengthy illness, his memorial service was held at Michael Jackson’s Neverland, which is now owned by T.’s close friend Tom Barrack. Present at the ceremony were the beloved draft team and several beautiful carriages. T. really belonged to this land of beauty and nostalgia.