When we were talking about celebrities a few months ago, it never occurred to me that I knew one well. I had even ridden him.
He was a chestnut gelding named Broadway. He was gentle, loving, and lived out his retirement in my mother’s back yard.
He was called Broadway because he had been ridden from coast to coast, from Broadway, Los Angeles, to Broadway, New York, in his younger days. In that feat, he stopped for publicity pictures on the steps of each state capitol of the states he passed through. He knew how to rear, lifting his front feet high in a equine salute, and his rider would wave from his perilous perch. That stance was photographed for newspapers across the nation.
Fame is fleeting, and soon Broadway was a riding stable horse being hired out by the hour. My mother fell in love with him and bought him for her own.
Broadway was brought home to a spacious back yard. My dad built him a nice corral and stable. He bought him a companion horse too.
Mom and Dad’s social life revolved around horses. They and friends took weekly rides that culminated with lunch at one person’s home or another. They even produced a “horse opera” which I filmed with my Keystone hand-held 8mm camera. I even appeared as an extra on horse back, probably Broadway, delivering an urgent message to the villain, Black Bart, played by my dad who was actually named Bart.
Mother cared for Broadway, grooming and saddling him and riding him regularly. From time to time she would show folks how he could rear, though his famous high pawing of the air was pretty much subdued as he aged.
Finally, one day, aged about thirty, Broadway collapsed while mother was riding. She stepped off and stayed with him while he died.
When the animal control retrieval driver came to remove the body, mother was horrified to see him kick Broadway’s body to see if he were dead.
Proud Broadway had reared his last.