Today is Father's Day in the USA, and perhaps other places in the world. By coincidence, I think, I received an email today from my friend Uwe Lukas in Germany. Uwe is the author of the great new book (in German only, sadly, but the photos are great) Gesunde Hufe, Kein Zufall. Uwe has a long list of impressive credentials in the farrier and sport horse world, but today his top credential is as a proud father. In the photo, you see his six year old daughter Leonie trimming her pony. (Where did she get a farrier's apron to match her hair????)
Uwe writes by email today, "Now i have a little bit for smile. My daugther is 6 years old and she trims her pony self. I give her only supporting how much and where she trims. She knows, she will be a Farrier and a Vet in the future. I think it's changing sometime more."
If the stable in the background looks a little elaborate, the Lukases liven in Warendorf, home of the state stud for the Westphalian breed and the national equestrian federation. A lot of Olympic gold medals have gone home to Warendorf.
Uwe's English is a lot better than my German, but I am sure you can get the idea of what he's saying.
I think I have some matchmaking to do. On this side of the Atlantic, we have Robbie Pethick, the handsome son of New Jersey farrier Bob Pethick, who has taken on trimming a horse, not a mere pony. Robbie will be six in August.
They already have something in common--note that they are both using HoofJack hoof stands!
Both of these youngsters also have a great advantage if they learn from their expert farrier dads, each of whom shoes some of the very top dressage and sport horses in their respective countries.
Father's Day for me was tinged by the memorials on television here in the USA this morning for the superb television journalist/interviewer and one of my professional heroes, NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert. Tim was much more than a reporter and host of the "Meet the Press" tv show, as evidenced by his larger-than-life camera presence and his recent stints on the bestseller list with his book Big Russ and Me, about growing up under his father's influence in the gritty US city of Buffalo, New York. Tim died suddenly this week.
I was hoping to quote from the book here but when I went looking for an excerpt I ended up on the book's web site and I found a letter from Tim on the front page. I'll reproduce a little passage from it here, and hope that if you haven't read this book, you will, no matter who your dad was or is, or what your relationship is like. Tim writes:
In the spring of 2004, I published a book about my father--about the lessons I have learned from him, the way he has influenced me, and my enormous love and respect for this steady, hardworking, and modest man. My publisher sent me on a publicity tour in the hope that people around the country would see the book as an ideal Father's Day gift.
Early in the tour I was in Chicago, where to my great relief, customers were lining up to buy the book and have me autograph it. What happened next really surprised me.
"Make it out to Big Mike" somebody told me, which was followed in rapid succession by, "This is for Big Mario"..."Please inscribe it out to Big Manuel."..."For Big Irv."..."Big Willie"..."Big Stan"
I had expected that my book would appeal to readers in my home town of Buffalo, New York, but I didn't know whether the story of a young man coming of age in a blue-collar Irish-Catholic neighborhood, whose father was a truck driver and a sanitation man, would strike a cord with a wider audience.
I (soon) discovered there were many Big Russes out there--good, industrious, and patriotic men who have a lot in common with my dad, even if they didn't share his religion or his heritage. By writing a book about my father, I was affirming not only his life, but the lives of many other fathers as well.
I am sorry that I never had a chance to ask Tim to inscribe a copy to Big Joe.
If you have a few minutes, click on this link and listen to Tim reading the intro to Big Russ and Me. Link to Tim Russert reading