Friday, March 20, 2015

Secretariat's Dental Tool

Alan and I were on our way to Paris, Kentucky.
Secretariat's Dental Tool
Another Great Adventure by Author No Sweat

Alan, an old friend of mine, directed me to the meeting. Alan and I drove to Paris, Kentucky this afternoon where we met a lady who still had some of her father's dental tools that he used and kept while the vet at Claiborne FarmI only learned of the lady’s father, Gordon Layton, because as I was curious about a large color print of Mr. Prospector that she owned. I was looking at the picture and kept noticing that Seth Hancock had signed the picture.  I knew that Seth was no artist and I asked her why it was that his signature was on that print. I could see that it was a real signature.  And that is when this lady began relaying to me that this print once was her father's and while he was working for Seth Hancock he asked him to sign it for him which Seth did. The whole matter began because I noticed the Seth Hancock signature. 

I was already currently interested in Seth Hancock as my friend. Bo Bennett, who died this past year with my novel These Precious Days lying on his stomach, was via phone telling me a tremendous story about the Hancock's and his meeting one of the more nefarious ones in a jungle in Belize on Monkey River where world class snook and tarpon roamed. Bo and his uncle got out of their boat and went to this giant tree-house in the jungle where this Hancock was living. He was wild drunk, and had some gorgeous native women with him. Before the eve sun made itself on the horizon they were all drinking up a storm when out of the jungle appeared some 20 natives with plastic five gallon buckets.  They all began to partake in the rum, etc. and as the sun slowly began to fade over the jungle they began to turn their buckets upside down and use them for drums.  They were all some 30 feet off the ground in a glamorous Swiss Family Robinson tree-house and playing drums surrounding about all around the outside of the house - a wraparound porch where all of the men had scattered themselves to beat on their drums.  Bo said he had never experienced anything like it and that it was damn fine in every way, especially while watching several of the girls, scantily clad, dance to the drums.   Bo said that the drums echoed over the jungle and that the men had been doing this for years and was better than any drum band you could ever begin to hear.  Bo and his uncle stayed there the night and left the next morning, the place only reachable by boat as if some place smack out of Conrad's Heart of Darkness

It was this story that I kept pushing out of Bo as he was dying the last three days of his life.  He would stop telling me the story as he was running out of energy and then I would call him right back and get him back on it and again we would go over the details of it and I would be on my end of the phone and be writing notes as fast as I could to retain what he was saying about Hancock. I know he described him as very handsome at the time and that he was smart and he called himself the black sheep of the family and that they had sent him on the dark side of the earth for him not to be an embarrassment. Gina, I have tried to research the Hancock family and figure out which Hancock this is and it still remains a mystery. I am all but tempted to ask someone in the family itself as to who it could be.  You see, Bo is a peripheral character that I have in LA GUERRE EST FINIE (No Sweat’s upcoming new novel).  He and Luisa Lang (Will Lang, Jr.’s only child) were, well, hot for each other. I made the mistake of introducing them - and worse yet, while Bo's other hot girlfriend, Angel, was very close by, leopard-see-through-string-bikini and all. Never a good thing. And with Bo like some Gregory Peck turned loose in Adam and Eve's lush Garden. 

One of the old mansions still located on the Claiborne Farms.
Back at the house, the lady spoke at length about her father, Gordon Layton; one of her stories involved the great race horse Nijinsky and she talked at length about how her father had to often bleed him (his bleeders were also all there for sale) and that in the end he was the person that had to put Nijinsky down, hating the ordeal. Anyways, I managed to come away with the well-made blacksmith tool designed to grind down horse's teeth that her grandfather had made as he was the blacksmith who taught at Cornell University and the same man that gave his son, Gordon Layton, the vet, this tool that he used throughout his life while working on the Claiborne Farm.  

She then went on to show me a wood crate full of her father's dental tools that he used while attending the horses at Claiborne Farm. In the box were several interesting looking tools, some of which were old in appearance being blacksmith made. When I inquired about them she began to give me her family's history telling me that her grandfather had been a blacksmith and that quite often it was the blacksmith that was also the vet in any area, which makes sense. Apparently her father was quite good at his profession as he wound up teaching at Cornell and yet only had a High School education.  And his son, her father, Gordon Layton, became a vet there in Paris, Kentucky close to the Claiborne Farm. Eventually, he became their "vet in residence" at the farm.  And as such he worked on all the many famous and great horses that came through there. She spoke at length about Nijinsky and how her father would have to bleed him at times and how her father would say ‘that horse should hate me but does not and is such a great horse almost understanding what I do.’

It was Gordon who eventually had to put Nijinsky down. I can't swear for certain that this particular tool called a "dental float" was actually ever used on Secretariat, etc., but the likelihood of it is high. I will probably go back and buy a few more of her father's tools before it is all said and done. Her father now has lost his memory, etc. and she has to care for him and she has been selling some of his personal items.

Anyways, that's how the whole thing started, my eye catching the Hancock signature. If you are going to tell a story, tell the whole damn thing. 

Your Most Humble And Obedient Servant, No Sweat.

Secretariat's Dental Tool


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