Tom McCaig’s (left) idea led to LAPC financial independence. Dennis Soares (1944-2012) stored LAPC coops and supplies at his home for 15 years.
Pageant of Pigeons shows were held at the Pomona Fairgrounds from 1962-1991. Shows ranged from 2,500 birds to 4,800.
I.W.Metcalf and Fred Maenpa with the Don Andrews Memorial Award for outstanding service to the LAPC. Both men received the award.
With visits to Germany by Lynn Watson, Frank Barrachina and Tally Mezzanatto a new internationalism was born. In turn, the pictured European fanciers accepted invitations to visit the 1991 NPA/LAPC Grand National at Pomona.
The LAPC met at the Knights of Physias Hall in Eagle Rock from 1954-1965 with average monthly turnout of about 60 fanciers.
The LAPC met at the Knights of Physias Hall in Eagle Rock from 1954-1965 with average monthly turnout of about 60 fanciers.
Passing the gavel of leadership. George Neuerburg (right) receiving an appreciation award from incoming LAPC President Cy Harper for his years (1957-1962) as club President.
Show site for Pageants of 1950-1959; Glendale Civic Auditorium.
Hal Campbell (left), an employee of Don Andrew's Hardware business, came up with the name Pageant of Pigeons for our annual LAPC show in 1946.
George Neuerburg (1898-1981), President of LAPC during the turbulent 1960s, helped bring Don Andrews financial support back to the LAPC.
Andrew's Hardware in Los Angeles
Don Andrews collected pigeon magazines, art and books. Shown here in his favorite pigeon room.
Don Andrews (1895-1973) financed many of the Pageants from 1950-1962. His hardware staff did the work running the show.
Tumbler fanciers of the 1930 came to LAPC lawn shows dressed to the "T".
Early members of the LAPC; James Asburner Smith (second from right) was one of the original seven charter members.
A 1922 LAPC show in the Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona, California.
Two obstacles of major proportions confronted the LAPC in 2002 and 2003. The first was the reoccurrence of Exotic Newcastle disease which had not been seen on any scale since the 1972 show season. Government quarantine was imposed that restricted all movement of birds out of the Southern California area. All pigeon shows in the southern part of the state were cancelled. Pigeons were not allowed at our monthly meetings. Attendance and interest fell off accordingly. It took a year to bring the disease under control and for pigeon shows to resume. Just as the Pageant of Pigeons of 2003 was being planned a devastating fire broke out in San Bernardino and spread to the home of Monica and Dennis Soares where the LAPC coops and supplies were stored. Sadly the club’s trailers with all the coops saw horses and plywood were destroyed. Over $70,000 in equipment gone in an afternoon and no insurance! In one of the great stories of perseverance for any pigeon club, the membership rallied and vowed the show must go on. Coops were borrowed for the Pageant from many sources. Necessary funds came from board members, many who loaned the club a thousand dollars each to finance the show. Donations from pigeon clubs across the country, fund raising drives, auctions, raffles and personal donations added up to $60,000 and the replacement of all lost equipment. The Pageant of Pigeons went on as planned - a monumental accomplishment considering the circumstances.
In 2011 the LAPC celebrated a landmark- the 100th anniversary of the once little club born out of protest of being played second best to chickens. What those seven forward thinking fanciers started in 1911 has far exceeded their wildest expectations. The centennial show was held in an upscale facility, the Riverside Convention Center, and attracted fanciers from throughout the U.S. and the world. It was a 4,100 bird show with over 250 exhibitors participating - a fitting celebration to a century of service to the pigeon fanciers of Southern California and America.
Now the LAPC has embarked on a massive undertaking again - the staging of the 2015 NPA Grand National. The show to be held at a upscale facility, the Ontario Convention Center, Jan.29-31, 2015. Over one year’s worth of planning has gone into this event that will attract fanciers from every corner of America and twelve foreign countries. This will mark the eighth time the LAPC has hosted a National show starting in 1942. Every possible aspect of staging a show to remember has been undertaken. It will truly be a gathering of the pigeon fanciers of the world.
As the LAPC braces itself in the next decade for leadership from a new group of forward thinking fanciers, the opportunity is there for the next generation to build on what has gone before and make the LAPC even better. Hopefully the reader will want to be a part of it….
The challenge of the 1960s for the LAPC would be to become financially independent, to develop new leaders, and build on the wonderful shows of the Andrews era. Fortunately, a strong new group of fanciers emerged at this time period, who were equal to the challenges. The Pageant of Pigeons and the LAPC would reach new heights during this decade. The LAPC hosted two record setting NPA national shows in this time period - one in 1961 at Long Beach and one in 1966 at Costa Mesa. The first was a “swan song” for the Andrews era run mainly by his hardware employees. However, in 1966, a new group took charge. Dick Kodis, Tom McCaig, James R.Lairmore and Donovon White played major roles in club affairs and in staging the National of 1966. McCaig came up with a plan that involved the specialty clubs doing the work writing cage cards, setting up, tearing down, etc. in return for a rebate. This saved the day; the Pageants under this new plan drew anywhere from 2,500 in 1966 to 4,100 in 1969.
The 1980s saw many changes coming to the LAPC and the pigeon fancy. Among the most important was the first real interaction between German and American pigeon fanciers. In 1985-86 Frank Barrachina and Tally Mezzanatto had made contact with German Pouter fanciers and were invited to their show. The tales of the size of the German shows and the quality of the birds soon drew LAPC members Lynn Watson, Leon Stephens, Tom McCaig, Steve Ball and others to Germany to see for themselves. Soon, birds were being imported and invitations to German fanciers to come to LAPC shows were extended. The age of internationalism had begun. The pigeon fancy was changing from the close confines of a local backyard hobby to a more respected world-wide endeavor.
Even though the 1970s had not been the best of times for America with the Vietnam war causing dissent among the young, the Arab oil embargo, and President Nixon’s resignation, etc., it was a time when the LAPC and its youthful new leaders build shows almost up to 5,000 birds. Tom McCaig, Stan Luden, Fred Maenpa, Ralph Sisson, Dick Pfarr and Dick Kodis were the LAPC leaders who led this surge.
Internationalism soared between American fanciers and fanciers of the world through the use of computers in the 1990s. As the decade wore on, more and more fanciers developed friendships with pigeon breeders thousands of miles away. Many came to the LAPC Pageant of Pigeons because of this new communication. The internet brought the concept of the world being a global village. The advent of email allowed daily contact among pigeon friends. The reputation of the LAPC gained added respect around the world in the 1990s. In 1991, the LAPC hosted its’ first NPA Grand National since 1966 at Pomona, and it was a record setter. In 1998, perhaps the greatest National ever held, was sponsored by LAPC with 8,788 birds – an all time American record; a record that still stands today some sixteen years later. Show superintendent Frank Barrachina deserves a lion’s share of the credit for this record show held at San Bernardino Fairgrounds. The LAPC drew world wide attention with this show. Visitors from ten different countries were in attendance. It was not all good in the 1990s however as a new disease from Europe, called paramyxo, struck pigeons of LAPC members killing hundreds of birds in a shocking short time.
The LAPC would continue to prosper in the 2000’s, but it became apparent that there was a serious shortage of new young fanciers coming into the hobby. Club leaders who had been brought up in the 1960s and 1970’s had started to gray. As illness, death, divorce and restrictive ordinances thinned their ranks, much of the work to keep the Club functioning at its previously high level fell on fewer and fewer shoulders. The financial collapse of Wall Street in 2008 brought repercussions for LAPC members. The number of birds in the shows decreased while the price of pigeon feed increased. Many fanciers left the hobby or cut back drastically on their participation citing financial reasons. Suddenly the LAPC found itself with decreased attendance at meetings, lagging interest and a not so bright future.
Before the organization of the LAPC in 1911, the city’s pigeon raisers belonged to the Pacific Coast Pigeon & Bantam Club. Chickens were of more economic importance, and thus the majority of the members in the club were chicken people. When it came to show time, the poultry people got the best cages, the majority of awards, and the best qualified judges. After several years of this second-class treatment a group of seven pigeon breeders withdrew from the club and formed an exclusive pigeon club, called the Los Angeles Pigeon Club. The organizational meeting took place at John Brenton’s home at 1117 San Julian Street in Los Angeles. Their goals were to hold monthly meets and to host two shows a year. The first, a one day young bird show in August or September, and the second a four day, all-age show in December or January. With these modest goals set before them, these seven founding members exhibited faith in themselves and confidence that they would grow into a strong club.
The shows in that first decade 1911-1920, were small as would be expected, often 500-1000 birds. Usually held at member’s homes, city parks or small rented buildings, but growth was evident. Respected pigeon judges were brought in from Northern California, and the LAPC began the process of accumulating show cages. Growth was temporarily stunted during the war years 1917-1918 as many of the young men volunteered for military service.
With the return of members from World War I, and the prosperity of the nation during the so called “Roaring Twenties,” the club experienced tremendous growth from 1920-29. The LAPC developed a relationship with the Los Angeles County Fair’s pigeon shows that eventually grew from eight hundred birds into two thousand bird exhibitions. The Club’s annual winter show usually drew 12-15 hundred birds. The club was proud of its accumulations of over 1,000 show coops. The most prestigious show of the decade took place at the famous Ambassador hotel in downtown Los Angeles in 1926, and was attended by the famous William Randolph Hearst who purchased many birds.
With the stock market crash of 1929 and the country thrusting into a devastating national depression, the LAPC suffered equally. Fear of low entries and the inability to pay the bills led to the 1931 and 1936 annual three day winter shows being cancelled. In 1935 the winter show was scaled back to a one day lawn show. Attendance at meetings was low, and gone were the lavish show locations. The Great Depression had changed the face of the nation, California and the Los Angeles Pigeon Club. On the plus side, President Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration funded buildings at the Pomona Fairgrounds that would hold LAPC pigeon shows for the next fifty years.
Just as the LAPC was coming out of the Great Depression and starting to take off again with the sponsoring of their first National Pigeon Association (NPA) show at Long Beach in 1942, World War II broke out. Once again the club was put into a tailspin. Holding their own became the goal during World War II, with most of the LAPC’s young workers off to war. The “Old Guard” held the fort but it was difficult with the rationing of tires and gasoline. It became necessary for members to car pool to meetings. Although the annual winter shows were held during the war years, numbers ranged only around 1,500 birds. With the end of hostilities, one of the LAPC’s new leaders Don Andrews came up with the idea to hold a Super Show to welcome the soldiers home. Andrews, a wealthy hardware owner used his store staff to stage this special show in January of 1946. It was dubbed the “Pageant of Pigeons” by Hal Campbell, one of Andrew’s employees who served as the LAPC publicity director/press agent. This show exceeded all expectations; with well over 4,800 birds, in fact, it exceeded any show previously held in California. The end of the decade saw the LAPC host its second NPA national at Long Beach with an NPA record showing of 4,370 entries.
The 1950-1960 decade saw incredible high and low - marvelous successes to the club nearly going out of existence. Don Andrews put on the shows of 1950-53 with his hardware staff at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. They were never before seen Pageants with huge entries and elaborate marked catalogs recording in pictorial form the results of the shows. However in 1954, Mr. Andrews pulled his support leaving the LAPC to go on its own. Woefully unprepared and used to having everything done for them, the club and Pageant of Pigeons floundered. Membership declined from 100 to only 35. Pageant entries plunged from 3,500 to 1,250, and finally in 1956 to a low of only 850 birds. At the urging of Mr.Andrews’ long time friend and then LAPC President George Neuerburg, the rift was settled. A new administration headed by Neurerburg, Ray Peel and I.W. Metcalf took over. From 1957-1960 great shows with 3,000-4,000 birds were once again held at the Glendale site with the Andrews’ hardware personnel in charge.
The Southern California that the Los Angeles Pigeon Club (LAPC) was born into on June 23, 1911, was vastly different from today’s mega city of jammed freeways, major airports, giant industrial complexes and crowded suburbs. It is hard to imagine but Los Angeles had no restriction at all on raising pigeons within the city limits. It was a slower, more relaxed time.
1911 - Today: A Passage Through Time
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From left to right: Bob Nolan, Dennis Weyrauch, Lynn Watson, Lonny Mefferd, President Leon Stephens, Kathie Johnson, Ken Davis, J.P. Isom, George de la Nuez, Charlie Rowe, Stan Makse and Fred Maenpa (Lennie Mefferd missing).
We cherish the memories of our wonderful friends who has left us. They may be gone but not forgotten....