Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Tribune Farewell -- June 12, 1928

The Tribune stable master, Frank Pember, bids the last of the paper's
work horses farewell on June 12, 1928 (Chicago Tribune Photo)
The end of an era took place on this date, June 12, 1928 when The Chicago Tribune sold its last six horses.  “For the newspaper world has grown too speedy for equines, and it was reluctantly determined to rout the old guard and to motorize the remaining horse drawn equipment at the stable on Grand Avenue,” reported the paper.  [Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1928]

At one time The Tribune stabled 78 horses; then the first gas-powered truck was purchased in 1911.  More trucks followed until the end of the line was reached in 1928.  “Big and powerful though they are, muscles rippling under the sheen of their coats, it is no longer safe to use the horses because of the crush of traffic,” wrote The Tribune reporter.

Mark Pember, the man in charge of the stables led the last six horses out to the purchaser as they “seemed to run reproachful eyes on the bystanders, and to bend quizzical heads toward the sputtering and smelly motor trucks that had usurped their quarter and their duties.”

“They’re just victims of the times,” Mr. Pember said.  “Too slow to carry The Tribune to folks these days.  But it took seventeen years to finish ‘em . . . But the circulation has kept going up and up and the demand for speed got more insistent all the time.  That’s what’s done it – circulation.  But it’s too bad they have to go.”

As he spoke “Dick, the dapple gray beauty, and the chestnut and the white and the other steeds seemed to think so, too.  For they tugged uneasily at the ropes of their halters, and tried ineffectually to get back up the runway to their familiar stalls.”

Then they were gone and with them all of the years during which they did their work as the great city motored its way without hesitation toward the uncertainty of the future.

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