Sunday, November 24, 2013

Maude, A Working Pet

Great-Grandpa Fred with Maude
Great-Grandpa Fred Fineour had a white horse named Maude, who was as much a pet as a work animal. Maude pulled the buggy when the family needed to go out and about, and she was a regular fixture around the Lock Grocery where Grandma Minnie spent her early childhood.

I can still hear Minnie's voice in my head telling us grandchildren about how tame the horse was. In the store were various barrels of foodstuffs such as flour, sugar, and oyster crackers. Minnie told us how her father would say, "Maude, would you like some sugar?" and the horse would daintily step up on the porch to the open doorway and stick her head inside to get as close as she could to the sugar barrel.

When the Fineours gave up the grocery store and moved into town, Fred eventually bought a house with a barn behind it, where Maude had her own stall. Around 1900, when Fred got a job as the first rural mailman, RFD #1, out of Fort Plain, it was Maude who pulled his buggy in summer and cutter in winter up hill and down dale along the steep country roads.

She certainly earned a bit of a sugary treat by getting Fred safely back home. Even in 1900, "the mail must go through," in spite of inclement weather. And so it did, at least partly thanks to snow-white Maude, a working pet.

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