Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jeff, The Brewer Street Methuselah

Carriage house, Brewer street 2008.

I believe that the stable shown above is the same as stands now. The house is directly opposite the one I grew up in during the 1960s. Mr and Mrs Hayes lived there at the time. Three houses in a row on Brewer street retain their old carriage houses to this day. Brewer street isn't one of the oldest in Jamaica Plain, but it is older than most residential side streets of its kind. I would have added a matching picture from the present, but it looks like they're doing a major rehab on it right now.

Boston Daily Globe April 21, 1907

An Equine Methuselah

According to all obtainable statistics, Jeff Brigham is one of the oldest horses in the world. He lives in the Jamaica Plain district, at No. 5 Brewer st, as a member of the family of Mrs W.E. Brigham. Thirty-seven or 38 years is no great age in a man, but it is twice the average of a horse. The animal that lives to the end of 18 years is considered to have reached a ripe old age and is usually turned out to pasture, sold at auction, or chloroformed, according to the compassion of his owner.

Jeff's owners would as soon think of administering chloroform to one of themselves as putting an end to the good old horse's life.

Jeff has grown old with the family that owns him. He has outlived his master, and now faithfully serves his mistress, whom he conveys wherever she goes, always moving at a comfortable trot with very little indication of age in his movements. He has never been sick a day in his life, but of late years he has required to services of a dentist, not for any lack of teeth, but owing to an over supply. He has had to have his teeth filed down two or three times to prevent their interfering with the mastication of his food.

Eating has always been a very important consideration with Jeff. Three meals a day, as regularly as the clock strikes, have been his never-failing portion. He is comfortably housed in a warm, new stable, built especially for him. He is accustomed to gentle treatment and a certain degree of deference to the dignity of his age.

The boys George and Will, who used to romp on his back when he was a sprightly horse of 10 or 12, have grown to stalwart manhood under his supervision, and they treat him with the respect which is his due.

An automobile is Jeff's particular horror. Born before the time of bicycles, he managed to become reconciled to them in his youth, but these new devices, with their honking and puffing and locomotive speed, are too much for him at his time of life. He is exceedingly fond of music, especially of the martial type, and will march to time and cavort in dance fashion if he happens not to be harnessed.

Richards, L.J. 1899 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates.)
David Rumsey Collection.

Burroughs street runs across the top of the map, and Brewer bisects it from top to bottom. Five Brewer street is the upper Brigham property on this map fragment.

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