Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For The Love Of Poultry

It's always good to see a local boy do good, even if in hindsight. Donald Rust seems to have lived at the Bacon estate on Pond street overlooking Jamaica Pond. This 1924 map shows the property, which aligns with the address in a Google Maps search.

This article raises a question I've been curious about: when and why did West Roxbury/Jamaica Plain high school start offering an agricultural program? Agricultural courses were offered when my parents and uncles attended the school in the late 1930s and 1940s, and were still offered at the time my brother was at Roslindale high school in the mid-1960s. This earlier entry shows no agriculture instructors in 1906, but the article below has a poultry course offered in 1921. I have wondered whether the presence of the Bussey Institute nearby influenced the agricultural course offerings in Jamaica Plain, but the Bussey undergraduate program in agriculture and landscaping had probably ended by the time the high school started its program.

So I'm still left wondering: why an ag course in JP? It seems to have started just after most of the great estates of Jamaica Plain had been divided up into the house lots we see now, and long after local farming had ceased to be a going concern. More digging to do.

Boston Daily Globe April 17, 1921

Hens Make Him Champion Donald Rust of Jamaica Plain Boston's Prize Poultry Raiser -- Will Make Poultry His Life Work After Going to College

If you wish to be a successful raiser of poultry you must love the hens and chickens, and the roosters too.

So says Donald W. Rust, the 17 year old schoolboy champion poultry raiser of Suffolk County, who has just won his spurs as the best poultry raiser in the Suffolk County Poultry Club by his brood of 15 prize hens. He won the sweepstakes prize and also the first prize for the champion of the county.

"You must take as much care of hens and chickens," he says, "as mothers do of their babies. That is what makes hens lay and what keeps them in good health and cheerful about their business in life. Feeding them properly, along scientific lines, is necessary and their living quarters must be as carefully cleaned and attended to as the rooms of the best hotel."

Donald knows, too, for when he is through with his classes at the West Roxbury High School he is going to enroll among the students at the Massachusetts Agricultural college at Amherst and become, after a four-year course, an expert poultry raiser, which he will make his life job.

Champion of the County

This schoolboy champion poultry fancier lives at 262 Prince st, Jamaica Plain, where his father is gardener on a large estate. Donald has little room for even his small brood of hens, but he has made the most of his space and has succeeded in raising the best hens in Suffolk County.

This boy has been exhibiting his hens for a long time, and in most cases he carries off prizes. His champion hen took the winning trophy at the Junior Boston Poultry Show, and he has won several prizes at poultry shows at Lynn, Chelsea and at the Eastern States Exhibition at Springfield. Last Winter he went to New York to visit the poultry show in Madison Square Garden, but did not exhibit his hens.

All his hens are barred Plymouth Rocks and his prizes have been won by the perfect shape, color and excellence of their feathers.

Boys from the West Roxbury High School won all the prizes in the recent awards of the Suffolk County Poultry Club. Young Rust, who is a third-year pupil at the school, was named champion poultry raiser of the county. Harold W. Fraser, another pupil, won the second prize. Other boys in the school who received honorable mention were William Budge, Kenneth Steere, Joseph O'Donnell and Malcolm and Kenneth Craig.

Donald Rust has been raising hens for the past four years and has, meanwhile, been studying the scientific end of poultry raising under Thomas P. Dooley. Rust, according to his instructor, is a probable candidate for the State championship next year, when he will be a student at the Amherst Agricultural College. This year he has won over $60 in prizes at various poultry shows.

Going to Have a Real Farm

All the boys raise their chicks and buy their feeds under the supervision of Mr Dooley and are encouraged in the work by contests in the school as well as outside contests and shows.

At present there is an egg laying contest at the school, with bags of feed for prizes.

"If I only had more room," he says, "I am sure I could do much better with my hens. I should like to have hundreds instead of only 15. Sometime, after I have learned all there is to know about the business, I am going to have a real farm and go into the business of raising the best hens in the country. That is the work I love and I am going to make it my life work. There is plenty of money in it if one goes about it scientifically."

At the time of the recent county contest, young Rust had made a profit of $187.58 for the year from his 15 birds. His award for winning the championship will be a week at Amherst this Summer with all expenses paid.

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