HILIHAN GAVE HIS AEROPLANE A STIMULANT

Easton HSE horse snow

The article below was transcribed directly from the front page of the Thursday, December 8, 1910 edition of the Bridgeport Times & Evening Farmer:

Thrilling trip from Easton town is too much for unshod horse.

Martin Hilihan of Easton drove to town this morning over the snow clad crest of Sport Hill, bent on getting his horse shod, buying a few groceries, and otherwise diverting himself as might suit his fancy. Martin’s fine old bay horse, Aeroplane Boy, pranced gaily out of the farm yard, but before the animal had got well started for Bridgeport, it was very apparent that Martin was to have his fair share of trouble.
The animal was shoeless, and upon the icy glades along Sport Hill, it maintained its footing with difficulty. When the descent began, all Aeroplane Boy had to do was stiffen his forefeet and crouch and sit in a half sitting posture. Martin steered the animal down the hill with ease and grace and brought up the bottom in record time.
The trip into Bridgeport was devoid of further unusual events save the horse’s struggle to get along without falling. Martin was in a highly nervous state, however, when he reached the village and decided without delay to have Aeroplane Boy fitted out with a set of shoes.
When Aeroplane Boy got out of the busy turmoil of Main Street, turning into Elm Street en route for McGahay’s establishment in Broad Street, the animal was thoroughly tired out, and picking out a nice soft snow bank while Martin was glancing back over his shoulder at a café bearing a horseshoe emblazoned with the message, “Good Luck,” the noble steed dropped gently on his haunches and rolled over in the snow.
The farmer looked about in surprise, leaped down and sought to rouse the animal. Gentleness and coercion were alike futile. Several trolleymen gathered and tried to lift the animal, but it was no use. Then the farmer recounted to the crowd the tale of Aeroplane Boy’s famous glide down the side of Sport Hill. “Nothing to it all!” said a man who handled the animal with business like air. “The horse needs stimulant.”
“Stimulant!” exclaimed Martin. The name had a familiar and fascinating sound. “You just wait!” he cried. “I’ll get stimulants.”
He dashed across to the “Good Luck” saloon and bought a pint bottle of whiskey. It was sometime before he returned. When he reached the center of the growing crowd, the pint bottle was half empty. Someone remarked at the condition of the bottle. “Must have leaked,” ventured one of the trolleymen, glancing askance of the farmer,
“Yes, it must have leaked,” assented the farmer without a falter.
Martin and one of the trollymen grasped the animal gently but firmly by the head, drew open its mouth, and thrust the neck of the bottle down the horse’s throat. The contents disappeared while one or two of the crowd heaved audible sighs.
The effect was almost electrical. The horse frisked his tail about, neighed, and with a little encouragement, leaped up on all fours. Martin led him to the wagon which had meanwhile been detached, stood him carefully in a snow drift, and excused himself for a few moments. When he returned, he had a paper parcel filled with oats. He carefully opened the package and held the parcel while the horse devoured the breakfast with avidity. Then he led the animal away to be shod.

I think it’s safe to say that “no animals were hurt in the production of this article.” I could find no one in the 1910 Easton census by the name of Martin Hilihan, so his very existence is rather suspect – much like the above tale itself! But one must admit that the headline was certainly an attention grabber and the story rather imaginative for a front-page article just below the masthead.  I’m guessing it might have been a slow news day. (The accompanying photo was added by yours truly for a little visual stimulation.)

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