As I Remember It
Pigeon Debut, June 1997
By: Chuck Zeller
|The actual date and place the West of England Tumbler was developed has not been noted by any of the early writers on pigeon breeds. From what information that is known, it is generally thought that the West of England Tumbler was developed in and around the western part of England. Hence the name the breed is known. It is safe to assume that the breed was developed sometime during the mid 1800's. From all information we know the two main breeds behind the West of England Tumbler are the Turkish or Oriental Roller and the Dutch Tumbler. Just how many and what other breeds were used to create the West is not known, or at least has not been noted by any of the early writers of pigeon writings.
Most authorities on performing tumblers agree that the West of England Tumbler, Tippler and the Birmingham Roller are all of the same basic parentage and that the three breeds differing performing abilities and general physical makeup came about because of the early fanciers varying desires. The early on West fanciers bred their birds to fly for long periods of time and at a high altitude. It was not at all uncommon for a well-trained kit of West's to fly for six hours or more at a height where they were just barely visible.
Of interest is an article dated 1930 in Pigeons of England, a long time fancier writes of the West of England Tumbler and the Birmingham Roller. He tells about the early fanciers in an around Birmingham forming a club catering to the long rolling tumblers. Before this time the name "Roller" was not heard, there were two types of tumblers, the long, high flying type and the long, (meaning deep rolling rather then long time flying) and frequent performing type. The fanciers of the Birmingham Club would trade their strong, high flyers to the West fanciers. The West fanciers would pass along their frequent in tumbling properties birds to the Birmingham Club members. Years later the name of the Birmingham Tumbler Club changed to the Birmingham Roller Club, and so the name tumbler gave way to Birmingham Roller. The early West's were bred in all manners of colors and markings, at a later date the baldhead, mottle and self settled in as the main varieties. During the early days there were both muffed and clean legged West's, little is heard of clean legged West's today.
Development In America
The West of England Tumbler was first brought to this country sometime during the late 1800's or early 1900's. The breed gained a fairly large following on the west coast, a few fanciers were known to keep a few on the east coast and there were reports of clean legged West's in Canada. It is known that Mr. Tom Ratalick of La Canada imported West's in 1912, Mr. John Beckman was raising them in 1916 and that Mr. Henry Schumacher of Los Angeles imported West's in 1928. Mr. Ratalick kept a few pair until his death in 1972.
The West of England Tumbler Assn. was formed in the early 1940's by Mr. Schumacher, Mr. L. B."Bob" Eaton, Mr. Ralph Aldridge and a handful of other staunch West fanciers. The West of England Tumbler Assn. was strongly supported till the late 1940's when interest faded and the club was disbanded, the Southern Calif. Roller Club than took the West in so the breed would have a club to support it, also many West fanciers raised a few Rollers in their lofts.
Of interest is the fact that most of the early West fanciers were not completely happy with the breed as it came to the U.S., they wanted larger muffs, more colors and more performance. They crossed in Old Dutch Tumblers for both performance and for larger muffs, at that time the Dutch Tumblers were smaller and fairly good performers. These early fanciers soon found that they got too much performance and that they could not get their West's up high and flying times were greatly cut. They tried crossing in tipplers, and other high flyers to get their West's back up. That's why I say, there are no West's (as they originally came to America) left. Once you put something in, it can never be taken completely out!
In 1954 interest in the West again picked up and the West of England Tumbler Assn. was revived with Mr. William "Bill" Hague acting as its president. Most of the original members rejoined and were joined by a new crowd of West fanciers. It was at this time that the show West of England Tumbler was developed by Mr. Leslie F. Stroud of San Gabriel, CA. Mr. Stroud crossed flying-type West's with Long Face Clean Legged and Muffed Long Face Tumblers. These crosses produced a bird that was larger in overall body size, had a rounder and broader head fitted with a rather short beak. Many new colors came about as a result of these crosses.
The creation of the Show West caused a great deal of new interest in the West of England Tumbler, the popularity of the West grew by leaps and bounds till 1959 when interest again faded and the West of England Tumbler Assn. was again disbanded. Once again the Southern Calif. Roller Club took the West under its wing. In 1962 Mr. J. M. Tibbot, who was one of the pioneers of the Show West gathered West fanciers together and set the wheels in motion to once more revive the West of England Tumbler Assn. The club was seen to last till early 1968 when it disbanded for the last time. One wonders why the club was disbanded and revived so many times, especially when there were about the same number of West fanciers keeping the breed no matter if the club was operating or not, also entries at 8. Calif. Roller Club shows remained strong. Feuding among members especially between the admirers of the show West and the flying-type West seemed to be the main reason of the failure of the club.
Even though the focus of the club and its main leaders were devoted to the show West, entries at shows in the flying type classes usually far outdistanced those of show West's. It seemed that most of the friction came about because of the fact that the flying-type West fanciers lacked that one fancier who would lead and act as their voice in the running of the club. They seemed content to let the show West group do all the work and lead the club till such time as they felt they were getting a raw deal, then instead of trying to iron out their differences they would pull out of the club one by one till the club finally would fall apart.
It is curious to note that over the years -- club or no club -- entries at the Pageant of Pigeons, Southern CA Roller Club shows and the LA County Fair saw high numbers recorded in the flying type West classes, but entries in the Show West classes were high only when the West of England Tumbler Assn. was active!
In 1969 because of a great demand by flying type West fanciers the Southern CA Flying Type West of England Tumbler Club was formed. The aim of the club was to encourage the development of the flying-type West of England Tumbler as both a flying/performing pigeon and as a show pigeon.
There were five main West fanciers who laid the ground work for the forming of the club, they were Mr. Danny Chagolla, Mr. Eddie Verdugo, Mr. James Krebaum Sr., Mr. John Sandoval and Mr. Chuck Zeller. At the first meeting of the club, which was held at the Pageant of Pigeons it was decided that the club would support the flying-type West. During the year before the forming of the club, Danny,John, Eddie and Chuck talked to all West fanciers they could and polled them on why they had pulled out of or not joined the previous club and what a new club could do to gain their membership. The answer always came back the same, they would not support a club that allowed both the show and flying varieties to be shown. They felt that those entries were generally larger in the flying-type classes, the larger awards in size and number went to the show West.
Interest in the breed and the new club grew very fast and it was noted that for the first time there was big stir being generated by the West on the east coast. By 1971 interest was so great that the West of England Tumbler was one of the fastest growing breeds across the country. Stock birds were in great demand and the supply of quality birds could not meet the demand by out of state fanciers, every pair of quality West's could be sold to local fanciers.
At the first meeting, the club was named, officers were selected, dues were collected and a general format was set for the running of the club. It was decided that the first show would be held at the Pageant. Those in attendance at the meeting to form the new club were, Danny Chagolla, the Krebaums', John Sandoval, Eddie Verdugo, Chuck Zeller, Bob Smith, Clarence Slagel, Gary Pfeiffer, Joe Brown, Marion Fisher, Bill Hague, Ted Reyes and a handful of other fanciers whose names escape me now.
Membership grew rapidly over the next few years, we added a lot of new members some of who were: Art, Jan and June Kubo, Bob Ruiz, Curt Holcomb, Larry Eastman, John Bennett, Allan Parker, Frank Bailey, Reggie Stewart and Tony Cardoza. There were more, I just don't recall all the names.
In 1972 because of the popularity of the West on both coasts and in- between the club was reorganized as the National West of England Tumbler Club, the club was split into two divisions, the western section and the eastern section. Finally the West had shed itself of the strictly a west coast breed. This was a natural and timely move.
During the early seventies the self West was to come on the scene. Mainly through the efforts of Chuck Zeller selfs in red, yellow and a few barred colors were entered in our shows, at first it was a hard go as most fanciers did not even know that these existed. Later many different barred colors were to make an appearance through the efforts of Art Quintana, whites were shown by Jan Kubo and Larry Eastman. One by one others added a few selfs to their loft and show team.
Mottles Like No Other
After a year or so of the selfs doing well in the shows, Chuck loaned his best red and yellows to Art Kubo to mate to his best mottles. Boy, did this work out well, Art soon was showing mottles of such color few had ever seen before in the West. Reggie Stewart also came up with some beauties and there was always a battle between he and Art for best mottle. This was the beginning of true parity between the baldheads, selfs and mottles, the balds were still the ones to beat however. In the mid-seventies with the interest in the selfs and mottles the West and the club really took off.
A Great Bunch
A big pat on the back should go to those early members, a lot of hard work and dedication to the club and the West has brought the breed to where it is today.
Special thanks to the Krebaums and especially Jim Sr. for his continued support of the West and the club for many long years. Jim could at times be difficult, but he put his all into the club and the breed.
Joy Krebaum - For writing on West goings on over the years and for becoming a top breeder in her own right, also for doing her best to keep Jim Sr. calm!
Jim Krebaum Jr. - For truly paying his dues and coming up through the ranks to reach the top of the West ladder. his mother and dad should be proud of the accomplishments he has made in the fancy.
Danny Chagolla - For not only being one of the founders, but for hanging in there through thick and thin, a better peace maker a club never had. His efforts to produce a great black mottle are forever imprinted in our minds.
John Sandoval - For hanging in there over the years with flying performing West's Though John's first love was the West in the air, he did show a bird or two over the years and could be counted on to donate a special award and items to the raffle. John's battles with Danny to produce black mottles will be remembered by us all.
Art Quintana - While his drawings of an ideal West were of much benefit to us all, his work in producing rare colored West's should not go unrecorded.
Art Kubo - Epitome of loyal supporter, there for the club and the breed whenever asked and even when not. The blood of his mottles I'm sure runs through the top mottles today.
Bill Hague - Though not really active in the club, Bill set us down and talked us through how to form a club and was there for us to call on as a judge or advisor. Without his guidance my projects would have taken much longer than they did.
Eddie Verdugo - Could always be counted on to show a few West's and lend a hand whenever needed, his wife Diane and Janice Zeller along with Joy Krebaum keep our paperwork honest. Eddie was the force behind us taking in the Old Dutch Tumbler till they formed a club of their own.
George and Lorain Gulla - Like Bill Hague, not members but with out their guidance and support our road to forming a club would have been much more difficult.
Joe Brown - My mentor, started me in West's in 1953. A loyal supporter of the West and the club. Many of us owe a thanks to Joe for the access to many quality West's over the years.
Chuck Zeller - I guess I'll be remembered as the club's first Secretary/Treasurer. Most would probably prefer to forget, but I remember I made our first trophies out of wood in my garage.
There are many who have stepped up over the years to carry the club onward and upward, they all deserve a big tip of a West hat for their efforts on behalf of the West of England Tumbler and the club.
As I Remember It
Pigeon Debut, June 1997