Ralph Nester: On the Move: To Elkton, Md ’58ish

The owner sold the dairy farm it and we moved to Cecilton, MD to a larger farm about 1000 acres.  There I got my first job as a busboy.  I didn’t like dairy farming, besides the owner of the restaurant owned horses, that lasted about 2 years.   We then moved to Elkton, MD md to another farm where the owner was much nicer man, and he owned and loved horses and loved horses.  

I was plowing fields around there and was driving up the road over a railroad bridge an old iron bridge on Appleton Road near Elk Mills, MD.  Standing on the bridge was this girl my age and she was leaning on the rail and watching a train go by.  It was summertime, she had red shorts on, a flowered top it was summer.  She had curly blonde hair and beautiful Marilyn Monroe legs, actually, better.

 I stopped the tractor, shut it off and she turned around and gave me this most beautiful smile, so friendly, and shy. Well that was it! I was in love, i would go see her as she lived about 300 yards from the farm.  when the school bus brought her home , dad would say,  “That boy is done for the day.”

 We got married  in a small church which I still attend and sing with my daughter in the choir.  I started looking for jobs after we moved into a small apartment connected to Pat’s mom and dad’s house.  It was small, but so nice.   Small gas stove, small kitchen.   I baled hay for a farmer, cleaned out chicken houses for another farmer and gathered eggs. I was still looking for better work.  

ralph-and-pat-young

I went to work for William du Pont Jr.’s Foxcatcher Farm at Fair Hill, MD.   It was a 6000 -plus acre estate.  I drove the  farm tractor and mowed the vast fields over rolling hills.  He  owned racehorses and won the Preakness and other stakes races.  Anyway, I wasn’t in the horse business yet, that was summer work.

 I then was offered a job by a union business agent for the United Auto Workers in the Chrysler plant in Newark, Delaware. Only problem was I was just 17,  so with some fancy folding of the birth certificate , being careful to fold it on the date of my birth, and slight adjustment to it I went to work at Chrysler and did my job well.   I lasted about 6 months, but the enclosed boring job of assembly work wasn’t for an outdoors farm boy.

So, when the veterinarian that took care of dad’s herd of cows told dad, “I can get that boy of yours a job on a horse farm if he likes horses”  a new wonderful life started for me.  I went to work at Penowa Farms mucking stalls,  I was almost 18.   After a few months, a house was offered to me on the farm which I happily took.   I was living in a dream world surrounded by 1000 horses.  I  did all kinds of jobs from driving the owner to Pinehurst Golf Course to hunting quail, birddog field trials.   We stayed at the luxurious, Pinehurst Inn.

The owner, Mr.  Sasso, was very wealthy. I started hauling horses to Florida, to St. Lucie Training Center in the fall from our farm to be broken.  We had broodmares at the farm and we foaled about 20 to 30 foals a year.  Mr. Sasso was constantly getting rid of farm managers as they didn’t suit his style.  The last had been a previous manager of Spendthrift Farm.

He told me a story of one of Elizabeth Arden, the cosmetics queen who owned many racehorses.  Well after the race, Mrs. Arden went up to screen door and stuck her finger through the screen to pet his nose and said, “Oh my baby.”   Well, he took her finger off at the knuckle.  I later shipped horses to Belmont and went in her barn and it smelled like a beauty parlor!

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