I am currently 85 years old and started in the pigeon hobby when my aunt, Rose Hurley, brought me two common youngsters that fell from the eves of her house in 1927. Shortly after that time, a local Ophthalmologist helped me to get a solid start in the hobby by giving me ten young Tipplers from his loft. When I was 8 years old, I noticed a strange but beautiful looking grizzled pigeon that flew into my little loft while I was training my Tipplers. That Grizzled pigeon, I soon discovered, belonged to a Mr. Fred Alfred, who lived on the other side of town. Mr. Alfred came to my home to claim his pigeon and invited my father and me to his home to see his loft of roller pigeons. My father and I had never seen pigeons fly like these before. Flying, rolling, and spinning in the air. A sight I will never forget.
That same day as my father and I were visiting and watching these roller pigeons perform, a gentleman named Les Manz walked into Mr. Alfred’s yard, it was obvious they were old friends. Les Manz was in the process of moving with his young wife to a new home located here in Riverside, New Jersey. Mr. Manz was actively in the process of moving into his new quarters and as he was very short on space for all of his pigeons; Les offered, and then gave me approximately 20 pigeons, mostly Frank Buehnor’s family that he purchased from Cleveland, Ohio. This was the very first time I ever met Les Manz.
As luck would have it, Les Manz moved into a home-located just two streets away from me. We became fast friends and we would visit each other’s homes often. We were together nearly every Saturday and Sunday, as my parents would permit. We would talk about pigeons constantly and Les became a great mentor to me in the hobby. We would take turns sitting for hours in either his yard or at my parent’s yard watching our kits fly. Sometimes our kits would literally join up with each other while performing in the sky. That was a wonderful sight to see.
In 1934, Les Manz and Frank Sinkleris (whom in 1947 would become my supervisor at work and also was from Riverside, New Jersey). Purchased and bought out the famous Arthur Karp of Cleveland, Ohio. The Arthur Karp Birds were the old flying type of pigeon that would fly literally all day long, fly high, and which rolled deep. Les Manz decided to keep all of the Reds and Yellows, while Frank Sinkleris kept the Blues and Blacks from this Karp family.
It was about two years later when my best friend Les gave me my first Karp Pigeon. The bird was a Red Spangle cock that he was going to dispose of because the pigeon had acquired the disease canker. I was very excited at the time, and told Les I could cure the bird using a medicine called Enhepin. I carefully carried that pigeon home, treated the bird, and returned him back to Les the following week very healthy and totally disease free. Les told me to keep the pigeon, as he did not want any birds that were ever sick let back into his loft under any circumstance.
This Red Spangle cock was the foundation bird of the family I have to this day. Throughout the years Les has given me many of his birds from the Arthur Karp family of pigeons that he owned. The Karp family of pigeons is a very high-strung breed. I can remember placing them of the loft roof for the beginning of their training process, to let them get accustomed to their surroundings. They would try to fly, only to land about, all scattered in the yard. We would run around the yard trying to catch them and place them back onto the loft roof. Repeatedly, we had to chase down and put the young birds back on the loft roof. I am quite sure we provided many hours of entertainment for our neighbors.
After a few days of this training, I would let them out and they would all stand in line on the very edge of the roof, waiting for the least little sound or movement that would spook them and send them scurrying up into the air. Being the very high-strung pigeons as they were I would constantly loose a number of them. Les also purchased another family of pigeons from an Englishman named Joseph Bygraves from Camden, New Jersey. These pigeons were the Whittingham strain of pigeon. Bygraves would never sell any of his birds, but because of their friendship, he did give Les a few birds from his very exclusive family.
Les eventually purchased Bygraves entire family of pigeons after Mr. Bygraves passed away. Bygraves always flew his Whittingham family differently from the way Les did, and the way Les taught me to fly my pigeons. I saw Bygraves fly his family of pigeons many times through the years, as Les would take me to Bygraves house to watch them fly and learn about Bygraves birds. Bygraves would always keep his birds hungry; so hungry indeed that if you threw a few grains of feed those pigeons would fight wildly over the seed, watching the kernels bouncing from pigeon to pigeon, before it was eventually eaten. Bygraves would also fly his pigeons several times in a day.
Conversely, Les would release his family of pigeons once daily and they would fly literally all day long and fly very high. Les, The genius that he was with rollers, decided to cross the two families together, the Karp and his newly acquired Bygraves birds. I have received many of these crosses from him through the years. To my amazement, it was a beautiful sight to watch them in the air. The Karp when crossed with the Bygraves have become 100% easier to handle. The pigeons kitted very well together and would fly for hours with plenty of roll, even making breaks, which I never have seen from the Karp birds when Les flew them solely.
II) Changing This Family From Markings into Mottles and Whitesides.
As you recall, the first Red spangle cock that I received and cured of canker was the foundation bird of my family of pigeons. I mated a son from him with a Yellow hen that Les gave me. I bred two sets of Red Mottles from them. As soon as Les saw the mottles, he was amazed. Les thought the markings were beautiful and encouraged me to continue breeding them. I thought it over and with the assurance from Les, decided to create a family of these mottles. Les told me he never raised any mottles, and in all of the time I have known Les, I never saw a Mottle in his loft.
I kept crossing the pigeons with one another and every so often, I would get a mottle in either Red or Yellow. Both of the original Karp and Bygraves crossed birds were marked with beards, spangles, bald, piebald, rosewing, etc. all mixed patterns. It has taken me over 30 years of breeding this family before I could confidently say I have a loft of Mottles and Whitesides. Through the process of inbreeding these mottles, I also get Whitesides from them, but they are not in perfect marking.
In the very beginning, when I started breeding the Mottles, I want to mention that Chandler Grover, who lived close to me at the time, also helped and gave me some Reds and Yellows that were from the Les Manz family that I used in my breeding project. Originally, the Les Manz birds had all colors in their eyes; yellows, orange, bull, pearl, etc. However, by inbreeding for all of these years I get nothing other than straight gravel grey, pearl eyes. This family has produced only gravel grey, pearl eyes for the past sixty years, and they only produce Reds and Yellows.
III) The Sad Part
My best friend and mentor Les Manz passed away in the winter of 1976. I remember clearly, when he called me on a Monday to come to his house and take possession all of his flyers, as he could no longer take care of them. Les has fallen on the ice three times the previous week and was very ill. I told Les I would hold his birds for him until spring when he would probably feel better. Les said no, that he was not going to get any better. Les passed away the end of that week on a Saturday.
During the week, just before his death, actually it was the same day I took possession of les’s flyers, He also asked me to crate up all of his breeders and then asked me to take them all over to his brother Russell who lived nearby, which I promptly did. I have the same original blood family of birds that Les gave me through out the many years in my Mottles. This after 30 years of dedication and very hard work has become a solidly established family. After working all of these years of producing Mottles, I did not want to start all over again trying to produce Mottles from Les’s flying team. While speaking with my friend Chandler Grover, he stated he was interested in taking Les’s flyers, so I shipped them all to him in California.
After the many great years of being best of friends with Les Manz (1928-1976), I hope to continue to keep his family of pigeons as long as I can physically take care of them. I can only hope that my friend Bill Latham, also of New Jersey, will keep and carry on this wonderful family of pigeons long after I am gone.
For all of the years I owned these birds, I have never put a cross into this family. All of the young continue to flourish healthy and without any defects. They still roll deep, will fly high, and continue on the wing for hours.
Charles J. Hubbs
I want it made clear, and to be known;
1) I do not ship any pigeons.
2) This article is not to promote sales of any kind.