Carl Hardesty

Carl Hardesty

Hall of Fame Profile-Interview Spotlight

Conducted by: Touhoua Yang May 2013

The hen Shooting Star, bred by Tony Roberts, that became the backbone of the Hardesty family.

TY: When and where were you born?
CH: I was born in , Nov 27, 1947

TY: How did you get started in pigeons and did you start with rollers first or other breeds?
CH: I always had rollers starting at about the age of 8. A man we knew as Mr. Blinco would sell us American type rollers, fly out of sight, roll when they 1st came out and then when they came in after a few hours of flying. These were called the $5 birds and that is what they cost coming out of the nest. Unlike today there were a number of kids that had rollers (thanks to Mr. Blinco). Could not tell you how good they were as I didn’t know the difference. There were the west end guys and the east end guys. What we called flying and raising rollers as young fanciers was nothing compared to what it is today. At that young age, we were more keepers than flyers. It was a beginning. I picked up other breeds along the way but always had rollers as my main stay.

TY: Where did you get your birds from to create your family of pigeons?
CH: There are 8 pigeons that are responsible for the background of my family. Let me break them out and give you a rundown. At the time I started to build, I had a present family of pigeon known as the Less Woods family out of . The birds we had in this area were from this family and while there were some (few) good ones, there were not many. And that is not a knock against the Woods birds, more our handling and breeding  at that time. I had two really nice spinning pigeons out of the Woods birds that I had raised and put into stock, the 4611 (’81) “4611” cock and his daughter the 7784 (’82) “Little Dime” hen. I had heard of some really hot spinning pigeons in the and went down to see Gilly Simmons and had a visit with the fanciers there and judge a fly. It was on that fly that I purchased the 651 (’82)” Shooting Star” hen (which was out of the old Almond line and an unbanded hen from ) raised and owned by Tony Roberts. She was nothing short of a champion in the air from 20 to 60 feet and the breed loft. I later purchased two cocks from Tony — the black grizzle T221(’83) “Mr. T” (which was the old Paul Vaughn line) and the 615 (’82) cock (which was almost pure the old Almond line) “615”. I also purchased  the 337 (’82) hen (which was the old Almond line) “Falling Star” that was flown and raised by Frankie Reese of the . The last two pigeons were the 1547 (’79)”Mesimore Cock” of the Bill Hart line of pigeons that I borrowed from Joe Haley of our local club and the 746 (’84) “746” hen, a Jerry Boehman’s champion out of the Bales line. The birds out of the had super velocity and depth but were a little short on control and some were a little big. The 4611 & 7784 were very small pigeons and were exceptional and exceptions from the Woods line. The 1547 was a great short spinning pigeon with too much flying time, but was a great asset in controlling the pigeons. Jerry Boehman’s 746 hen produced the 7437 (’85) cock which, while he was a great spinner in the air but not a champion, mated with the H35 (’87) hen produced my best breeding stock and several champions in the air. By far the best pair I ever had. Their young produced many exceptional pigeons in many lofts that fly my family. It was more or less a molding process from there on out and is an ongoing process. So there you have it, the eight pigeons that are behind my family.

Tony Roberts played a big part in the success of my family, and I consider him an outstanding fancier of the true Birmingham Roller. Many birds were brought in from the to be flown and bred from. These are the ones that made it in my loft. Jerry Boehman and Larry Hubbard tried them and later moved on to other lines and built their own families and fly great pigeons. But without the Carolina birds in the background and the exceptional pigeons that Tony Roberts flew at that time, I would not have what I have had. I owe him a great deal of thanks as well as everyone who helped me along the way.

TY: Did you belong to any clubs or hold an official position within any of those clubs?
CH: On a local level, we started the Bluegrass Roller Club. I was president, chief cook and bottle washer, whatever needed to be done. Later, in short, as the NBRC was all but gone, George Valiska and I built the NBRC back up as a fly-only club as the IRA was falling apart. George and I were the work horses as he published the bulletin, I wrote articles in the APJ promoting the NBRC and I assumed the office of President and whatever office was left. After I guess six to eight years (not sure) membership was big enough to let someone else take the position of leadership. It was also decided we didn’t want to be an East Coast only club and, with the help of Jerry Higgins, the West Coast became a strong membership of the NBRC.

TY: Did you ever have a chance to fly and compete? Has anyone else flown your family of pigeons?
CH: When we were mainly an East Coast membership, we had several local and regional flys using our standard 11-bird rules, which were scored more on individual quality than group action. In order to score, it had to be an exceptional roll and the more in the turn the better. I placed high or won many of these flys.

I flew once in the World Cup when it first began and placed 6th. After that, I got out of pigeons as hawks were just taking everything I had. A few years later, I got back in with the help of friends flying my family. I had good success in recapturing the quality I once had, but again the hawks were just too much. In the end, Larry Hubbard and I put our best birds in stock together and crossed to make the “Crossfire” bloodline. Larry said they were the best he ever had or had seen. It would have been fun following this path, as I am not one to avoid progress if it means going out of my family. Many other fanciers have flown my birds, too many to count. Joe Roe flew my birds to a first place finish in the World Cup and John Bender won the next year flying, but I’m not sure how many were of my family. Both were outstanding fanciers, so it had a lot more to do with their ability than having good birds in their hands. Richard Miller flew my birds via Joe Roe and had great success. Bob Bettis still flys my family in and puts up some great kits. He does not compete but knows his way around the birds.

TY: What were your memories of the some of the bigger flys in the ’80s and ’90s like the first World Cup and some of the Backspin Classics?
CH: Like I say, I got out of birds as the hawk problems were just too much, did well when it started, later just couldn’t keep the birds to be able to fly.

TY: Who were some of your mentors and/or closer friends in the hobby?
CH: Really had no mentors, but Jerry Boehman and Larry Hubbard were close friends in the local sport and friends like Jimmy Sherwood and Bob Bettis have remained friends to this day.

TY: As a man who has been in the hobby for decades, do you recall seeing a kit that blew you away? If so, whose kit and do you remember when it was? And where did you see the single best pigeon?
CH: Shooting Star was the best I have ever seen, 20 to 60 foot and perfect. As for kits, Larry Hubbard, Jerry Boehman and myself flew the best I had ever seen. Of course we saw them fly often. I suspect the CPRC in LA would be hard to beat as they had so many great flyers, exceptional pigeons and flyers. At one time they were not worth crossing the street to see, but in later years were in my opinion the best club of quality pigeons anywhere, exceptional quality. I doubt they will ever win another World Cup, as their birds were just too good to win a kit competition as exceptional quality pigeons are hard to keep together for turn competition. Medium quality pigeons are best for this type competition. Two different standards.

TY: What was it like being the president of the NBRC in the late ’80s and early ’90s? What were some of the obstacles and what were some of your greatest successes?
CH: We were a club of maybe 34 members. It was like starting over. First we had to be a fly only club as show rolles and flying rollers were two different breeds. Flying rollers had no business in the air if they could only fly from one house top to another. The true Birmingham Roller was a flying machine and, when perfected, could put on breath-taking performances like no other. We worked through the APJ and promoted (I wrote articles) our sport. We took in the West Coast with the help of Jerry Higgins and we were off. It was really a two-man show. My hat is off to the ones that run it today, it is a much bigger task. We just had to get it going and it was a lot of work on little money.

TY: Did you ever think the hobby would grow to where it is today back in the ’80s?
CH: Not really!! As it is a worldwide club today, again hats off to those that keep it going. George and I spent six or eight years laying the foundation to what is now the voice of the NBRC, a lot of people to thank.

TY: Do you have any words you would like to say to end this interview, last thoughts, words of advice or shout out to friends or the roller hobby in general?
CH: Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. It is not the end of the world if you don’t win. In the end, it is you in the back yard with your pigeons. You have so many different standards, so many ways of scoring, but in the end it is what you get out of it for yourself.