A Bit of Roller History – by Richard Espinoza

September 11, 2015

You gotta love roller history. I ran across an article in an old roller publicationwhich despite being short, is great. The piece looks to be written by Richard Espinoza about how Jaconette got his ‘start’. Here it is, along with a photo of the article page below.

Richard ‘s experience with Rollers, the breeding and the flying, goes back to his youth, which was spent in the Connecticut area where he associated with Bill Pensom, Leroy Smith and Raymond Perkins. After seeing Richard’s birds in action it is quite evident that he picked up a lot of knowledge from these very famous men in the “Flying Roller” hobby.

Richard’s birds are basically a blend of three families. In the mid-’70’s Richard acquired some fine stock of the Houghton-Neibel line via Dave Sanchez and Richard Espinoza of Los Angeles. A few years later some of J. Leroy Smith hens were skillfully introduced into the stock and in 1978 Richard was able to get some of his original stock and strain, which he had in the 1940’s. This latter stock had been bred from offspring directly off the imports from England. The birds bred from his stock from the East resemble very much in type and colours the three shipments made by Bill Barrett of Birmingham, England, to members of the Toronto Flying Roller Club this year. The Houghton and Neibel influence was evident in the blue and black checks being flown.

The above is an excerpt taken from an article written by Bill Harris of Canada about a visit to the home of Richard Jaconette in November of the ‘80’s. Here’s a bit of history on how Richard’s family of Rollers actually began and why Richard has been so successful.

First, Richard’s original stock pigeons were all bred by or out of Dave Sanchez’s family of Rollers. Three pair were given to Richard by Dave and two pair were from a young roller man with birds from Dave named Mike Gordon. Another two birds were given to Richard by myself. One of these birds was out of an outstanding spinner, a dun-self. The other was a spangle hen that spun but had faults enough so that I could obtain her from Dave. I liked her type.

Dave’s family of rollers was from three pairs originally acquired in 1971 from Joe Houghton’s lofts and two pair from Hans Rotenbacher. One of the Houghton cocks was out of a Monty Neibel cock. Joe, Hans, Monty and Dave are hard-core breeders and flyers (performance is the only consideration). Richard started with spinners bred from spinners.

Second, Richard did breed and fly the pigeons for the first five years. He selected aerially. However, he did confide in Dave and I that he stocked the whole first round the first year without flying them. He showed us a dun-bar badge as the best out of that bunch typewise. He did cross in the Smith blood and Perkins blood later. However, I saw this as more of a necessity for sales. Perkins and Smith sold better than Sanchez and Espinoza, Lynn and Lavin. The only change that he made was adding more color, but the hear, the engine, the strong propensity to roll frequently was set by Houghton and Sanchez. These predecessors were successful winners of many competitions previous to the Jaconette years.

Best in the Sport,
Richard Espinoza Breeder (Of Rusty)

Below is a history of the Jaconette line shared by J.B. Kimball in 2018. J.B. knew Richard Jaconette well and has filled in some of the gaps in the Jaconette story.

courtesy of Jb Kimball

“Lots of opinions, lots of stories, but only limited truths. I have sat back and seen so many things said on blogs over the past 15 years, so not sure why I feel inspired to set records straight, but he we go…

I first met Richard in 1982, at 12 years old. My older brother (Rob) and I were introduced to him by Ron Moden. I had my first Jaconette birds in 1980 from Ron Moden, a pair of Jacs from Paul Platz, by way of Don Landstead, and another pair of Jacs that I got from Kerry Muller.

My first Jacs direct from Richard were in April of 1984 (10 bird kit). I used to ride my bike (1973 Schwinn Apple Krate) out to Spring Valley as a kid in the hopes of landing a bird or two from Richard. He would not turn loose with anything, even in exchange for work, but he would sell me an occasional bird for $10 to $20. I spent many evenings being either turned away, being told to call and make an appointment, or being allowed to stay and clean his lofts while he and his wife would have dinner, never an invite to join btw…

Richard was a strange duck for sure, but also had moments when he had patience and would spend extended amounts of time talking pigeons with me. I hope that I learned from all of the things he did showed me, but also over the years have realized that he bred his birds differently that I have bred his/ this family. Besides his speech about color and balance, the one thing that always stood out the most was when I asked him if he was concerned with birds bumping? He response was “Never worry about young birds bumping, they will cull themselves”…

Yes there are a couple of pairs of Jerry Linn birds (Lavin/ Pensom and Red Headed Hen cross) behind only a couple of the birds he bred out of in 1979 to 1982. The introduction of Dave Sanchez and Richard Espinoza (Pensoms/ Rusty CRS 76 1776) as well as a couple others with a hen that was out of Monty Niebels old family bred to a Bruce Cooper cock.

The Ray Perkins birds he introduced were down out of birds he had gotten as a kid growing up in CT down the road from Ray Perkins. Richard told me that he had returned home on a couple different occasions and that in a barn near where he had released all of his birds when he joined the military, there were birds that were still rolling deep, and he said he knew because of their colors and look what they went back too, how many generations or totally pure is always been a question, but not in Richards mind. He spent several nights climbing rafters of that old bard to catch the Perkins birds he had in the infamous Jaconette line.

The colors in his family come mostly from the Perkins line. Richard told me the Perkins birds were where he got his depth, frequency came from the Smith line and speed from the Pensoms. He had some direct pairs from Pensom he said he got in 1972- 73, but only kept a couple birds from them.

Contrary to what some people have said about Richard, but he was a rather good record keeper, I got to go through his 3″x 5″ index cards on several occasions, and handled every one his breeders from 1984 – 1988.

Richard would tell me that people would say bad things about him because they were jealous of his success, but I also got to watch him have a temper tantrum when Don Landstead beat him with his own birds in 1983. He shut down competition, and i believe a large part of that was all of the pushback he got when he had the SDRC San Diego Roller Club and the fly rules had deductve scoring points for errors. I’ve had some bad flys, zero scores and even DQ, but only time in my life I had a -47 was when I had my birds judged by Richard.

After all of the negativism in the local club and the SDRC being disbanded and the SCRC not flying at that time, just show rollers, Richard began to breed and sell birds heavily and stopped flying in competition in 1983, but flew a kit of his own bird up until 1989. His birds started getting too hot, too many roll downs from not fully flying out breeders or just breeding without flying. He became a Feather Merchant, lost his way looking to get a little pocket change.

He did maintain his old breeders, he moved them out to his daughters house. Most of the famous birds, “Windsong”, “Black Rain”, “Lavender Laser” The Mahogany Cock, and stayed there until either their death or when he got out of the birds in 1992/ 93. A couple of events happened at this time, so guys he pissed off turned him into the IRS and his daughter moved to Colorado at that time. Richard and his wife moved there for a time and then returned to Spring Valley,CA about 2 miles from where they had lived before, only this time was at a retirement community.

Richard had started loosing his vision about 1988 and was legally blind by 1996. Once out of the birds, he did not want to talk with anyone associated with birds. Controversy always did surround him, even for those who knew him well, and I’ll bet controversy will forever surround his legacy.

Hope this fills in some voids for some of you. I think the most accurate statements I have seen over the years have come from George Curtis. And for those of you who wonder, yes Jaconettes are behind Norm Reeds birds, Jerry Higgins birds. In fact some of the birds came from myself, and were sold to Gary Sult by Roy Trehern and then bred by Jerry there are also some birds (same family that came from Ron Moden, James Barber, Dave Goss). Al lot us have left a finger print on many of the birds being enjoyed today. This is in no way meant to diminish what each of these men have contributed to the sport, but it’s funny how so many want to keep the origins of there birds a secret…

“Keep the Firefalling”

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