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Vintage carousel horse returning home in style

Former Sunnyside native Susan Taylor Jack (center) was in town last week to admire the work being done on her longtime travel buddy, “Dutch”. Jack has carried the vintage carousel horse around with her since being on the 1967-68 Miss Sunnyside Court. Handling the restoration and painting on the now pristine horse are Ruth and Leroy Ganser of Sunnyside.

Former Sunnyside native Susan Taylor Jack (center) was in town last week to admire the work being done on her longtime travel buddy, “Dutch”. Jack has carried the vintage carousel horse around with her since being on the 1967-68 Miss Sunnyside Court. Handling the restoration and painting on the now pristine horse are Ruth and Leroy Ganser of Sunnyside. Photo by Julia Hart.

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For nearly 45 years, “Dutch” has been a part of Susan Taylor Jack’s life.

The stylish vintage carousel horse, which may have once graced a merry-go-round display in Yakima, came into Jack’s possession in 1968 at the conclusion of her year as a princess on the Miss Sunnyside Court.

The float theme was Mary Poppins, in a nod to the popular Julie Andrews movie of the same name, Jack explained.

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photo courtesy of Susan Taylor Jack

As a Miss Sunnyside princess in the 1967-68 float years, Susan Taylor rode her trusty hot pinkish red carousel horse in community parades from the Tri-Cities to Seattle.

The Mary Poppins theme meant Jack’s carousel horse was painted in colors complementing the Miss Sunnyside Court’s parade gowns. The court’s float dresses were a lovely rose pink with white under gowns. Jack’s horse was a version of red not seen in nature with white trappings. Miss Sunnyside Sandy (Eirich) Schilperoort and Princess Julie (Schilperoort) Fisher rode blue and green horses, respectively.

Jack’s father, Tom Taylor of Sunnyside, was a member of the Miss Sunnyside float committee. He found the abandoned steeds in a warehouse on the Yakima state fairgrounds. “He and the other members of the float crew repurposed the wooden horses and used them on our float,” Jack explained.

She believes it was because her father was on the float committee that she was allowed to keep her horse.

“I don’t know if Sandy or Julie were able to keep their horses,” she said.

In fact, Jack said she isn’t quite sure why she has hung on to her rather large float memorabilia. Her mother, Betty Taylor, shipped the carousel horse to her after she graduated from college. “I guess I felt obligated to keep it in the family,” she said.

Nevertheless, during the past 40 years Jack and “Dutch” have traveled all over the United States and recently ended up back in the Yakima Valley. After all those years of travel Jack decided Dutch needed a new paint job. So she called on family friends, Sunnyside’s Ruth and Leroy Ganser, known carousel horse enthusiasts, to spruce up her favorite horse.

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This stocky, little American pony is a sample of an original carousel horse created by Leroy Ganser. Ganser and wife Ruth took up the hobby of carousel restoration more than 20 years ago.

The Gansers, who have an extensive background in carousel restoration, are responsible for much of the refurbishing of the Cleveland Park carousel horses housed in the Bickleton Carousel Museum. Largely self-taught, the pair even have traveled far and wide to research the different types of carousel horses used in carnival attractions in the mid 1900s. Ganser has even tried his hand at creating some of his own carousel horses in the vintage styles popular at the turn of the last century.

To prepare Dutch’s revival, Ganser began by repairing the many bruises and scrapes the decorative piece has accumulated over the years.

Mrs. Ganser then painstakingly researched the colors for the now shiny black horse, using Jack’s choices of Caribbean blue and Flamingo pink colors in the bridle and saddle trappings.

After 18 months of work and touch-ups, the handsome steed is nearly ready to move to Jack’s new condo in Richland.

“I have just the spot for him with his own display light in my entry way,” she said.

‑ Julia Hart can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email JHart@DailySunNews.com

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