Friday, December 28, 2007

Clop clop clop

I was just watching a movie on TV, a police story set in NYC in the late '40s, early '50. In one scene, a horse pulling a wagon passed down the street. It wasn't to make any point or demonstrate quaintness; it was just part of the ordinary street traffic. I remember when I was a kid in Abilene at about the same time horses drawing wagons were fairly ordinary – they delivered ice [which means people were still using iceboxes instead of refrigerators], people sold garden truck out of wagons, people looking for bounty in alleys had wagons to carry away their salvage. Horse-drawn wagons are still quite common in South America, even in the big cities. Cartoneros gather up the trash left at the curb and sort through it for salvageable materials.

This team was picking stuff up in Montevideo, a city of some million and a half souls. I wonder what price gasoline has to hit before it becomes economically sensible to use some animal traction. The horses all appeared to be well fed and cared for, and I never noticed anyone mistreating an animal. There's something really nice about the sound of a horse coming down the street.

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