I built my first pigeon cage in 1960, at the age of 15. My first pigeon was a “commie” (common street pigeon), that my aunt had rescued and nursed back to health following some injury. Its name was Godfrey. Soon Godfrey had brought back a little brown grizzle short faced tumbler. I was excited, thinking that I might see their babies tumble. But that was not to be. they didn’t even tailset, just an occasional popping of their wings.
Now I was on a search for real rollers, and I found that a couple of other kids in the neighborhood had rollers. I was able to buy a couple from them. Godfrey and his family had to go! It was to be rollers only, from that point onward, although I have to admit that at one point I tried the parlor cross.
I bought a pair of red mottles from a pet shop in Venice. The store owner said that the man who bred them had paid a lot for their parents. I flew them, and they were very fast, but short spinners. When I bred the hen to a red roller cock I already had, it made the first rolldown that I had ever seen. The bird rolled down in a neighbors’ driveway, and died on impact. This left me with a permanent distaste for this fault.
However, I also bred what was one of my best rollers ever, out of that pair. I called it the Spangle Cock. It rolled about 25 feet in perfect sytle, showing the hole. It was stolen seven times, and flew back home each time.
In the mid sixties I learned that Bill Pensom lived in Canoga Park, a short distance away. I looked up his phone number and arranged to visit him. On the first visit, he gave me an overprint copy of his book. This treasured object was to guide me through the murky waters of hearsay and myth. When my birds were stolen I returned to Mr. Pensom to buy more. The second time, he went to a cage in the rear of the property, and brought me a small dun hen, and said, “Take this one. She rolls like a bull”. When I flew it, she was the best performer I had ever seen.
Mr. Pensom had the greatest influence on me… by far… in terms of learning and appreciating the breed. Later, Cornell Norwood, who had been a friend of Bill Pensom, was to make a big impact on my pigeon breeding through his birds and knowledge of the Pensom birds. Ron Dent also provided me with great assistamce by the extended loan of a great producing cock.
My family of birds goes back the original Red Roller cock, and the “Pet Shop Red Mottle” I mentioned. I have, of course introduced other birds throughout the years, in an effort to produce the best, but they have all been mingled with that original blood.
My family of rollers has been bred straight, without a cross, for the past 24 years. My birds are generally characterized by their speed, consistent body type and textured eyes, I would say. My strain also includes birds carrying the qualmond gene, as well as a substrain of muffed rollers.
I developed this tree in an effort to more easily see what I had been doing in my breeding. I have found it to be a valuable tool for me, and It has helped others to understand my family of rollers.
This was the start of my muff roller project. This sister and brother were my first muffs. They were closely bred birds 3 generations (”great grand children”) of Pensom’s 119 cock.. each having that 3 times on their pedigree.
This hen was exceedingly fast. She spun blood in her eyes, but only once. I bred great hens from these birds, but never produced a cock that I felt was of value to breed. My refusal to cross them into my main family led to their near extinction in my loft.
412 was one of my best producers ever. I stocked her unflown. On the ground she had all the quality I could ask for. Great body, temperment and densly textured eye,