THE VERY UNIQUE ELWIN ANDERSON
By Ski Grabanski
For those of you who do not know or have not heard of Elwin Anderson, I would like to introduce him to you. But before I do, I would like to congratulate him for winning the 2009 Puget Sound YB Futurity Race. Elwin congratulations from all the Evergreen and Puget Sound Concourse members for a great season.
Elwin will be 90 years young on January 14th. He has lived in the same home for the last 76 years in Everett Washington. Elwin received his first pigeons when he was five years old in 1925 and has never been without them since, not even one single day. He was with the Army Pigeon Service during WW2, serving in the Pigeon Breeding and Training Center, the 281st Signal Pigeon Company and the 828th Signal Pigeon Replacement Company.
Elwin joined the Everett Racing Pigeon Club in 1933 and flew his first race at the age of 13. The Everett Club started in 1919 and is the club that Elwin flies with today. Elwin’s first wins in OB’s and YB’s came in 1934. He has flown at least one series successfully each and every year since then (76yrs).
He is the longest member ever of the American Racing Pigeon Union, seventy-five (75) consecutive years through 2009, and adding one more year each January. He has attended fifty (50) AU Conventions in all areas of the USA. More than any other fancier.
Elwin’s travels have just recently slowed down just a bit. He has been all over the world, has visited five Continents and has been to Europe thirteen times. His most recent European visit took place in 2007. He was at the AU Convention in Minnesota last year, but missed the Convention this year (2009). But he is looking ahead and has set a goal to attend the 100th anniversary convention of the American Racing Pigeon Union in Oklahoma City in the fall of 2010. He says if you attend, look him up.
He has met and offered a suggestion or two, to all twenty-four sitting AU presidents since Harry C Burke, 1949/1950. He also met seven of the eight past presidents going back to 1933 at later conventions. So Elwin has been a friend of thirty-one of the forty-two AU presidents since it’s founding in 1910. Elwin said “It was not just a handshake but many hours of pleasant conversations about pigeon racing and the AU and its operation. All worked hard and were sincerely dedicated to our sport”. Elwin was an officer of the American Homing Pigeon Institute and instrumental in getting it established at a National Headquarters. In 1991, Elwin donated $100,000 to kickoff the American Homing Pigeon Institute that was built at it‘s present site. He also served on the AU board during the decades of the 50s, 60s, and 80s.
Elwin has been honored for his efforts, locally and nationally, with the Washington State Hall of Fame, Person of the Year and Certificate of Special Appreciation. The AU Hall of Fame (1957) Person of the Year (1992), and more recently the AU Elwin Anderson Legend of the Sport.
Now let’s talk a little bit about Elwin’s flying abilities and techniques. In 1928 he received his first “Racing” Pigeons (5) from a neighbor by the name of Gil Pilon that was getting out of the sport. These pigeons were of the Grooters family and very good ones. Elwin said that the neighbor paid between $25 and $50 each for the birds. Back then that was a lot of $$$$. Elwin flew this family of birds through 1988. After 1988 because of his travels Elwin did not winter any birds and only flew young birds.
Some of Elwin’s fondest race memories are back in 1935 at the age of 15 he had a total of ten pigeons, breeders and flyers combined. He sent four to the four hundred and had three home on the day. Back then all birds were shipped by train. In 1937 at the age of 17 he won the Club Championship. That was flying against some of the old Belgian’s and against 25 flying members. In 1949 he took the first three positions in every young bird race flying against 25+ members. Elwin has won the Puget Sound Futurity three times. His first two wins, 1981 and 1983 were with the original Grooters family. In 2002, a club member Robert Adams, built a new YB loft for Elwin to help keep him flying. The new loft has a grated floor so the droppings fall to the ground below (Saves all that scraping). The box perches have wire bottoms, this also helps to keep scraping to a minimum. Elwin has a couple of roosters underneath the loft to eat any grain that might fall through. In 2008 against 3,191 lofts, Elwin was Seventh National AU Champion in young birds. This year Elwin had the High Point Bird in the Evergreen Concourse Old Bird Series. The bird AU 08 EVERETT 2564 was bred by club member Steve Chadwick. He won two club races and was second in four other races. In the Young Bird series he was fourth place in the Everett Kit Race and finished first, third, seventh and seventeenth in the Grand Finally Puget Sound Young Bird Futurity (PSF).
There were 1062 PSF bands sold to 60 different lofts this year. Because of the Adeno Virus and heavy losses, 235 quality pigeons and 32 lofts competed in the race. It was one of the toughest PSFs in memory. The birds were up at 7:30AM, September 9th with slight headwinds and 58 degrees, throughout the course the birds were facing a slight headwind and the temperature was rising. The phones started ringing around 2:45 with birds reported in the area. Elwin clocked his first bird at 3:11 with a distance of 347.508 miles in 80+ degrees. Elwin’s first bird clocked, PSF 2861 bred by Steve Sterchi of Grass Valley, Ca. was out in front of the second place bird that flew forty less miles by 23 yards or 7.44 minutes.
Elwin flies a very small team of birds and losing very few. In 2006 he competed in the OB series with ten pigeons, 2007 eight and 2008 with two and flew most of the races. At the end of the 2008 season he still had the two pigeons he competed with and was asked by Roald Haugen if he would like a couple of late breds and once the word got out before he knew it, he had 20 pigeons which consisted of his 2009 OB team. When Elwin won his first PSF race he was flying his version of the Light System. The last couple of years he has flown the young bird series on the Dark System and this year he had the old birds on the same Dark System as the young birds. Elwin likes early bred youngsters (Dec/Jan. hatches). He puts them on the floor when they are 15 to 19 days old. They are weaned at 25/28 days old and are put on 16 hours of dark and 8 hours of light. They are on this system until July 1st. This is when he puts them on 15 hours of light and keeps them there until after the season. He then puts them on natural light. When settling the youngsters, he puts them in a settling cage for a few days. Elwin only lets out six or seven youngsters at a time when settling. This prevents losing large numbers if the birds are suddenly frightened. Elwin starts short tosses after the young have circled as a flock for a month. They are ten to twelve weeks old at this time. Training: His first toss is only with six or seven pigeons at three miles. The next day he takes out a different group of six or seven youngsters. We fly in a southerly direction, so the birds are taken south, southeast and southwest. He jumps them out gradually (3, 6 , 10, 12, 15 & 25 miles) with a minimum of three tosses at each release point. Elwin says he is no longer comfortable driving more then twenty-five miles, so he catches the club trainer after twenty-five miles. If the wind is out of the south, Elwin will take the birds about twenty miles north. Whenever Elwin leaves his home, the birds go too. He believes this matures their instinct (imprinting). He likes to get them out to 100 miles three or four times before the first race (Aug. 1st). During the race season the birds are put on the club training truck Tuesdays and Thursdays. When the races start, Elwin leaves 1/3 of the birds home each week. He flies the sexes separated and starts separating them in May. He puts them together for about an hour before shipping and then separates them in the PM on race day. Medication: Elwin vaccinates for Pox and PMV only. During the racing season, they get a vitamin and electrolytes on race day (Saturday). Sunday, weeks one and four they are given a canker preventative, weeks two and three a cocci preventative. Mon, Tue and Wed they are given a probiotic. Thursday they are given a vitamin and Electrolyte and clean pure water on Friday. Feed: As the birds come in from race day, they are given a small treat, Raw Spanish Peanuts and regular grain. This is only when they first come in. The rest of the day and Sunday they are on Barley. Monday through Friday they are on the race mix which consists of 60% Race Mix, 20% Pigeon Pellets, 10% Brown Rice and 10% Barley.
When asked how he kept himself so fit and sharp? Elwin’s reply was that the birds keep him busy and that he goes to church every week where he belongs to a bible study group that meets twice a month. He said one of the meetings is just to “Shoot the Bull”. He meets a couple of club members once a week for lunch. He has an exercise class twice a week at the Senior Citizens Center. He bowls in a league once a week and carries a 117 average. Today (Oct. 2nd) he is off to a Flower and Garden show. Yes in deed, “The Very Unique Elwin Anderson”.
Elwin said that if anyone has any questions for him, he would be more than happy to hear from you. Elwin can be reached at 425-259-1516.