The 1971 Big Ten Championships.

This is the mostly true story of the 1971 Big 10 Championships. Back when college teams socialed.

As told by my late father.

OK! Bear with me and I'll try and give you all the accurate details I can call. I was one of the 3 that picked up the live pony and transformed it into BBQ ready carcass. I was mostly involved with gutting, skinning & butchering, but was there from live pick up to delivery at the beer distributor's cooler for chilling.

The pony was a light brown, kind-a stocky, small-to-medium sized mare, maybe ~4' at the shoulder. She came from horse &pony farm on north side of IN 26 E almost out to what's now the I-65/26 intersection. Area now is all built up with Lowe's, restaurants, etc. but at the time was rural edge of east Lafayette, beyond US 52 which was the "by-pass" then. I don't know who made the purchase, but I believe it was in the $25 range, significantly cheaper than the preferred ass or even a hog was going for $70-80 at that time and this was way more "meat". Economy was not an insignificant aspect even then.

After Thursday night practice before the tournament, myself, TW (the chef), and ex-Marine Butch (HS mate of Tits, Jimbo & Big Cat) went to pick her up in an open pickup truck. It was about dark and we were still in practice kit, so the farmer seemed a little curious but didn't give us any trouble. We walked her up a little ramp to load and put a blindfold on her so she wouldn't be spooked, figuring she'd probably not gone cruising with strangers much before? Butch & I rode in back with her from her place on the east side of Lafayette to our destination which was to be some little farmhouse on the southwest side of West Lafayette where somebody's contact said that we could take care of the necessary business. It seemed likely that we might draw some unwanted attention so chose not to drive the most direct route which would have taken us right through the main drags & downtown Lafayette, across the bridge and into WL. Wags, the local boy, was our driver and was sure he could maneuver south around the outskirts of town, over some distant downriver old iron bridge and then right up to our killing station in WL from the south. So that was our route. It was mostly dark now and it seemed like it took forever! I remember being pretty chilled in sweaty practice kit, and will never forget how that little mare, blindfolded as she was, managed to lean into every start, stop, curve & turn in the road, rattle across the Wabash over the old wood-planked, iron bridge and never slipped or took a step for balance.

Anyway, that portion of the evening, preliminary as it was, seemed to be nearly behind us. We arrived on target, but when we got there, the homeowner reneged. Something about he thought it was only playing along on a joke, or his wife was freaking, or.... I don't know. Either way, time was marching on and we were still a long way from finishing up with chores.

With no alternatives, pre-cell phone era and a major job ahead of us still, Butch determined that we could get on with our tasks in the backyard of house where he rented upstairs over some hill folks from WV or KY who wouldn't find so much odd about "making meat". One drawback to Butch's place though, it was only a couple of blocks over the river back into Lafayette on 6th St., just north of Union and at that time rather low-end, central neighborhood where gunfire wasn't unusual, but tended to draw squad cars. [Still is when I lived there in 2010]. The alley behind the house shared parking with corner bar, the "Chatterbox", and the "Squirrel Cage", my preference, bar on the other corner, both grungy, little, old fashioned neighborhood bars. At least it was a short quick drive up WL river road, over the Harrison St. bridge and into Butch's backyard. I don't know if I even owned a watch then, but I'm guessing it was around 9:30-10 by now?

So, finally now in the alley behind Butch's house, Tom backs us in close to the convenient, large "hanging tree" and we all three in back hop down out of the truck. I don't know for sure what the execution plan had been for the original site, but we were now at the new venue and apparently under-armed. We had butchery tools, etc. but not out in the country with the farmer's firepower. Butch volunteered that he had a .22 rifle, and Marine that he was, would be sufficient with a well placed shot. So with the mare tethered to the tree, Wags & I stood back while Butch picked his spot and fired the one kill shot. Unfortunately though... she just stood there, now sputtering us with a bloody spray mist from her nostrils. She didn't make any other noise, and seemed little effected other than showering us in her blood. Horrific as it all sounds now, we didn't want the suffering to be any greater than what the original plan had been. Additional gunfire didn't seem to be wise as the guy across the street opened his front door and other neighbors could be seen peeking out of their windows. Not wanting to involve any law enforcement, we weren't doing anymore shooting, but we do have unfinished business. Butch took off and dashed into the basement of his house and came out with a big iron pipe. Now, Butch was a similarly built guy to Demakis (for perspective) and he took a home-run swing with the pipe right between her eyes and she dropped like a rock. The Marine took over and she'd hardly hit the ground when he sliced her throat ear to ear. Frantic action followed by the hush & gush as she bled out.

After an already long evening of readjusted plans, things pretty much went as expected the rest of the way. It took the 3 of us to get her hoisted a bit hanging from the tree, and we commandeered 3 or 4 full sized garbage cans from the nearby alley and completely filled them with guts, head, hooves and such parts. Earlier in the evening we'd had inspired thoughts of what we could do & how we could make the most of such various unique components, but at this point we were all tuckered out. Removing the leftovers from the site relative to Butch's house was a logical step so we hauled them out to one of the WL apartment dumpsters for deposit.

Job completion came about 11:30 when we arranged to meet the manager of the beer distributor to leave two sides of meat in his walk-in cooler to chill before starting the slow cooking procedure on Friday for Saturday's event. He took one look at the sides of carcass as we carried them in, us all spattered in blood, and he says "that's no hog". No arguments there.

Tom took care of all of the cooking for Saturday, and did a masterful, slow-roasted job that produced tender, tasty meat that most thought to be roast beef until otherwise enlightened. I recall one young lass who was enjoying the fare at one moment and projectile vomiting the next, upon being informed of the facts. Lamenting the loss of alternative parts we'd originally hoped to use, I had Tom roast me a whole cow's tongue which I got a lot of mileage out of searching for "G" spots & inspecting cleavage

The party was for the Big Ten tournament in 1972, I believe, maybe '71, but pretty sure '72. The party venue itself was an empty old brick structure that was originally the power generating plant for the original electrified inter-urban trains, public transit system of the early 1900's. It was along the "Big 4" rail corridor, beside the Wabash for easy coal delivery, and long gone. The newer bridge that carries one-way traffic east from WL to Lafayette passes almost directly over, slightly north, of where it had stood on the east bank of the Wabash.

I remember whoever it was that was pissing off of the rafter trusses, got up there by climbing up electrical conduit that sparked & sizzled. I don't recall how he got down, but damned lucky he wasn't fried on the way up!

Now, this is all an accounting of a politically incorrect episode. I did find out after the fact that coincidentaly the national headquarters of the Shetland Pony Association of America was in WL. This animal was forfeit to the economics of livestock at an agricultural institution. As far as I know it was never a pet, per se, and certainly to us it didn't have a name & we weren't in any relationship with it.

This leads me to the question of what kind of barbarians cold-heartedly sacrificed dear sweet "Moose" after giving him a name, a loving lifestyle, personal relationships and an ever expanding circle of friends? He too was tasty, but as I recall, not as expertly prepared.


I found the Purdue Exponent newspaper article from the weekend. "Bill James" was one of the Rugby players under a pseudonym.