• U.S.

Sport: Rolling Rock Row

3 minute read

One of the oldest quarrels between Labor and Capital is the one between sporting country squires and the fan ers over whose fields they ride to hounds. Farmers perennially growl that the squires break down their fences, trample their crops. Squires perennially reply that privileges and increased property values pay for the damage they do. Last week this dispute—in England as old as the Norman Conquest—became part of the current U. S. strike rash.

Fifty miles outside of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania’s Ligonier Valley, are Rolling Rock Farm and Rolling Rock Country Club. Rolling Rock was originally 12,000 acres of land owned by Judge Thomas Mellon, who left it to his son Richard Beatty Mellon, brother of Andrew Mellon and onetime president of the $340,000,000 Mellon National Bank. Richard Beatty Mellon turned Rolling Rock into a loosely organized country club, whose members share the expenses of keeping up one of the best U. S. packs of English fox hounds, raising pheasants, and running the Gold Cup Steeplechase. He left it to his son, Richard King Mellon, when he died in 1933. Rolling Rock Country Club hunts over 75,000 acres, mostly owned by 240 farmers whose acres surround the Mellon 12,000. To pay them for the privilege of hunting their land, Rolling Rock has guaranteed the farmers extra work at $3 a day. Last week, 49 of the farmers doing extra work at Rolling Rock left their plows in their first spring furrows, went on strike. Into the Pittsburgh office of Rolling Rock’s Master of Fox Hounds “Dick” Mellon went four farmers’ representatives to present their demands: 10¢ an hour more pay, wider privileges.

Possibly the most decisive answer ever attained in the long history of Squire v. Farmer bickering was the result of their trip: a Mellon decision to close $2,500,000 Rolling Rock entirely, ship its horses elsewhere, sell its machinery, deprive Ligonier Valley of its $120,000 annual revenue. Said M. F. H. Mellon: “We have done everything we possibly could do. . . . Why, once we were selling eggs. The natives complained and we stopped. I have even gone so far as to ask my friends to purchase their toothbrushes and shotgun shells locally. There has been an unfriendly feeling by the farmers toward us for years. We never ran the farm for profit —just for fun. Now there will be no more hunts. My decision is unequivocal. . . .” Next day, the Ligonier Board of Trade circulated a petition pledging farmers to permit Rolling Rock foxhunters to ride over their land, got all but six of the 240 farmers to sign it. Said the Board of Trade Secretary Edward Grombach, who owns a harness and auto supply store: “We can’t help what the strikers have done and we’d be mighty sorry to see Mr. Mellon go.”

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