We Are Siamese - Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
by Betty White
From the 1987 CFA Yearbook
Part Two - the '60's and '70's
Was there any discernible trend of the 60's; what was the overall quality of the cats? What was the Siamese Fancy like in general? This was a time when cat shows were dominated by Persians and Siamese, with Burmese and Abyssinians a distant third and fourth. Kim Everett remembers classes of 30-35 sealpoint novice and opens alone, with total classes of 60 or more not uncommon. Empire Cat Club would have two shorthair specialties, one for Siamese only and the other for all other shorthair breeds. Jeanie McPhee remembers taking her GRC Co-Mc Coronation to the Garden State show and competing with 56 sealpoints in a total entry of 126 Siamese! Marge Naples fondly remembers that her very best show ever was winning best with GRC DiNapoli's Blue Tango in a class of 32 bluepoints and second best with his daughter, just two days out of kitten classes. Barbara St. Georges said that judges in those days planned to spend at least one whole day judging only Siamese, and there were always 3 or 4 truly outstanding specimens. Kim said that while winners ribbons were difficult to come by in those days, judges had less difficulty in identifying the "diamond" in the class. Classes then were filled with many local Siamese wherever a show was held. Jeanie recalled that most breeders were "breeding in their own cat pen", so to speak, with not a lot of breeding between breeders. This observation was echoed by Harriett Little of Lilliput who said also that it was difficult for new breeders to break "into the ranks".
Attention was being directed to refining bone in the 1960's, although Jeanne Singer was quick to point out that there were dainty cats around. She particularly mentioned a bluepoint, Bult'h Hex and the dilutes of Mrs. Naugle (Green Lane), specifically Green Lane Chulalongkorn and Green Lane Vance. The Green Lane cats also had wonderful color. Jeanne credits Hex, a bluepoint with deep blue eyes, as the cat responsible for convincing the CFA Board to remove "china blue" from the Siamese Standard. Thereafter, eye color was standardized for all Siamese colors. She also says that Hex's litter brother, Houdini, was a dark sealpoint. However, his type was so outstanding that he won despite the fact that color had been all-important up to that time. Bult'h was the cattery name of Dana Learn of Virginia.
There were other movements afoot in 1966 as the Standard was being updated and revised. Working on this project, Jeanne Singer remembers the battle over the Siamese profile. Many breeders insisted, vociferously, that a "straight line" profile was impossible. Not only was this impossible, but many also insisted that it was undesirable because it would "leave no room for the brains", thereby impairing the cat's mental capacity! If that were not enough, the rest of the argument stated that the health of the Siamese cat would be destroyed because the straight profile would "distort the sinuses so that the cat could not breathe properly." This particular "silly season" in our history often erupted into shouting matches, including the Board Meeting where the Standard was finally approved!
A proposal to add Albino classes to the existing four color classes of Siamese was presented to the September 1966 CFA Board Meeting. It was defeated and presented again in September of 1967 after having been referred to the Board unfavorably by the delegates at the 1967 Annual Meeting. It was decided to reconsider the matter at the Milwaukee Board Meeting in 1968 where the proposal failed again.
In her article on sealpoint Siamese in the 1966 Yearbook, Jeanne Singer refers to the great improvement in head type during the preceding decade and mentions style setters, GRC Bult'h Houdini, GRC Fan-T-Cee Tee Cee, and the Medicine Lake cats. Looking back on the era today, we are able to gain further perspective. While Houdini produced little of note, Tee Cee and the Medicine Lake cats cast giant shadows.
The Best Siamese and Best Opposite Sex Shorthair in the 1965 Hydon-Goodwin awards was GRC MaKhanDa Matil, a sealpoint female bred by Mary Frances Platt of Houston, Texas. Best Opposite Sex Siamese was also a MaKhanDa, Gizmo II. The MaKhanDa wins of 1964 were hardly unexpected. Two MaKhanDa sealpoints had granded in 1963 in a season that celebrated GRC Fan-T-Cee's Flycka of Bograe, owned by Grace Forrest and the Quiners, and GRC Jen-Kins Victor Rhee. Two Daz-Zling Siamese had also done well, and a Florida bluepoint, GRC Erickson's Baron of Mai-Profile. Best Siamese in 1963 was a sealpoint GRC Rogers Hts. Rockette of Bercrest, bred by Willa Rogers (Hawke) and owned by Mrs. Richard C. Bertch.
Ask any long-time judges and breeders to remember Siamese of yesteryear and the name MaKanDa Willa recurs with frequency. This extraordinary sealpoint female was #5 Shorthair Female in 1965 and Best Cat Opposite Sex in 1966. (Jeanie recalls that Willa went to 35 shows, which surely qualified her as a modern-day campaigner!) As a novice breeder in 1968, I was an avid reader and researcher of all things Siamese. Armed with pencils, paper, and the 1966 Yearbook on summer day in 1969, I determined to study MaKhanDa breeding by filling in pedigrees from Mrs. Platt's article, "The MaKhanDa Story". Before the day ended, it was clear that the essential ingredient in the Platt mix was a sealpoint male, Medicine Lake Mikado bred by Mrs. Adolph (Ellie) Olson. Mrs. Platt described him as a heavy-boned boy, but having large ears that matched the wedge, a straight profile, and a short, silky, close-lying coat.
As Jeanne Singer remarked to me recently, "Medicine Lake heads were as good as you could get." To view a picture of GRC Medicine Lake Texess Rose and her grandson, another famous male of the 60's, GRC LeShin-Wieler Saipan (#2 Shorthair Male in 1965) is to begin to understand the contribution of this cattery to the Siamese fancy. Take it a step further and compare the profiles of GRC Kalyan Kavalier of Krebs, Best Chocolatepoint Male in 1966, GRC Purr-Du Persis, #4 Shorthair Female in 1965 and Best Chocolatepoint Female in 1966, and GRC Purr-Du Challenger of Chat de Clair, #5 Shorthair Male in 1967 (owned by Clair Trapnell), and one is almost close to the truth. The common denominator was Green Lane and Medicine Lake.
When asked to remember Siamese of years ago, Kim Everett immediately mentioned two, MaKhanDa Willa and a female from the 70's, GRC Sia-Mews Dixie Dream. Kim also recalled Kalyan Kavalier of Krebs, bred by Eleanor Hamling. Kavalier's litter brother, Kalyan Cho'Co of Purr-Du, was an important male in Mrs. William C. Klein's (Purr-Du) breeding program. Mrs. Klein purchased Cho'Co upon the death of her own stud because he echoed the breeding of her own cats - again, Mrs. Olson's Medicine Lake and that other fine line mentioned by both Carlon Boren and Jeanne Singer, Green Lane.
GRC LeShin-Wieler Saipan, bred by Eberhardt LeSchin and John Wieler, was remembered by Jeanne Singer as a fine Siamese, somewhat heavy boned, with excellent ear set, a great stud male. This boy also contained the fine breeding of Catherine Hoag of Bridle Trail and that of Singa. Another LeShin-Wieler sealpoint was Best Shorthair Female in 1969, GRC Suda-Suy.
Bridle Trail breeding was, in fact, an essential part of the breeding of many Siamese of the 60's. Bridle Trail Ping Mo, and his son, Bridle Trail Pingson of Alray out of Singa Godiva, can be found on the pedigrees of many famous cats of the time. Mrs. Hoag had imported a fine male, Silken Pedro of Bridle Trail and combined other fine imports from Holmesdale and Pristine. Singa Godiva herself was the daughter of another Holmesdale male, Caraban of Wu, and the daughter of Silken Pedro. Many famous cats of the time were indebted to this breeding of Bridle Trail by way of Astra and Sherwood that resulted in Aline Walrath's Alray's Angus of Sherwood, one of the finest producing studs of the era. To mention a few of his progeny: GRC LeShin-Wieler Tuy Han, sire of Saipan; GRC Thaibok Ruby Foo, #3 Shorthair Male in 1968; GRC Alray's Cullaloo; GRC Karnak Zapata, CFA's Best Cat in 1970; GRC Alray's Outlaw of Zirkle; and a 1969 winner belonging to Ed and Donna Davis, GRC Zirkle's Blue Champagne, #4 Shorthair Female.
Certainly no discussion of the 1960's should overlook Mrs. Laurel Jenkins. Already winners as Carlon Boren wrote her history, the Jen-Kins cats continued their winning ways. Jen-Kins Rebel of Catana, a lilacpoint male owned by Sandra S. Mitchell, was #4 Shorthair Male in 1965 and his progeny are legion. (Indeed, the Catana lilacs following Rebel were exceptional Siamese, a blend of primarily Jen-Kins and Kalyan stock.) Readers of the Gulf Shore Siamese Fanciers Quarterly will remember an article by Norma Salzman in a 1986 issue about Jen-Kins Jasmine, the chocolatepoint female that was her inspiration in breeding that color. Kim Everett recalled Jen-Kins Dark Hussy, as did Jeanie McPhee, a lovely sealpoint female that she often agented and who became CFA's #4 Shorthair Female in 1966. Another lovely Jen-Kins cat of the era was GRC Jen-Kins Tora of Queen's Canada, owned by Marjorie Buckner. In 1969, the #3 Shorthair Female was Jen-Kins Dina'ste of Tris-n-my, owned by Martha Minton.
But what of that other "style-setter", Fan-T-Cee Tee Cee? Probably no other cat or cattery has been so misunderstood, so maligned as that of Mrs. Fred (Peggy) Galvin. Tee Cee was a remarkable Siamese, ahead of his time in head type and elegance of boning. He was also tightly bred. As a stud, this was ideal for reproducing type. One of his sons was GRC DiNapoli's Blue Tango, and Marge Naples still has "tango", his 18-year-old son. (Jeanie McPhee, incidentally, remembers the DiNapoli Siamese as nicely balanced cats.) Several catteries were quick to realize the potential of Fan-T-Cee, notable Daz-Zling, DiNapoli, Dahin, Maloja, Tap-Toe and Ty-Ru.
The best Siamese male in 1966, a bluepoint, was bred by Helen Weiss of Texas, GRC Daz-Zling Mirage. Mrs. Weiss was a widely respected Siamese breeder before she launched into her Rex program. Jeanie McPhee credits an earlier male, Daz-Zling Firefly, as having an impact on our breed.
A spectacular bluepoint in 1967 became #4 Shorthair Male. He was GRC Ty-Ru's Copicat, bred by Mrs. A.P. Tyler of Houston. I can still remember the length of that boy's head!
In 1968, other famous cats shared the spotlight with Ruby Foo, the #3 Shorthair Male. The #4 Shorthair Male was Maloja's Mr. B, bred by Vivian Wheaton, followed by #5, Kay Kohl's Koh-Ling Symmetry - both bluepoints. And there were females. Gen Scudder of San Diego bred the #4 Shorthair Female, Arista Genevieve of Bur-Sis (SP), and John Dawe showed DiNapoli's Dresden Doll (BP) to #5 Shorthair Female. Mr. B would go on to put his mark on the Siamese breed by becoming a great sire. Gulf Shore Siamese Fanciers were proud to confirm his Distinguished Merit Award for our breed in 1987.
The decade ended in 1969 with familiar names yet again. Best Shorthair Female was Marge Naples' DiNapoli Flycka Tu of Cher-Lan (BP) owned by the Quiners and Grace Forrest. Karnak Zapata was #2 Shorthair Male. The #4 Shorthair Male was Sia-Mews Blue Cavalier of Che'Ree, bred by Camille Flankey, sired by Mr. B and owned by Sherrie Bender of Huntington, New York. Thaibok Ruby Foo proved his quality by winning yet again, #5 Shorthair Male.
Barbara St. Georges' all-time favorite Siamese cat remains GRC Sia-Mews Blue Cavalier of Che'Ree. She said that she will never forget the Rochester show in 1969, her first Best-of-the-Bests. As she came up on the stage to commence judging, she observed the cats were placed in a horseshoe arrangement. Blue Cavalier was about in the center, and he was the first cat that caught her eye. She remembers her thought, "Something has got to be good to beat you!" She said he had a swan-like neck and she has never seen another just like it.