A few days ago I received a notice in the mail about a polo match being played in Ligonier. This particular match is a benefit for the YMCA and is being held on September 15th of this year. When I received the card I read it with particular interest. I was reminded of the polo I knew and the matches I saw when I was growing up in Wexford, PA.
In the 1930’s, there were polo matches played at a field not too distant from my home. I saw a few of them and I’m sorry to say I remember very little about them. I was young at the time and understood very little of polo. I imagine my parents didn’t really understand the game to any great extent and I don’t recall their being fans. I’m sure they took me to the games only to increase my knowledge of the world.
Polo has a reputation of being a sport of the more affluent citizens of society and I suppose it has always been that way but that wasn’t the case in Wexford. At least I don’t recall it being that way. Wexford in those days was a farming community and horses were common on the farms. Most were work horses but there were a number of riding horses and I assumed that the young men on those farms played polo because it seemed to be a good idea. I remember one farm fronting on Route 19 that had a small cage-like building constructed mostly of screening sitting in front of the barn. There was a wood facsimile of a horse installed in the structure. Many times as my family passed in our car I saw young men or boys seated on that “horse” swinging mallets to send polo balls against a screen off which they bounced to be struck again by the mallet.
I envied those boys and entertained the thought that I might one day practice there and play at the sport of polo. Those dreams ended in 1941, the year I turned nine, with the advent of World War II. Polo, like many other things, became less important to the country. The young polo players went off to the war or to other jobs and the games at the polo field were suspended. Like so many things of the era of the 30’s, they never returned to the little town of Wexford.