One can see the influence of Will Rogers in Don Stewart’s choice of clothing. My guess is that Ferdus just entered his life as his very own horse kept on the weekend retreat Hogback Farm out in Woodstock, Illinois. This picture was taken in c.1930 when Uncle Don was 10 years old. Twenty years later the Schuler, Stewart, and Tittle kids would be experiencing their own adventures on these acres. There was Erabelle, who was my mother’s horse who joined Ferdus in the stables under the barn. Both animals were a part of our childhoods too living long enough for us to know them beyond their oil paintings that survive today.
Uncle Don was my hero throughout my life. He was a living adventure always doing something of note. He was an Eagle Scout; he learned to fly in his own airplane at 16; he bought an island in Ontario building both a boat and a cabin; he served in the Army Air Corps in WWII; he inherited and ran Stewart’s Private Blend Coffee Company; he was President/CEO of a Texas Oil Company; he was a restauranteur in Scottsdale building and running Red Dog Rosie’s; he always had a ranch outside what ever town he lived for an escape; he went hunting for big game filming in 16mm all his travels; he bagged 3 of the 4 sheep – alas the Arizona Ram eluded him even as a resident of the state. He was my hero and inspiration to this day – even though our politics were at opposite ends of a spectrum.
He had me on every conservative mailing list known to man. I did catch him up one day though. It was when he was living in Dallas, Texas that I asked him if he was a member of the Confederate Air Force known for its restoration of heavy metal WWII aircraft. That organization was really a front for ultra conservative men to rally around. My Uncle Don, conservative John Birch Society lifetime member, had never heard of it.
Months later when we chanced meeting again, he advised me, the Lieutenant in the United States Navy, to salute him as he was a commissioned Colonel in the Confederate Air Force. Gotcha!