" MY LAST RIDE WITH OTTO JENSEN "
( written by Palmer H. Langdon for the April 1973 ADCA Newsletter )
It was Octover 18, 1969 and the Dexter meeting at Albany, New York had just concluded. Otto Jensen had come by train, as he always did, arriving very late the previous night after milking his cows on his farm near Buffalo. In fact, he had gotten to the hotel long after the rest of us had turned in, but he was right on hand to take part in the breakfast session, putting forth his positive ideas on the way to promote the sale and breeding of Dexter cattle. After a look at the timetable, Otto saw that no train would come through Buffalo until much later in the afternoon, so I said, " Why not ride with me as far as Utica?" - - to which he readily agreed.
As we rolled along past farms at their autumn best, we talked of how much Dexter cattle had meant to both of us. Otto and I had met just ten years earlier at the home of the secretary of our Association, Mrs. Daisy Moore, in Decorah, Iowa. As we had left that evenin to return to the little hotel, Otto remarked to me, " We've got to keep this thing ( the society) going strong or all we have is beefsteak." The next day we had a nice conference at the farm of our founder, John Logsdon, father of Daisy Moore. As a newcomer to Dexters, I had listened intently to the conversation of these two veteran cattlemen with their hopes of enlarging the numbers of our little breed. Otto had traveled by train all the way to Decorah for the meeting each year.
From April 1, 1959, until April 25, 1965 Otto served as President of the American Dexter Cattle Association, never missing a meeting and always getting up a large exhibit of Dexters for the Erie County Fair. He was a "twilight" cattle man, working at his food brokerage business during the middle of the day, while miking his herd at dawn and evening. At one point, as a result of acquisitions to keep registered stock from going to market, he was running 100 head.
As President, Otto always stressed the importance of selling "a package" to a new breeder of three bred heifers and a bull calf, so that the new member had enough stock to mean something and to grow with, rather than selling single animals. Otto always also stressed the importance of getting the young peole on the farm interested, of working with 4H groups and the like. He felt very strongly that if the owners had daily care of their stock, they would become as attached as he was and would stay with Dexters.
As we approached Utica, I had a feeling that Otto was rather tired from his strenuous life and urged him to take things a little easier now that he was in his seventies, but he said that was impossible with the shortage of farm help, and besides, he wanted to expand his herd and promote the breed. The Utica station was nearly deserted when I dropped him off, and I remarked, "Otto, it's the end of the railroad era - looks like you are the only passenger waiting for the Buffalo train." We shook hands and I left him, agreeing to meet again soon. A few days later, Otto was found dead on his barn floor amongst the cattle he loved so much."