by Mike Thomas
Fort Worth, TX
The 1999 young bird season was a good one for the Tejano loft (Andy & Shirley Rodriquez). They won the “NTF” while they were at the AU Convention in Baltimore, then two weeks later they won the first four places in the “Main Event” race.
The history of this loft starts in Kingsville, TX, in 1957 where at the age of 10 Andy Rodriguez acquired his first pigeons. Andy, Steven Boyd, and Raymond Taylor started flying in the Bishop Racing Pigeon Club. At the age of 12, Andy won the Texas Center Youth Division. At this time the Bishop club had 8 to 10 junior flyers and ten to 12 senior flyers.
Some of his first pigeons were purchased from Foy’s, for two dollars each, he waited for one week, until they were delivered by Railway Express in peach crates. During race season, Andy had a two-bird timer that would run for 17 or 18 hours. Living in Kingsville, as soon as he clocked he would have to jump on his bike and ride to Bishop to get his birds entered before his clock stopped. Even as a youth Andy was a competitor. At the age of 14 he started showing dogs, soon to be followed by rabbits, hogs, and cattle.
One of his saddest days was while in the military he learned that his parents had given his loft and pigeons away. This loft was made of magnesium scaffolding, with boards bolted to it. Andy still has a picture of the old loft today.
A funny story Andy tells is about how he always fed his pigeons before going to school. One morning he noticed they were all out of the loft and would not come near it. When he opened the door, to his surprise, there was a great horned owl inside. Seeing his chance to escape, the owl proceeded to fly past Andy. At this same time Andy’s sister was walking out to where the school bus stopped. All of a sudden she looked up and this owl was flying right at her. She was holding a twirling baton and instinctively swung it to protect herself. She whacked the owl so hard it bent her baton. The owl managed to make it to a pole where he recouped until he could get his bearings and safely left. Andy tried to explain to his parents that it wasn’t his fault but he still had to buy his sister a new baton. The owl, after this experience was not seen in the vicinity of the loft again.
Eleven years ago Andy moved to Dallas. Approximately three years ago, while at a K-Mart in Carrolton, he spied something that looked like a pigeon crate on the back of a pick-up. That truck turned out to belong to Kenny Kelley. After talking to Kenny he found that he only lived seventy-five yards from his house. Flying with the Denton club in his second year back into the sport, Andy won Average Speed, and Champion Loft. One of the birds responsible for these wins also placed 2nd in the Texas Center Hall of Fame.
When Andy first moved to Dallas he started a rabbit club in Denton, Texas. It has become a model for 4H clubs in Texas. Andy still gives seminars and judges rabbits. This club raises approximately $2,000 a year to pay expenses for series, truck, etc.
Dogs, cattle, and rabbits are all registered. He feels that the pigeon organizations should set up a similar program. He feels the problem with the pigeon sport is that we cannot get people to work together for common goals. More of the same old “I and me” instead of “we and us.”
Then, there was the time while training Andy was driving down the highway. He was tossing birds out the window of his truck. One hen he tossed instead of opening her wings as usual folded her wings and proceeded to hit the pavement at 50 plus miles per hour. Needless to say feathers went everywhere but the little pigeon made it home. When he flew this pigeon on the FWF she was the third bird to his loft. Oh, what might have been?
Andy and Shirley raise Jack Russell terriers that they show and also compete with. One day their dogs killed a skunk under the bedroom of their house. This was on a day when Henk Kuijlaars was taking pictures at Campbell Strange’s, and without thinking they went out and grabbed their birds and off they went. While they were in with Henk (taking pictures of the birds) Campbell opens the door and ask if anyone smelled a skunk. They didn’t realize the odor from the skunk had come through the floor of the house and penetrated their clothes. Needless to say there were a couple of very red faces.
While flying for just three short years, this time Andy has a few accomplishments that he is proud of. In the “Dash for Cash” he had the “high point bird” of all time. His first win in a major futurity was the “North Texas Futurity” and right behind it this year he backed it up, winning the first four places in the “Main Event.”
During the week of the “NTF” Andy and Shirley were in Baltimore at the AU Convention. Zeke Zeidermanis trained their birds and took the clock and birds to shipping on race night. On the day of the race, all that the pigeons had to greet them when they arrived at home were three Jack Russell terriers. Zeke picked up his clock and when they found he won, Tern Davison e-mailed him — thanks to the marvels of electronic clocking and good friends. Two weeks later Andy had to go out of town on business and Shirley was left to take care of the birds. Once again, Andy took the first four places of the “Main Event.” I wonder if he got any of the money, this time? Guess we’ll have to ask Shirley.
As for the type of pigeons the Tejano loft flies, they are basically Grondelaer and Calia.
Andy is currently president of the Aces Club, Constitution & Bylaws advisor to the Texas Center, and the Southwest Zone Director for the AU. Offices in the past have include delegate to the combine, publicity chairman and delegate to the concourse.
North Texas Futurity Winner for 1999 Is the Tejano Loft
Oct. 30, 1999 on a cloudy morning with the temperature hovering at 40 degrees the doors of the North Texas Concourse trailer were thrown open. Immediately, 1403 pigeons fought to get out and jockeyed for position to head for home. Little did these pigeons know that they even with a slight tail wind they would be flying through 300 miles. The first bird arrived at The Tejano loft at 14:27:40 with a winning speed of 1472.298. The only congratulations to be had were those by the dogs on the ground. You see, Andy and Shirley Rodriquez were at the AU Convention. Thanks to electronic clocking and Zeke Zidermanis, who trained Andy’s birds, took them to the shipping and most importantly took his clock to be read. Congratulations to everyone who participated and we will look forward to seeing you here in 2000.
Pos. Loft Name Band No. Arrival Miles YPM
1.) AC Tejano Loft O1O1AU99ACES 14:27:40 274.104 1472.298
2.) AC K Keiley 0449AU99CBS 14:28:40 274.666 1470.828
3.) AC K Keiley 0476AU99CBS 14:28:41 1 1470.753
4.) AC K Kelley 0373AU99CBS 14:28:42 1 1470.679
5.) AC K Kelley 0302AU99CB5 14:28:44 1 1470.530
6.) AC K Kelley 0435AU99CB5 14:28:45 1 1470.455
7.) AC K Kelley 0436AU99CB5 14:28:46 1 1470.381
8,) AC K Kelley O366AU99CBS 14:28:46 1 1470.381
9.) AC K Kelley 0218AU99CB5 14:28:47 1 1470.306
10.) AC K Kelley O364AU99CBS 14:28:49 1 1470.157