INTERVIEW WITH PETE SPARKS
Question: In what year did you get your first American Pit Bull Terrier?
Answer: In 1926. I got a white dog from Harry Monroe. I called the dog Bill, his registered name was Harlon's Highland Boy. The dog's picture was on the back of the old Bloodlines Journal magazine.
Question: So Bill was your first Pit Bull?
Answer: Yes. I then went up to Erie, Pennsylvania, to Pete Dugan's place and picked up a mother and daughter from Pete Dugan. Nellie and Queenie. Nellie was a buckskin bitch and Queenie was a white bitch. These three dogs were my start. By the beginning of the depression, I was up to 17 dogs.
Question: What year was it when you met H.Q. Kennedy?
Answer: It was in February 1953. There was a convention up his way. He was having trouble with his magazine and a few guys suggested that I take it over. H.Q. did not want to give it up but by the following morning when we had made a deal.
Question: So, you published "Your Friend and Mine" magazine from 1953 to what year?
Answer: From 1953 to 1974. I found out I had some stool pigeons on the mailing list and some of the pictures in the magazine turned up on TV in Boston. Pop Hunter called me to tell me about it, so after that we found out we had the Humane Society was on our mailing list.
Question: Was this your only reason for stopping "Your Friend and Mine?"
Answer: Well, Baker Davis was complaining that I did not give him enough publicity. I had made up some flyers of the matches. Jack Kelly was to go into Petronelli but Jack's father died and that match was called off. Well, the Humane Society got hold of one of those flyers and had the law raid the show. After that, I decided to stop publishing the magazine.
Question: Did you get arrested?
Answer: Oh yes. They got 17 of us at the show. Baker's wife was arrested for selling beer without a license. The cops hit Baker on the head with their flashlights. He had put up a fight, but still went to jail with us.
Question: What year was it when you first saw Hunky?
Answer: That was about 1954. I stopped off to see Pop Hunter and we went to Bob Henneberger's place. He would throw a ball and Hunky would run and get it and bring it back to him.
Question: How did you end up with the dog?
Answer: Well you see, Henneberger had a young son and the boy hit Hunky with a toy or something and Hunky tried to bite him. Henneberger knew I liked the dog so he wrote me and I bought him for $100.00.
Question: Did you ever roll Hunky before he was matched?
Answer: Oh yes, we rolled him with some guy in Washington Heights, a bad shoulder dog. When I was in Summerville, South Carolina, Bob O'Neal and Bob Hemphill tried to match into me, but I was already matched in Cuba, through Bebo Goenaga.
Question: Was that Hunky's only match?
Answer: Yes. The match in Cuba was in 1956, 2:17 without a turn. The other dog, Willy Lingo was the stronger of the two early. Bebo would come over to me and ask, "What da you think? - What da you think?" I told him that when Hunky was down he was resting. When Willy Lingo was down he was dying.
Question: Why was this his only match?
Answer: Well, you see, I had him matched into Mike Ferris. J.T. Collier was working Hunky, but Hunky had heart worms so instead of taking a chance on Hunky's reputation, we called off the match. Hunky lived to be 12 years old.
Question: When did you move to Florida?
Answer: In 1966. I bought that place from Joe Orday.
Question: What bloodline did you use the most?
Answer: Colby/Dibo. The Dibo dogs would only go for 45 minutes and quit. But crossing the Colby blood with Dibo, and they would go all day.
Question: Did you know Earl Tudor?
Answer: Yes, he was a good man. He had a fruit stand out in front of his house where he sold whiskey. He would have a few matches and cock fights every weekend.
Question: What did you think of Carver as a dog man?
Answer: He did everything that was against the law. Sold drugs, had a whore house. His uncle was a judge and his brother was a sheriff, but he did everything against the law.
Question: What about the way he registered his dogs?
Answer: Peggy Harper would give Carver one of her Staffs. If it would fight, he would breed them and put whatever papers on the dog he wanted. You know, Joe Corvino was the same way. He would buy a whole litter from Gene Faulkerson for $7.00 a pup and would sell you any blood you wanted out of this same litter.
Question: So do you believe the dogs of today are bred the way their papers say they are?
Answer: No. No one can say that any dog goes back to this dog or that dog, unless you were there when they were bred. I think the Colby dogs are the purest line today.
Question: After going to all those conventions, who do you think was the best conditioner?
Answer: J.T. Collier and George Saddler where very hard to beat, but Tudor was one of the very best. Later on came Don Mayfield and Don Maloney. Mayfield was a very hard man to beat. Tudor told me one day that he taught Don Maloney everything he knew, but not all of what Tudor knew.
Question: Well Pete, you will be 93 years old on February 21st. Do you have any regrets about how you lived your life?
Answer: No, and I hope to make it to a hundred. These dogs made me what I am. If you stay true to yourself and to the dogs you are breeding, in time, you'll come to the top.