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The story of a wonder pigeon

The story of possibly the best pigeon I have ever come across, the "05" from Janus V, goes back to my youth.

Our whole street, except two, kept pigeons. No less than 13 people.

Neighbour Janus was one of the two without pigeons, and every Sunday he had a problem. Then everybody watched pigeons, and he could do nothing else but join in, with his other neighbour, Jan.

Back then, people didn"t have names like Wendy, Natascha or Sven. They were just called Jan or Janus. When you called out "Jan", or "Janus", half the street looked up.

Jan now, had a fantastic hen, his "Witpenneke".

Back then, pigeons also didn"t have names as they do now, like "Supercrack", "Raket" or "Fenomeen". Then they were just called "Witpenneke", "Donker", "Dikke" or "05".

And after a while, also Janus actually got interested in the pigeon sport. He started pooling on the "Witpenneke" (back then there was still big money to be won), and later he built a loft in his garden.

And then there were 14 people in our street who kept pigeons.



Money was no problem for Janus and he went for the best pigeons.

Because, to compete with Sjiraar and his direct Delbars, or with Pietje and his Gust Hofkens pigeons, you needed good ones.

Janus" choice was Pepermans from Zemst and he bought many birds there. .

He paired the most expensive with the most expensive. And one year when he was "done with coupling", he had two pigeons left.

These two he had received for free from Mr de Kort and his brother in law Stabel.

He just left those two together and, as you can guess, out of these two pigeons he bred the "05". A pigeon that fanciers even now, some 40 years later, are still talking about.

And I can assure you. Having someone with a wonder pigeon for a neighbour, is no laughing matter. When the same pigeon returns before all of your own pigeons, week after week, that starts to irritate.

It wasn"t so bad that I needed a psychiatrist, but it did give me sleepless nights.


The story I am talking about was in "my old days".


This "05" was, except on racing days, a normal pigeon in everything. In the basket he crept into a corner and stayed there, I suspect from entering the basket until the release.

I had my "Goed Licht" then, a hen who raced superbly on young of three weeks old. In those days we hadn"t yet heard about widowhood with hens.

Once, when she sat again on three week youngsters, her condition was so breath taking, that I pooled all of my meagre pocket money on her.

As usual, the "05" returned home to all the fanciers in our street first, but I expected my "Goed Licht" shortly after.

But what happened:

I had to wait almost 10 minutes before she returned, and those minutes felt like hours. Full of shame, I asked another neighbour, Kees (when you didn"t have a name like Jan or Janus, it was Kees) to take the clock to the club house for me.

That evening, I heard the results and I was startled.

The "Goed Licht" won the 3rd prize, and the "05" had a lead of almost 10 minutes.



I still don"t know if the lead of the "05" was because of its exceptional qualities, or because there was not so much competition.

Later, the legendary "Olieman" from Jos van der Veken, surpassed even this feat of the "05". In the then renowned combine of Turnhout, the "Olieman" flew 10 minutes in the lead from an even shorter distance (Noyon).

The "Donkere" from Stan Baelemans from Antwerpen, and recently the "Sprint" from  Marcelis, were so strong that they even flew minutes in the lead from Quievrain.

I can still hear Albert say: "I think that over a short distance all pigeons fly at the same speed, but that the "Sprint" is an exception. Even from a training flight he was faster than all other pigeons."

Charel Meulemans had one of the best breeding pairs in history.


I remember also from the old days, a race with the forecast of a strong tail wind.

"The pigeons only have to fan out their tail, and they will be blown home without effort. 'Absolute a lucky race" we said.

This was our chance to beat the "05", and there was more pooling than usual.

But, with 1,900 mpm he again flew minutes in the lead, and from then on I was convinced: even with a tail wind you need good pigeons. And now I sometimes think, ESPECIALLY with a tail wind.

Remarkable was, that the "05" always returned from the same direction, whatever the wind direction, low over the cornfield of Jantje (what else would his name be) Oomen, our neighbour on the left, and also a pigeon fancier of course.

When the "05" was three years old, we had a spring so bad that you wouldn"t put your dog outside, let alone a pigeon.

The "05" was entered for the first time in the third race, almost without any preceding exercise. Of course, he wasn"t expected to do well and was entered as one of the last nominated.

But above all expectation: he immediately won the 3rd prize.

Naturally, everbody wanted to buy descendants of this wonder pigeon.

I sometimes cleaned the lofts for Janus, and as a "thank you" I got an egg out of the parents of the "05".

I was in heaven, but not for long. The pigeon that came out of that egg, looked as worthless as you can get. And I have bred many worthless pigeons over the years.

Repeatedly, I asked Janus if he couldn"t have made a mistake. But he always assured me: "Impossible, the pigeon you have is a brother of the "05"."



Later on I too was convinced that I had a brother of the "05", because he produced such magnificent offspring.

Even better did Harm V (so not everybody had names like Jan, Janus or Kees after all). Harm got a hen out of the "05", and she produced his "01".

As a youngster, this "01" won a 1st prize three weeks in a row, twice in the whole Provincial.

Then came the big National race from Orleans. The weather forecast had predicted very hot weather, and Harm was determined not to race. A pigeon could win the 1st prize three times in a row, but not four times.

But at basketing, he was there with his "01" and his pooling paper fully filled in. That day, he would gloriously win the 1st National, which then REALLY was national. Pigeons were entered out of the entire country (the Netherlands).

Shortly after that race, Harm phoned me up. He had visitors, but couldn"t understand a word they were saying, and would I please come and help him out?

That was the day that I saw Japanese people for the first time.

And that was the day that I earned a few pennies with translating. Black, of course. Every student in those days earned "black" money.

The Japanese bought the "01". And afterwards I heard that the money I received from the middleman, was nothing compared to the amount that he pocketed himself.

Stan Baelemans handling his "donkere", one of the best
sprint birds in history.


Back to the "05". Finally that pigeon had stopped winning everything, but still we were not free from Janus. By now he had built another loft, and put four widowers in it. Whether it was the quality of that loft, or if those four pigeons were so good, I don"t know, but again, every racing day, we stood perplexed. Almost every week, they returned tail to tail, before we had even seen a feather of our own pigeons.

Janus had to lock those four widowers in, otherwise they would have killed each other. It was the day that I started to doubt. Do widowers hasten home for their partner, or for their nestbox?



Many foreign fanciers think, that good pigeons come from an inbred breed, and that the chances are a lot less with crossing. But that is nonsense, if you ask me.

Almost everyone, who had offspring of the "05" (a product of crossing), was successful with them.

It was the same with the pigeons from Meulemans. His "Wonderkoppel" was a crossing too.

Building a breed from inbred pigeons is best left to the competitors.

And to fanciers, who breed foremost with selling in mind.

Jos v d Veken and his legendary "Olieman". It was raced in the days that Janssen 
Bros raced their "019". They lived close together and raced in different clubs.
Both birds won numerous firsts in their club but "Olieman" was the better racer.
He Always beat "019" in speed. But "019" was a bird in the Janssenloft and 
therefore got all the fame.