A Life with Birmans
by Sallie Smith, Golden Seal Birmans
Frances C. Price, Tai Ming Birmans
Jan. 27, 1914 - Jan. 18, 2004
The planets were carefully aligned in 1968 when the CFA Himalayan Persian standard shifted to a flatter face and a newer breed with the same point colors and a more defined nose came available. Birmans had recently to be imported into the US and Frances thought it was perfect timing to move from the himmies to the newer breed, so Tai Ming cattery began (the pun was intentional).
Frances got her first cats from Miss Verner Clum and the Griswolds but soon realized that if she was going to continue she'd have to begin her own import program. She went to England where Birmans were better established and got cats from Elsie Fisher of Praha cattery. The most notable cat she got from Elsie was Praha Sik Kim. When Frances visited in 1982 she met this boy. He was then 15 years old and still a whole boy but he hadn't been used at stud for 3 years. Frances decided she liked him and that he could add much to the gene pool in the US. She brought him home and he studded for her for the next three years until his death at 18 years of age. He is behind many of our US Birmans. Some of her other import trips took her to France and Australia as well.
Many of Frances' friends in the Birman fancy have commented on how generous she was with her knowledge and with her cats, often placing her best cats with others. Some of her favorite cats were Gayland's Rapture of Tai Ming, a blue point boy, and GC Celtic's Joshua Blue of Tai Ming, plus her chocolate import from England Shwechinthe Kado. Her final show cat whom I was privileged to show through exhibition and AOV status and to grand in Premier was GP Tai Ming's Topper, a seal lynx point boy who bore the flag for one of the new color patterns during his 4 year show career. Frances' explained her philosophy of placing the best with others as her way of increasing their presence on the show circuit, since she could only show so many at any one time.
From a personal perspective Frances was a mentor to Paul and me as we established our cattery, Golden Seal Birmans, and our breeding program beginning in the late 1980s. Our first litter was the last litter for Joshua Blue. When we decided to get our own stud, Frances called around and found us a charming seal boy from Val Rhodes, Dunnydeer Birmans. As a homage to Frances for her help I named the boy Dunnydeer's Rapture after Frances' cat Gayland's Rapture. Later she helped us get a chocolate stud, Koalakats Sweet Success of Tai Ming who fathered Frances' last favorite cat, Topper. As a final gift she contacted a breeder friend in Australia and we were able to get GC Mr. Shalimar Uluru Sunrise, Sunny. As Frances became less and less able to manage lots of cats we helped her place many and shifted the housing of other cats to us. This left her with one last pet cat, Jenny, until she had her stroke in 2001 when Jenny too was placed.
When we visited Frances in December, 2003 we took a young seal tortie female with us and that was the last kitty to sit on her lap. She had promoted the lynx cats and I had worked with the red factor cats but she had a very soft spot in her heart for red boys. When we first met her she had a red American Shorthair who had been a gift from a breeder friend of hers. He had found himself a Birman girlfriend before he got to the vet for the nip and there were several "strange" looking Birmans wandering around the house for quite some time. Due to one of our mom cats being a bad girl one of Frances' lynx moms raised one of the red boys from our first red litter. Frances' always adored him. She is shown on our web site with Goldenseal U R Red in her arms.
Frances and I went to many cat shows around the southeast and to many of the SCBF and NBF (both of which clubs she helped to found) shows from 1990 through 2001. I like to think that in return for our help to get to the shows she shared her knowledge of Birmans but, more than that, she shared her knowledge of life. Although we miss her greatly, we have truly taken the torch from her, along with many others of you and hope we can do as well to share her knowledge and experience as she did.
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