Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and the Mustangs
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Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and the Mustangs

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I met my first wild horse in a movie theatre in Greenwich Village in 1963.

Paul Katzeff

The story behind Wild Grounds Coffee

By Paul Katzeff, Co-Founder & Roastmaster Emeritus

He was on the wrong end of a lasso being held by Clark Gable. The horse was bucking and raising up on his hind legs, pulling desperately away from his capture. Marilyn Monroe was pulling on Clark’s hand pleading for the horses freedom. Clark was determined to get his horse and another payday. The Name of the Movie was The Misfits and was about three Aging Cowpokes who once made their living capturing Mustangs and selling them into the slaughter houses for meat. In this movie they complained about how the horses were no longer in abundance , hard to find and it was impossible to make a decent days pay capturing the ‘things’. Maralyn was as beautiful as the horses eyes, fierce now but with long lashes and deep deep soft eyes. Marilyn was beautiful but it was the Mustang, fighting for her freedom, that stole my heart,

Today, 58 years later there is a similar story playing out on the millions of square miles of rangeland between the western slope of the Rocky Mountains and the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevadas. Today it is not aging cowboys in Pick up trucks and lassos , but Federal Agents in Helicopters rounding up entire herds of free horses and burros and their children, often in the chaos separating family members or driving the horses to their death in the frenzy. Hay Feds, what’s the problem?

The round ups gather the horses into corals so they wont compete for the space grassland feed out there on the range. Thet range is for the Beef Cattle ! Our government leases our citizen owned land to cattle ranchers they can make money selling beef to our meat eating society of which I must admit , I am one. The cost of feeding jailed Mustangs is estimated to be in the billions. And why, when the 1970 Congress afforded Mustangs America’s protection, has all the Bureau of Land Management continued to harass the best symbols of freedom we have ?


A horse has eyes that tell a story. Each of us who have looked into the eyes of a Mustang will never forget the moment , never.


Yes, it happened for me long ago in a movie theatre but last October, on the way from Northern California to Phoenix to play baseball , I pulled my car onto a a sandy dirt road to nowhere and drove into the dessert just to see what was out there on that dirt road to nowhere. About five miles in, there they were ! Three magnificent free roaming Mustangs …and they were looking at me from a hill about a home runs distance away. I stopped, my heart jumping , I exited my car and laid down on the very hot sand and stared back. Finally, the circle was complete. I saw them alive and free.

Who belongs on that land we, as citizens own but have delegated the responsibility for their safety to The Bureau of Land Management to secure ? And why has the BLM chosen to represent the Cattle Industry and not our Mustangs?

When I discovered that others of my kind were fighting for them too, we joined the American Wild Horse Campaign and created a coffee package to tell coffee lovers whose side we were on. As with our other Cause Coffee programs, we wanted to empower our customers to help raise funds and awareness for this important work.

Horse and stuntman in the 1960 film "The Misfits"

Every time you purchase a package of AWHC coffee, Thanksgiving Coffee Company donates $3.00 to the AWHC.

When we are a bit further past this COVID-19 Pandemic we are planning a visit, jointly with AWHC staff, to visit and see these magnificent spirits up close. I hope you will be able to come with us. Until then, buy their coffee and know you are on the bus with us. And let me use that old expression , “The steak is as good as the sizzle “ when I say that the coffee inside the package is as good as it gets. You be the judge.


Wild Grounds Coffee
supports the American Wild Horse Campaign

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is dedicated to preserving American wild horses and burros in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.

Since 2004, this organization has been raising awareness and making change for America’s wild horses. Thanksgiving Coffee Company has partnered with them to create Wild Grounds, a cause coffee to save the wild horses.