Posted 6/19/13 (Wed)
Just back from announcing the State High School Finals Rodeo! And I really want to take a minute to thank the cowboys and cowgirls, along with the Bowman community, for putting on a great show! Twenty-fifth year of the finals in Bowman! Thank you!
The youth involved in rodeo are special to me. And I guess they know it. Because on Sunday, Dale and I were honored by the graduating seniors. Picture this - I am standing in front of a packed grandstand before the final performance. We crown a new queen. We honor volunteers. We pass out scholarships. We honor men and youth who have passed on to greener pastures. It is a touching thing.
Then, this lovely young girl takes the microphone from me and addresses the crowd. The graduating seniors would like to honor Dale Hande (who is in the crow’s nest) and myself, for our support, humor, and encouragement throughout their rodeo careers.
She hands me a box that I am certain contains a beautiful sculpture, or an inscribed plaque, with some inspirational saying etched on a gold background. I know Dale is jealous because I get to open the package.
Snakes! I hate snakes! That lovely girl had a black heart, if a heart at all! It was a box containing live snakes! Garter snakes! The most dangerous kind! Mad garter snakes! Over the microphone, I took the Lord’s name in vain and cursed snakes! Like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. “Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes! I hate snakes!”
Much to the delight of 150 cowboys and cowgirls and a couple of thousand fans, I cursed snakes and threw the box in the air. Then, this girl with nerves of steel, picked up this snake and exhibits it to the crowd.
People shouldn’t scare other people. When I told RJ, my four-year-old grandson about it that night, he took it pretty serious. He said you should only give snakes to bad guys.
But then again, maybe I deserve to be startled once in awhile.
A few years ago, we went fishing on the Little Missouri just out of Camp Crook. Fishing is using the term loosely. We had three rods. A “Barbie Doll” pink, a “Tigger” orange, and a worn-out blue one. Between the three rods, we had one hook.
Since Gage was doing the casting, we soon decided that one hook was too many and removed it. It was more of a rock-skipping, moss-gathering, peanut butter sandwich kind of day than actually fishing.
Now you have to remember, that Gage was less than two, and Gracy was five. Brave little ranch kids. But after a couple hours, I went off into the willows. While I was there, I was attacked by a bear! Shirley and the kids could hear me screaming and see the willows thrashing around. Oh, it was an epic struggle. Finally, the bear got the best of me and there was complete silence.
The kids kept hollering for their Grandpa. Meantime, I had escaped from the bear and began to crawl around behind them on my belly. Now, trust me, even on my belly I still stick up a fair bit. But I did get around them.
As I peeked out of the tall grass, Gracy was carrying a five-foot-long piece of driftwood. Gage was carrying a big rock. They were edging closer and closer to the willows where the bear had devoured their Grandpa.
Suddenly, I let out a roar and charged from the willows. Gracy dropped her club, and with eyes larger than her head, raced for Grandma. Gage tried to move, but was stuck between gears and could only scream. His rock proved a worthless weapon against a bear attack as he dropped it on his foot.
I was rolling on the ground with laughter. Until Grandma picked up that five-foot-piece of driftwood and whacked that bear across the back.
Note to self. Grandma is not scared of bears. Reminds me of a story Grandpa Jack used to tell. This guy came across this old mountain man sitting outside his cabin. Inside was a heck of a ruckus going on. He asked what was happening. The mountain man said a bear was in the cabin fighting his wife. And he had never seen a fight that he cared less about the outcome!