Before you get bent all out of shape with me for trading my Sorrel horse to middle brother Jimmy D. for a $20 Sears Roebuck guitar, I have to make something clear. Like Jap Hatley, I’m a walking Hatley, not a horse riding Hatley. Far as I know, Daddy never rode a single step on a horse; he was a wise man.
Famed author from Clarksville, William Humphrey, said that, on the frontier, a West Texan never went anywhere he had to walk; an East Texan never went anywhere he had to ride.
Now, my two brothers will tell you Daddy rode more horses than Roy Rogers and Gene Autry put together. That’s them two talking; you’ll never hear that from me.
Note that I put Roy Rogers before Gene Autry.
Some of my growing up buddies such as George Johnson wanted to crown Gene Autry as the King of the Cowboys ... to me Roy Rogers was the man. Do you think a four-square woman like Dale Evans would have fooled with Roy if he hadn’t been the the King of the Cowboys? You know the answer to that better’n I do.
Anyway, this piece is not about Roy, Gene or George; it’s about Mr. Mike Pribble and his Sulphur Springs Championship Rodeo which, when I was a kid, rolled around every July. The rodeo arena lay on the far western edge of City Park. Mr. Pribble, I’m pretty sure, nailed most of that rodeo puppy together by himself.
Jimmy D., my middle brother, was pretty hard on Mike Pribble.
Jim said, and it’s him talking, that Pribble only organized the rodeo so he could trick ride because no other rodeo would let him trick ride at their shows. Could be; I don’t know.
Now, I will be the first to admit there was one thing that didn’t set well with me or anybody in my family. After 10 or 20 years organizing the rodeo, Mr. Pribble built himself that big white brick house on the Commerce Highway, along with the biggest barn in Hopkins County.
If Mr. Pribble had just built one or the other real big and one just middlin’ size, our family would have been all right with that. It was the two together that gave us the heebee jeebees.
But it was neither his house nor the barn that got my nanny goat where Mike Pribble was concerned. It was his putting himself on the rodeo program to trick ride just before the bull riding. Ask yourself this: “Who wants to see somebody grab a horse’s tail from the back and use it to vault into the saddle when there are mean bulls in the chutes just waiting to buck off cowboys and hook ‘em?” That’s right ... you don’t need to be no Albert Einstein to figure that one out.
Now, all that aside, we Jap Hatleys had one good thing going at the rodeo. Daddy’s Daddy, Grandpa Ollie Hatley, always took up tickets. Do you think we ever paid to see the rodeo? Not on your life, not when we had us a honey pot right square dab in the middle of Mr. Pribble’s operation.
Anyway, on the way home from one rodeo, I bragged to Jimmy D. that I could ride a bull, to which Jim responded, “Donald Duck, you cain’t even ride a milk cow.” I said that I could too ride a milk cow and that my name was not Donald Duck.
With my cow riding skills in question, the next day, during the night milking, I got on top of the barn roof above the door through which all the milked cows had to pass.
With Jimmy D. watching, I dropped down on the first cow that came out the door and rode her across the lot to the barbed wire fence next to the road. I was about to jump off when something hit me in the back and knocked me through the fence
As the fence and I were passing in the late afternoon sun, the fence reached out with a barb and sunk it half an inch deep into my back next to my spine, ripping a good two-inch gash.
The “something” which knocked me through the fence was a Jersey bull who had his own business with my rodeo cow. She was in heat. That bull was the first multi-tasking Jersey bull in Hopkins County. He got into position to service my rodeo cow and knocked me through a barbed wire fence, all at the same time.
I’ve never thought our bull was especially mad at me. I just happened to be where he needed to be to do what he was put on Earth to do. I don’t believe he even thought about knocking me through that barbed wire fence.
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