Woo hoo! Chuck Schmidt won the saddle bronc riding last night at the 2nd round of the NFR! His first year there and what a great way to start it off.
Must be karma or something. I got this in an email from Bill, the Blindman and he said I could post it.
Even though the story I’m about to tell happened in the nineties, it could have just as easily been today. Only the faces would be different, the stories would be nearly the same. I just got through watching the first round of the NFR on tv and it reminded me of what had happened almost twenty years ago.
I had been down in western Nebraska coon hunting with some friends. We had spent a couple of nights on the big irrigation system north of Scottsbluff and we decided that it would be a good idea to start a little later in the evening to give the dogs a chance to rest up. These big fields all emptied into a recovery dam right in the middle and it didn’t seem to matter where we would turn loose, the dogs would always end up there. What we thought would be easy hunting when we headed down there from South Dakota, was tough.
Anyway, I was told before I left home that if I got the chance I was supposed to go visit an old friend of the family that was in a rest home down there. Well I had time to burn so I had the boys drop me off at the home and they were going to pick me up when they headed out hunting.
It was just after dinner and people were moving around from room to room either getting ready to take a nap or do some kind of activity or another. Our friend was setting on her bed when I found out what room she was in and when I knocked she yelled to come on in. It was then that I remembered that she was hard of hearing and I knew then that I would be in for a rough afternoon trying to have a conversation with her.
I don’t know how long we tried, it really isn’t important to this story, but eventually she said she was getting tired and wanted to take a nap. So I said my goodbyes and headed down the hall. It was then that I heard the unmistakable sound of a rodeo coming from one of the little rec rooms that the home had. I still had a couple of hours to waist so I did what every other cowboy would have done and followed the sound through the door where I was almost knocked over by a little old white haired lady coming out. “I hate rodeo” she grunted as she elbowed her way past me.
There set three old men that we will call Larry, Moe and Curly. They all had on old jeans and western shirts, Larry had a pair of moccasins, Moe had on a pair of slippers, and Curly had a bright white pair of Adidas on his feet. They were all in easy chairs with Larry and Moe setting side by side and Curly a little apart form the other two so he had room for his oxygen tank.
The first words I heard from any of them was “there goes a cold fish” and then “yeah, I don’t for the life of me know how that witch kept a man for over fifty years with the personality she has”.
When they noticed me I was told to “set down and stay out of the way because we get wild in here” and then they all laughed. They all looked to be in their eighties and not to well preserved if you know what I mean. They talked with the familier talk that only old friends of that age could have. I could tell that they no longer felt the need to tell big tales because they all knew everything about the other two both the good and the bad.
When I walked into the room the tie down roping had just started and Roy Cooper had just roped in under ten. Moe said ” damn that guys hands are fast I bet he could steal your money and make change before you had a chance to know it was missing”. A small chuckle came from each man, and myself.
It didn’t look like there was an overpowering interest in the roping so I took a chance and asked if they always watched rodeo together. “Yeah, every damn one that they will give up the tv so we can do it without those damn old busy bodies botherin us.” Without me so much as asking another question Curly started to talk. “Moe and me have know’d one another for almost seventy years. Our dads used to travel together in the old days. Mom and me stayed one summer with them when we was about ten years old while our dads tried to make a living riding broncs”. They continued to talk about their dads riding with Casey Tibbs. It seemed that their dads spent their time at home cussing him half the time and wondering half the time how one man could be that damn good on a bronc.
Then it was Moe’s turn ” we ripped it up that year. We stole enough maters and melons from the neighbors garden to keep ten kids sick for a year. It was fifteen years after that that we started to travel together and then it was our turn to lose all our money on bad horses and loose women”.
Then it was Curly’s turn again. “We didn’t get to know Larry until forty years ago. We knowd who he was but we just never was in the same place at the same time.” Moe jumped in again “We never had that kind of luck either.We was always just trying to make enough money for the next go and from what we heard he was always cash heavy and living the high life.”
Larry “it wasn’t always that good. I spent my time eatin’ beans and bummin rides and I spent six months in the hospital that the two of you never had to do.” It was then I noticed his left foot was at an angle to his other foot and a cane leaned up against his chair. I pointed and he just said, “it was time anyways but it would have been nice to quit without getten busted up.”
Well we talked back and forth for a while until the bronc riddin came on then Moe got up and turned up the volume a little so we could hear what was going on. He had no more then got set down when Larry said ” man a snort would sure hit the spot right now.” Nothing was said for a while we just looked at the tv screen. Then I saw Curly reach into the bag that held his tank and bring out a pint bottle of CLC. “Where in the hell did you get that?” ” My son gave it to me yesterday, he knew we would be rodeoing today and he couldn’t stay here so he gave me this. Boy would you open this thing, my hands don’t work to good on the plastic on the cap. If these two had to depend on me for a drink we never would get anything.”
I fumbled with the plastic myself before I got it off but eventually I did. “You go ahead and have the first pull then go stand guard so we have some warning when one of the old bitties comes along.
Larry, “I aint had a drink in over ten years.”
Moe, “neither have I but if I remember right you hold the big end and suck on the little end.” Big laugh all around while I took my drink.
Luck was with all of us that day because nobody came down that hall to see what the laughing was about. Three men in their eighties, and a boy in his forties passing a jug around. As the bottle got lighter the years started to melt away from those old men. The voices got a little firmer and backs got a little straighter.
It was then I noticed something that I have found common among bronc riders. When the gate opened every one of those old men moved their feet just a little trying to time the horse. And you heard things like “dirty SOB”, ” man that was a nasty turn” and “what he even get on for if he wasn’t going to try?”
I had been setting there for almost two hours and the bull riding was over. I got up, shook each mans hand and started to leave. “Hey pard if your leavin’ us take the bottle with ya, the empty will only get us in trouble around here.” With that they all had one final pull and gave me the jug.
I was just about to go out the front door when I heard a yell come from the rec room “YEE, HAW” I knew then that coon hunting would mean something a little less that night.
When old cowboys die they take a little bit of all of us with them. You might not realize it at the time but sooner or later when you are cinching up a saddle or cussing because a horse stomped on your foot, or watching the NFR on tv they will be back again. Such is life.