Can you believe how many ways Louie had to get into trouble? In earlier letters we’ve read about his escapades on the railroad, boxing in the Golden Gloves, road apple fights, multiple Halloween pranks, and more. In the next couple of months he will graduate to even more memorable adventures.
By comparison, my childhood feels tame, as was my children’s. They didn’t even get to walk to school, and neither do their kids. Surviving childhood in the thirties and forties must have given those who made it to adulthood a certain invincibility. Anyone who can climb on a wild horse with no instruction, no protective gear, and little preparation must have been able to face the challenges of adult life with no fear.
I was perfectly happy taking my kids on the tame trail ride at the dude ranch in Custer State Park. No bucking broncos for me, thank you.
Back in 1947 I was working at a horse meat packing plant in Jamestown. They had us packing horsemeat and gravy in cans for shipment to Europe for the people there that were starving from the results of the bombing of their homes – farms – and whatever the bombs hit during World War II.
The horses for slaughter were captured from western North Dakota and eastern Montana. They were called “Montana Broncs”. They were small horses but as wild as anything can get. Also very very mean.
A group of us decided that as long as we were western dudes we should act as real cowboys and break a couple of broncs. Should have listened to the winds blowing through the trees instead.
We would chase these horses until someone could grab one around the head and hold him. The lucky rider would then climb aboard the horse, grab a hand full of mane and try to ride him when they let him go.
I had my turn, climbed aboard, grabbed the mane, wrapped my legs around the barrel and they let go of him. From my recollections I lasted just under one second on the back of that beast. He threw me about a city block straight up. I finally came down that city block landing in a pile of those non-frozen things I mentioned in a previous episode. Knocked the wind out of me and to make things worse, the damn horse ran over me, running one hoof the length of my back.
We all came to the conclusion that bronc riding was for those who knew what they were doing. I still don’t get on a horse on a merry go round without checking the ground around the area for those frozen things.