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Horsin’ Around

Roger Thompson
Fort Collins, Colo.

Well if you remember back, as the days passed on the more I thought about my lost love and how I remembered seeing her car disappearing down a dirt road towards the highway. So it wasn’t very long before I went to the boss and told him I was going to leave. Actually, I justified leaving by telling myself that I had wanted to rodeo this summer and by being free of a job, I could make a lot of rodeo’s the rest of the summer. I was in good shape and had just won bronc riding contest before leaving Texas. So, throwing my “war bag” in the back of the truck and loading my horse in the trailer, I headed down the road, for Estes Park. I didn’t know for sure where I was going to stay, I figured I’d camp some where if need be, I just wanted to be moving. Pulling into Estes, the first thing was to find Rita; she had written and said where she was working. Then she looked up and was surprised to see me standing there, and I hoped a little glad as well. After visiting a while and setting a date for dinner she told me that Charlie was working at the McGraw Ranch and told me how to get there. He seemed glad to see me and said I could stay in the bunk house with him. I told him I didn’t want to cause any trouble but would help him with the work if I could stay. After checking with the McGraw’s I turned my horse in the corral and moved into the bunk house. The McGraw ranch was a cattle as well as a guest ranch, set in a beautiful valley with a crystal clear stream running through. I got along great with the McGraw family and was wishing that I had found this job first but wasn’t about to try to muscle in on Charlie. The McGraw family was nice to me from the start and I felt right at home. Rita and I had our dinner date and I knew why I had followed her, the only problem was finding a job so I could stick around. When I pulled into the ranch Charlie seemed a little out of sorts, I didn’t know why so I asked him. Thinking that if he was in love with Rita, I’d move on, but he said no. The next day Charlie quit and went back to Arkansas and the McGraw’s offered me the job to take Charlie’s place. I couldn’t be happier, a good job on a beautiful ranch, wonderful folks to work for and my sweetheart to go out with in the evening. To top it off the Estes Park Rodeo was coming to town and I had my RCA permit so I could enter. Asking Rita to go the rodeo as my guest was exciting to her more than I could imagine. I was up in the calf roping first and it was day time during slack so she couldn’t go with me. Turned out I was glad she didn’t make it because my horse, Cricket, got outrun something fierce and made me look foolish. Turned out Cricket never could run fast enough to make a good roping horse in competition. Being up in the bronc riding in an evening performance was just right. I felt like World Champion Casey Tibbs, walking in with a beautiful girl on my arm and parking her right behind the bucking chutes where she could watch her champion get ready to ride. It must have impressed her as well because she mentioned it in her phone call some 50 years later. But unlike Casey I must have had my mind on the pretty lady because, though I rode one of Butler Brothers broncs, I didn’t do well enough to win any money. But even though I didn’t impress the judges, I think I impressed the girl from Illinois with the things a cowboy does for fun. Fifty years later, Rita told me that I had been a perfect gentleman when ever we went out. I don’t think I was a perfect gentleman, I think I was just scared of females or shy and if that comes across as being a perfect gentleman, then I’ll accept the compliment. The pretty lady told me that her best memories were of us walking hand-in-hand down Main Street of Estes Park. Then, as with all romance stories, summer came to an end and my love packed her car and headed back home and college, complete with promises form both to write many letters. But time and distance have a way of dimming summer romance and especially when one is a young cowboy chasing after gold and glitter found in the rodeo arena. So the letters became slower and fewer until the young lover’s lives grew in new directions and became intent on raising families in separate regions. One thing I discovered with our phone conversation fifty years later, we both became school teachers. With all the difference in life stiles, after all she was raised on a farm; maybe the two lovers could have created a happy life.


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