Since my father started out as a rancher and then was a buyer for a meat packing plant the rest of his life, rodeo was part of our lives.
Up until my early teens, I regularly rode horses. We lived less than 100 yards from the city park which contained a softball field, a couple of Little League baseball fields, a pavilion, playground equipment and a rodeo arena.
Once, I decided I’d try my hand in the July 4 rodeo at riding a saddle bronc (more to hang onto, I thought). After all, Dad was going to ride a bareback bronc. I knew he really wanted me to follow him in the cattle business although he never said anything, because I think he knew in his heart I wasn’t going to do that. He entered in the July 4 rodeo, so I decided my entry might appease him.
MY EVENT came before Dad’s. At any rate, I made it, oh, maybe a jump and a hiccup out of the chute before being dumped on my keister. My football training came in handy and I bounced up and ran toward the fence just in time to be bumped into it by the bucking horses’ right hindquarter. Hurt like hell!
I had a couple of sizable bruises and plenty of soreness the next day but my dignity was really hurt.
I retreated into the pen area, behind the public address announcer’s stand, to hide my embarrassment and to await Dad’s event. He lasted maybe five seconds into a qualifying eight-second ride. Upon hitting the dirt, he rolled over on his stomach to get up and when he did, the horse’s hoof grazed his head.
WELL, EVEN slight head wounds bleed profusely. He was a bit dazed, but had the presence of mind to get up and head for cover. As he staggered up in front of me, I’m goggle-eyed and my mouth’s agape, he stopped and said, “I’ll give it up if you will.” My reply was quick, “Don’t have to ask me twice.”
Teague’s July 4 rodeo attracted a lot of good amateur talent and there were one or two pretty fair bull riders in town. The home favorite was a diminutive sort, the kind that always seems to be most successful at it, Billy Wills. He seemed headed for the pro ranks and big prize money, but he was thrown and gored in the hip by a bull, ending his career.
One regular pro at the July 4 rodeo was the clown.
When I returned to Teague after two years of college to edit the newspaper, a new resident came to town — pro rodeo clown The Kajun Kidd. Obviously, D.J. Gaudin (pronounced Go-dan) was from Louisiana and he was very good.
For years, Gaudin made the small town rodeo circuit and occasionally a big one. He was invited and appeared at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo several times.
OF COURSE, he had the Teague crowd in the palm of his hand and at some point retired, but not before his son inherited his barrel and became the new Kajun Kidd.
I followed rodeo for a few years and attended the famous Huntsville Prison Rodeo where inmates performed. It was a wild show. If a performer suffered an injury, say a broken arm, he got out of working in the fields at the prison farms. So, convict rodeoers always put on a great show.
But, after a couple of Houston Livestock Show Rodeos, I lost interest although I did shoot queen pictures at local rodeos wherever I was publishing for several years after that.
Would I go now? Don’t ask.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.