Friday, February 5, 2010

An Unwanted Tetanus Shot

By J. Bryan Wasson

I have been playing the guitar for most of my life. I also sing a little. In my younger days, I played my guitar and sang in numerous churches as well as entertaining at various social gatherings. During our years in South Carolina, I could always be found every Friday and Saturday night at a place called, Bills Music Store and Pickin’ Parlor. The place was set up for a number of musical groups to play at the same time in little cubby holes created by portable walls much like the cubicles found in many modern offices. Most of the groups. played bluegrass music. Two groups played classic country music. I was always in one of the two groups that played the old time classic country music. On one Saturday night per month, a concert was held. Each participant could do two songs.

I still play and sing in my church on occasion. Most of my music however is limited to a weekly Friday night jam session at the Bowie Senior Citizens Center. A group of musicians and singers sit in a big circle and each person in turn does a song. The music is a mixture of gospel and classic country. On occasion there is a little bit of rag time music. We also recently had a barber shop quartet. Many senior citizens from the area come to be entertained by this event.

On a recent Friday night, I invited a long time friend, Doctor, Bernie H. “Doc” Roberts a retired Veterinarian to attend the jam session. He enjoyed it so much that he has ordered himself a guitar.

This visit with “Doc” Roberts brought back a memory of a rather humorous although somewhat painful incident that happened many years ago. I recently asked “Doc” if he remembered the incident. He said that he did not remember it. Considering the number of animals he has treated over the years that fact is not surprising.

I lived on the outskirts of Bowie, Texas and had a pasture full of all kinds of critters including horses, mules, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens as well as a couple of dogs and number of “barn” cats. Owning this many animals creates a need for the occasional and sometimes frequent services of a Veterinarian.

I had a colt that from the time he was a few days old, loved to run full speed from one end of my pasture to the other. A few feet from the fence at the other end of the pasture, he would apply the brakes and slide to a stop, often within inches of the barbed wire fence. He would then turn around and repeat the process. The colt repeated this process many times each day while his mother calmly grazed.

One day when the colt was about 6 months old, he did not apply the brakes soon enough and his chest hit the barbed wire fence at the far end of the pasture. I knew the wound would require some stitches so I called the Veterinary Clinic where “Doc” Roberts was a partner. Soon “Doc” arrived at my little “Ponderosa Ranch” to take care of this matter.

I must explain that “Doc” is one of those folks who use their hands to make all kinds of gestures while talking. If you tied the hands of this type of person behind their backs, they would not be able to say a word.

I held the colt by the halter shank while “Doc” took the sutures. After suturing the long jagged wound, “Doc” said that a Tetanus shot would be required. As he filled the syringe, “Doc” continued talking and using his hand gestures. All of the sudden and to my great surprise, I found the hypodermic needle buried in my arm nearly to the hilt.

At first, I think “Doc” was as surprised as I was but then calmly; he looked at me and said, “Ordinarily after a puncture wound like that, I would recommend that you go the Bowie Clinic and get a Tetanus shot, however, in this case it will not be necessary because you just had one.”

Note: Dr. B.H. “Doc” Roberts passed away January 20, 2006

Nov. 8, 2004, JBW
This article has preaviously been published in The Brayer, Official publication of The American Donkey and Mule Society (ADMS).

An Unwanted Bronc Ride

By J. Bryan Wasson

I have probably told this tale before, but this time I hope to put a little different twist on it. My home town, Abilene, Texas is known as a university town. It has three universities; they are Hardin Simmons University, Abilene Christian University and McMurrry University. At the time period of this story two of them; McMurry and Abilene Christian had not yet reached university status and were colleges. At the same time there was a stable north of Abilene known as Elm Creek Stables. Elm Creek Stables had a nice little arena and was the site of weekly armature rodeos as well as occasional play days. As this story unfolds, I will explain the part that Elm Creek Stables played in this little tale.

In those days as well as at the present, two annual events that the locals term as major events occur in Abilene. These are the West Texas Fair and Rodeo and the Hardin Simmons University Rodeo. Hardin Simmons is known as “The Cowboys.” It is well known for the famous Hardin Simmons six white horses and the Cowboy Band. The Cowboy Band and the Six White Horses have performed all over the world. Today the Six White Horses are ridden by six HSU female students dressed in white western clothing. To be selected as a rider of one of the six white horses is considered to be a high honor. I do not know, but suspect that there are alternates in the event that any one girl might be unavailable for some specific scheduled event. In those days there were five female HSU student riders and one male non student rider. He was known as Sheriff Will Watson who rode a white horse named Bear. To the best of my knowledge, he had never been a sheriff so I don’t know how he obtained this title. I believe that he organized the Six White Horses group for HSU.

What is now known as the Hardin Simmons Stables and Rodeo Arena was once known as the Hardin Simmons Riding School and was located on the property now occupied by the HSU Chappell and the President’s residence.

At the time of this story, I was in the Paint Horse business. My little remuda consisted of one Paint stallion, a number of Paint mares, some heavy with foal and some with foals at their side, one Appaloosa mare, one Mammoth Jennet and one brown mare mule.

A friend of mine called me and said he “had been asked to put together an all paint horse group for the up coming Hardin Simmons rodeo parade.” He had Elm Creek Stables leased at the time. He wanted to know if I would participate. I sure did not trust my paint stallion to be ridden in a parade and I also did not want to ride any of my Paint mares in a parade. I did not believe that an Appaloosa mare, a Mammoth Jennet or a brown mare mule would be suitable for such a group. Any of the three would stick out like a sore thumb in a group of paint horses. If the brown mare mule had been paint, I would gladly have ridden her in the parade. Looking back, I guess I could have painted some big white spots on her.

I told my friend that although I owned many Paint Horses that I did not have anything to ride. He said, “I will take care of that.”

On the day of the rodeo parade, I went to the area for the parade to line up with my saddle in the car. I found my friend there with a trailer full of paint horses. He showed me a big paint mare that he had brought for me. She was good looking, but a little on the drafty side.

The plan was that after the parade we would load all of the horses in trailers and go to Elm Creek Stables for a big barbeque. In Texas, barbeques always go hand in glove with rodeos. After the barbeque, the plan was to load the horses again and haul them to the Hardin Simmons Rodeo grounds and ride as a group in the grand entry.

After I had my fill of sliced barbequed beef, I saw that the arena was full of riders riding around in circles. We had about an hour to kill before time to load the horses again so I thought I would join them. I mounted the big paint mare and headed toward the arena. Just as I rode through the open gate into the arena, the big mare put her head between her front feet and exploded. I did not get bucked off, but I was lucky. I turned the mare out of the arena and went to locate my friend. I told him about the explosion that occurred as soon as the mare entered the arena. He started laughing. He then told me that this mare was one of the horses used in the bareback and saddle bronc riding for the weekly rodeos.

I decided that all arenas would look alike to this mare and that as soon as we rode through the gate at the Hardin Simmons Arena she was likely to explode again. I might not be as lucky the next time.

I told my friend that there would be one less rider for the group in the Grand Entry that night. I unsaddled the big paint mare, threw my saddle in my car and headed for home.

05-29-08, JBW
Copyright 2008 © by J. Bryan Wasson

This article has previously been published in The Brayer, offical publication of the American Donkey & Mule Society (ADMS)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The C.W. Allmand Pony Farm

J. Bryan Wasson

When I joined the Abilene (Texas) Police Department in 1954, one of my fellow officers was J.O. Gill. It was through J.O. Gill that I met his step-father, C.W. Allmand. At the time I met C.W. Allmand, he raised both registered and grade Shetland Ponies, Hackney ponies and miniature mules on his Pony Farm at Ovalo, Texas. Ovalo is also the home of western entertainer and recording artist Jean Prescott. Ovalo is located on highway 83 a few miles south of Abilene. The Allmand family had moved from Grassbur to Ovalo in 1948.

My friend Melvin Faircloth who lives south of Abilene on Highway 36 in Callahan County has a much earlier recollection of C.W. Allmand. His first recollection of C.W. Allmand was in 1936 when as a small child his family moved from the Shep community to Grassbur in a wagon pulled by a team of horses. Melvin was sitting atop a load of furniture. They stopped at the store owned and operated by C.W. Allmand and his wife Margie. Mr. Allmand came out and gave Melvin a great big red apple.

In addition to the Pony Farm, C.W. Allmand also owned the general store at Ovalo. At that store, you could purchase groceries, feed, seed, fertilizer, hardware and anything from horse shoes to ice cream.

Although I had been a horse owner since about age 7, I had not developed a strong interest in donkeys, mules and hinnies until I was in the 7th grade. In about 1957, I went into the Shetland pony business, breeding and showing Shetland Ponies. When I went into the Shetland business, my knowledge of showing Shetlands was zero. It was then that J.O. Gill introduced me to C.W. Allmand. Both C.W. Allmand and J.O. Gill taught me the ins and outs of showing Shetlands.

The first Shetland mare I purchased was a paint named Patches. Patches resulted in my interest in Paint horses, which led to my going into the Paint horse business. I became very active in the establishment of the American Paint Quarter Horse Association which later merged with the American Paint Stock Horse Association into what is now the American Paint Horse Association.

It was while I was in the Shetland business that I purchased my first donkey, a young jennet that I named Jenny Lou. I had considered setting up a pony ride as an adjunct to my pony showing business. I had noticed that many pony rides contained at least one donkey and that the donkey seemed to control the speed of the pony ride as well as serving as the brakes for the pony ride. No matter what loud noise or distraction, the ponies could not turn that ride wheel faster than the speed of the donkey. The donkey also seemed to have a calming effect on the ponies.

I made frequent trips with J.O. Gill to the C.W. Allmand Pony Farm at Ovalo. It was there that C.W. Allmand introduced me to his miniature jacks and his mini-mules. C.W. owned numerous two wheeled carts, buggies and wagons. He often hitched up a team of his little mules and sometimes even a 4-up hitch and off we would go for an afternoon drive. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I think sometimes even a 6-up hitch of his little mules were hitched to a wagon. These visits to the Allmand Pony Farm whetted my appetite for donkey and mule ownership.

Sometime after we moved away from Abilene, C.W. Allmand switched from raising Shetlands to Miniature horses, Mediterranean donkeys and pygmy goats.

C.W. Allmand passed away passed away January 9, 1998 J.O. Gill passed away October 26, 2001.

Not long ago while visiting our longtime friends, Melvin and Ginger Fairclothwho live in Calahan County south of Abilene, we passed through Ovalo. This brought back many fond memories of the C.W. Allmand Pony Farm. I greatly miss C.W. Allmand, J.O Gill and all the great times I had with them.

Sept. 26, 2006, JBW
© Copyright 2006, J. Bryan Wasson

Previously published in The Brayer magazine

Arizona Bill

By J. Bryan Wasson

My entire working career was divided between military service and law enforcement. These two activities merged into one career. My military law enforcement led to a career in civilian law enforcement. After release from active duty I remained in the Reserve and most Reserve assignments were in the field of law enforcement. The sum total of military service was 42 years. My last 7 year military assignment was as a Crime Prevention Officer assigned to Headquarters U.S. Army Health Services Command at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

My hobby is scrapbooking. At present three large scrapbooks are devoted to my military career and other military items of interest to me. This leads me back to Arizona Bill. I was looking through one of my military scrap books in search of a place for a news paper clipping related to my old Army Reserve Unit, the 490th Civil Affairs Company of Abilene, Texas which is currently deployed to Iraq.

Browsing through the scrapbook, I came across an article I wrote for The Brayer back in 1984 along with a photo. The article was about Arizona Bill and contained a photo of Bill mounted on his donkey, Tiperray. I loved the two museums located at Fort Sam Houston and visited them often. It was on a visit to the Fort Sam Houston Military Museum that I was first introduced to Arizona Bill and Tiiperray. I must mention at this time that the Fort Sam Museum listed Tiperray as a mule, when in fact, he was a donkey. I guess everybody has the right to be wrong now and then, including this wonderful museum.

With a little bit of editing to the original article, I would like to repeat the 1984 story: Raymond Hatfield (Arizona Bill) Gardner was an extremely colorful character. At one year of age he was kidnapped by Comanche and traded to the Sioux for 9 ponies, 8 blankets and 2 girls. It was in later life that he received his nickname, Arizona Bill as a result of military campaigns against the Apache in Arizona.

He served as a scout for the Union Army during the Civil War. He later served four more enlistments in the Army as a Scout. He also was a Pony Express rider, a prospector, and worked in the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show.

Arizona Bill frequently visited Fort Sam Houston in his travels. He later settled down at Fort Sam Houston and became a familiar sight around the post. In 1935 he was given permission to live on any Army Post by Major General Johnson Haygood, 8th Corps Commander. (I must note that I once wore the 8th Corps shoulder patch on my Army uniform.) Bill frequently slept in the Artillery Post stables at Fort Sam along with his donkey Tiperray.

At his death in 1940, no record of Bill’s military service could be located. As a result he was buried in a civilian cemetery. In 1976 some of his friends searched for and found his service records and arranged for his reburial in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery with full military honors. MSG (Retired) George Miller was responsible for searching for and finding the lost Service Records of Raymond Hatfield Gardner (Arizona Bill).

Mr. John M. Manguso, Director of the Fort Sam Houston Military Museum assisted me by providing background information and a photograph of Arizona Bill. I do not know if Mr. Manguso is still the Director of the Museum, but suspect he has retired by now. Again, I express my appreciation to Mr. John M. Manguso for his assistance in my research on Arizona Bill.

10-23-03, JBW