Tony A. Smith

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I Will Not Be Defeated

Lindsay Sears, barrel racing. 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Round 9. Photographed at The Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 10, 2010. Photograph © 2010 Darren Carroll

Rodeo Day Memories

Jimmie Adams

Jimmie Adams

I used to love going to see my Aunt Betty and Uncle Jim in Ponca City, Oklahoma when I was a youngster. They lived on a ranch in Osage county where Uncle Jim trained horses and had a cowboy supply store. He was an expert leather craftsman and made his own riding equipment as well as custom leather items like saddles, wallets, and purses for the general public. I loved going into his shop just to smell that leather smell. For some reason, it just made me feel good inside. Perhaps it just reminded me of getting to be around someone I loved.

When they moved out to their ranch Aunt Betty had just retired from working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and Uncle Jim had more or less slowed down from working in the rodeo so much. He still trained horses but he didn’t rodeo as much as when he was younger. He had taken a spill and broke both of his arms at the same time during a running back flip dismount off the back of his horses “Flash and Flame”.  After that, he started to slow down from as much traveling and acrobatic acts that he used with his horses.

He was born in Greenwood, Arkansas and met my aunt in Ponca City where he decided to settle years later. He had quite a history in the rodeos starting out in Greenwood doing trick and fancy riding working at fairs and horse shows.  In 1940 he toured two years with a circus and later performed for servicemen in the army in Fort Riley Kansas. He went on to travel with a Wild West Rodeo and performed in more than 30 different states as well as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. I can remember it seemed like he and Aunt Betty always had the pick-up truck and horse trailer going to the next rodeo. They were never in town.

Jimmie Adams Red Rockets

Jimmie Adams Red Rockets

His rodeo acts were really exciting. He would move back and forth from one horse to another while the horses were galloping, turn backwards when they were at full gallop, drop down on each side and pop back up. All of this was with the horses not being connected in any way. At the finale he would come bursting into the arena from an outer gate area with the spotlights focusing on him and his team of horses at breakneck speed. He in the meantime would be standing on his shoulders between the horses blazing past those in the audience. It was quite a spectacle especially at night. At the conclusion he would do a back flip and land on his feet. It was during one of those finale back flips that he ended up breaking both of his arms which had to be placed in casts.

He was also a very accomplished trick roper. He would wear flourescent clothing and used flourescent ropes with the lights turned off in the arena and black lights shining on the area he was performing in. It was quite a spectacle to watch with him jumping in and out of ropes. Twirling ropes at his sides and overhead. Then up and down over his entire body.

Jimmie Adams Trick Roping

Jimmie Adams Trick Roping

It was a thrill to get to see him when he was performing at the Ponca City rodeo. One time when he performed we also go to see actor “Ken Curtis” better know as Festus Hagin –  who played as Marshal Matt Dillon’s Deputy in the long running western television series “Gunsmoke.”  Many people don’t know that Ken Curtis actually sang with the Sons of the Pioneers who were popular with Roy Rogers. It was a real treat to get to see him in person. At the time he came into town, Aunt Betty was working part-time at a local western clothing store in Ponca City when he stopped in to say hello to the gang there. She said he was a real nice fellow and that he didn’t really talk like the deputy on Gunsmoke. She said that was just the character he played.

Ken_Curtis

Ken Curtis – Festus Hagin Singing Tumbling Tumbleweeds

Uncle Jim later got out of the rodeo business and started buying rodeo stock with a fellow named Jim Shoulders.  Jim was from Henryetta, Oklahoma who went on to become a sixteen time world champion cowboy. Some people have called Jim the Babe Ruth of the rodeo world.

There is nothing better than going to a rodeo and enjoying some of our western heritage. Whether it’s watching some good bull riding, bulldogging steers, calf roping, bareback or saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, team roping, or roman riding and trick roping. I love the smell of leather, the sound of hoofs beating against the raw red dirt. I love the sights of bucking horses and bulls, ropes flying and blazing speed. I love to hear the rodeo announcer announcing whose coming up next in the chutes, and if a cowboy made the eight second ride.  It brings me back to a place I want to be. The place I call home – Oklahoma.

 

Trilemma Decisions

Where is my wallet?

Where is my wallet?

Are you one of those people who are constantly forgetting where you put your keys?  Or, are you one of those people who tend to lock your keys in the car from time to time?  I have to admit that I am the latter. There has been more than one time that I have mistakenly locked my keys in the car.  I don’t know if I just get in too big of a hurry or what.

When my daughter was still in diapers I had taken her to the community mail box to pick up mail with me one hot summer day when we were living in Sugar Land, Texas.  It had to be at least 99 degrees that day with the temperatures rising in the late afternoon. I pulled up to the pedestal mail box with my little one year old daughter sitting next to me with nothing but a diaper and a big smile on.  You know the type of mail box I am talking about! The ones that are all congested together for the entire neighborhood, where you have to try to remember which mail box is yours and hope you can find the right key on your key chain to open the dad gummed thing with.  I unwrapped the little munchkin from her car seat, shut the car door with the car still running, hoisted her to my shoulders and then shut the door behind me.  I did not want to shut the air conditioning off since in the blazing heat and humidity we would return to a closed in box from the lower depths of molten earth.  The little rascal grabbed a few crops on the top of my hair like someone would do to a horses mane and we were off to the our mail box  just a few feet from the car.

I fumbled for a few minutes with one hand holding my daughter and the other in my right pocket trying to find that little mail box key that would fit.  After a few seconds I found the key, opened the mail box and headed back to the car with Val playing patty cake on top of my head.  When I went back to the car I realized that I had locked the car keys in the car with the car running.  I did not know what to do outside of trying to break the glass or try one of those coat hanger tricks to unlatch the lock which was near impossible to do in the car I was driving at the time.  It was then I  placed my little diapered daughter on top of the pedestal mail box and contemplated in frustration how I was going to get out of this little jam.  Fortunately, one of my neighbors across the street had seen what occurred and had some kind of a special device for GM cars that quickly unlatched the door. Boy, was I ever glad he was nearby that day.  I am not quite sure what I might have done next, outside of finding a rock to throw thorough the glass.

Are you one of those people who can’t seem to keep track of your purse or wallet?  Please don’t ever give me a wallet to try to hold on to for you.  I have lost track of how many times I have lost my wallet in my lifetime.  I have lost my wallet in McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken,  Olive Garden, and several other locations.  I have only had to go to the police station one time to pick it up, and of all the times I have always gotten it back. Someone has always returned my wallet, and there has been only one time that they took all of the money out of it before turning it in.  I have finally solved my issues by never carrying it with me in my back pocket. I always place it in my jacket or coat and am constantly checking it to make sure it is in the pocket.  I know the feeling of losing your wallet and I don’t want to go back to that place again in my life if I don’t have to.  I carry everything in my wallet; driver’s license, credit cards, money, pictures of my family, health insurance card, and a whole lot more that I certainly can not afford to lose.  I don’t want to spend the time trying to replace everything in my wallet along with my possible identity if someone chooses to be such a vicious thief.

So here is the trilemma if you want to call it that.  “You find a wallet laying in a field one day as you are going for a walk near your house.  The wallet is loaded with 100 dollar bills, there is a Visa and American Express Card inside. There is a driver’s license with an address so you know the name of the person who owns the wallet, and there are several pictures of family members inside along with a voter’s identification card.  No one is around when you bend over to pick up the wallet.  You have been out of work for 3 years and you could sure use some of this money to pay your bills.  The electric company has threatened to turn off your electricity in the next few days if you don’t come up with the money to pay the past due amount.  You have no food in your fridge and your cupboards are bare.  You have even thought about eating the crab grass and dandelions in your front yard you are so hungry.”

So the question is – “What would you do?”  Would you take a few hundred dollars before turning in the wallet to pay your bill to keep the lights on and maybe buy yourself something to eat?  Who is going to know if you took the money out of the wallet or not?  If you turn the wallet it, at least you have done something that is good even though it might be bad to take the money for your own use.

Is it better to just let it lay on the ground to let someone else deal with the situation?  Should you take some money for your own use before turning it over to the owner?  Should you give everything back to the owner intact and remove nothing.  What do you think?  What would you do?

Katie the Kid Changer

Katie the Kid Changer Barnes and Noble

Katie the Kid Changer – Barnes and Noble – Amazon

 

Katie the Kid Changer

Katie the Kid Changer – Kindle

I just wanted to let you know that my new children’s book, “Katie the Kid Changer” is now available as a paperback on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. The Kindle version is available as a pre-order now and will be released this Friday, March 6th.

Katie is the story of a young eight year old girl and how she would change the world we live in if she were in charge.  In Katie’s world;horses fly,  dogs and cats speak in a human voice,  every kid will be given one million dollars to spend however they choose,  people will never grow old or get sick, there will be no more wars,  kids will never be abused,  and parents will never get divorced.  Katie has her perfect world all figured out.  Our world is due for a big change with Katie in charge!

Barnes and Noble

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

SANTA SUPERSTITIONS

Santa-eop2

Why is it that some people fear Friday the 13th and the number thirteen in general?  Many say it’s bad luck and I’m not quite sure where all those beliefs came from. Many airports don’t even have a gate number thirteen. Airplanes generally don’t have a 13th aisle. Most hospitals and hotels don’t have a room number 13. The majority of buildings with thirteen or more floors skip right over the number 13.

Some people believe that if you turn your shoes upside down you will have bad luck while others believe if you let milk boil over, it’s considered bad luck.  Everyone knows if your nose starts itching then someone is on their way to see you soon. It’s also a common superstition that if you make a wish in the spring upon seeing the first robin that your wish will come true if you make the wish before he flies away. Horse shoes and rabbits feet somehow have also become good luck symbols. It’s also common knowledge that if you make a wish when you see a shooting star at night your wish will come true if you don’t tell anyone what you wished for.

When I was growing up if my dad saw a black cat that crossed his path as he was driving he would turn his car around and find an alternative path. He said it was bad luck to cross the path of a black cat and never did so that I know of his entire life.  He also used to say that if you have warts on your body that you can cure them by taking a wash cloth, rubbing it on the warts and throwing it under the front porch steps. Now I have to tell you, I tried that and it didn’t work.  I still had to go to the doctor to get all of my warts cut off and burned off my legs and hands.  Dad said I was playing with too many frogs. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough for his wash cloth rubbing to work?  He was also very afraid of breaking mirrors and said that if you broke one you would have seven years of bad luck. I guess it’s a good thing I never broke any mirrors around him. After every meal we would also wish on the chicken bone. Who ever got the biggest piece of bone when pulling it apart was the one whose wish would come true.

Now what about Santa Claus? My parents told me that Santa was real and all along I believed them just like I did with the tooth fairy.  As I think back on it I think I kind of got conned by them. Sure it was fun and I wanted to believe for a while even after I knew it was all just made up.

I have a question though. When we start telling our children about the LORD are they to believe us this time around? Do they think to themselves, “No this GOD stuff is just another story like Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and all those other superstitions that my parents told me about.”?  It kind of makes you stop and think now doesn’t it?

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6 KJV

 

 

OKLAHOMA CHRISTMAS

shetland-pony-wallpapers-free-picture

 

 

As far back as I can recall I always wanted a real live horse of my very own.  Perhaps it was from watching so many Roy Rogers and Flicka shows on those early Saturday mornings as a youngster growing up in Oklahoma City.  Even as a very young child I would dream about a horse saddled with sparkling sequins flashing rainbows of vibrant colors. I told mom and dad that I wanted a horse for Christmas, my birthday, and on most every single day of the week for that matter.  They did eventually end up getting me one of those miniature plastic pretend horses since I was so outrageous in my persistence. It wasn’t even a stick horse like my cousins owned in Blackwell, Oklahoma.  Butch and Jimmy Dale would ride around all day on their horses made from broomsticks pretending in their minds that the little round sticks with a stuffed horses head on the end and a black plastic strap for reins were the real thing. They would continue on in their dreaming, wishing, and pretending.

It’s kind of funny to think about it isn’t it?  Butch and Jimmy Dale in reality owned several donkeys and a Quarter horse named “Lady” that they could have ridden anywhere in Blackwell that they wanted to.  I guess sometimes even when you have the real thing it becomes more fun and certainly a little more interesting to get lost somewhere in a dimension of imagination.  I suppose I was no different though as I start to think back. Wasn’t I in one sense horsing around in my own dreams?

It happened on the day of Christmas Eve that year when everything just kind of came together like a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich does.  You know the kind I’m talking about. If you add a cold glass of milk to it you feel like you’re eating the perfect meal and you start to purr like a newborn kitten. Mom and Dad had just gotten a divorce and my brother Tim and I were living with Dad in Oklahoma City.  Dad had met a lady in Ponca City, Oklahoma named Mary with a four-year old daughter named Marie.  He eventually proposed to her and they came to live with us in Oklahoma City. What a pain in the midpoint grain Marie could be. I can’t stand drinking spoiled milk if you know what I am trying to say.

I was just entering the third grade at Crooked Oak Elementary in Oklahoma City and Tim started that year as a first grader.  My younger sister Cathy was four at the time and ended up living with Mom and a Siamese cat. The cat turned out to be quite the rascal and seemed to like to eat little sisters breakfast in the morning before she could saddle up to the table to get it.

Now remember I never stopped wishing and hoping for a horse. I never stopped asking. This Christmas was no different. Was it really though?  As they pulled up in our driveway in the old white rusted out, rickety car there was the most awful commotion that Christmas Eve.  I could not believe my young eyes when I saw in the back of the car with the seats that had been pulled out a real live Shetland pony attached to two grown men. They scuffle was furious in trying to hold the little fellow down and keep him from busting through the roof.  Massive sweat droplets poured off both of them.  They spit and mumbled some profanity about the little horse having sharp teeth.

My dear mother had finally resolved my persistence in the grandest of ways with a fine-looking little Shetland!  It didn’t really matter that we had no place keep him since we lived in a residential neighborhood close to Crooked Oak.  The only advantage we had going for us was that we had a sort of a wooded type area at the back of our house.  We had no bridle or saddle. All we had in our possession was a makeshift halter that we could throw around the little fellows head. The halter was really just an old piece of rope that we had lying around in the garage.

Tim and I had smiles as big as the Red River I am sure that day.  Little did we know that we were going to be in for the ride of our lives trying to take care of the newest member of the Smith family.  Our very first order of the day was to find a name!  Since he was just a little fellow we settled on the name of “Peanuts”. Peanuts somehow seemed appropriate.  After the naming convention was over we led him, or should I say, we drug him against his will with our makeshift halter.  The next order of the day came from Peanuts. He insisted on revealing to us his pearly whites and started to bite at us.  This just might have been the result of his irritation from the car ride over and not being strapped in properly with a seat belt.

Oh how we tried to ride Peanuts in the little section of wooded area at the back of the house.  He was wild though and apparently had never had a single person set on his back before.  Dad was cautious as he could be in placing us on his back and would tell us to grab on to as much of his mane as we could.  Just as soon as Peanuts would feel the weight settle in on him he would start bucking like the crazed little pony that he was. I can recall getting thrown off more than once and landing in thickets of shrubs layered with sharp pointy needles.  I would struggle to get up from the hard and dusty ground. Spit would come drooling out both sides of my mouth as I would start to rub the strawberries on my legs that were bursting with pain.

After a few times I would give up, but Tim wanted more. He was always so competitive and wanted to outdo me as his older brother.  Have at it little brother I thought to myself.  Keep riding until the sun sets on your tomorrow. In many ways that competitive spirit is good and seems to be learned at an early age.  Tim never seemed to lack either the learning or the spirit.

We really shouldn’t have tried to keep a horse in a residential neighborhood.  Peanuts seemed to always be causing trouble somehow.  We would come home from school at the end of the day and there in the front yard a few houses down would be Peanuts who had broken loose yet once again from the back yard area.  There he would be. Grazing. Munching on some fresh-cut green grass of our neighbor’s manicured lawn.

You know I’m not quite sure whatever happened to that little pony.  All I know is that it didn’t seem to bother me too much when I woke up one day and he was missing.  We never saw Peanuts again after that day. I guess Peanuts was no Trigger or Flicka.  The little Shetland ended up not being as worthy as the horse of my dreams.  I eventually got over the loss of Peanuts and went back to dreaming again.  I suppose my cousins must have had it right after all.  Dreaming can sometimes be even better than the real thing.  For our imaginations and dreams allow us to travel to places we otherwise would never get to enjoy.  If we never visit these places, how then can we even have a hope to conquer some of life’s greatest challenges and live out our dreams?