RSS

Tag Archives: Texas Panhandle

The ‘Bar Mitzvah’ for Ranch Kids

The Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish ceremony for boys reaching the age of 13 and is kinda regarded as a coming of age from boyhood to manhood. Well, the Jews do it a little different than we did it out on the ranch. OK, …..quite a bit different, as a matter of fact!

All our water on the ranch was made by windmills, not just for the cattle and horses. They even provided the water for our houses. If the wind didn’t blow for a few days (usually not a problem in the Texas Panhandle!) we would have no water, which did happen a couple of times in the 30 years we lived there. As a kid growing up on the ranch one of the things you learned early on was how to fix a windmill. Sometimes it was just to replace worn ‘leathers’. Other times the bottom cylinder might have a hole in it which required pulling all the pipe out of the well and replacing it. Not fun! But we could do it, and did many a time.

One of the routine jobs in keeping windmills operating is to keep them oiled good. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, ….it ain’t! Here’s how it goes. OK, looking up it doesn’t look too high up there but up top where you have to put the oil in, and lookin’ down, it’s scary high! So, what you have to do is get a big ‘ol can of oil (about 2-3 gallons) with a long spout on it, climb up the hand and foot rails of the windmill. Remember now, you’re also carrying roughly 20 lbs of oil in one hand and climbing with the other. So, I’m makin’ my way up the windmill, my Dad coaching me every step. Now I”m gettin’ closer to the top where there’s a little foot and a half platform to stand on. Getting up on that tiny thing is a real trick…..with only one usable hand. Now, you’re up on top of the tiny platform. The fan or blades of the windmill are 6-8 feet in diameter. The windmill is turned off so the blades are not turning. But in the Texas Panhandle, there’s hardly a day where there ain’t at least a nice little breeze. This day was a day such as that. And when it’s breezy like that the fan and blades, while they’re not spinning, still move around some causing you to picture yourself getting knocked off there and hittin’ the ground to certain death. All this is going through my mind while my Dad’s still coaching me along from the ground. Now, lookin’ down it appears to be about 90 feet (actually only about 25 ft) to the ground! It’s not…..but it dang sure looks it! As if that wasn’t enough, ….here’s the tricky part. The part of the windmill that has the gear mechanism in it is enclosed and covered by a big (foot and a half) hood, kinda cone shaped. You gotta stand on your tippy toes, reach as high as you possibly can and remove the nut off the top of that hood! Now, I’ve got oil in one hand, a nut and the hood in another….all the while trying to hold on for dear life. The entire 13-14 years of my life was running like a movie through my mind. Is it gonna just kill me on impact or will I be mangled and a vegetable the rest of my life? I’m way too young to die. My Dad still calmly coaching me along, ……almost like he doesn’t even realize I’m about to fall to my death. Now, I gotta hoist the big oil can up over my head and start to pour it in the gear casing. Oh, did I mention your hands are super greasy from handling the oil can complicating the whole process?! I’m trying to do all that and listen to the instructions my Dad’s giving me and I couldn’t help but to desperately ask, “What if I fall?” And, you know he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. He just calmly, confidently and simply said, ………..”You won’t”.

He was right! I didn’t!

You can’t imagine how relieved I was to get back on solid ground!

So, that’s how we do the ‘ol Bar Mitzvah on the ranch! It’s the rite of passage from being a kid into full-fledged manhood!

There’s a lot of things I miss about the ranch life,     ………that ain’t one of ’em!

PS-I’ll bet money if you climbed up that same windmill today you could find my claw marks dented in that galvanized iron!

…….makes me miss my Dad……

Addendum: Every person who has climbed up a windmill tower and stood on that little platform has experienced the sensation of looking up and seeing the clouds slowly drifting overhead. It gives one the feeling that the windmill is tipping over. It’s pretty frightening the first time you experience it. So much so that I heard a story of one man who was up there, saw the clouds, thought the windmill was tipping over……..and jumped! I’m not sure if that’s true………but it could be!

 

Here’s another one you might like:

Labor Day Out on the ‘Ol ‘Lazy J’

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Definitely Our Most Memorable New Year’s Day!

It was exactly 38 years ago today. That, I remember vividly. It was brutally cold, about 15 degrees with the wind blowing about 40 mph! ….typical Texas Panhandle winter night! Julie and I had gone into Canadian, Texas to meet two other couples for supper. The Stuckey’s, Don & Billie, and the Dickinson’s, Bud & Brenda have been great friends of ours for a lifetime (actually more like Family!). The plan was to go to the steak house for supper and then back to the Stuckey’s to hang out, play a few cards, drink a few beers….at least for the guys. Julie and I were expecting our first baby and she was already about two weeks past the due date.

We brought in the New Year and headed home. It was about 40 miles to our house. The we got home another of my good friends, Kenny Bass was there waiting for us. Julie went off to bed and ‘Catfish’ (his nickname) and I decided we’d have another drink or two. Before we even got the first one poured Julie called to me from the bedroom. When I went in there she was as serious as I’d ever seen her! She calmly said, “I think my water broke”! I don’t know if you can grasp the panic that I experienced at that moment. Julie, on the other hand, remained pretty calm. But here we were, 60 miles from the hospital, our car with less than a quarter tank of gas in it…and she’s having contractions only a few minutes apart. 

We were in the car in less than 3 minutes. And, since we didn’t have enough gas to make it to the hospital we stopped at the ranch headquarters, where my folks lived, to fill the car up. Thinking we didn’t have a minute to spare, I had visions of her trying to give birth in the car on the way. We made the 60 mile trip in about 35-40 minutes…and to be honest, Julie’s brown Gran Torino was never really the same after that!

Not sure exactly the time we arrived at the hospital in Elk City, Oklahoma but I distinctly remember Julie having regular contractions just a few minutes apart….and Clint Ryan wasn’t born until 1:35 pm the next day….New Year’s Day. It was a lot of hours of ‘hard labor’!! And, hey, Clint was the first baby born there in the New Year so we were given lots of gifts and certificates for gifts.

It was an experience we’ll never forget. Our lives were changed for the better that day, and made richer than we could’ve ever imagined. It was definitely our most memorable New Year’s Day!

Happy New Year from the Taylors’!!

*If you’re interested in visiting the ‘Archives’ and getting 2016 off to a good start, click the highlighted link and get started! Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Reflect & Refocus #2

WordpressSignature2015b

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gun Fightin’, Pool Shootin’…and Bull Ridin’! …….and I Guess, Now, High School Football!

I’ve been making my list for years now and I thought I pretty much had it down. But I had to add another element to it a few days ago. You may wonder what that list above is all about. Well, that’s my list of things that, if you’re going to do any of them, …….you better not get cocky about it!

I’ve seen quite a few fights down through the years and there were several who had the reputation that they couldn’t be whipped. I’ve seen some of them go down….and it wasn’t pretty! *(how about that Ronda Rousey?!) And pool shooters…same story….someone who could just ‘run through’ everyone meets up with the right guy and gets humiliated. I’ve seen that a time or two. Granted, I’ve never really seen a gunfight in person (not hoping too, either!!) but I have seen plenty of them in the movies….and a few real ones on TV news shows. Now bull riding, I’ve seen it happen more times than I could count. Some guy with plenty of talent and a mouth to match gettin’ just a little too big for his britches. In all these cases, you better watch out if you’re gonna do ’em, ’cause the next one might just be the one that’ll get ‘ya!

Well, I had to add to my list last week. I added High School Football. Had to,…and here’s why: I’ve been a faithful follower of the Canadian, Texas Wildcats for a good long while now. I’ve been to nearly all their playoff games for the past 6-7 years. They’re just a fun team to watch.

The suspense had been brewing for over a year now because of some very public ‘trash talking’ on social media (FaceBook, Twitter, HS Football Forums) by downstate football power, Refugio. In fact, they made plenty of remarks around this time last year when Canadian won the State 2-A title. Refugio had lost to Mason, who in turn lost to a great Canadian team. But Refugio fans and players continued the ‘talk’ saying that it would’ve been a totally different outcome had they played Canadian instead of Mason. More recently, one of the key players (I’m withholding names on purpose) for Refugio had plenty to say about a ‘certain’ All-State selection from Canadian.

So, when the two teams squared off in NRG Stadium in Houston last week for the State 2-A Championship there was an added element of competition on the table. Refugio won the stat tally the first quarter and looked strong, athletic and determined to take the State Champ trophy home. But early in the 2nd quarter Canadian found their rhythm and it was to the ‘woodshed’ for Refugio! They dominated Refugio like they’ve dominated 30 other teams over the past two seasons. Final score: Canadian 61, Refugio 20! It’s just my opinion but I believe they could’ve easily scored 80 had they left the starters in the game.

The lack of character of the Refugio team really showed up in the second half. The trash talking continued throughout the entire duration of the game. I don’t want to be too critical here,….’cause I’d hate to be judged on my conduct at 17 or 18 but, personally, I’d write it off as a coaching issue.

The Canadian team maintained their composure and handled themselves with a great display of character in the midst of it all. They’re to be commended! They’re a classy bunch! I expect they’ll be some great contributors to society with their lives.

So, if you’re gonna fight (with fists or guns), shoot pool, ride bulls or play High School Football….you best watch your mouth….’cause the next one……well the next one might just be the one to get ‘ya!

*You’ll appreciate this video clip (click highlighted link). Keep in mind that this took place when the score was 41-13! It appears the Canadian player just said, “Look at the scoreboard!”

Check these out:

Canadian Wildcat Update

All-Time Favorite Sports Franchise – Canadian, Texas Wildcats

Character Matters!

WordpressSignature2015b

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Canadian Wildcat Update

*If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, “All-Time Favorite Sports Franchise”,….do it now!

If you did read yesterday’s post you’re probably wondering how the Canadian Wildcats fared in Friday night’s game in Wichita Falls, Texas against undefeated Crawford in the Class 2-A State Semi-Finals. The Wildcats came in a 24 pt. favorite and….you think, “How can you be this deep in this, extremely competitive, state championship race, against yet another undefeated team and be favored by that much?”. Well, again, they proved to me that maybe, just maybe they really are good enough to be ranked #2 in the nation! *(In the playoffs Canadian has outscored opponents in the first half, 214-8!!) The game was ‘virtually’ over at the end of the first quarter! (21-0) Final Score – 61-14! *Click here for game recap….or a Panhandle perspective, here.

It’s obvious that this is a team on a mission, with one thing in mind, and that’s to be the ‘repeat’ Texas 2-A State Champs! They’ll line up against a really tough Refugio team next Thursday at 10 am in Houston’s NRG Arena. It oughta be a great game. I’ll be there if at all possible. You can catch the game “LIVE” on FOXSW. Check ’em out….it could be a long, long time before you get to see another team like this one!

*Oh yeah, I almost forgot; in my opinion the ‘Game Ball’ goes to: 1) The Players, of course! Unbelievable game! 2) The Coaching Staff! Flawless! 3) The Parents! Incredible Support! 4) Canadian School Administration and Faculty! Un-doable without you! 5) The Student Body! Always doing your part, and more! 6) The entire city of Canadian, Texas! Best I’ve ever seen in getting behind a team! 7) And then all the other fans, like me, from all over who consider the Wildcats….Our Team!!

#ALLIN

WordpressSignature2015b

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: