I remember my Dad as one of the strongest men I knew. Not that he was big. No, he was actually the shortest of the 6 boys. Only 5'-5" tall he was never-the-less big in my mind. His strength was in strength of charactor. He was a rodeo rider when he met my mom and made good money in the off season (we farmed) riding bare back broncs and bull riding. Maybe being so short made it easier to stay on. I was only 13 yrs old when I passed him up in height.
One of the most memorable things I remember about my Dad was the time he road the un-rideable bull. Some background here. My mother was handicapped. She was that way when she met my Dad and being a Spanish beauty she still won his heart. She had lost her right leg and left foot when a train ran over her. That is another story, but in those days they had very little in the way of prostheses for a missing leg. The one Mom had was very crude and she soon wore it out. She would then be confined to a wheel chair with three wild kids to take care of. Well maybe only two wild kids, I was the nice one.
There was in our Siouxland area a brahma bull that was famous at all the midwest rodeo's. He had never been ridden and there was a standing side award of $1000 to the first cowboy that could ride him the 8 seconds. That may not sound like much money now but this was in 1951 and that was 3 months wages in those days. Dad knew he could ride that bull but Mom was adamant that he would get hurt and would not allow it. That was one of the few times in my life that I ever heard my parents argue. Dad wanted that money to buy Mom a new artificial leg and Mom said NO.
Come that Saturday of the rodeo, my uncle came by and asked Dad if he could come over and help overhaul a truck. Dad told Mom that he was going to help Uncle. Off they went.
Three hours later the pick up truck came up the drive and my Uncle and a couple of cousins carried my Dad out of the back where he had been laid on a old door and strapped in. I was so scared! He had blood all over him and was bleeding from the nose, the ears and the mouth. But he was smiling and in his hand was clutched the check for $1000. It took him a couple of weeks before he could get out of bed and walk again. When he could drive again, he took Mom to Omaha to be fitted with a new artificial leg, which was state of the art at that time. Now she could walk again. When they got back home that night you could see Mom had been crying with happiness all the way home. My Dad was my hero.