Our daughter, Meghan Ratliff, informed us that our two granddaughters placed first in the events they entered at their swimming meet. For our oldest, Margaret, this is becoming second nature as she is an incredible athlete, but our youngest granddaughter, Frances won a blue ribbon for finishing first in the breaststroke for her age group at her first swim meet ever. Evidently, she tried to “cancel” the meet quite a few times before it started. Then after she was awarded the ribbon, she was asking when the next meet was. A big clap goes out to both of these cuties.
This reminded me of the first and only time I was awarded a ribbon. It was in 1955 and I was 10 years old. It was at the Wood County Fair, in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. I won first place for drinking the most glasses of milk in my age group. Now, some of you younger folk may not think that is such a big deal, but, back in those days, especially in Wisconsin the Dairy State, all milk was either whole milk or buttermilk; 2% and Fat-Free wasn’t invented yet. I do remember having one helluva stomach ache when my grandparents drove me home that afternoon.
I attribute this early victory in my life for dispatching me into a successful beer drinking career, for which I never won a blue ribbon, but I sure drank plenty of them.
Sunday, June 25th was another exciting day for local Cheeseheads, Max Fly, Private Eye, and his main squeeze Jacqui and fellow cheesehead, Cynde Hesse-Prodgers. They fired up the ol’ Ford Tractor and headed north to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and of course Rocco’s Pub in Jasper, GA, home of the World’s Best Chili Pie, as well as the friendliest wait staff north of Tampa Bay. One of the pleasures of living in Georgia is the opportunity you get to meet people from all over the world and today we started out meeting a waitress who moved to Georgia from the Seattle, Washington area and she was friendly and a very efficient server!
We ordered some wine and a little brandy to put out the fire and wash down the Red Hot Chili Pie while listening to the Blackwell Country Jam Band play some of the Outlaw country songs of David Allen Coe, Merl Haggard, and George Straight (Is he an outlaw?) as well as tunes from other great country artists. We were able to enjoy this music with a local motorcycle club while a young dancing girl provided some lively entertainment, twirling as the music played.
We then piled in the tractor, weaving our way around all the Harley’s scattered about Rocco’s parking lot and headed east to Ball Ground. They said I was driving. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Feather’s Edge Vineyards. Proprietor, David Boone was still there, pouring his magic nectar. It is obvious that David has done it right, setting up a comfortable porch and backyard area to taste his great wines while his guests engaged in a little “Toe Tapping” to the gentle sounds of Surrender Hill. There was even some cigar smokin’ going on in the back.
Now I have to tell you something, if you haven’t heard this duo, Surrender Hill, sing, you are missing out on a real treat.
The couple, Robin Dean Salmon and Afton Seekins, met in 2013 in Northern Arizona while performing music in many of the same clubs. Both are singer-songwriters.
Their paths crossed often and a friendship ensued which led to a collaboration not only in music but in life. In March of 2014, Robin and Afton started writing and performing together and figured they might as well get hitched. Find out more about them at www.surrenderhill.com. By the way, Max couldn’t leave without buying one of their CD’s which he now plays in the Ebony Pony while he is blowing down the highway, doing things his way.
It wasn’t long before Jacqui said, “Something is smoking behind us and it’s smelling mighty good, and, no Max, it’s not you.”
Pretty soon we located what was causing all the smoke. It was none other than North Georgia’s Smokin’ Tony’s BBQ!!! Tony and wife, Brenda Sweatt, were putting together some mighty delicious fixin’s for the folks sittin’ around drinking the best wine in Georgia while tapping their toes to the mellow sounds of Surrender Hill. Tony said he’d be happy to cater your event no matter how small. Well, he did refuse to deliver two sandwiches to my house, but, anything a bit larger than that, and he can accommodate y’all! Go to their website at www.smokintonysbbqga.com. You’re gonna drool on your keyboard, I guarantee it!
Didn’t I say somewhere that one of the pleasures of living in Georgia is the opportunity you get to meet people from all over the world? Well, Mr. Robin Dean Salmon started his life’s journey in South Africa and Ms. Afton Seekins started kickin’ and squalling up yonder in Alaska. They are now splitting their time between Atlanta and Nashville. Of course Ol’ Tony and Brenda live right down the road in Ball Ground and, of course, the Three Cheesehead Amigos are from Wisconsin.
As usual, the Three Cheesehead Amigos had a superb time enjoying great wine, food, and entertainment in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in good ol’ Georgia, US of A! We plan on making this trip a bit more often now that we have the tractor up and running again. See y’all soon, your friend, Max Fly, Private Eye
A sudden movement to the far left of the woods caught the cowboy’s attention and he reined in his mule. A horse and rider were slowly moving between the dogwoods and ash trees.
He removed the glass from his waistband and put it to his eye. The rider was an Indian. He was wearing a black stovepipe hat with a turkey feather stuck in the band and a light cotton shirt and deerskin leggings. He had a quiver of arrows on his back and a bow attached to his horse pad. The horse he was riding was a large spotted Appaloosa. It was his friend Shoots Plenty, a Lakota Sioux.
The cowboy nudged the mule and moved in the direction the Indian was traveling. He stopped behind a copse of pine trees and heavy brush and waited. Soon he heard Shoots Plenty approach. He was drinking Moccasin flower tea and softly chanting and speaking to himself.
When Shoots Plenty passed the rider yelled out, “ Inaji, halt. Raise your hands and slowly turn around.”
“Is that you, le mita-kohla, my friend?”
“Yeah, I thought it was supposed to be hard to sneak up on an Indian?”
“It is,” Shoots Plenty replied as he turned his horse around, “But I am old and civilized now. Why are you riding a one-eyed mule?”
“Because he is easy to sneak up on and the Seditionistas stole my horse.”
“So, you are easy to sneak up on too? I see they stole your pants and your guns also?”
“That’s true, but I’m gettin’ them back.”
“Of course you are, Wasichus, on this one-eyed mule. And when will you be doing this?”
“Soon, where are you headed?”
“I waited ten sleeps for your return. I figured you traded your old Lakota friend for a squaw so I am returning to my people.”
“I need to find Tasacowadi, the Comanche Chief. His people are in danger. Basilio Ramos and his Seditionistas are planning to raid the Comanche camp while Tasacowadi and his warriors are on their hunt. They will make it look like the Texians are responsible for the massacre. I have to warn him. Will you ride with me?”
“Nothing my brother asks of me is too great.” He took a swallow of his tea then replied, “Let us go before your one-eyed mule dies of old age.”
“Or you, Shoots Plenty.”
Soon the two riders reined their animals in and sat looking over their left shoulders to the northwest as a blue norther approached.
They listened as the muffled whistle of an elk floated on the breeze that seemed to rise from the earth behind them.
The cowboy’s back ached. He had seen more than forty winters and was well into approaching another as was his companion, Shoots Plenty. Neither man was no longer a young man.
They glanced around and spotted many pony tracks.
“No metal moccasins. No pony-drags. Most likely a war party; forty to fifty, possibly more. Comanche,” Shoots Plenty said.
“A Comanche war party can easily travel forty miles a day. Judging by the freshness of the dung piles the trail is no more than two days old. The stalks of grass stomped down by the ponies hooves are beginning to rise back toward the sky.”
Esben nodded and they kicked their mounts and rode upstream for a quarter mile looking for more signs of the war party before returning to the trail. It took another three hours before they finally found what they were looking for. To the left of the trail was a gathering of white stones set in the shape of the quarter moon.
“They passed this spot at the time of the first quarter moon which was three nights before. See over there?” Shoots Plenty remarked, pointing to his left. “The two sticks jutting from the ground, one higher than the other? The Comanche have been on the trail two days from their last camp. They are at ease; not concerned about enemy movements around them.”
Both riders continued to scour the ground for more signs. It didn’t take long before the old Lakota Sioux located a straight line of small pebbles pointing east, indicating the direction the war party was heading.
Rain and sleet began to pepper them for the next mile before letting up, failing to soak them and, more importantly, the Comanche pony tracks remained visible.
That evening they could smell the smoke from the Comanche fires. They dismounted and staked their ponies in a stand of Dogwood and cautiously approached on foot. They watched a mounted procession of warriors circling the fire, leading up to the Comanche scalp dance. One warrior rode through camp on his horse, his buffalo headdress on his head and freshly taken scalps tied to his tomahawk. One after another, riders arrived and dismounted at a large dance area where drums began to beat and the warriors began to dance in their elaborate costumes; some dressed up as antelope or deer, some as bear or mountain lions. It was fascinating to watch as they screamed, growled and roared, imitating the sounds of the different animals. Then they all screamed blood-curdling war cries.
“This will last most of the night,” Shoots Plenty whispered. “Let us go.”
They turned and crawled back to the stand of Dogwoods where they spread out their robes.
“You know, Wasichus, the earth’s soil is soothing and gives us strength. It is also cleansing and healing.”
“I feel one of your stories coming on, Shoots Plenty. Why do you tell me all these stories? Go to sleep.”
“Stories have a spirit. They continue to live and grow. It is how my people teach our young.
I am old and have learned much and know there is much more to learn. This is why I still sit upon the earth. I do not prop myself up away from its life giving forces. For me, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think and feel deeply; I can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about me. Then I can tell you stories.”
He placed a hand on the ground and explained: “We sit in the lap of our Mother. From her, we, and all other living things come. We shall soon pass, but the place where we now rest will last forever.
My people come from the Mdewakanton, Water of the Great Spirit. Your people call it Rum River. My people call it Wakpa Wakan, Spirit River. It flows through Ogechie Lake in what your people call the Minnesota Territory.
Originally, my people came up from the center of the earth and found themselves near Mille Lacs Lake, from which the Spirit River comes. Many moons ago, after a flood, my people went into Mille Lacs Lake and lived as underwater people. Then a whirlpool pulled them up to the surface and threw them out onto the shore, where they lived as people who walked on land again. They hunted and fished near the Spirit River and at other places around the sacred lake
When there were many beaver and otter, the French people came and brought peace between my people and the Three Fires People, who called themselves Anishinabe, the first people. When our people were at peace the white man made more money on trading the fur of our beaver and otter because both tribes were bringing them furs for trade. But when the beaver and otter were no more, the French people armed the Three Fires People with bullet firing muskets and my people were forced from the Spirit River, our ancestral homeland.
I am now old. I am filled with peace and good will. I no longer wish to fight. No longer is anger and fury lodged in my mind.”
He looked in the direction of Esben and heard him softly snore. He was asleep. He heard nothing of what he said.
“Hmm, I try to teach you, Wasichus, but you fail to listen.” He rolled over and soon he too slept.
They were awake and saddled up before the sun rose and rode to the Comanche camp. They knew the Comanche sign to give when approaching their camp, to alert the Sentinel they were friends. They rode their mounts forward twenty steps and stopped. Then turned to the right and walked another twenty steps and stopped before returning to where they began. The Sentinel waved them forward.
Esben was told to sit to the right of the chief, Tasacowadi, wearing a cape made from a huge bear. Shoots Plenty sat to his left.
Tasacowadi looked at the white stranger for a moment and then at the Lakota and said, “Why do you travel with this white man riding a one-eyed mule?”
“I have known him for many moons. He was raised by my people. Also, I am old and he thinks I am a Lakota Chief. He rides that one-eyed mule because it is easy for him to sneak up on that mule.”
Tasacowadi grunted and turned to the white rider, and said, “Speak.”
“We followed you for three days since you crossed the Rio de los Brazos de Dios, The River of the Arms of God,” the white rider said. “You are brave. You weren’t concerned about enemies being in the area. We watched your scalp dance last night before spreading our robes and finding sleep.”
“And why should we be concerned? We are Comanche.”
“A hombre named, Basilio Ramos, and a group of his followers from Chihuahua Mexico, calling themselves Seditionistas, are planning to stir up trouble between the Comanche and the Texians. They are committing atrocious acts against women and children of the Texians and making it look like the Comanche committed the attacks and also on the Comanche making it look like the Texians were to blame.
I know the Comanche has no fear, but your women and children are left unattended and are in danger as the Seditionistas have been spotted east of the Brazos. We have come to let you know.”
“The Comanche will kill this Ramos if he comes near our women and children.”
“Now the Texas Rangers are coming and you must be careful so that you and your people do not get caught in the middle of this bloodletting.”
“ We do not fear the Texas Rangers nor do we fear the Mexicans. We drove off the Apaches and the Kiowas and will do the same to the Mexicans and Texians.
“Many are the warriors of the white man. If we take the war trail for revenge, we will need the help of Cochise and his warriors.
Where have these Mexicans been spotted?”
“We will show you. But we must leave before the sun moves a fist in the sky.”
You may not be aware of this, but you own six hundred and forty million acres of land in the western United States, which is about one-fifth the land area of the U.S. It is managed by the Forest Service, The Bureau of Land Management and the National Parks Service, all part of the Department of Interior established in 1849, as the fourth cabinet of our federal government.
It has a spotted past of corruption dating back to the 1870’s when then Secretary Columbus Delano, a relative to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was forced to resign due to incompetence, nepotism and other shady deals, such as paying non-existent employees salaries. He was convicted of taking bribes for fraudulent land grants and was forced to resign from office. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Granted, for the most part, in my opinion, I feel the Department of Interior does a very poor job as many employees succumb to the temptation of wine, women and song and a lot, I mean a lot of corrupt money that is put in front of them by special interest groups, mainly, mining and forestry concerns, and of course the cattlemen’s association, but the Department is a necessary evil. It just needs fixing.
What is on this land you own is worth a great deal of money and the money grubbers are always trying to find ways to grab it and they are getting close to doing so unless every American voice their concern and stop what some are trying to accomplish.
There is a movement afoot in the swamp of Washington D. C. to transfer these federal lands to state and local government. At first blush, one might think this is a good idea but if you stop and think about it for a moment, you just might come to a different conclusion. Notice what is written above, this land is located in the western United States, where most of these special interest groups who have been lusting for a piece of our national treasure, thrive.
Recreational land users, such as hikers, bikers, campers and horsemen and women, are worried, and rightfully so. In the last issue of Back Country Horsemen of America, they dedicated two pages to the assault on Federal Public Lands and as an organization is pushing against selling off federal lands to the states.
If you aren’t aware of what has been going on in Washington regarding this, perhaps you might want to find out.
A group named, Federal Land Action Group, organized by two Utah congressmen, are identifying ways Congress could push a transfer of lands to state and local governments.
This past January, Jason Chaffetz, another one from Utah, introduced House Resolution, H.R.621, calling for the sale of 3.3 million acres of land in 10 western states. Luckily, conservation and sportsmen’s groups went ballistic and Mr. Chaffetz rescinded his bill in just over a week, proving that this type of outrage by the public is what is needed to keep the swamp in line.
But it isn’t over yet. Rob Bishop, another Utah Representative, requested that $50 million be set aside to account for the costs of transferring federal land to states or local governments. So far, there has been no response from the House Budget Committee, but I think you are beginning to get the picture.
Then there is H.R. 232, State and National Forest Management Act of 2017, introduced by Don Young of Alaska to both the House Committees on Natural Resources and on Agriculture to authorize States to select and acquire certain National Forest System lands to be managed and operated by the State for timber production and other purposes under the laws of the State.
Then in February, in the State House of Representatives in Oregon House Bill 2365 was introduced to establish a task force to study the feasibility of transferring federally managed lands to the State of Oregon.
As bad as the Department of Interior is, I think this transfer of lands that some are attempting is a terrible idea. I believe our federal public lands should remain federally owned and if you are like minded, you must tell your elected officials exactly how you feel. We may have won a battle or two but the war wages on and there are politicians whose palms are being greased with some serious money and we all know how politicians react to money.
Nancy and Melvin Blahfy were ready to move. Their family was growing. Their little girl, Shania, just turned one year old and was beginning to walk.Their friendly and still growing dog, a Golden Retriever named Maxwell, was knocking things off the shelves with his constantly wagging tail as he romped through their small two bedroom apartment. Nancy and Melvin knew they needed a bigger place. It finally happened. They had outgrown their apartment.
They spoke with Nancy’s older sister, Mildred, and her husband, Carson, who had just moved into a new home about a year ago. Mildred told Nancy how accommodating and dedicated her real estate agent, Ashley Longfellow was, plus as a house warming gift, Ashley gave them a unique gift that they just loved. It was a custom made wooden Butterfly House. Ashley even had personalized the Butterfly House with “Mildred’s Garden” imprinted on the front of it. Mildred and Carson have been enjoying sitting on their screened-in porch watching all the Monarch Butterfly’s that are attracted to their backyard because of Mildred’s own personalized Butterfly House.
It wasn’t long before Ashley Longfellow, Real Estate Agent, received a call from Nancy and Melvin. Ashley immediately began researching for a nice house that matched the criteria Nancy and Melvin gave her, which included a nice backyard where their Golden Retriever, Maxwell, and their little girl, Shania, could safely romp around and where Nancy could grow a small flower garden, just like her older sister, Mildred.
Soon, Nancy and Melvin received a call from Ashley Longfellow, Real Estate Agent, saying she found the perfect house for them.
Well, Nancy and Melvin were ecstatic! It was everything they wanted and more. It had a beautiful fenced in backyard with more than enough room for Shania and Maxwell to run around and play in and still have room for Nancy’s beautiful flowers.
And thanks to iAdConcepts, Ashley Longfellow, Real Estate Agent, was able to present Nancy and Melvin Blahfy with their very own personalized Butterfly House. It wasn’t long until the Blahfy’s had their own swarm of butterflies fluttering around the flowers and their new Butterfly House…and everyone lived happily ever after.
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As Told By He-Who-Sells
Bill and Mabel decided to start their own catering business. Bill spent 20 years in marketing for a major hotel chain where he was in charge of special events and catering nationwide. Mabel was a stay at home mom. During that time she perfected her cooking skills. In fact, family and friends went crazy over her cakes and petit fors. They saved enough money where Bill could leave his job and they set out on their own with their new business that they named Bill and Mabel’s Catering Service.
Things were going along very smoothly. They were bringing in a steady stream of new customers and they even won a local contest for having the prettiest wedding cake. But they still weren’t making the money they needed to do the things they felt they had to do.
So, Bill and Mabel sat down one night at the kitchen table after they put the kids to bed and decided that in order to keep their business going they needed to grow it. They determined they could scrape up $500.00 to advertise their catering business.
The next day they shopped around. They went to the local newspaper and asked about their advertising rates for a 1/2 page advertisement showing their prize winning cake along with their telephone number and website. They were stunned when they heard the cost. The local newspaper said for them to stay within their budget, the paper could give them a 1 inch advertisement, a special they were running, for a three-day weekend, and, no that would not include a picture of that prize-winning wedding cake they were so proud of, but they could put the name of the business along with their telephone number and website. For that price, the paper would let them put the name of their business in bold type.
Bill and Mabel were crushed as they knew that most people reading the local paper weren’t in the market for cakes and petit fors that week and they were afraid that by the time readers needed their product and services they would forget about Bill and Mabel’s Catering Service. They knew there was a lot of competition in the catering business. So what should they do?
Mabel thought they should place a half page ad showing her cake even though it was over what they had budgeted. She knew when people saw her beautiful cake it would sell itself and they would surely call them.
But what Bill knew, from being in the business world for over 20 years, was that Joe and Jill Executive have more important things to remember than the name of a catering service, a service they might not need until their son graduates from school if he even graduates.
So, the question is, where should Bill and Mabel put their limited amount of funds for advertising and growing their business?
Little did they know that the answer was just around the corner, or rather, on their email server. A marketing specialist from a leading advertising and marketing firm in the Atlanta area, iAdConcepts, showed them how they could target their advertising dollars so it would reach people that actually need their products and services and when they needed them. In the case of Bill and Mabel’s Catering Services, 500 wedding planners and event planners received a picture of that award winning wedding cake along with Bill and Mabel’s new logo they just developed, their website, telephone number, and address; they even added discount coupons all on a beautiful wall calendar and they got it for the $500.00 they had set aside to grow their business and the best thing about it, the wedding and event planners would have the picture of Mabel’s cake in front of them 365 days a year which comes out to an incredibly low $0.005 Cost Per View (CPV).
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Oh, Bill and Mabel’s Catering Service was so successful, they just opened their tenth franchise operation and iAdConcepts was able to drop their CPV down from the original $0.005 to $0.0005 due to a higher quantity purchase. IAdConcepts was able to drop in the local addresses of the franchisees. Now people in ten major metropolitan cities are getting to see Mabel’s prize winning wedding cake, thanks to iAdConcepts and those calendars with Mabel’s prize winning wedding cake.
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The two men sat their horses facing west. One was a white man who came from Sweden to the western states to hunt beaver pelts many years ago when beaver hats were all the rage in Europe. The other an Indian, an old Lakota Sioux warrior whose people had hunted the land for many years, ever since the Anishinabe, the First People, forced them from the Minnesota Territory. The two had been friends a long time. They met a few moons after the great victory of ’73, when the Sioux along with their brothers the Cheyenne, defeated Yellow Hair Custer and his men at the Little Big Horn. Neither man had liked General Custer. The white man had worked as a scout out of Fort Laramie under the command of General Crook when Custer was under Crooks command as well. He rode with Custer a few times and considered him incompetent as well as arrogant. He felt Custer got his due. The years since then had passed quickly and they saw many people arrive and a change come over the land. They knew people like them would soon be forced to flee or die.
They were watching the sun fade in the west behind a tall rock jutting out over the Wyoming plains.
“Do you see that rock?” The old warrior asked his friend.
“Of course I see that rock. I ain’t blind. It’s Devil’s Tower.”
“That is the white man’s name. We have no devil in our beliefs. We got along well all these many centuries without him. You people invented the devil and, as far as I am concerned, you can keep him. But everybody these days knows that towering rock by this name, so Devil’s Tower it is.”
“So, what about it?”
“My people have another name for it. We know it as Bear Rock and there is a story to that.”
“Ain’t there always with you Indians?”
“I suppose. When you get close you will see on its sides there are many, many streaks and gashes running straight up and down, like scratches made by giant claws, bear claws.
Well, long, long ago, two young Indian boys found themselves lost in the prairie. You know how it is. You Wasichas get lost all the time. The boys shot their toy bows out into the sagebrush and went to retrieve them. They heard a small animal make a noise and went to investigate.
They came to a stream with many colorful pebbles and followed that for a while. Then they came to a hill and wanted to see what was on the other side. You know how that is, you Wasichus are always curious. Well, on the other side they saw a herd of antelope and, of course, they had to track them for a while.”
“Is there a purpose to this story, or are you just having fun at my expense?”
“That too. When the boys got hungry they knew it was time to go home but found they did not know where they were. They started off in the direction they thought their village was but ended up farther away from it. At last, being very tired from all that walking, they curled up beneath a tree and went to sleep.
The next morning they rose and walked some more, still headed the wrong way. They ate some wild berries and dug up wild turnips, found some chokecherries, and drank water from streams. For three days they walked toward the west.
On the fourth day, the boys had a feeling that they were being followed. They looked around and in the distance saw Mato, the bear. This was no ordinary bear, but a giant grizzly so huge that the two boys would only make a small mouthful for him, but he had smelled the boys and wanted that mouthful. The earth trembled as he gathered speed and got closer to the boys.
The boys started running, looking for a place to hide, but there was no such place and Mato was much faster than they were. They stumbled, and the bear was about to pounce upon them. They could see his enormous, wicked teeth. They could smell his hot, evil breath. The boys were old enough to have learned to pray, and they called upon Wakan Tanka, the Creator:
“Tunkashila, Grandfather, have pity, save us,” they prayed.
“All at once the earth shook and began to rise. The boys rose with it. Out of the earth came a cone of rock going up, up until it was more than a thousand feet high. And the boys were on top of it. Mato the bear was disappointed to see his meal disappearing into the clouds.
Have I said he was a giant bear? This grizzly was so huge that he could almost reach to the top of the rock, trying to get up, trying to get those boys. As he did so, he made big scratches on the sides of the towering rock. But the stone was too slippery; Mato could not get up. He tried every side. He scratched up the rock all around, but it was no use. The boys watched him wearing himself out, getting tired and finally giving up. Soon Mato left, growling, and grunting as he disappeared over the horizon.
The boys were saved.”
“How did they get down, old man? They were not birds. They could not fly. I suppose you are going to tell me that father Coyote came to save the day again?”
“No, not this time, Washichus, it was Wanblee, the eagle, he has always been a friend to our people. So it must have been the eagle that let the boys grab hold of him and he carried them safely back to their village.”
“Yeah? So why are you telling me this?”
“To let you know that the Sioux have been to the top of that rock and back down again. Wakan Tanka made it so. No white man has been there.”
Don’t ever think because you are only one person that you can’t make a difference because you can, and this lady did.
Her husband, Charlie, told her to forget about it. To let it go she would only be riling up the neighbors and nobody would do anything anyway. Nobody cares.
But she couldn’t let it go. It was too horrific; all the blood. It made her shudder just thinking about it. That was two years ago and since that day, she reached out to people of all economic and social strata of society.
She adroitly cultivated many contacts, from school children to businessmen and politicians gathering information to lead the fight. It was a lot of work but it was passionate work and now…
The sun was beginning to rise over the Nevada Mountains as the diminutive woman limped with determination out her front door in Reno. The limp was leftover from a bout with childhood polio that left her crippled. Her purse hung from her left shoulder and in her right hand was a briefcase filled with all the documents she had gathered over the past two years. Her job as an executive secretary gave her the skills needed to put together the multitude of facts and evidence into the organized presentation that she hoped would right a wrong, a wrong that, for years, nothing had been done about; but she was determined to change that today.
She was scheduled to give her presentation that morning in Storey County, Nevada. She had no idea that she was about to set off a firestorm of hatred, scorn, and threats against her that would last her lifetime by the very people she was about to speak to.
As she arrived at the meeting, she was greeted by her boss, Gordon Harris, a Reno insurance executive.
“Hi, Velma, I want you to meet someone, State Senator James Slattery. Senator, this is the lady I was telling you about, Velma Johnston. She’s an incredible young woman and I think you will find what she is about to say very interesting.”
“Pleased to me you, Velma. Aren’t you one of Joseph Bronn’s kids?”
“Yessir, I’m his oldest. I have lived here all my life. He and my mother brought me out here in a covered wagon. I crossed the desert as an infant and was kept alive on mustang mare milk. Many of the horses my father used in his freighting service were mustangs.”
“Well, I’ll be. Your daddy was a good man. I look forward to hearing what you have put together.”
As Velma walked down the aisle to the podium where she would give her presentation, the men in the audience began to jeer her and finally one redneck rancher who looked like he was chewing on a golf ball, rolled his chaw of chewing tobacco to the other cheek and spit into a cup, before yelling out to his friends and fellow ranchers, “Well look it here boys, here comes Wild Horse Annie.”
Catcalls and laughter echoed throughout the hall before the county commission chairman was able to call everyone to order.
What started out as a divisive sobriquet became a rallying cry for her supporters and she wore it with pride for the rest of her life.
As it turned out, she was forceful and compelling as a public speaker and was able to charm and inspire others as she delivered her message about the indiscriminate slaughter and brutalization of America’s living legends, the mustang horse.
She fought for years to preserve the wild horses on the public lands in Western states. They and the burros were threatened by ranchers or others wanting to kill them for pet food.
It all began in 1950, as she left her office she noticed something that didn’t seem right; blood pouring out of the back of a stock trailer as it drove down the highway. She got into her car and followed it and it wasn’t long before she realized it was crammed full of wild horses destined for a pet food slaughterhouse. When they opened the trailer door to let out all the horses, she saw a yearling being trampled to death There and then she decided to expose this to the public eye.
In the mid-1900’s, massive wild horse and burro roundups were taking place on the Western public lands. These roundups involved airplanes flown by WWII pilots. They operated in conjunction with truck drivers and were aided by cowboys with lassoes and heavy truck tires. The 1961 movie, “The Misfits,” directed by John Huston and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Cliff, and Eli Wallach, who played a former World War II aviator named Guido Racanelli, depicted these brutal gatherings.
Velma Johnston led the drive in 1959 when Congress passed a bill to prohibit planes and trucks from rounding up the animals and it was through her hard work and dedication, that thousands of people of all ages became advocates for the wild horses. Congress received more letters on this issue than any other, save the Vietnam War.
Her testimony before Congress led to the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (P.L. 92-195) which was unanimously passed and signed into law in 1971. This gave the wild horses and burros protection on BLM and Forest Service lands “where found” at the time of the passage of the Act in 303 areas.
She was president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and of Wild Horse Organized Assistance Inc. She also wrote her autobiography, “Mustang—Wild Spirit of the West.”
In 1973, she played herself in the Western, “Running Wild” starring alongside Lloyd Bridges and Dina Merrill.
It was true that her efforts touched off controversy. Ranchers said that the wild horses were destroying grazing lands for domesticated animals. In 1974, she received a warning from an Idaho vigilante group, but she took the threat lightly and hung it on her wall of mementos, saying: “There aren’t too many people who have been threatened by vigilantes in the 1970’s.”
At the roundups of wild horses by the Bureau of Land Management, Wild Horse Annie was often present to assure that the horses were not harmed. And once captured, she led an adoption program to find homes for the animals.
Wild Horse Annie received a public service award in 1972 from Rogers C. B. Morton, Secretary of the Interior, for her fight on behalf of the horses. Her death was apparently caused by cancer.
So, when someone says to you, “You are only one person, you can’t make a difference.”
Just go out and show them, like little Wild Horse Annie did!
“They ran like they were running through the winds of time past the dry river gulch where the waters once ran swift and deep and many tribes camped along her banks and the children played and the deer and elk grazed they ran free and wild and with no idea that it would ever change.”
~ Michael Traveler, author of Postcards from the Past
When it comes to giving gifts, I have no equal. Fancy trips, diamonds, and precious gems don’t cross my radar. Furs? Never, I’m an animal lover. New car? Don’t think so. Every week since we bought her car back in1973 she has run into the side and front of the garage, not to mention posts and various other objects that get in her way while she runs her daily errands to pick up my brandy and cigars.
Bee Traps! Now that’s something every delicate woman wants. So I searched far and wide to find one for the mother of my children and finally, after years of searching, I was successful.
So far, Jacqui has been speechless, which we all know is highly unusual, but it’s been a fantastic Mother’s Day for the world’s greatest mother EVAH.
This is a picture of the gift I gave her that knocked her socks off (I’ll work on the rest later).
This gift ranked right up there with the infamous horse blanket I gave her one Christmas that nearly cost me my permanent place in our marriage bed – but she was less forgiving back then. The bee trap has a bit more longevity value than an old horse blanket. I mean year after year we have carpenter bees drilling holes all over our deck and they have been just as invasive up at our ranch in Ball Ground. The barn has so many holes in it that It is beginning to look like a big gray piece of Swiss Cheese!
Unfortunately, this bee trap hasn’t trapped one carpenter bee in the week I’ve had it. I picked it up at a roadside stand off Hwy 140 in Canton Georgia. It came highly recommended from a friend of mine, an Irish lass, who said she had already trapped a couple of these pesky critters that drill holes in anything wooden(that’s why I always wear a cap while outside on my deck).
I should have been suspect from the beginning as it came with 4 dead bees already in it but the roadside stand was a nylon tent. There was no wood around. So where did those bees come from, I’m wondering?
In hindsight, I’m also questioning the exorbitant price of this French torture chamber I so prudently purchased for the mother of all mother’s, my Jacqui; $22.50 plus tax for a block of wood and a Ball jar?
Well, it does have four holes drilled in it.
Does anyone have a garage sale coming up in the near future? Just asking.
Yesterday, while I was loading up on meds, the Ebony Pony was assaulted by a cart return station, or whatever it’s called, at the Super Target Store in Roswell, Georgia, leaving a scrape along her entire passenger side. It sounded like I ran over a plastic soda bottle, a very large plastic soda bottle.
To make her feel better, I took her up to Ball Ground and made a stop at the Feather’s Edge Winery and spoke with my friend and top dog, David Boone, Daniel’s younger brother, maybe not, he’s not that old. I wanted to check in to see how his business is progressing since he started with live entertainment on his outside patio area overlooking the fire pit and one of the vineyards; also, I needed to get another bottle of his outstanding Fat Boy Red.
I was pleased to hear everything is going well. In fact, tomorrow, Saturday, May 13th, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. the beautiful Victoria Hall and David Ranes, will be performing a variety of classical, musical theatre, and Broadway favorites including Annie Get Your Gun, Into the Woods, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera, to name a few.
Victoria Hill is an Opera Major at Reinhardt University and has yet to lose a competition in the world of opera. David Ranes, a very talented singer in his own right, has a gentle sound which reminds one of pop icon, David Bowie. When this duo joins together to perform these musicals, it sends chills down your spine.
To make the evening even better, they will be serving Smoked Wild Trout, caught in the clear, icy blue waters in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a simple salad, Artisan Bread, Pine Nut Couscous, Asparagus w/ Lemon Zest, Sauteed Portabella Mushrooms, and Peach & Blueberry Cobbler all topped off with a bottle of one of their excellent wines all for only $70.00 per person.
If you are looking for a special place to take your favorite momma for Mother’s Day, you might want to consider the Feather’s Edge Winery in Ball Ground Georgia. It would be time and money well spent.
Oh, as I was weaving my way down the mountain with the top down and my music blaring with me doing my best rendition of David Ranes, I decided to stop and talk to Travis Powell, a fantastic automobile detailer, and have him evaluate the damage done to the Ebony Pony. Travis assured me he could buff out the scratch so I decided to set up an appointment and have him give the little lady an entire makeover and remove all the little dings she had from her many trips to the tropics(Florida). After listening to Travis give her the good news, she purred all the way home. Later that evening, I enjoyed some Fat Boy Red, with my favorite momma, Jacqui.