Arkansas and Bill

by Jean Wayt

In the winter of 1950 and 1951 we spent about five months at Hot Springs, Arkansas where I surprisingly saw some of the most beautiful and different country that I had ever seen. Lots of trees that I was familiar with because they are what I grew up with around in this country like cottenwood, elm, willow, ash, pine, aspen and others but in Arkansas you see a lot of these plus more. I can’t remember their names but the one that sticks in my mind was the giant hickory tree. They were everywhere and there was no end to the nuts they drop.

Dad found a real nice place to park the trailer and wouldn’t you know, surrounded by hickory trees. About 300 yards from us there was a small white house with a barn that sat on about 4 acres. Well dad was very happy when he seen that and after talking to the owner he had agreed to rent the barn and the 4 acres so we had a place within walking distance to keep the horses plus there was just enough room to put up an arena for Milt to practice in. Doug wasn’t there that time as he was married and had 2 children and chose to stay in Colorado where he was working for an oil company. After building a “ make-shift “ arena dad and Milt had to get some calves to rope so I went with them to Arkadelphia where the sale barn was. It was about 30 miles from Hot Springs down a winding road that had some of that beautiful landscaping I referred to earlier in
my story. After buying 5 or 6 calves we loaded them up in the horse trailer and headed back to the barn. I just have always remembered that day going to Arkadelphia because I thought it was an unusual name.

Milt was roping and practicing getting tuned up to make the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo. There were 2 or 3 other big rodeos he went to while we were there. The calves were pretty good size and were hard to man-handle them into the roping chute .One day this guy who looked to be about 6 foot 3 inches tall with a big chew of tobacco in his jaw and a Blue Tick hound dog on a leash came walking up and stood by the arena watching Milt rope calves, something he had never had seen before. He was a goodlooking kid about 19 years old wearing bib overalls and about size 13 shoes. Finally Dad and Milt spoke to him and after introductions were made they done some visiting Milt starting roping and Bill after seeing Dad struggling with the calves Bill said, “ Could Ya’ use a little help there?”Dad greatly accepted his offer and Bill climbed over the fence and proceeds to go pick up a calf and carried him right in to the chute and set him down. Dad and Milt looked at each other, neither of which believing what they had just witnessed and
thinking (boy you don’t ever want to make him mad you)! After a little coaching Bill caught on and was there every time we roped.

We all got to be pretty good friends with Bill and he would show up every now and then for a visit, always with his dog on a leach tied up. He was a very nice and respectable guy and always had a smile on his face. It was always “ Yes mam “ and “No mam” and he talked real slow. He was so funny to be around and he’d come in side our trailer but would never sit down. He’d stand by the door where he could spit tobbaco juice out side when he needed to. I had noticed a large growth on some of the hickory trees and ask him what it was. He told me it was mistletoe. I had never seen it grow on the trees like that. It was close to Christmas so I enlisted Bill to show me where it was and to help me get down from the tree. He said, “ Sure mam.” Boy was that ever a mistake! Remember I told you he always had a chew of tobbaco in his jaw? Every time we came to a tree that had mistletoe in it he tried to kiss me. YUCK!! Finally I wised up and realized he was taking me the long way around and the next tree we came to I made sure that was the one I wanted the mistletoe from. He jumped up the tree like a monkey with those number 13 clodhoppers and trying to act like a big hero, gallantly presented me with a big sprig of mistletoe with a “Here ya’ go mam“. I didn’t give him another chance to get mushy and took off for the trailer in double time! 

Another time he said he wanted to take me for a walk through the trees and I gave him one of those doubtful looks and he grinned and said that there was no mistletoe where we were going. So I said “Why not “ and off we took. Bill kept telling me what a swell place this was so about a half mile he said, ”there it is“! Well you're not going to believe this! I didn’t know what I expected to see, but it sure wasn’t a slaughter house! But that’s what it was, bigger that life, a stinking old slaughter house! I couldn’t believe it, but there stood Bill grinning with a chew of tobbaco in his cheek, prouder than a peacock. He said “boy ain’t that a pretty sight. I’ve been coming over here ever since I was old enough to find my way home.” I’ve sure had a lot of fun times here. You wanna ride some cows before they kill ‘em “? I didn’t stay around there long and when I got home you should have heard all of the laughing, giggling and teasing I got from my family over that. I got it for years afterwards. No, I never went on another ‘date‘ with Bill.

Bill came by with his dog one evening and as we were talking dad said to Bill, we’ve been
hearing sirens and seen fire trucks going by and a fire up there on the mountain close to where your Grandmother’s place is. Do you know anything about that Bill? Yep. He said I was trying to smoke an opposum out of a tree and the fire got plumb away from me, so I took off running. He didn’t go home till after dark that night. Another time he stopped by with a gloomy look on his face. We asked him what the problem was and he said,” My grandma is mad at me and has threatened to run me off and he didn’t understand why. Heck, all he was doing was bulldogging old Bess the milk cow and she was drying up because of it!

I must say those people were some of the friendliest people you would ever want to know. My 3 younger sisters and brother, Julane, Kandy and Toy went to school just down the road from where we lived and said all the local kids were instant friends and fun to be around. The only thing they didn’t care for were the hot lunches at the school. Almost every day they had greens, cornbread, grits and a dessert. That is standard food for most everybody. They were glad to get back in their schools in Limon with different food.

Well, it was time for us to start getting ready to head back home to Limon so we loaded up the calves and took them back to Arkadelphia and sold them through the sale ring. Dad and Milt tore down the roping arena stacking the boards over against the barn and cleaned up the area. We went to say goodby to all our new friends we had made in Hot Springs, Arkansas and headed back to Colorado and we were all glad to be back home again.