Kearny, Nebraska

By Jean Wayt

I think the year was 1950 and we were driving along on what now as I 80 heading for the rodeo at Kearney, Nebraska and I was kind have excited. I was born there May 19, 1932 but left three days later for the Greeley, Colorado 4th. Of July rodeo. No hurry as we had about seven weeks to get there. Things moved a lot slower back in those days. But this is the first time I had ever been back since I was born.

Since then we have been up add down I 80 many times and I always enjoyed going through that country especially as you get closer to the Platte River. That is a real fertile valley rich with an abundance of corn, sugar beets, alfalfa, beans and much more growing along the way. The Oregon Trail ran along the south side of the Platt River until it reached what is now the town of Lewellan and that is where they crossed the river. The Oregon Trail then ran along the north side of the Platt River to the end. They have a beautiful monument of a full sized covered wagon pulled by a pair of oxen coming over the side of a rock hill commemorating this crossing. When they got Interstate 80 built it by-passed all the towns that we had to twist and turns to drive on so Interstate 80 was definitely an improvement!

We finally got to Kearney and it sure was a nice town with lots of trees. As we drove through the town I kept looking for E Street because Mom and Dad had always said we lived in the last house on E Street at the time I was born. While we were there for the rodeo we drove around to find it but E Street wasn’t even there anymore! Well so much for my homecoming.

The rodeo grounds were in an area with lots of trees and grass and a wonderful place to camp. There was a small park about 100 yards behind the grandstand where a small building sat that served as the rodeo office and the park was surrounded by a fence that was built using three inch black iron pipe that was knee high tall making a great place for cowboys to sit on while waiting for the office to open at 6:00 to get entered and pay their entry fees. Milt had had a bulldogging accident at another rodeo about a week before dislocated his shoulder and had to wear a sling so he got a judging job here.

Cowboys began showing up, milling around waiting for the office to open and sitting on the fence. Along with the cowboys sitting there was the stock producer and all in good consciences I will not use his name as he wasn’t very well thought of but I’ll just say he really loved his bulls! He was making some remarks about Milt being a judge. My other brother, Doug, who always was a little quick on the trigger, walked up in front of him and asked what he said. The stock contractor mumbled something about there being too many Simons entered for Milt to be a judge. Doug said, “ Are you insinuating that my brother would cheat “? And before he could say anything else Doug hauled off and socked him right in his eye and knocked him over backwards off the fence. The contractor got up and walked off and nobody saw him for the rest of the evening.

The next day the contractor sure was sporting a big black eye. Joe Cavanaugh, who was the announcer, made the most of it too. When Doug came in to rope his calf Joe announced “The next calf roper is “One Slug Doug Simon“! Well needless to say that name followed Doug around for quite some time. We made a lot more of his rodeos but he never made that mistake again.