Me and Della

by Jean Wayt

When I try to recall my earliest memories it seems like Della was always part of them, especially during the earlier days of growing up. Della and I started school in Newhall, California. I was 6 and she was 5, so I was in the first grade and Della was in kindergarten. Or that was the way it was supposed to me but Della had her own thoughts about that and kept sneaking out of the kindergarten class to come into the first grade class to be with me. The teacher kept taking her back to her classroom until she realized that her teacher was far too persistent. As it happened the school burned down on Valentines day but honest, we had nothing to do with it !!

As Della and I played, argued, fought and grew up we were together almost every day. Our folks lived about a mile apart after we moved to Limon, Colorado in 1939 and purchased adjoining ranches. We continued our wild horseback escapades trying everything and scared of nothing. Living and growing up on those rolling plains provided some of the happiest memories of my life and I’m sure Della feels the same way.

We had hide-outs all up and down draws where we would ride Indian style, bareback, playing cowboys and outlaws, having shootouts and everything else our imaginations could invent. There were spring-fed ponds all over the place and hot summer days would find us swimmimg the "Rio Grand" on horseback.

One day we decided we needed a campfire, so Della got a handful of wooden matches and took out for one of our hide-outs. It was discovered that when divided up, one of us had one more match than the other, so just to make everything even we struck one and threw it on the ground. Now this was late in the summer and the grass was pretty dry so you can guess what happened next! After seeing the smoke, dads, brothers, mothers and grandfather came in from the wheat harvest fields to put the fire out after burning about 5 acres of grass. The worst part of it was the fire was right up the hill behind Uncle Jigg's barn and was heading right for it. Thankfully, the only damage done was the burned grass and me and Della’s behinds, but I can guarantee you folks that was the first and last time we ever played with matches.

A couple of times each summer, we would ride our horses to town using the back dirt road, to see a matinee movie at the old Cactus Theater if it was starring Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey. We would tie our horses up at the hitchrack at the South end of Main Street and walk down 2 blocks to the show. After the show we would head back home playing cowboys and outlaws all the way home. It was a toss up over who was our favotite hero, Gene or Roy, but mine was Roy. Why, I even named my horse Trigger….! Didn’t everyone do that….?

After about 3 years passed we decided we wanted to trickride. Trigger was my trickriding horse and Della had a nice little horse named Quirt. As the years went by we grew up, married and had children and I still had Trigger. I was 10 years old when Dad traded a neighbor 3 little weanling pigs for him. His mother had died when he was born and the owner raised him on cow’s milk in a pop bottle with a nipple on it. We truly grew up together. He helped raise my two daughters and a number of nieces and nephews and when we built our home here, 6 miles south of Longmont in 1969, he was still with us. After about 2 years he passed on at the age of 32 years old.