A LOTTA BULL
Here's a little story for ya, and I swear "almost" every word is true...
When I was in the Marine Corps, I was transferred to Camp H.M. Smith, which overlooked Pearl Harbor, and went through jump school there. We didn't have our own jump tower, so we had to use the Army's at Schofield Barracks. And, every morning at 5:00, the Army had their band play the Marine Corps Hymn to wake us up and just to have some fun. Personally, I didn't see the fun part, I just wanted to sleep.
After we graduated from jump school, our Outfit, 1st Anglico, moved to Kaneohe Bay Marine Air Base. A little after we transferred to Kaneohe, we were given the opportunity to go TAD (temporary additional duty) to different jobs around the base, one of which was at the riding stables, and since I had experience with horses, I applied for that job and got it. I did the usual stuff you would expect, I groomed the horses, fed them, shoveled a ton of road apples, and my favorite, was taking folks out on trail rides in the hills and along the beach.
A few months later, we heard there was a professional RCA Sanctioned Rodeo coming to Honolulu in a few weeks, and myself and seven (7) other Marines figured we would enter it. One of the events was bull riding, which is what I entered, and I had never ridden a bull in my life. You just know things are gonna go downhill real quick from here on.
What we needed, especially me, was lots of practice, and we didn't have any bulls. But, we did have horses, and when the sergeant in charge of the stables had gone for the day, we would use some of our horses to practice on. We had an arena with chutes just like they used in rodeos, and we used bull ropes, and flank straps on the horses to condition them to buck, And it worked out pretty good, but unfortunately all sneaky plans can have repercussions; and in our case, an officer's wife came to ride one of the horses we had been using to practice on, She was riding in the arena and when her horse was passing the chutes we were using, it started bucking and the lady flew off the horse a pretty darn good distance. Our sergeant, who had no sense of humor, always suspected something stunk about what happened, but he could never prove anything, and since the woman wasn't hurt, we sure as heck didn't tell him.
When the day of the rodeo rolled around, we drew the names of the bulls we were going to ride,and of course my first ever bull ride didn't last long, and another rider, Jim Shoulders, who was a world champion bull rider, was hurt that night and was taken to the hospital. After Jim Shoulders was hurt, nobody wanted to ride the bull he did, especially me. But, as luck would have it, I drew that stinkin' bull, and I was not happy at all.
Now, on the second day if you thought I would be nervous... you would be right, and when I got on that bull, my rear end was clenched so tight I didn't even need a bull rope to hold on. I could've sat right there and ate a T.V. dinner without falling off. As a matter of fact, I did ride that sucker the full 8 seconds; although, after the ride, it did take 10 clowns and a big Ol' crowbar to get me off that critter.
After my successful ride, I considered myself a bona fide bull ridin' fool, and on the third day, I was feeling pretty good because I drew a bull with a fluffy name called Snowball, and if the guy pulling the rope that opened the gate hadn't been sleeping... things may have gone a lot better than they did. When you're getting ready to ride, the gate on the chute should be closed tight,and when you are ready, you holler "outside" and away you go, But, that ain't what happened!
What did happen before I could holler "outside" was that my rope puller let the gate crack open a little bit, and when my bull saw the opening, he took off like a freight train,and, the only thing I could holler was "Lord Help Me". When snowball hit the gate, it flew out about halfway, and when he got out he spun around and squashed my leg between the very end of the gate and over a ton of P.O.'d Bovine. Now, I know what toothpaste feels like shootin' out of the tube, I think snowball knocked me about 400 feet into the air,and while I was up there, I told myself... Jerry, you're a tough Marine and you just got out of jump school, so you know how to land,heck this won't be so bad ,and while I'm telling myself all this snowball started talking to me and told me that when I landed, he was going to kick my butt up between my shoulder blades... I swear I heard him say that!
Well, when I came back to earth and hit the ground, it hurt like the dickens, but being a true Jarhead,I jumped right back up and took off on my good leg, I mean, I looked like an olympic track star,that is, until I ran out of good leg, and started runnin' on the one snowball just squashed. Yep,that's when I hit the ground again and ol' snowball kept his word. And, for awhile after the rodeo I looked like Quasimodo in the movie, Hunchback of Notre Dame, but, it wasn't a hunchback between my shoulders... it was my Butt.
And, today the only Bull I want to see is one sittin' on a sesame seed bun with fries on the side!
Thank You for Puttin' Up With Me.
And a shout out to Billy Thornhill,an old Marine buddy !
Great story. With all the jumping and bull riding I’ll bet you crinkle when ya walk. You’d be a good spokesperson for Ben-Gay Gerry. Take care my friend and keep them stories coming!