by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Thirty Two
After the parade with all the rousing music and the prancing horses, we riders on horses stood under the cottonwood trees near the church, so the people could come up and say hello. Chief showed that he had adopted Summer and Sunrise by biting at any horses that came near him. His teeth came within an inch of Dieter’s horse, but Dieter kicked at him and he backed off.
It seems we’ve done nothing but practice for the grand entry, which is my favorite part of the rodeo. This was the best rodeo because Ellie was there for all the practices. She carried the Colorado flag. We had a stiff wind and it was hard for her to hold on to the flag even though she had the stirrup holster. She and Summer practically flew into the arena. The Spaetzli band played, the crowd cheered, and everyone stood to salute the American flag. The line peeled off into a four-leaf clover smoothly as could be.
That’s a good rodeo grounds. Remember when Dad took us along to build the grandstands and the corrals? Paul and I got into trouble because we played around too much, but you helped like the daddy’s boy you were.
This year I won a cash prize for bull riding. Man, I got a devil of a bull. After the buzzer went he threw me and then tried to gore me. Thank the Lord for Willy. Those clowns save so many lives, it isn’t even funny. Ha.
Ellie couldn’t figure out why a fellow would get on a bucking bull, risk being stomped, and have to run for his life. She does have a point. I plan to have that be my last bull-ride. There are other things in life besides showing how tough you are. I was glad for the prize money, though. I don’t want Signor Solano paying for all the ranch improvements.
Ellie had told me earlier that she wanted to race Summer. I was sorry to inform her that no woman had ever raced on our track before, but when Nancy heard me explaining, she got all huffy and she and Gertrude took off to badger their brothers into letting Ellie race. They’ll do about anything for family so the next thing we knew Ellie was on the list.
When Enrico heard Ellie was racing he wanted to race too. Signor Solano asked me to give him the best horse we had, but that was Chief and I just couldn’t do it. He rode Stardust, the next fastest. We didn’t know how Summer would do, but I wasn’t about to ask Ellie to loan her out. Enrico isn’t any kind of rider, so they came in dead last, anyhow. It wouldn’t have mattered whose horse he rode. Signor was so glad to see his boy interested in something he was satisfied. Chief got first place, Kenny’s horse got second and Summer did well, for a first race, coming in third.
After the rodeo the Fitzgeralds opened the old hotel bathhouse so folks could take baths without going back to the ranches. The Fitz’s still charge two-bits a bath, but they don’t make much profit because they must pay the employees to empty and fill tubs. You’ll recall that some family members share the same water
When Mrs. Fitz was ready to practice before the dance, the band went up to the hall over the general store. The cousins showed up with guitars, fiddles and drums, and Colleen played ragtime on the old Tonk piano while we tuned up.
The women all came up to let us know they were ready for the fireworks out at the reservoir. That was another grand entry, but as far as I was concerned, Ellie was the only woman there. She had on this spring-green dress that set off her golden hair. I tell you brother, the sight of her would make a man weak in the knees.
The town council had voted to spend a lot of money on pyrotechnics this year. About dusk, we workers went around to the other side of the dam to set off the spectacle. You won’t believe this, Bill, but when we got all the fireworks, including spinning wheels and Roman Candles laid out, the first display blew up and set off all the rest. Before we knew it, we had a shower of colored lights that illuminated the sky for miles around. They looked pretty about three minutes as they reflected in the lake for, but then it was over. All gone up in smoke as they say. The mayor was so furious he headed for his automobile saying he was going to the fireworks salesman in Artesia and knock his block off. We managed to talk him out of it, but he took his wife down to City Hall to typewrite a letter of complaint.
It didn’t take us long to get to the dance at the foot of the range. The folks enjoy the dance, but I never really cared about it. From the time we were boys, mother scrubbed us until our skin burned, then slicked back our hair with Madagascar oil. She parted it in the middle, remember that? We looked like little Lord Fauntleroys. We had to wear those suits, and above all, we had to behave like gentlemen. She took turns dancing with us when she wasn’t making us play our instruments. We had to smile the whole time and it made our faces hurt. But my dear brother, when Ellie was at the dance it was a different matter altogether and for the first time I was thankful for Nancy’s determination to make gentlemen of us. Dad’s too.