February 25th, 2013: Well, it was assumed that my parents went for a ride with Uncle George to relax. I wasn't there. Maybe they were having intense discussions about the situation. Maybe a little of both.
Uncle George is my mom's brother. The oldest of six kids. He has been around cattle all of his life. An order buyer. Working for the farmers and plants. He knows his stock, once judge the American Royal cattle show in Kansas City, and can guess livestock weights within a pound or two. He and dad had a great relationship. They shared the same ideas and principles.
Many times, I'd ride along with him through the country, or to cattle sales in the Pittsfield area. My favorite sale was in Coatsburg, Illinois, because there was a catwalk above the pens where we could look down. When you're younger, everything is bigger. It was cool.
Four years after dad died, Uncle George took me along on a trip to Norris Farms near Havana. The hardware store had been sold. Even though I was very interested in photography, George was checking to see if I had the aptitude and attitude to become a cattleman. "How much do you think that steer weighs," he asked? "Oh, between a thousand and fifteen hundred," I told him. Later, my cousin Eric saw him and said, "So. You're gonna make a cattle buyer out of Kent, eh?" Uncle George responded with a grin. "No. I don't think I'm gonna live that long."
|Uncle George getting exercise on my 12th birthday.|
George would put hundreds of miles a week on his car, riding around looking at cattle. And he had car phone back in the early 70's. It took a mobile operator to make the call. And the horn would honk with an incoming call. Way ahead of his time.
He knew his way around. I believe George and his wife, Mary, and mom and dad, went across the Mississippi River, and south and west of Louisiana or Hannibal, Missouri. The rolling hills around the well maintained county roads.
It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day in February. While the adults did their thing, my buddy, Jim Barrow, and I somehow got a ride out to Old Orchard Country Club and began golfing.
Barrow is one of my oldest friends. Meaning our friendship goes back far. First or second grade. Only Brian Ervin outranks Barrow in that department.
George and Mary were helping mom and dad escape. Jim was doing his part to help me. I had a lot of nervous, scared energy going. The golfing enabled me to let some of it out. I was 14. He was 12. We were too young to be able to rent riding carts. It was all walking. We only played 23 holes, not 27, because our legs finally gave out.
I can't say how the mood was, back at home that evening, when everyone got back together. But I think I'm safe in saying the day was a good diversion for everyone.