In the old days some people were “fat,” and fat people were jolly. “Obese” wasn’t even a word then, although I guess Big Henry who lived not far from our place would have qualified. He took the front seat out of his car and sat in the back seat to drive.
I don’t understand it, but a strange behavior — “I bet I can eat more than you can,” seems to be part of the macho male psyche.
A young cowboy I knew bought into that “eat more than you” idea and decided to take on Big Henry at an outdoor beans and barbecue dinner. Skinny Willy didn’t announce his intention. He just lined up beside Big Henry and made sure they emptied and filled their plates together. Big Henry finally noticed Skinny Willy and smiled to himself as he loaded his plate again and again. Willy stayed to the end, but we found him sick in bed during the rodeo that night. Big Henry, meanwhile, enjoyed the rodeo and the dance.
Another big guy we knew was a veterinarian. One spring not long after World War II was over we had newborn calves scouring all over the place. My dad was going crazy trying with no luck to stop the diarrhea. In desperation he sent my mom and me to town for whatever the vet could give us. It was 55 miles, 25 of it two-lane dirt road. We went in our war-surplus Jeep, top speed 45 mph.
When we finally got there, Doc didn’t have enough medicine, but he said he recently had acquired a Piper Cub airplane and he would get more medicine, bring it to the ranch and help administer it.
A modern miracle!
We took the small amount he had on hand and drove home. He got there just after we did. His pilot flew over the corrals and landed on the road. We noticed the plane flew tilted a bit sideways and didn’t land real smooth, but what did we know? That was the first time any of us had seen a small plane up close, anyway.
My dad picked up Doc and his pilot in the jeep and they went to work. Doc ended up spending the night, mentioning that he’d heard of my mother’s reputation as a great cook. Next morning stack after stack of my mom’s pancakes disappeared into Doc’s body. I wondered if he might get scours.
The calves were a little better and we could take it from there, so Doc could leave. The plane’s takeoff had to be on the road, of course. Nobody thought about the fence and cattle guard across it down the way until the pilot shut everything down and skidded to a stop just before they crashed into it.
They backed up another hundred yards, and tried again. We all held our breath as the plane cleared the side posts of the cattleguard by maybe a foot as it left the ground. Dad said to Mom, “If he has to come again, don’t make so many pancakes.”
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her: