Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Horse sense and character


This is a picture of my dad from 1984. I grew up with horses, but my dad did not like them very much. As a young kid he would take me to look at horses. He would wait while I rode them. And he would haul them back to the farm for me. There would be comments about how once cars were invented it was silly to go backwards to horse power. But once he joined the Sheriff's Mounted Posse it became a necessary evil. So, he bought this big Egyptian Arab gelding. Azibelli loved to run and if you gave him his head he would flat out run like the wind. There is something exhilarating about pounding down the road on the back of a powerful horse, feeling as one with the beast, knowing that one miss step would likely be catastrophic. I was young and willing to risk life and limb on the back of this steed, even though I was a quarter horse guy and never much cared for Arabians,, because this horse could run. I don't believe though, that my dad ever rode him at more than a walk.

My dad was very opinionated and stubborn and we butted heads often since I was the same way. He had me with more experience though. Anyone who has owned an Arabian knows what stubborn is. My dad loved a good theological argument with anyone who would engage him. He was certain he could make someone believe in Jesus if he just could talk to them long enough.

One incident I recall had little to do with horses and happened a few years earlier in life. It had to do with an old yellow school bus. As I recall, Dale Blanshan and a couple guys embarked on a cross country trip in a school bus. They were strumming and singing their way out west. They had the same idea my dad had, but they were more musical about it. I was around ten at this time, so my recollection may be a little hazy. At one point the bus broke down a long way from home and they needed funds for repair. My dad went to wire them money but it was a Saturday and the banks were closed. The only place to get cash for the wire transfer was the liquor store. My dad headed into West Concord to the Muni for $300. The guys at the liquor store had no idea who my dad was and questioned why they should let him write a check for cash. One might wonder how my dad could live his whole life in West Concord and there be people who didn't know him, but this was his first trip into the liquor store. If you knew my dad, you would know that too. So while he was trying to procure greenbacks with a check for three young guys on the other side of the USA in a broke down yellow school bus, Al Renner the hardware store owner showed up as a credit reference. When asked if my dad's check was good, Al said, "If Dana writes a check for a million dollars it will be good."

I was a young kid and a million dollars sounded like a whole lot of money. I was certain that a poor farm family in Dodge County did not have that kind of money. So I wondered why someone would say that, not knowing our financial situation. In fact, I don't believe anyone one I knew could write a check for a million dollars. Over the last fifty years I have pondered this conversation and eventually came to understand it. It wasn't that my dad had a million dollars in his checking account. It was that he had a reputation of being a man of his word and if he said something it was backed up with integrity and truth. And that is worth more than a million dollars.