Goodbye Uncle Harvey

I don’t have the words to describe how I feel about the passing of my Uncle Harvey. He was the fun uncle when I was a boy and later, when I became a man, he was the man who really taught me about being a cowboy and not giving in.

As time softens the memories and blends the stories together, I’m not quite sure if I experienced some things or just heard about them. I do distinctly remember chasing wild goats on Tecalote Mesa and almost getting in a real wreck, trying and failing to rope a coyote and I recall dragging Kari’s 4-H steer off the side of the Rincon mesa on a good horse and knowing after that the steer was halter broke for sure! I’m not certain I was there when he roped the wild burro in Gotero Canyon and dragged it on to the top of Johnson Mesa to have it die just as he got it to the top, but I do know that we watched burros one day when we checked heifers and talking about chasing them.

I remember being fascinated by his “licking thingy” tattoo when he returned from the Navy and loved hearing him talking about using semaphore flags to challenge a Russian warship to a “drag race” in the South China Sea.

He taught me how to dehorn calves, tie a horse to a fence, make hashbrowns with grape jelly, “almost” break a horse and then sell it for a little profit and he broke me of ever wanting to eat chocolate chip pancakes. We talked about the history of Bent’s Fort and enjoyed watching them film part of Centennial on a day we went there. He pointed out the beauty of a soapweed blossom and well that the taste of an ice cold Miller beer after cutting hay in 100F weather was as sweet as anything. Catfish found while fixing watergaps on Carrizo Creek after a flood needed to swim in the horse trough for a day to get the muddy taste out and nothing is as tasty as a fresh cut calf testicle cooked on the branding iron fire. Sometimes cows need to be eased along, but sometimes you just have to get western and holler and make em go (sorry Temple Grandin). Take care of your horse’s feet and he’ll take care of you.

But most of all, I learned how important it is to laugh and have fun and don’t be afraid to embellish a story to make it even more entertaining. Harvey was a poet and a story teller. Everybody knows there are no lies in cowboy tales. I’m laughing and crying recalling him talking about the time that him and Vic tried to rope the bear.

Godspeed Uncle Harvey. You were a good one!

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