The Pryor Times

Opinion

July 25, 2013

Keeping good company

“She can follow a cow trail that’s three weeks old, but she couldn’t track a UPS man in three feet of snow.”

That’s Dan Cunningham’s conclusion from reading my column about the UPS package which arrived at my house quite by mistake. Not once, but twice.

I love the Cunningham family. So many great friends. Dan and Gearl Dene settled in Rose and raised three sons.

I met Dearl first. He was finishing college at U of A when I got there. He was on the livestock judging team with my childhood friend and roommate.

I met Joe Bob when I taught agriculture at Elkins, Ark. That would have been between 1983 and 1990. There was a weight limit on show lambs in Arkansas, so we sold some heavy lambs to Joe Bob’s kids at Locust Grove.

When I became editor of the Jay American, I got a chance to see Dearl a lot because he taught ag there. That’s when I started watching Cunningham kids accomplish all kinds of ag-related feats as they became adults.

Many were successful in the cutting pen. All were FFA livestock showmen. Girls are at a premium in that family, but Kodi held her own cutting and barrel racing.

Ronn and Joe Bob’s families live at Rose on the same road with Dan and Gearl Dene. I first got to know them by way of writing a story about the Farm Family of the Year.

Dan and I wandered all over his ranch while I took pictures and he told me all about the cows and horses. We discovered a shared love for music and cowboy poetry. Then we went into the house where we drank lemonade and Gearl Dene provided her version of family ranch life. The family has blossomed from three sons to several great-grandchildren.

I got to know Ronn and Lynn through the Mayes County Fair. Ronn has been the premium sale auctioneer for many years. I am still covering the FFA and showing accomplishments of their son Colt.

Several years ago, Dan began bringing me a poem at each fair. I cherish them all. The best Christmas card I ever received was a poem written by Dan along with an illustration by Chance. It’s framed on my wall at home along with a cedar plaque Dan made for me which says “shoot low sheriff, she’s ridin’ a Shetland.”

And then there’s rodeo. Ronn and Lynn’s son Chance has been at the Cody Night Rodeo picking up.

“He learned that out at school at Panhandle, you know,” Dan said. “The Etbauer boys taught him.

“They’ve got this big old Cadillac, looks like Elvis, with horns on the front. The pickup men get to drive through town to advertise the rodeo. Gearl Dene said that would be right down his alley.”

Chance took a load of broncs to the National High School Finals last week, and that was handy because his girlfriend was competing there.

“He’ll be home, probably by Friday,” Dan said. “I sure miss seeing him. He can take my place on the hay crew.”

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