Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Horses, Hamburgers and a Classic


It was time to talk about an upcoming ranch and trail clinic and a fall horse show in Moses Lake. 

What better way to take care of business than to do so at a barbecue with homegrown hamburger supplied by one of the members. 

That was the case for the Emerald Empire Arabian Horse Club last night when members met for their first time face to face at my sisters' place in Colburn. 

Lots of interesting stories were shared as members highlighted their individual horse stories during introductions. 

While dining on tasty hamburgers and the trimmings, members did their best to avoid getting eaten by mosquitoes while discussing upcoming plans and club achievements. 

It was a fun and productive gathering, and, for the most part, the mosquitoes lost. 

This morning, with horses on the mind, I've decided to include a story I wrote 23 years ago for the Appaloosa Journal.  Thoughts of this fascinating story have come to mind this week for various reasons. 

When I pulled the article out of the folder and read about this amazing woman again for the first time in more than 20 years, I thought readers might enjoy it as much I enjoyed putting it together. 

It also reminds me why I love the life I've led as a journalist. 

So, check out the piece below, and enjoy the photos. 

Happy Wednesday.  

                                                                                                                              from Pinterest

Corinne Williams

For the Appaloosa Journal

Sept., 2000

By Marianne Love

Corinne Williams’ soft brown eyes help tell the story as she sits in a friend’s North Idaho home, strumming a guitar and singing lyrics from “Why Do You Ride for Money?” 

Recalling a favorite tune among her repertoire of 3,000 performed in Arizona cowboy bars decades ago, her expression turns nostalgic. Halfway through a verse, she stops. Her eyes light up with quiet pride. She smiles. Corinne enjoys taking a step back in time, recalling memories of her life as a Western entertainer.

While on a week-long visit to Sandpoint last August with her friend, Bonnie Shields (the Tennessee Mule Artist), Corinne left her home in the Nevada desert to see some trees and mountains. 

Besides trail rides on Bonnie’s mules and huckleberry picking, the two reminisced about the good ol’ days when Corinne rode in major rodeos and Wild West shows. One evening several women from the local Back Country Horsemen brought potluck to Bonnie’s house to meet Corinne and to hear her stories about life as a PRCA bulldogger, bronc buster and trick rider.

“They thought she was grand,” Bonnie said. “She’s lived her life doing what she wanted to do. In cowboy’s terms, she’s the ‘pure quill’ or the real thing. She’s been there, done that, and she’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known.

“She’s got character to burn,” Shields adds. “She has known all the greats in the rodeo world, and she’s done all these fantasy things I dreamed about as a little girl.”

There was a time in the early 1950s when Corinne--tall, blonde and attractive--actually did sing for the money and more fervently for the dream of someday riding with professional cowboys. 

Once a lonely young woman enduring the sadness of a childhood in boarding schools or foster homes, she eventually rose among the giants in rough-and-tumble athletic competition. Through the sport of rodeo, Corinne found a sense of family among her contemporaries and eventually succeeded in rearing her own two children, Bonnie and Chris.

When her dream became full-blown reality, there was also a time in 1962 when she appeared on the television quiz show “What’s My Line.” 

Wearing lace gloves, a velvet taffeta skirt, and a beauty-parlor hairdo she stumped the panel, including regular Dorothy Kilgallen who thought she was surely in show business. Well, she was in show business but hardly the kind Dorothy Kilgallen envisioned.

At the time, Corinne’s show business included everything from wrestling cantankerous steers to performing breath-taking stunts aboard a cooperative Appaloosa horse. She also sang for the audience before every rodeo. 

Once, she even performed tirelessly with 22 different head of stock over six days at Omaha, Nebraska’s Aksarben Coliseum where, during one show, Russian Premier Nikita Khruschev sat in the audience.

“He thought riding the bucking stock was ridiculous,” she recalled, “but he liked the girl who could throw down the steer. The cowboys teased me to death over that and said he’d be taking me back to Russia.”

The memories are dear to this New Jersey native whose rugged independent spirit brought her Westward to Arizona ranch life and eventually to a career in a world dominated by men. 

Corinne, once known as “Smokey Forrest” because of childhood years spent in North Carolina’s Smokey Mountains as a farm laborer during World War II, carries a small leather photo album with old snapshots of some of the cowboy legends she knew personally. 

She also carries a card verifying her lifetime membership in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assoc. And during each year’s National Finals Rodeo, she’s among the crowd in the Gold Card room where “all your rodeo heroes are.

“All my rodeo heroes are dying,” she says sadly. Her heroes include greats like Jim Shoulders (still living), Casey Tibbs (whom she knew like a brother) and her personal favorite Bill Linderman. “Casey was the showman,” she recalls. “but Bill had the heart.” Linderman helped convince her to stick with the PRCA because at the time the newly formed Girls’ Rodeo Association did not include bulldogging, her favorite event.

“I think I’m the only woman who ever made a full-time living bulldogging,” she says. Her bulldogging roots came while working on the Arizona ranch with two Papago Indians.

“We did flanking of calves. We’d throw ‘em down, brand ‘em and castrate ‘em,” she recalled. “Girls didn’t do that.” One day she and her friends entered a jackpot rodeo where she was the only one of the three to succeed in bulldogging a steer. 

She says her methods were not refined at the time because she hoolihanned or tripped the steer. Her style improved, though, thanks to guidance from Neal Gay, father of 8-time World Champion bull rider Donnie Gay.

She also rode broncs after getting her start in shotgun chutes where three sides fell to the ground, releasing both rider and mount to jump clear. That was during her days of performing for Wild West shows for famous Texan entrepreneurs like Bobby Estes and Texas Kidd, Jr. Kidd hired her to work his bronc show at a kiddie carnival which also featured a string of wild horses going from town to town. 

Bets would be taken, and the bucking string performed in a temporary arena of chicken wire set up on hard ground. She earned $3 a day selling ferris wheel tickets for Kidd who also taught her the basics of bronc riding, including how to get away from a falling horse.

                                                                                              from Pinterest

“He made a bronc rider out of me,” she says. “What I learned, I used my whole life.” One time in Las Vegas, that knowledge helped her successfully ride a horse named Kohr’s Hightower which had unloaded Casey Tibbs.

“He dumped me at (stock owner) Lynn Butler’s feet—but after the whistle,” she recalled.

After her Wild West gigs, Corinne’s musical talent helped launch her dream of performing in real rodeos---with a little help from Linderman. The all-around rodeo legend listened to Corinne perform traditional cowboy songs in Denver, got to know her and eventually took her under his wing. Thanks, to his influence, she spent almost two decades during the ‘50s and ‘60s traveling the RCA rodeo circuit as an exhibition rider.

“He was my hero. When I was in high school, I’d read about him in Hoots and Horns, the rodeo magazine,” she recalled. “I was like an adopted family friend. I was so proud when he hazed for me in Las Vegas.”

Nowadays, her stove-up but athletic 71-year-old body constantly reminds her of broncs ridden or steers pinned to the ground at big shows like Cheyenne, Calgary or Pendleton. At these rodeos, the world champion cowboys also let her use their horses for bulldogging while others hazed for her.

“I’d walk up and ride their horses,” Corinne recalls. “They were nice to me; they were like a bunch of brothers.”

She also wowed audiences with her athletic skills as a trick rider, wearing colorful outfits and performing acrobatics as her mount circled the arena. Her horse of choice for trick riding was usually an Appaloosa. One of her favorites was a handsome Palomino named Diablo. Bobby Estes originally brought the horse from Mexico City.

“I bought Diablo for $1,000,” she recalls. “It took me a year to pay for him.” Corinne’s daughter Bonnie Eloise (named for one of Corinne’s favorite Mitch Miller tunes) remembers riding Diablo as a child and says the horse was badly named.

“That was a rotten name for such a nice horse,” she says. “It means ‘devil’ in Spanish. That was the sweetest horse ever. You could set me up on him, let him go and he would never hurt you.”

Bonnie, now 42 and a full-time mother in Sandy Valley, Nev., eventually followed her mother’s footsteps as a trick rider and singer. In fact, as a teenager, Bonnie learned the ropes of trick riding on another Appaloosa mare named Pocahantas. The big-boned leopard mare with cinnamon-colored spots from a pack string in Craig, Colo., took good care of Bonnie as her mother guided her through the basics of trick riding.

“I put a pole on a 50-gallon barrel and she could jump over it,” Bonnie recalled. “I rode her bareback doing it.” Bonnie Eloise also earned a name for herself in rodeo circles, spending one summer in Japan with Monty Montana’s show. Her Raggedy Ann act aboard a pair of mules, Punkin and Ziggy, was a crowd favorite, and she eventually performed in a medieval act at the Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas.

Both Corinne and Bonnie have retired from the Western entertainment business. Bonnie got burned out, while Corinne’s beat-up, bionic body has slowed her down. One knee’s been replaced; the other arthroscoped. 

Her replacement left ankle came compliments of Loma Linda Research Hospital while the right one has been arthroscoped. She has two huge lumps resulting from a ride aboard a bronc named Tornado, who “turned, dumped and pulled the ribs off my cartilege.”

“I rode him though—just barely,” she says. “Gerold Roberts got mad at his brother Ken for puttin’ me on that horse.”

Years of hard work, including shoeing horses, has also left Corinne with a 3-level fusion on her lower back. With a few other assorted body repairs, she lives quietly near her daughter and still enjoys singing and dabbling with artwork.

 Sadly, her modest monthly disability check does not offer much to show for the decades of performing alongside her famous cowboy heroes and friends. But for Corinne Williams, the memories of the glory days of rodeo and those friends remain priceless.


Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Paddling Pend Oreille and Remembering Tiny


I was halfway through my chicken Caesar wrap and watching the news when Bill asked, "Do you want to go kayaking tonight?"


"Well, give me 30 seconds to think about it," I responded. 

I allowed myself time to finish the whole wrap before saying okay. 

Talk about spontaneous evening plans and the first kayak trip of the year for me on top of it. 

Bill has already gone a couple of times, but I had to recharge my brain and think about all the items to gather and where my summer capris might be. 

Well, it all worked out and fairly smoothly too. 

Within 45 minutes or so, we had pulled into the parking lot of the Army Corps of Engineers recreation center at Trestle Creek.

A few minutes later, we were paddling around Lake Pend Oreille.  I with my camera and Bill with his rod, settling in for a short summer's trip along the lakeshore. 

It was divine, to say the least.  Some other people came with a jet boat but couldn't seem to get it to fire up on all cylinders at the launching site.  

Off to the south, a lone sailboat slowly made its way from west to east during the time we were on the lake. 

Otherwise, twas just the two of us and our boats. 

Bill yelled "fish on!" once but quickly announced it had escaped. 

I enjoyed paddling close to shore, looking for wildflowers and at one time watching an osprey talk and then take off. 

When we returned to the launch, a nice couple staying here for the summer were kind enough not to appear on the scene until AFTER I had figured out how to get out of my kayak. 

Seems every year of kayaking does not guarantee perfection when each new year of life presents new bodily obstacles and new strategies for avoiding disaster. 

So, it was nice to be up and walking out of the water when those folks showed up.  

Twas pleasant spontaneity, to say the least. 

That's how it rolls around here.  We have our plans and then we don't have our plans.  Often the latter turn out to be more fun when we suddenly launch into motion. 

A great summer evening and truly an enticement for more time spent on our beautiful lake as the summer rolls on. 

Check out the horse history feature below, and Happy Tuesday. 

It was D-Day on this day in 1944.  

Nearly 20 years later on June 6, 1963, it was the birth of my very first horse. 

Mother, my sisters and I were in Michigan at my Aunt Louise's house near Kalamazoo.  We had driven there to meet my brother Mike after he had completed his first year at West Point. 

My dad Harold was home taking care of the North Boyer farm when he got up that morning, went to the barnyard and saw a tiny foal in the barnyard. Seems to me she may have been already up and trying to climb the manure pile. 

Somehow the name "Tiny" stuck, even though her registered name was Gay Warena. She never would have survived in present-day Florida. 

 Her mother was Adare's Countess Largo; her father was Waraff, an Arabian stallion owned by our friends the Balches. 

I took Tiny in 4-H and actually won a trophy with her by default my last year while competing in showmanship.  My main competition's horse bit her finger either off or nearly off when she fed it a cookie during the noon break. 

So, she went to the doctor and did not return for the championship class. I'm sure if the finger incident hadn't happened, I would not have won the trophy. 

I was a young adult when my folks told me Tiny would be my horse.  

Over the years, other kids, including my sister, took Tiny in 4-H.  I think Laurie even rode her in an English class. 

Tiny was a good all-around, low key and slightly lazy horse, and my own kids got some enjoyment from her too. 

Tiny and I went on trail rides, including a competitive trail ride up in Gold Creek at the Wood Ranch.  I rode her when my friend Peggy and I went on the overnight Pend Oreille Trail Ride, coordinated by the Litehouse Hawkins family. 

I also rode her with Gold n'Grouse 4-H members when we traveled over the hills into Boulder Meadows and camped there for the night. 

On the way out, we encountered some snow on a steep grade where we had to pass over. I had no idea how Tiny and I were going to get up and over that mountain. 

But Leonard Wood--then a teenager--knew.  

He told me to get off, wrap her reins over her neck, get behind her, hold on to her tail and then urge her up the mountain.  It worked.

I've never forgotten that lesson, but happily have never needed to use it again. 

Anyway, Tiny was a great first horse.  I loved her chocolate color and her calm demeanor.

So, 60 years later, on this day, I say Happy Birthday, Tiny.  I miss you.   

My sister Laurie is showing Tiny in the photo above.  My sister Barbara is showing Omar, Tiny's half brother.  Both were young 4-H'ers when the show was still held at the old fairgrounds (now Lakeview Park). 

 Yes, that's the "some day Dr. Love" riding her at our farm on Great Northern Road.  

I saw the article below in today's Daily Bee. For those who don't get the paper, the story tells about a neat event scheduled this week and centered around Pine Street Woods. 

I think Bill is leading a tour of the woods on Friday as part of the event.

Monday, June 05, 2023

Monday Miscellany


It's Monday morning, and I'm thinking more than usual about my word and picture choices today. 

Will the Blogger Nazis come after me again?

Is this need to review individual posts for the Blogger community a new thing?

In 18 years of blogging almost every single day, I have never had a post shut down and labeled with warnings until yesterday. 

I still am hoping the whole incident was a glitch in the blogger inner sanctum.

For those who checked in later in the day, I must explain that yesterday's blog post was shut down just minutes after I published it. 

Then, came the labels about the post needing to be suitable for the blogger community.  Then, the option of "entering at your own risk," and, with that, you had to sign in to prove you were old enough to read the post. 

I was totally gobsmacked, to say the least. 

Fortunately, readers signed in, and others gave suggestions for how to fix it.  

Some readers suggested what might have set off the system reaction:  maybe "bareback" when I was referring to birds riding on horses backs (without saddles).  

One person figured the indiscretion might be the deer with its derriere aimed at the camera. 

Whatever it was, I still haven't figured it out, but I did figure out later how to post my blog. 

I completely redid it in a new post, exactly as is, and deleted the earlier one.  That seemed to work. 

The world in which we live is filled with reasons to be offended, and maybe most of us are not privy to ALL the reasons to be offended. 

My friend Connie facetiously suggested it was all those pictures of animals and flowers and that I needed to rein myself in.

I'll just keep with the same guidelines I always follow and hope that it's another 18 years before the blogger Nazis come after me again. 

In other news, there really isn't any news when the sun keeps shining, the birds sing all day, the garden grows, the flowers keep blooming and our animals make us happy. 

Basically, everything is beautiful once again today. 

So, let's just say on this Monday morning.  No news is good news, as long as the blogger Nazis go pick on someone else for offensive material. 

Happy Monday, and again, thanks for your patience.  

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Country "Seens"

 It's not long until we'll start hearing about fawn sightings. 

I was wondering if the deer I saw yesterday on Evergreen Road might have a fawn hidden off in the woods. 

As we await the Bambi's, we do see signs of summer besides beautiful flowers and tasty goodies in the garden. 

For example, I always wonder where the birds that sit on horses come from.  They just mysteriously show up when the horses are out grazing in their pastures. 

I also wonder if the birds have their favorite horses as they hitch slow-moving rides while the horses eat. 

And, do the horses like having those summer birds riding bareback?   Who knows?

Another sign of summer is hearing cows and/or more likely bulls bellering off in the distance during the morning hours. 

I can remember, when we first moved out here nearly 17 years ago, awakening to deep throated bull-bellering contests on summer mornings.  At the time, three farms around us had cow herds with talkative bulls. 

The bulls always seemed to pick the early-morning hours to beller vociferously,  bragging about their bull prowess or to issue warnings about their territory. 

If ya happen to be outside during these fence-line choral stand-offs, you might even see a little bullish demonstration of pawing up clouds of dirt, most likely to put an exclamation point on the oral message. 

Yesterday, while driving around our extended neighborhood, I saw another sign of summer:  George from the Co-Op leading two very pretty horses with his sidekick Aussie keeping track of the activity. 

George told me that his horses had had a busy day up Bonners Ferry way on a trail ride. I've seen lots of pictures of people on Facebook who've been enjoying the trails on their summer rides.

And, of course, around here at the Lovestead the signs of summer keep popping onto the scene virtually every day and sometimes several times a day.

I can't keep up with the beautiful Mother's Day rose Annie gave me.  

It's in its second series of blooms, and if you don't catch a stage of blossom development in the mornings, you're not gonna see it at all.

These roses are true chameleons, changing their shapes and their colors by the hour. 

So, it makes for great summer fun and esthetic enjoyment.  

When we lived on the North Boyer farm in my younger years, I acquired my mother's daily enjoyment for going outside and checking on the gardens and the flowers, often during evening hours. 

As fast as things can change when they're growing plants, it makes for great summertime entertainment wandering around the place, looking for what's new and different and maybe even tasty. 

This year has offered many of those moments with some beautiful lettuce and those 'maters that taste better than candy.

And, those moments fly by fast. 

We have another beautiful day ahead, which means good growing weather and more completely natural home entertainment.  

Ahhh, Summer. 

Happy Sunday.