Memories of My Father, Andrew
I will always remember Dad holding me in front of him in the saddle to teach me to ride shortly after I was able to walk.
I will always remember Dad teaching me to handle a rifle as soon as I was able to hold the gun to my shoulder.
I will always remember Dad wearing western boots, and his pride in his +A (Cross A Bar) brand stitched prominently on the front of his boot tops.
I will always remember Dad running beside me while helping me learn how to ride a bicycle when he was U.S. Forest Ranger on the Tijeras Ranger District near Albuquerque.
I will always remember hunting with Dad and admiring his accuracy with his L.C. Smith double barrel 12-gauge shotgun as a covey of quail flushed from a nearby mesquite bush.
I will always remember Dad trick roping from the ground or on horseback. He could jump through or over the large loops of his own constantly swirling rope, or would tell my brother Ladd and I to run by him and "beller like a calf" as he playfully threw a loop around one or both of us. I doubt that Will Rogers had anything on Dad when it cam to trick roping!
I will always remember Dad shoeing neighbors' horses, or castrating their livestock without any thought of recompense.
I will always remember Dad grabbing a camp stove that had caught fire in our tent and tearing through the tent's canvas side with the burning stove in his hands.
I will always remember Dad sleeping in his bedroll and cooking over an open fire (usually fueled by "buffalo chips") in order to save his per diem while working and traveling for the government.
I will always remember Dad teaching me the concept of "carrying capacity." As we hunted or fished, he also identified the various range plant species, noted their palatability ratings, and mentally converted these into a statement of "x" head of cattle or "y" head of sheep carrying capacity for a given area. In this manner, he taught me that every animal species, including the human animal, must live in harmony with its environment in order to survive and prosper on a long-term basis. Dad also taught me the concept of "home range", or the space required by every animal to prevent violence within its own species.
I will always remember Dad breaking his leg while attempting single-handedly to stay a flood that ravaged much of their Amber Acres farmland near La Joya.
I will always remember Dad becoming unconscious from the effects of carbon monoxide working on a pump motor in an irrigation well-pit by himself. A cowboy happened to come by and pull him out with a rope.
I will always remember the glint of the sun on Dad's silver-mounted 44/40
Smith and Wesson Peacemaker as it suddenly appeared from under his shirt when a malcontent itinerant farm laborer threatened me with a pitchfork. That individual was never seen around there again! Dad always termed his single-action pistol his "resolver".
I will always remember Dad's enthusiasm upon receiving another request to "witch" a well.
I will always remember Dad enjoying every position he ever held. He should not have retired in 1969, as his job was his primary interest.
I will always remember Dad having a wide ranging knowledge of history and geography, and his pertinent comments and questions regarding any area any of his family might visit.
I will always remember Dad invariably asking how he could help others or me even after he was too feeble to walk without assistance.
I will always remember Dad inquiring about his grandchildren and great grandchildren every time I would visit him at the retirement center. He always asked about every family member, and continued to want to be helpful and supportive in any way possible.
I will always remember Dad being good natured, exhibiting good manners, and expressing appreciation for help and visits right up until the end of his life.
Dad had so many interesting and varied experiences and could write in such an interesting manner, that we always encouraged him to write articles and books. But the years went by, and the writing became increasingly impossible. A wealth of knowledge, love, and good advice went with him when he passed away.
In his own words, from a letter he had written almost fifty years earlier on May 6, 1945, Dad
"--- took the long ride over the sunset trail, and galloped into the land of the waving blue grama and unbranded calves"