Dad and Uncle Jack went to Madison Square Garden.
They met the legendary Gene Autry, and character actor Slim Pickens, who had yet to begin his movie career, was one of the rodeo clowns. (These days, these brave souls are called bullfighters.)
Uncle Jack, a champion bronc rider and one-time winner of the Hard-luck Cowboy of the Year award—which is another story—won his event and received a fancy belt buckle and some prize money—probably just about enough to get back home on. Even better, he got to kiss that year’s Miss America.
Since he was Elvis-handsome at the time, she might have been as happy as he was about that.
Dad, on the other hand, drew a bad bull and came out of the chute riding a rocket with horns. That bull spun and leaped and spun some more, and, out there in the middle of the arena, Dad was thrown.
He scrambled to his feet and, well aware that that old bull wasn’t done with him, he ran for the nearest fence, consoling himself with the thought that Slim would be doing his job, which was to run interference between furious bulls and broncs until the cowboy in question could reach safety.
Imagine his surprise when Slim Pickens raced past him.
“Cowboy,” he said, leaving Dad in the proverbial dust, “you better run a little faster than that!”
Fortunately, Dad made it to the fence and scrambled over the top rail just before that bull would have caught up to him.