We got high winds, which blew over the calf barn, and heavy rains last night. The bar-ditches are full of water.
The summer of 1977 after my freshman year of college, I went to the mountains as usual. This time Toby went with me, and we got married in RR. Toby took a job in the early part of the summer manning the pony carts (tourist ride). He would harness up these little ponies to these little two-seater carts, and tourist would rent them by the hour and ride up and down the streets of RR. The ponies were pretty cute if not a little ornery. All the little kids hung out at the pony carts.
Jill Seward was a girl from Springer, NM who was working in Red that summer and sometimes helped with the ponies. She was a pretty girl with long red hair and a dry sense of humor. You could tell she was a farm/ranch girl ‘cause she knew how to work. She also worked with me at Texas Red’s. I remember one night we were in the storeroom trying to open a huge bag (like a feed sack) of peanuts. She taught me how to pull just the right string and the sack would open easily. She said, "My dad would kick my butt if I didn’t open the sacks right." To this day when I open a feed sack by pulling the string, I think of Jill.
One day while working the pony cart rides, Jill told how a group of tourist had gotten liquored up and rented pony carts and then proceeded to race the ponies. Some of them ended up in the bar-ditch. "Bar-ditch!" That was the first time I had ever heard that term before. (I was not the farm girl then that I am now) From Jill’s story I got the picture of a bar-ditch being a place where people who had been to the bar somehow ended up in the ditch. I guess my mental picture was not far off.
Jill lived next door to us that summer at the old Thunderbird Cabins, which were old duplex cabins in a horseshoe compound. The cabins were too old and sorry to rent to tourist; so they were rented to young people who came to work the summer in RR. The walls were paper-thin. The showers in the bathrooms were built out of cinder blocks stacked about four high in one corner. It was important to shout out that you were about to flush the toilet, and then give your neighbors time to scurry out of the shower or get scalded with hot water. You didn’t holler out that you were taking a shower in case someone decided to be mean.
One morning I was sleeping-in while Toby went to work at the River Ranch (the pony carts could not sustain us). He and several other guys and town workers were milling about outside, drinking their coffee, starting their vehicles, and shooting the breeze. I listened as Toby tried to start my old 63 Chevy pick-up truck. He tried again and again without success to start the truck. I threw on my robe and went outside, motioned for him to get out, and I got in. I gave it the usual three pumps on the gas (it sounded like wonk-it, wonk-it, wonk-it) and cranked that baby right up. All the guys laughed and hooted that I had started the truck for Toby – something he did not live down for a while.
Living and working in Red River with all the young folks was great fun, and I have some great memories. It was like one big family.