Chasing the Rodeo : On Wild Rides and Big Dreams, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones, and One Man's Search for the West

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-05-01
  • Publisher: Lightning Source Inc

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From its roots as the quintessential Western pastime, rodeo has grown into an international, prime-time television sport. Steeped in tradition and spirit, the rodeo calls aspiring cowboys and cowgirls to its rough-and-tumble fame as they repeatedly risk their lives for eight seconds of triumph. In Chasing the Rodeo, Kip Stratton takes us into the addictive core of bull riding and the circuit that has grown up around it. Immersing himself in the world of rodeo, Stratton collides with the specter of his runaway "rodeo bum" father, finding part of the cowboy dream that was his father's legacy. As much a tribute to the famed characters of the old West-Freckles Brown, Lucille Mulhall (the first cowgirl), Wild Bill Hickok, Lane Frost-as it is a riveting look at today's superstars who are triumphantly rocketing the sport to NASCAR fan levels, Chasing the Rodeo is a bucking, riveting, glorious ride.

Author Biography

W. K. (KIP) STRATTON is a native of the Southwest. His journalism has appeared in GQ , Sports Illustrated, Outside, Southern Magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Table of Contents

Essential Travel
The National Finals Rodeo Oklahoma City, Oklahoma---December 1967
Looking for Junior Bonner
The World's Oldest Rodeo Prescott, Arizona---July 2003
Ranging Out
The Daddy of `Em All Cheyenne, Wyoming---July 2003
A Lot of Flourish
Bullnanza Oklahoma City, Oklahoma---August 2003
Lettin' `Er Buck
Pendleton Round-Up Pendleton, Oregon---September 2003
Coda: The Last Rodeo
Leakey, Texas---July 2004
The National Finals Rodeo Las Vegas, Nevada---December 2003
Author's Note 300(3)
Acknowledgments 303(4)
Bibliography 307(4)
Index 311


1. Essential Travel The National Finals RodeoOklahoma City, Oklahoma-December 1967HERE'S A rodeo story for you.The National Finals Rodeo kicked off its 1967 run in Oklahoma City on December 1, and I distinctly remember that day. It was one of those days when the wind sliced right through you, the sky was the color of fresh concrete, and the sleet-encrusted roads were, in the words of my next-door neighbor Paul Fey, "slicker than greased owl shit." Voices on radio and television discouraged all travel that wasn't essential.I was twelve years old and living in Guthrie, Oklahoma, thirty miles north of Oklahoma City. I heard those warnings and sighed. It's not that I minded that school was closed down that Friday. But the highways too icy for travel? That was another matter. We had tickets for the National Finals, and I considered the drive to "The City" for the rodeo to be essential travel. Mom would consider it essential, too, but I wasn't sure about Dad. He'd be doing the driving. It would kill me if he agreed with the voices on radio and TV and decided we should stay home.Mom had bought NFR tickets from the Guthrie Roundup Club back in the summer and had been guarding them as zealously as she guarded the milk bottle filled with real silver dollars she kept hidden in her closet. Since the inception of the NFR in the 1950s as rodeo's equivalent of the World Series, the event had struggled through tough times in Los Angeles and Dallas before relocating to the State Fairgrounds Arena in The City three years earlier. Ensuring the NFR's success in Oklahoma had become a matter of state pride. Buying a ticket gave you a chance to see the best rodeo cowboys in the world, but it also meant that you were doing something good for Oklahoma, a state that ached for anything that could generate some revenue or could raise its profile in the eyes of the rest of the country. (Even in the 1960s, Oklahoma reeled from its Dust Bowl image as a no-account place filled with ignorant Okies; many of the state's public libraries still banned copies of The Grapes of Wrath.) The NFR brought Oklahoma just the sort of national attention it craved. So good Oklahomans bought their tickets. And they turned out to fill the seats. Never mind a little ice storm.We lived on five acres on the far-east side of Guthrie. On one corner of the property sat Dad's auto repair shop. From there, our small frame house was a half block up Pine Street. From my parents' bedroom window, I watched Dad trudge against the wind and sleet that night. It seemed to take him a lot longer than usual to make it from the north door of the shop to the front door of the house. I knew his face would be numb. I knew he'd be hearing the crunch of the frozen grass beneath his boots, the whistle of the wind, the pop from the leafless limbs of the Chinese elms in the front yard as they struggled with their load of ice. I knew he would be glancing up at Noble Avenue to see if any traffic was moving.Dad

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