Some of our reps (CPA’s, Stockbrokers, Financial Planners) were less than enthusiastic when I announced that Fort Worth was the site for our next conference (one said it was not a “destination city”), but their doubts quickly dissipated about five minutes into Don and Waddie’s exclusive performance at the Worthington. I got to know them better and also got to meet Rich O’Brien, famous in his own right as a musician and producer.
Three years later, I sold my interest in the financial services company to pursue a few of those cowboy dreams. One of the first was a trip across Texas from Ranger in Eastland County to Cooper in Delta County by covered wagon and horseback to retrace the journey my ancestors had made eighty years earlier. I rode Bob Moline’s saddle.
In Decatur, I left my horse outside and walked into an art gallery featuring the work of Buck Taylor. One of the employees mistook me for Buck. The same thing happened a few years later at a Fort Worth Stockyards restaurant.
Just after the trip, I was on the committee to plan a United Way concert here in Commerce. I contacted The Bard and The Balladeer. They came, saw and conquered. Waddie spent the night at our house.
At a pre-concert gathering at Across the Creek, the roping arena and barn we owned back then, Don Edwards signed my movie poster of the Horse Whisperer. Robert Redford apparently heard his music and sought him out to play the part of ranch foreman Smokey in that movie. By this time, he had been Western Music Association Artist of the Year for two years running. He had performed for Ronald Reagan when he was president and George Bush when he was governor.
Jerald helped me to build a roping arena and barn and I began team roping in 1998 using Bob’s saddle. Team roping is hard on a saddle. After a couple of years of hard riding and roping, I took it into Oxbow Saddle Shop in Fort Worth, Bob’s new shop. The craftsmen oohed and aaahed at the saddle Bob (the master they held in reverence) had made before he opened the saddle shop, then they made it look like new.
A few months later, Western Jubilee sent me an invitation to attend a performance by Don at his old hangout, The White Elephant Saloon in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Waddie was not there, but Rich O’Brien and Don treated Jerald and I like old friends. Rich is in the Western Music Association Hall of Fame and has been named Instrumentalist of the Year six times (including 2012).
In 2001, Waddie was featured on the front page of the travel section of the Dallas Morning News, telling tales at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Nine months later, Don Edwards was the feature story in the High Profile section of the Dallas Morning News.
In 2010, someone sent me an article by e-mail from Western Horseman called Off the Grid. It was a feature story about Waddie (otherwise known as Bruce Douglas Mitchell) and his wife Lisa (the daughter of comedian Buddy Hackett) and their 5000 square foot home and seven hundred twenty acre ranch (Half Circle One) outside Elko, Nevada. The morning after he stayed at our house, he shared his dream of owning just such a ranch.
In the April/May 2012 issue of American Cowboy, there is a story about Don called At Home with Don Edwards. He has moved away from Weatherford to Hico. In the article, I learned that Saddle Songs is now included in the Folklore Archives of the Library of Congress. Remember that Saddle Songs was that little cassette or CD that Jerald gave me? That’s what started it all. Still think it’s a series of coincidences?