Whoa, big felluh.
It took every ounce of strength I had as a three-year-old to control Woody.
He may not look like a massive steed in the photo above but, trust me, he was the greatest stickhorse who ever lived.
Strong. Fast. Fearless. Loyal. Bulletproof. And he could talk.
In fact, what we had was similar to what Calvin had with Hobbes.
Except that Hobbes was into existentialism, and Woody was more into kicking Black Bart’s butt.
It seems like every day of my young life, I had to strap on my Fanner Fifty, put on my cowboy shirt and red cowboy boots, grab Woody, and then shoot it out with the nefarious Black Bart.
It was lonely, thankless work.
My Mother, God rest her soul, never once provided covering fire for me as I raced from behind one living room chair to the next, sometimes on foot, most times riding Woody.
And my older sisters, well, forget them. They were worse than no help at all.
Not only were they not interested in helping me capture Black Bart. But, if you can imagine, they actually got mad when I used their Easy-Bake Oven as Black Bart’s jail cell.
Black Bart was treacherous. He could be visible or invisible. And he was pretty much impossible to kill.
By my estimation, I must have shot him at least eleventy bazillion times.
He was also frequently sentenced to hang from the neck until dead.
The beauty of this sentence was that Black Bart could hang from the swing set for days and days.
In that position, Woody and I could joust him using one of our longest and straightest tree limbs, I could dismount and pulverize him, and Woody could kick the fire out of him.
If it weren’t for my mean ol’ sisters demanding their jump rope back, which the hangman had put to good use, Black Bart would probably still be swinging from the gallows.
When we were not hanging Black Bart, Woody and I also spent a huge amount of time and effort rounding up cattle. Girls simply have no idea how hard that was, or how ornery, and dangerous the cows were.
To this day I have scars on my stomach from where one bit me.
On this particular day, we were rounding up strays in the south forty (my front yard). A particularly difficult stray, played by the big, black collie who lived next door, was not cooperating.
Duchess was a lovely dog, but she was old and simply refused to stampede. She got downright ugly when I used my lasso, not so much to rope her, as to thrash her for not stampeding.
That’s when I was bitten across the mid-section by a mad cow, no thanks to Woody.
Despite failing to protect me from Duchess, Woody was a great, great horse. He would do anything I asked of him, even leaping over the Grand Canyon (from the big living room chair to the couch).
But even Woody had his faults. Seems he hated bad weather, because it invariably meant that he and I and my best friend Steve would get caught up in a twister.
Steve would sound the alarm, running wildly through my house hysterically screaming “PONADO COMIN'”.
Woody and I would join in, and every single dang time, we’d get caught up in the twister and slammed against every wall in the house.
Now, when a three-year-old cowboy and his stickhorse start spinning down the hallway at about 10,000 rpms, there are bound to be casualties, usually involving something absolutely precious to my mean ol’ big sisters.
Instead of just accepting that collateral damage was part of cowboyin’, they’d get all shouty and, of course, that would mean Woody and I would, again, be banished to the bunkhouse. It was so unfair.
I don’t know whatever happened to good ol’ Woody, or “Woodys”. I think there were several Woodys, each of which had his stuffing knocked out over the years before, I reckon, being put out to pasture.
I am enormously pleased that my little red cowboy boots are still in our family. In fact, they are about 10 feet away from me as I write this, stored in my grown son Eli’s old toy box.
Hopefully, his son will do the same thing one day, keeping the townsfolk safe from Black Bart and Ponadoes.
Click here for big boy cowboy stuff and Wacker’s Department Store!
Click here for more Oklahoma memories.