About 25 years ago Gerry and I were in Benson for some reason and he decided we should stop in at the horse auction corrals, as Gerry wanted to talk to Mike, the owner, about something. On the way out again we passed a pen which contained a really good looking quarter horse filly. We stopped and looked, and Gerry said “Damn, that’s a fine filly!” We went on, and to my surprise – as he was not given to that sort of thing – he kept repeating “Damn, that’s a fine filly!”
His birthday was coming up, and so I thought it might be a nice thing for me to buy the horse for him – I think it was some kind of a special, milestone birthday – so why not…
Next day I was going to Tucson, so I stopped at the horse sale on the way, and talked to Mike.
“Mike” I said, “Gerry really likes that filly, and I want to buy her for him for his birthday – BUT – I want it to be a surprise, so if he should call you, and by any chance say he wants to buy her, you have to say she’s sold”.
“Oh Eve”, Mike wailed, “how can I do that, if he calls??”
“You figure it out”, I said and handed him the check. “Now remember – if he calls, she’s sold, and you don’t know where she is now!!”
I didn’t think this was really necessary, as Gerry was not given to spending lots of money, and certainly not on himself – so I felt reasonably safe. However, he kept repeating the phrase, “Damn, that’s a good looking filly!” day after day, which was a bit surprising to me.
Even more surprising, however, was when, some days later, first thing in the morning, he set about hitching up the horse trailer.
“What are you doing?” I asked, although I was pretty sure I knew the answer.
“I’m going for that mare” – he said, checking the tires and securing the gate.
“What mare?” I said, “Oh, you mean the one we saw last week?? She’s probably long sold! You’re wasting your time!!”
“No,” said Gerry with confidence, “Mike wouldn’t sell her, he knows I want her – I told him I wanted her.”
“No, you didn’t!” I said, “When he told you the price, all you said was Hrmph! He doesn’t know you want her!! I bet she’s sold already!”
“No way” said Gerry, jumped into the truck and blasted off.
I ran to the phone and called Mike.
“Mike” I said, “Gerry’s talked himself into buying that mare, and he’s on his way to pick her up! Whatever you do, don’t tell him I bought her!!!”
“Oh Eve,” bleated Mike, “but what will I tell him?”
“Tell him someone else bought her, and you don’t know where she is. Tell him she’s in another state – tell him she’s in another country!! But if you tell him it was me bought her, I’ll come and kill you!”
Mike blubbered on a bit more, but agreed not to tell.
I waited – the morning wore on, and no Gerry. Finally, about noon he pulled in. He slammed the door of the truck, came in and threw the keys on the table.
“Guess what!” he said bitterly, “that s.o.b. sold her!! He sold my horse! And he couldn’t even tell me who to! That damn chiseling crook, I could kill him! I told him I wanted her!”
“No, you didn’t”, I said, “when he told you the price, all you said was Hrmph! He didn’t know you wanted her!”
But there was no reasoning with Gerry about that mare – he went about fuming bitterly day after day. Finally the day before his birthday arrived.
After he went to bed, about 9 pm, I sneaked out of the house, hitched up the trailer and went off to Benson. Mike was waiting for me, and we loaded up the mare. When I got home about midnight, I put her into a horse pen and went to bed.
In the morning, Duke, the head wrangler at Grapevine, came over to lend me a hand. We led the mare out, I tucked a rosebud into her halter, and Duke held her in front of the house, while I went to the bedroom. Gerry was still in bed – it was about 5 in the morning.
“Hey” I said, “wake up! There’s something going on outside!”
With this he leapt out of bed, slung on a dressing gown, tucked his six-shooter into the belt and rushed out the door. Of course he recognized her immediately – and we did have a good laugh!
He called Mike later, and apologized. Mike accepted the apology, but he did say, a little bitterly “Just don’t tell me next time you have a birthday in the family!!”
He called the filly Bonny – and she was bonny. She was a lot of horse – Gerry began training her immediately, and she responded to him in every way – they became inseparable. I rode her only once – I think we swapped horses for some reason out on a round-up, and being on her was like sitting on a tornado. She had so much energy pent up in her, she was like a coiled spring waiting to fly off. I was happy to get off her, and later I found that Danny had had a similar experience. Of course, she was only Gerry’s horse, and they were truly inseparable.
When he had one of his hip surgeries and, of course, began riding far too soon, she took care of him. One time they were out on the range, and something spooked her – she shied, as only she could shy, and his hip, not ready for such maneuvers, jerked and hurt so badly that Gerry thought later he must have momentarily passed out. When he came to she was trucking across the country 45 degrees off the trail, but still taking care of him – and Gerry, of course, could have died in the saddle and still stayed on!
When he was out fixing fence, she stood still and waited – unlike his other horse, Cloudy, an ex-race horse, who was apt to take off for home. (One time he did just that and Gerry had to walk a good distance to get back – each time Cloudy would stop and wait and when Gerry was almost up to him he would take off again, all the while shedding all the fence fixing implements stuff off the saddle – pliers, saw, roll of wire – which Gerry was picking up as he went, trying to catch up, and not making it until they got home to the last gate.) Bonny never did that to him – always waited, always there, and always a one person horse.
Shortly before he died, he wanted to ride her again. Danny saddled her up and somehow, Gerry got up there. I have the memory of that etched into my memory – Gerry in the saddle, looking old, tired and in pain – but on his special horse. He went the way he lived – almost died on horseback.
Yesterday, Bonny joined him. I like to think they are together again now, riding off into some heavenly sunset.