My WWII vet dad passed away November 4th, 2012. At that time, I was not only having difficulties navigating his loss, but also this site. I wanted to post something about it, as he was the next-to-last horse cav soldier in my Texas County to pass on, but in truth, I can still barely discuss him, much less his death.
This is about his cow theft.
Please read below. It is not easy to steal a cow.
When I was very small, my grandfather leased a pasture around Madisonville, Texas, for a small herd of cattle, and my Dad drove up there from San Jacinto County every other day to feed them for my g'pa.
There was a lone cow who came to the fence from the neighboring pasture and mooed, tried to push through to get at that hay, the feed.
My Dad would toss her something. She was starving, bones sticking through her skin. She started looking for the feed. She became gentle. She became his pet.
One day, he cut the fence. He brought that cow over to g'p's side, and somehow got her into a truck bed with sideboards. Most people here will not know what side boards are, but the are a board fence with two sides, and a tail gate, that stick into the holes that used to be in every pick up truck bed sold. They were sometimes the only trailer a farmer had. They were hand made. All farmers and ranchers had them in the 50's and 60's.
He said he got her into the truck with no help. She was too weak to resist. He was alone, feeling pretty good about his caper at that point.
He drove his truck from that pasture through the town of Madisonville. Dad said there were several stop signs, and that he was in a cold sweat. He said at each stop sign, there were cars and trucks, long delays, lots of people looking at him and his starving cow. The starving cow would cause stares, stolen or not. He figured someone would just know her from wandering around in her pasture. She was that starved.
When he got the cow to our home, he put her in the barn, fed her for weeks. He didn't allow her to go out into the field, visible to the public.
I just thought he needed to get her fattened. I remember him unloading her, wondering what was wrong with her.
He was hiding her. Hiding his crime.
He named her Boney. She was a dairy cow, produced milk, calves, pleasures for many years. When she died, my Mom was holding her head in her lap.
I did not know Boney was a stolen cow. I did not know my Dad would steal.
He fessed up about her one afternoon as we spoke about some starving horses in our neighborhood that he had seen, and that had upset him greatly. At his insistence, I called the owner, told them to either feed their horse, or I would call the law.
Dad told me the story about stealing Boney maybe 6 months before he died at age 92. He said it was scary, but he had to do it. He was in D-Day, said that was scary, but he had to do it.
Dad was pretty good about saving things, whether it was doing his part to kill Hitler to save the world, saving a starving cow, or taking care of me, saving me from illnesses.
If there is a God, I hope He forgave Dad for his transgressions.
If there is a heaven, I hope there are cattle to feed, and that he reunites with Boney.
One of the pictures we had at his funeral was my Dad holding a baby calf in his arms. My brother said, "He was happy."
It was one of Boney's calves.
8:31 AM PT: As near as I can figure, the cattle theft happened in 1959. Dad told me about it in 2012. To him, it was a pretty bfd. Sometimes having more courage than good sense works out well.
Thank you for reading and all your kindness.