By Norris Chambers


            Every summer there was a big rodeo and picnic, along with appropriate carnival attractions, on the banks of Pecan Bayou. The entertainment was free and lasted three full days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The adjoining grain field provided ample parking for the old cars and horse-drawn vehicles. The big attraction was scheduled just after the crop was harvested; leaving a smooth, clean parking area.

            Clifton and I had attended faithfully for several seasons and we thoroughly enjoyed the free rodeo and carnival attractions. We were especially attracted to the airplane ride. A real airplane landed in the field near the picnic and the parking area and would take passengers on a nice ride for only $5.00 each. The year before we had seen the plane flying low around the country and at the rodeo we had seen local residents climb in the back seat and strap themselves in for a sight-seeing ride over the north end of the county. We had vowed to save enough money to take a ride at the next celebration.

            During the long year we did not forget about our goal. We stepped up our ‘possum hunting and other little money making projects and managed to accumulate enough cash above the required airplane ride fee to take care of other customary picnic expenses.

            Eventually the big Friday morning arrived and by the middle of the morning we were ready to get started on the big adventure. We had seen the airplane fly over at low altitude three or four times and every time we saw it we became more anxious to take the ride. It would be interesting to see what the whole area looked like from above.

            It wasn’t very far to the carnival grounds so our Model T vehicle was soon finding a vacant place in the parking area and we were looking for the airplane to come gliding in to load some anxious passengers.

            Time kept dragging on and the airplane did not appear. The crowd that was looking for a ride kept increasing. There didn’t seem to be any order in the assembly and we began to wonder if we would be able to get our ride before the big barbecue lunch was served. We were about ready to go back to the carnival and try for our ride later.

            Before we had come to a definite conclusion a man drove up close to the crowd and started shouting. “The airplane has had an accident and won’t be back today! Anyone waiting for a ride might as well forget it.” Several men crowded around the car and asked him what happened, where did it happen and if anyone was injured.

            He said the plane developed trouble with its engine and attempted to land in a field between Turkey Creek and Burkett. The landing was not too successful and the airplane was in no condition to fly. George Brown and his son were passengers. Neither they nor the pilot were seriously hurt but there would be no more flights from this field today or during the remainder of the celebration.

            Before we had time to feel bad about missing the ride I tried to console Clifton, “It could have been worse,” I told him, “We could have been the ones on the plane instead of a part of the crowd waiting for a ride. And we’ve still got our $5.00!”

            Clifton began to think practical and asked, “If we had been on the ride would we have got our $5.00 back?” That was a good question and raised another good question. What could we do with the extra money that we didn’t spend for the ride?

            After a very brief discussion we decided to return to the carnival grounds and spend a little of our airplane ride money on fun things, eat a hefty amount of the free barbecue and then hang around for the afternoon performance of the rodeo.

            The rodeo didn’t have any star riders or performers but employed the talents of local area residents who enjoyed battling with the bucking broncos, fighting bulls and wild calves that resented being roped and tied. Ambitious kids liked to tangle with greased pigs and teenage girls

thought it was fun to see how fast they could steer horses around wooden barrels.

            We always had fun at the community rodeo and picnic, even if the airplane ride didn’t happen. We could always start making plans for the state fair in Dallas. The school usually furnished a bus and driver for the annual fun trip and welcomed all who wished go. The journey began at 5:00 A.M. and, after a big fun day at the fair, ended around midnight.

            The fair trip was almost as much fun as a big barrel full of little monkeys!