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My cousin scanned some old photos that he shared with me today, and all I can think to say is “Thank You!”

1961. We still lived in Jarbidge during the summer months, either at Pole Creek Ranger Station or up the hill at Mahoney¬†(muh- HOE-nee) Ranger Station. Dad wasn’t a District Ranger for the US Forest Service, but he ran both Ranger Stations and worked in the Elko District office during the winter months. Most trail work was still done on horseback, and we kept a small remuda that the government shifted between ranger stations in the steep Jarbidge country. Mom still cranked the telephone to get the operator who listened in on everyone’s conversations (my brother has the crank telephones).

Uncle Mike, whose real name isn’t anything close to Mike or Michael, came that summer to see his older half-brother. One day, I hope to get the scoop on why we call him “Uncle Mike” and noone else calls him Mike (feel free to comment away, Fred Wilcox!). He and his sweet wife, Ellie, had three boys close in age to my siblings and I: Steve, Clifford, Chuck. I don’t remember this visit, except for a vague sense of how kind Aunt Ellie was.

I’m relying on Chuck’s notes to me, so I hope I get the other Wilcox family right:

Mom in the pink capris, holding Mary Denise in the red top. Aunt Ellie holding Chuck. I’m in the white-and-pink top. Clifford in the blue plaid shirt, Steve in the blue shirt, and my brother in the mostly white print shirt. Dad in the rolled up sleeves and Uncle Mike to his left. The World’s Most Awesome Childhood Dog Ever, Butchy, is the photo-bomber.

Butch protected us from all snakes, retrieved the same rock from the murky depths of the Humboldt River or the leech-infested waters of the pristine Jarbidge River, escaped every enclosure (including 8’tall chain link fencing), and eventually died of a high-iron diet the year I was ten. I cried so hard on his passing that I got tonsillitis (again) and ended up in the hospital for a tonsillectomy. I was 10 when he died.

We kids were actually regulars at the Jarbidge Club, which was more of a bar than a store, as I recall it (I was quite young). I got my first “Roy Rogers” (Seven-up and Grenadine, with a Maraschino cherry) at the Jarbidge Club. I love these pics: Terry looks grumpy and Denny (as we called her then) seems to be in love with Clifford. I mean, what is with that gunslinger stance, Bro? And Denny’s chubby little legs! When was SHE ever chubby? Lord, she’s so cute!

It’s hard to think about how much has changed in the decades since this summer. Aunt Ellie passed away after successfully defeating breast cancer once – and that was in the 1960s! Mom is gone, then Deni, and now Dad. We kids have all gone down some very different paths, and it is only in the years since my dad passed that I have come to know my cousin Chuck and his wife, Kathy.

Terry is still a gunslinger at heart.

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And this. Dad, sitting upright in the saddle, an old cowboy (young in this picture) on his trail horse. I still possess the bridle.

That horse was the first horse I remember. The first horse I fell in love with. They pastured him separately from the others up at Mahoney. I was probably three years old, making mud pies in the wide driveway. He was trotting around, all Trigger-Roy-Rogers beautiful. Then he did the most amazing thing: he reared and pawed at the sky. I stood in awe. The picture is burned into my brain, whether it really happened or not.

Later, up at Pole Creek, he got a scrape on his throat that the flies had a hey-day with. Dad had to leave him in the care of Mom, who hated horses. She had to put ointment on his throatlatch every day to keep the flies off and help him heal. He wasn’t the friendliest horse (not sure any half-broke USFS horse could be called “friendly”), but he’d come to the fence to meet her and get his salve applied.

I don’t know what happened to him. I do know my dad was an excellent judge of horses, and he liked the half-broke ones best (in his younger days).

Thank you, Chuck, for the trip down memory lane – even if I can only recall it because of the photos.

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