Jerry O’Dell and I grew up as city slickers next door to each other. I think I was four months older than Jerry, but he was always about a half a head taller than me. And it seemed like he was always one step ahead of me at everything we did, but nevertheless we were constant buddies and could generally be found doing something together.
We played a lot of cowboys and Indians and baseball in the side yard. We would generally end up throwing rocks at each other before the day was over though, and he was real good at bouncing the driveway gravel off the top of my head. That is the reason I started wearing a hat all of the time. Well, that and the fact that my grandmother wouldn’t let me out of the house without a hat on my head. In the summertime, it was “You’re goanna’ fry your brains out” and in the winter “you’re goanna catch your death of pneumonia child – put your hat on.”
When we were about 10, Jerry and I made big plans to visit my grandparents out on the farm for the weekend. Once we reached the farm, Jerry and I were off down through the woods, looking for adventure. My grandfather had warned us to stay out of the top pasture, because there was a bull penned up in there.
“He’s not real friendly and I don’t want you boys to get hurt.”
Sometimes he would borrow a bull from the neighbors when the time came to breed the mama cows.
We checked out the cave and threw rocks at the frogs down by the pond, but somehow forgot all about the bull warning until we heard this strange noise behind us. We turned around and saw the biggest, meanest, bull you can imagine charging down the hill toward us. We both let out a yell and took off running as fast as we could, hoping to beat the bull to the fence. I realized there was no way we were going to make the fence in time, so I hit the nearest tree. I grabbed the lowest limb of a gigantic sycamore tree and swung myself up out of harms way just as I felt the breath of his snorting nostrils on my pants legs.
Jerry ran right past the tree and had to circle around and come back. He found himself on one side the tree and the bull on the other. Suddenly, panic must have sat in, because, up the tree he came, climbing so fast that he passed right by me. I had stopped on the first limb or so, because I was satisfied the bull could not reach me, but Jerry just kept on climbing. Higher and higher he went until suddenly, he must have stepped onto a dead limb 30 feet up in the top of that tree, the snap of the limb sounded like a shot gun blast echoing off down through the woods.
Jerry immediately started coming back down the tree, bouncing off of first one limb, and then another. Each limb slowed him down somewhat, but as he passed by me I noticed the bull was curiously watching Jerry coming his way. Jerry dropped the last few feet with his back against the tree trunk and actually sat down on his rump face to face with the ugly bull. This must have startled the beast, because he jumped and let out a rather loud snort, turned around and high tailed it back across the field.
Other than a couple of bruises, Jerry was no worse for the wear.