The Bull Story:
- Papa: “Where is that old bull?”
- Sylvester: “Oh, he’s hanging around here somewhere.”
This happened at the Navajo Ranch when Anna and Marlin were children (abt. 1964 or 1965). Geege and her family lived in a trailer house just west of the Kerr McGee plant on old highway 66. Anna and Marlin were big enough to play outside alone. Papa (Ransom Crockett) had a huge Holstein bull pastured just over the fence from their trailer house. Papa was always interested in cross breeding and had acquired that huge bull for that purpose. Dairy bulls have a reputation for being mean and aggressive unlike the range bulls we were used to. This made Namina (Georganna) very nervous, having that bull just over the fence from her grandchildren!
Papa was going to be away from the ranch for several days and Sylvester Caldelaria came to visit him not knowing he was away. Namina took the bull by the horns quite literally and asked Sylvester to help her solve the dilemma of the mean bull being too close to her precious grandchildren. She authorized Sylvester to butcher that bull and turn him into jerky!
I well remember Sylvester going to Holbrook gathering up several of his Mexican buddies, coming out to the ranch, butchering that huge bull and turning the airplane hanger into a huge jerky drying operation. They set up work tables, huge tubs of boiling salt water and lots of pepper and chili for flavoring. They cut up that over 2000 lb. bull and jerked the entire thing! They strung yards and yards of wire the length of the hanger not more that about 6” apart and filled the wires with good old fashioned Mexican jerky. They worked several days getting it all processed.
When Papa got home, the job was done and all was calm before the storm that would surely come. Everyone was wondering what Papa would do when he found his pedigree Holstein bull was gone. Papa came into the house and said to Namina and Sylvester: “I wonder where that old bull is?” Sylvester casually said in his distinctive drawl. “Oh, he’s hangin’ around here somewhere.”
We will never know what words passed between my parents in private but there was no huge storm that we know of and we enjoyed that jerky for more than a year!
More back story: Sylvester Candelaria was Papa’s best friend. Sylvester was from an old Basque family that had lived in the Grants New Mexico area since the 1600’s. His Candelaria ancestor had received one of the original Spanish Land Grants given by the King of Spain to early settlers of New Mexico. The Candelaria family had huge land holdings around Grants.
We loved it when Sylvester came to visit because he was such a light hearted happy guy and Papa was always in such a good mood when he was there. Papa was such a hard worker and came home tired almost every day. Sylvester made life happy and easier for our hard working Daddy. Sylvester was a master story teller and could drag out a short story with his own distinctive style and make it funny and enjoyable for all listeners. Everyone loved Sylvester and he was a huge part of our lives.