Headin’ for the Last Roundup
The late Ben Glover raised breeder hens and ranched in the Zion community south east of Springdale, Ark. Six-foot-four or taller, Ben was a giant of a man who made friends with most everyone he met. He served in World War II and because he had been a lineman for a rural electric co-op out there in west Texas, they made him a signal corp man. The telegraph was the principle method of communication up on the front lines and wire needed to be strung for it to work. It was on Iwo Jima where the soldiers from three branches of the service raised the U.S. flag in that famous photograph. Ben was a part of taking that island and others.
On that Pacific piece of land in the midst of the horrific fighting, Ben ran into a famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Pyle wrote a story about a Texas giant of a soldier he met on a jungle trail carrying a huge roll of wire on one shoulder and leading a goat. Of course the wire was for communication and the goat for a west Texas cowboy was to supplement the C-rations.
Ben, his wife Pete, and two daughters moved to Arkansas in the late ‘50s and built some chicken houses for broilers. Tyson field man Lynn Tisdale went out to talk to Ben about putting in breeder hens. He met him coming out of a holler behind the house carrying a log on his shoulder that Lynn thought four men couldn't even lift. Lynn never got over that feat and decided right then that anyone that strong could sure raise hens.
Being brought up in west Texas, Ben was a horseman and a cowboy. So he soon had an arena and they roped calves and steers under the lights he installed. Aspiring future rodeo hands came by and rode some rough stock Ben gathered. One of those young men quit high school—Ben found out about it and told him, if he was too dumb to go to school he was too dumb to ride stock at his house. The young man soon re-entered high school and went on to college on a rodeo scholarship. Today he’s a school superintendent with an impressive rodeo history.
In the '60s and '70s Springdale’s FFA had a highly successful junior rodeo. His neighbors like Guy Terry and many more along with Ben worked hard to make it a first class event. They rode with the Washington County Sheriff posse too. And at times when the Sheriff’s department was either broke or short handed they served for free to help them.
In Texas some of his relatives struck oil on their places and Ben would chuckle telling me about Texas cattle men with oil and what color their stock was—fat. They could afford to feed them grain in the dry spells. He also said to watch out when wheelers and dealers ran out and bought new four-door Lincolns and Cadillacs. They bought them just before they went broke and they needed something to drive around in their remorse.
His cousin, one of the oilmen came up and visited him. I was in Ben’s shop that winter day and he was working on a chain saw. After we shook hands, Cousin looked at what Ben was doing, and he frowned in strong disapproval.
“Ben, I don’t use one of them stinking gas chains saws any more. They won’t start about half the time no matter how many times you crank them. Get that smelly gas all over you. No sir, get you an electric one like I’ve got and you won’t never regret it. I cleaned that fence row of mine clear to the road with one. Started every time.”
Ben simply nodded in agreement and his cousin went on to the house. With a small spark plug wrench in his hand he waved it after the man’s departure.
"Do you know Cousin went out and bought a self-starting diesel generator on a four wheel trailer to power that chain saw of his. That’s oil money for you. That hedge row wasn’t half a quarter long and a hired bull dozer could have cleared it in two hours for fifty bucks. Now that’s oil mentality.”
I thought of Ben last week when I was at a national Rural Electric Meeting and met a man who ranches in eastern Montana and serves on his local electric co-op board who told me all about that huge new oil strike that they’ve made in his region. How busy his electric co-op was running lines out to grasshoppers. It sure sounded exciting in times when the U.S. oil supply is so short.
He said his neighbor, an older rancher, recently got a $1.1 million royalty check in the mail from his oil company. Afraid it was a mistake, he wrote a note to that effect and mailed it right back, saying it must be wrong and if he cashed it he could never repay it. The check came by return mail with a note from the company.
“This is not an error. This is your royalty check for one month, sir.”
You know I’d bet one thing: his old cattle survive that Montana winter and I don’t know what breed they are but I’d guess what color they’ll be in the spring – fat.