Tony Vagneur: Only need one mention of a name and the past sneaks up on you
The past sneaks up on us in the strangest of ways, and I don’t mean bounty hunters flashing those “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in our faces.
Last week, I mentioned Roy Holloway in my column, and almost immediately email messages rolled in, wondering how Roy was, what was he up to, etc., all from folks who knew Roy back when. His popularity has staying power.
Whether related, Facebook’s Messenger also unleashed a flurry of messages, going back to 2018, messages I had never seen before. We’ll get to those in a minute.
It’s impossible to say when, exactly, but Roy and I started hanging around together sometime in the vicinity of 1959 or 1960. Two of my friends (Steve Kellogg, Art Jarboe) and me, on a fence-fixing expedition, came around a corner on the Collins Creek Ditch to find three strangers, Roy included, boys about our age, on the other side of the fence. If we’d been a little crazier, it likely would have been the beginning of a range war, but we adjusted to new people in the ‘hood.
Roy and I became best friends, played football and basketball together, hunted deer and elk, went on double dates, and generally lived through the teenage years together. For years, he helped us brand calves in the spring and helped with pregnancy testing in the fall. He was the best, and can tell a few stories about those days.
Last weekend, Roy came to help us vaccinate calves prior to weaning, and it put a smile on my face to know the last time we’d done such work together was 1963, which says it had only been 57 years between sojourns on a cattle ranch together.
He worked the gate when we were cutting the calves off, helped push them down the alleyway to the chute, dashed this way and that, making sure things went as they should. And I don’t know if he felt it, but as I watched his moves and how he was helping get the job done, it was apparent what good support he was, and what good help he’d been all those years before, when we were both kids.
Moving on to the other messages, there were a couple from the past, previously unread, asking how Ray Light was doing. Who? You mean Bubby Light, the man who sucked the pleasure of life out of every moment he could. His laugh was an inspiration to the rest of us. And he could string cuss words together almost as well as my granddad ever could. You know Light Hill, Old Snowmass way? That’s named after Bubby’s family.
Bubby was my dad’s generation, but we used to party together sometimes, talking about moving cows, irrigating, the Denver Stock Show, and people we knew who liked to duke it out better than anything else. We had an affinity for telling stories, Bubby and I, and maybe that’s what drew us together at shindigs. At least we each knew we had a listener. We drank together sometimes, too.
My high school girlfriend and I occasionally double-dated with Bubby and his lady friend, mostly hanging out at the Light Ranch on East Sopris Creek. That was perhaps the only serious relationship with a woman Bubby ever had, but it was one that stuck. This columnist wrote about that several years ago.
It was a different time and age. About 10 years later, Bubby made me an offer I refused, unfortunately. “Come on out here to the ranch and give me a hand. We’ll go partners on some of this stuff and have a good time doing it.” I was newly married, looking to maybe move away. It just didn’t seem right for some reason and I turned him down. I’d like to get that decision back.
There are some things you can get back, and working cows with Roy Holloway out there in Woody Creek just like we used to do almost 60 years ago was one of them. You might think we’re getting old, but it ain’t so and we’ll probably do it again real soon.
Condolences to the entire Holloway family on the passing of their matriarch, Irene Holloway, a week ago last Thursday. 100 years old. She always treated me like family, and to me she certainly was.
Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.