Hyde Recalls Rodeos Spent With His Dad
EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Post-Journal sports editor, the late Frank Hyde, covered the Gerry Rodeo for years. Below, his son, Dave, shares his early memories of their time on the rodeo grounds.
When I was growing up there weren’t very many things more exciting for me than heading to Gerry with my Dad for the RODEO!!! I know for a fact that he absolutely loved covering the rodeo and thoroughly enjoyed interviewing and writing about the cowboys and cowgirls who made each evening so special. I’d have to believe that some of his enjoyment came from the fact that prior to coming to Jamestown, he had spent most of his adult life in Montana, primarily in the Glendive and Billings areas, where cowboys and rodeo were fairly common.
For me, other than having the opportunity to attend the rodeo so often with him, there are a few things that still remain in the old memory banks. The one that stands out the most was when I was around 10 or 11. Colonel Jim Eskew, the rodeo owner and usually referred to as “The Colonel,” invited Dad and I to a cookout that I believe took place on the evening before the first performance of the season.
When we arrived they had a chair for my Dad, but I was informed by The Colonel that I’d have to sit the cowboy way, sitting on my haunches, which I could do mainly because Dad already had me in training as a catcher.
In retrospect, The Colonel was “cool” long before cool was cool. He sat that way through dinner, a couple of “smokes” (he rolled his own) and most of the after-dinner conversation to which he usually participated in with a “yep” or a “nope.”
I think it was the next year that The Colonel asked Dad if I might be interested in trying to ride a calf, or it could have been a steer, from one of the bucking chutes? At that time, I think it was a much more common event in the west but at that point in Gerry New York, I don’t think any one was ever asked! My answer in a heartbeat? “YES”! However, something happened along the line (I think with the adults) and I never had the “opportunity.”
After The Colonel passed a few years later, Jim Eskew Jr. took the rodeo reins. “Junior” was a trick roper and a few years later his daughter, Madonna, was involved in his act. I also remember Rex Rossi who was a trick rider and (I think) rode “Roman-style,” standing on the backs of two horses while jumping a fence and then he had four horses (standing on the inside two) that jumped the fence. The other things I recall were the crazy car with the clowns, the bullfighters (also dressed as clowns), and, of course, the bullriding.
As much as my Dad enjoyed the rodeo, he also sincerely appreciated the dedication of the men and women associated with the Gerry Fire Department who made the rodeo so successful. They always made sure he had a place to park near the barn and always invited the family out to dinner. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly told myself to plan a trip to Jamestown in August just to catch the rodeo. I think I’m running out of summers, so I’d better get it done in the near future!