Bennie Beutler got inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame this summer. He’s one of a good handful of stock contractors that have been so honored.
Stock contractors are an odd lot. They’re not smilers. They’re always on the job … sort of a cross between a prison guard and the captain of a pirate ship. Maybe it’s because they are trying to maintain order in a sea of chaos.
They are merely attempting to match up one cowboy with one animal, neither of which takes orders very well.
I’ve had the pleasure to be with several of them when they attempted to relax. Unfortunately, it’s like watching Queen Elizabeth in her Bermuda shorts texting her broker at Billy Bobs.
I was there at the Agribition watching Harry Vold trying to pick octopus limbs out of his chow mein at the hotel where Bob Tallman was asked to leave and Leon Coffee took on the Royal Canadian Mounties.
And, when Cotton Rosser surprised his guests at his birthday party by having me ride one of his big paint horses into the dining room. That same night he invited a skydiver to parachute into the parking lot wearing an American flag.
Many were relieved that no one was seriously injured, but Cotton I think appreciated the excitement when the skydiver hit a lamp post and landed in a tree.
Jim Korkow took me home with him after a big night at the Silver Spur in Fort Pierre where we concluded by singing “On the Wings of a Snow White Dove” with the All-Girl Indian Band. His wife drove, thank goodness. I remember he put me to bed but I woke up the next morning under the kitchen table downstairs.
I’ve been Mike Cervi’s pen pal, listened to Wayne Vold sing “Oh, Canada” flat on his back, done pre-rodeo announcing for Bobby Christensen, and held the door for Jim Sutton and Reg Kessler and admired many from afar.
Back to Bennie, one of the more sartorially splendid rodeo producers, he’s usually in a suit, clean shirt with that natty little scarf around his neck, carrying on the tradition.
In the early ’80s, during rodeo’s more “homey” days, Bob Edson was the commissioner, Bruce Ford, Roy Cooper, Tom Ferguson and Brad Gjermundson filled the stands, and the PRCA Convention was held in Denver.
In the evenings the halls were lined with hospitality rooms. My wife and I often played music with others … just jammin’. Cindy Lou was from Oklahoma and played a fine fiddle. Bennie, it seemed, would often hunt her out and sit around listening to her play all those great ol’ songs that were part of his Oklahoma upbringing — “Faded Love,” “Maiden’s Prayer,” “Take Me Back to Tulsa,” “Oklahoma Hills.”
His serious demeanor would melt for awhile … and he would smile.
Of course, we all knew that he was still workin’ out ways to get cowboys bucked off, but for a few minutes he looked almost … happy.