Horse Race

image0Velma Dickson spent a lot of time helping her dad on the farm. During haying season she was out almost every day driving horses for the derrick. It may have seemed a simple job, especially because while the men were out in the field laboriously wielding pitch forks to load the hay rack, she could find a tree, sit in the shade, and read Tarzan of the Apes or Davy Crockett.

But she would tell you her job wasn’t easy. She hitched the horses to the long pulley of the derrick, and then tried to avoid the clumsy feet of the work horses as she backed them up to lower the fork. Getting stepped on by one of those big work horses wasn’t a good option, so she didn’t let her attention stray for a moment while she did her part getting the hay from the wagon onto the haystack. Davy Crockett himself would have been anxious.

There were good times on the farm too. Velma learned to ride a horse like the wind. In fact, one could say it was almost second nature to her to jump on a horse and ride bareback with the wind in her hair. Across the pasture she would ride, watching ahead to make sure there were no potholes which could break a horse’s leg. They learned the places to avoid, and where it was safe to ride.image1

image2Her favorite outing was to her best friend Ruth Stacey’s house in Woodruff, six or seven miles away. Often she would ride the school bus home to spend the night with Ruth so she could go to church meetings. They spent many happy times together working at one house or the other, talking and laughing the whole time. It was during those times she came to know Ruth’s brother Bill. Five years later Velma married Bill.

The first year they were married they rented a house in town so Bill could work on his dad’s ranch. Velma wasn’t used to sitting around, so when Bill drove the milk truck to the creamery in Randolph for his dad, Velma always hitched a ride so she could be dropped off at her mother’s house to help for a couple of hours. It image3was a good arrangement, and Bill became accustomed to driving down the lane to the Dickson house to deliver his wife as he picked up her father’s milk cans.

One day as he was driving down the road from Randolph, Bill was surprised to see a horse racing along beside his truck, its rider bent into the flying mane, urging the horse forward. Bill was surprised to see the horse and rider were keeping up with his truck. Then he was amazed to see the rider was his wife.

“She didn’t let up,” he said. “She just about flew down that bumpy pasture. I’m sure it was at least 30 miles an hour. I didn’t know she could ride like that. At first I was worried she was riding that horse too fast and that he would break a leg out in that pasture, but then I began to see she knew that pasture very well. She knew exactly what she was doing.”

image4Velma worked hard at everything she did. Even at a young age she chose to manage much of the housework. She helped with haying, she was a diligent student and she was an expert bare back rider. It was not that she was naturally good at those things or even that she did all of them because she liked doing them. She saw what needed to be done and learned to do it well. Even as a child she learned to use her time efficiently and work with energy.

She often said “if you want to learn something, get busy and learn how to do it. Make mistakes and try again. A good dose of hard work is the best medicine in the world.”