Category: 1960’s Florida

Connected photos or moments to my experiences in the 1960’s

Red-tailed Hawks

After seeing two different magnificent Red-tailed Hawks on golf
courses last week being attacked by mockingbirds and crows, I was reminded of one of those spectacular moments in nature I have seen periodically throughout my life.

When I was twelve, my father, offered such a good deal that he could not pass on the opportunity, bought two horses. One, a tall rangy black gelding, he thought would make a decent roping horse, and the other, a seven-year-old bay mare, was designated as a horse my mother and I could ride for pleasure. In no uncertain terms, he said he expected me to be on the horse every day after school when my chores were done. After I milked our cow, I headed to the barn. Thrilled that the mare, Bailey, was almost mine, I dutifully saddled the horse, rain or shine, and rode the familiar pastureland of the Quarter Circle A ranch for an hour or two most days. I learned after one soaking to tie a rain slicker on the back of the saddle, and the adult size worked to my advantage by draping over the entire saddle, so I stayed quite dry even in the heaviest downpours.

As I rode back toward the barn one afternoon, I heard a high-pitched ki-ki-ki-ki overhead followed by a piercing scream and another scream a little farther off. I turned in the saddle to my right and caught three large blurs cascading through the sky going away from a stand of tall pines toward a section of flat open pasture. Two mature Red-tailed Hawks were attacking an immature Bald Eagle and driving the larger bird toward the ground. The loud screams came from the hawks, while the high-pitched chittering came from the eagle. I was surprised first by which bird delivered which sound because I had watched plenty of Western movies and Wonderful World of Disney television shows. I associated the louder voice with the eagle since that was almost always the sound played on a movie or television soundtrack immediately before or after an eagle flew overhead on the screen. The hawks were the screamers.

In the real life scene played out before me that day on the Manatee County ranch, the hawks force the eagle to land on the ground and dive-bombed the young bird for the next fifteen minutes while I sat on horseback mesmerized. The young eagle finally got enough confidence to take a couple hops and flew low over the ground before trying to ascend. Since the eagle was headed away from the stand of pines, the hawks seemed to be satisfied with letting their enemy get away but still took turns diving at the escapee until all three were out of my sight.

I rode over to the pines and found the source of the conflict. The Red-tailed Hawks had built a huge nest in the tallest pine, and three chicks’ heads peered out in different directions. The youngsters looked like they were only a few weeks old, were partially fledged, and clearly not capable of flight. I checked on the nest over the next two months and did get to see one young hawk take off on what might have been a final departure from the nest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From “One-eyed Buck,” in Growing Up Floridian:

 

Six months after my father’s lack of patience resulted in the loss of the horse he planned to train for calf roping, he made an unusual choice for a replacement: an American Quarter Horse that could only see out of one eye, his right. Given my father’s temperament and the six year-old horse’s high strung nature, the man seemed to be challenging his own self-control, but the roping partnership worked, and man and beast competed in local rodeos with some success. When the Quarter Horse was four years old, but already being trained as a competitive roping horse, the big buckskin refused to step up into a horse trailer. His owner at the time, Raymond Sinclair, had an Australian Shepherd dog that followed the man everywhere and was a great herder. When the horse would not do as he was asked, the dog ran up and nipped at the cowpony’s rear feet, causing the horse to leap into the trailer. A stiff wire that formed part of the air vent had been broken and bent in at just the wrong height and angle. The horse’s eye, injured in that accident, lost all sight as far as the veterinarian could tell.

Hurricane season memories…

Jimmy Buffett captured the essence of hurricane season in his 1974 song from A1A, “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season,” when he sang,

“Squalls out on the gulf stream
Big storm commin’ soon…”

My closest experience with a hurricane occurred in 1968 when Hurricane Gladys passed the Pinellas peninsula on Friday, October 18th during my senior year in high school. The storm postponed our football game, allowed me to go on a date and see a movie, and gave me an adventure to write about.

Gladys was photographed from space by the Apollo 7 astronauts, tracked by Hurricane Hunter aircraft, and seen by radar imagery, all relatively new phenomena at the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Haiku

At Pass-a-Grille Beach
In October sixty eight
Rambler rockin’

 

From the 26th chapter, “A Date with Gladys,” in Growing Up Floridian:

Wind controlled the steering wheel almost as much as I did and forced my gray turtle, actually a 1960 Rambler American, from one side of 66th Street to the other. Having worked up enough courage to ask Maureen out, I wasn’t about to let Hurricane Gladys cancel our date. As the only car on the road, I had the advantage of fighting the gusts across three lanes without the danger of hitting another vehicle. I managed to avoid curbs and telephones poles often by slight margins using the power of forearms developed from three years of high school football.

Celebrating that 1960’s TV Western atmosphere

     My aunt and uncle, Pris and Mike, with my cousins, Valerie, Pam, and Leslie, came to the Quarter Circle A Ranch on State Road 62 about seven miles outside of Parrish the fall after my brother died. In this picture, Aunt Pris poses with Val, sitting tall in the saddle; Pam, holding Leslie; and me on a little pinto that would rear on his back legs if I dug my heels in and pulled back sharply on the reins.

         The television airways were dominated by western tv shows: Bonanza, Cheyenne, The Dakotas, The Rifleman, Stoney Burke, Marshal Dillon, Laramie, Wagon Train, The Virginian, The Wide Country, Rawhide, The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show, Have Gun – Will Travel, and Gunsmoke. With such a lineup of westerns each week in the fall of 1962, there is little wonder we all wanted to be cowboys and cowgirls.

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