As Ornery Jackass, Jenny Won 1st in County Parade

Dan Bodine

That’s Jenny over there, 1950 or ’51, I think. Me on her. We won 1st place (long forgotten the category), Annual Johnson County’s Old Settlers & Reunion Parade in downtown Cleburne, TX, that year. None other like it. Always held 2nd week in August, it seems. So if anyone wants to taste what a county fair is like before the big state fair in Dallas in October, this is your chance!

Crowd excitement helped us get this prize, I guess. I never could figure it quite out!

But the incident reflects back to a period when it seemed everybody was allowed to be somebody — e.g., individuality, even in animals, was respected — and I wanted to add this footnote as a way of saying, even today a half-ass mule still deserves respect!

Jenny got tired at one point back then and just sat down! Middle of the parade; middle of the street! Stopped everything!

I got off and pulled and tugged. She wouldn’t get up. No way no how!

Caused quite a stir! Parade up front had to stop, too.

Got a jackass down in the middle of the street back here!

Some official with a mouthpiece explained it up front a ways to parade participants, ahead of us — as to why they had to stop!

Police and sheriff deputies came a runnin’! Convergin’ from all sides! Shoved me out of the way! Me, a 7(or 8)-yr-old-boy and the only person Jenny’d ever listened to!

The men heaved and tugged, grunted and groaned, big-time! Jenny wouldn’t get up. Went on and on and on!

Finally I stepped back into the melee, politely. And calmly mounted Jenny again, as she laid there.

It was a scene a bit like we’d often done near our home outside of town several miles, along the Godley Highway.

Only she’d never actually set down. She’d just wait¬†for me.

For earlier, just to be ornery on our after-school rides, sometimes she’d take off running lickity split! It was her moment!

The damn Tea-Party Republicans today on a crusade about Liberty don’t have any more of an idea of what this means than a man on the moon drinking Lone Star beer does!

It meant I had to respect her ’cause I couldn’t control her! Not totally.

And eventually in these bouts I’d end up being thrown off onto the ground along the side of the road somewhere — down toward the Hedricks place — with cars and trucks going by, honking and hollering.

Hee, haw! Hee, haw!

When these trips, though, were along the side of the highway — and not somewhere back into the deep pastures somewhere, as they often were, too — Jenny never would leave me alone. But would stop finally, turn around, and wait up ahead.

Then I only had to get back on, lean over into her ol’ floppy left ear, and whisper kinda loud, “You ain’t supposed to do that, Jenny, darn ‘ya! Let’s go!

And she’d go plopping along again, happily. Eventually we’d get up close to the “Y” — where the Godley Hwy. melted into the Fort Worth Hwy., there at the Fix-It Shop — and cross the highway and return home.

At the parade that day, that remounting scene is what came to my mind — and that’s what I finally did. As she laid there blocking the whole damn parade!

Back on her, reins in hand and a tuggin’, l leaned over into that same left ear, and told her in that same Darn it I mean business voice, “We need to go!

Sure enough, she got up — to the cheers of the hundreds who’d lined both sides of the street — and started plopping along again.

And like some giant slithering serpant stalled — because of some small malfunction in its middle section –the whole parade followed suit almost instantly.

The wild outbursts on each side then (that erupted as the parade resumed) — waves of Hurrah!!! crescending up and down the downtown streets — were eternally seared into my young mind. Already I was half way to Heaven!

And, too, Jenny’s ol’ floppy ears perked up, and seconds later proudly were standing tall — as folks on both sides cheered wildly as we moved up the street toward the market square and the courthouse in downtown Cleburne!

“What in the world is this!?” she no doubt was thinking.

I guar-on-tee-‘ya! She never thought that a half-hour or so later she and I would be honored with that first-place award — for her damn contrariness!

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