Jack and Joan Anderson
by Beth Bashor
Four years younger than Peggy, Jack grew up around rodeos and horses, just as Peggy did. He can remember trailing the horses to Fort Collins from the ranch near Grover when he was about six.
"That's the first long ride I can remember," said Jack modestly. From the time he can remember he was always going to the rodeos. He'd help work stock, load the chutes, run cattle out of the arena-whatever needed to be done. The summer before Jack was going to be in the ninth grade they were at the Boulder Pow Wow and one of the pick-up men didn't show up. When Earl asked the pick-up man if he could do it by himself, he said he could. He then went and found Jack and told him to saddle a pick-up horse-that he was going to need some help. The first bareback rider that Jack picked up was Smoky Snyder, who was either then the world champion bareback rider or who won the world shortly afterward. After Jack had done such a good job, there wasn't much reason to change ... and that's how he got his start picking up. Jack continued to pick up bucking horses "until I got too damned old," as he puts it. He thought the last rodeo he picked up was the National Old Timers Rodeo in 1983 or 1984, but then he began recalling another one or two later. During the course of his career, he picked up with some top cowboys: Bob Luttrell, Whitey Christensen, Howard Stull, Warren Adams, Everitt Wilson, Jim R. White, and others. Jack had the knack to know where to be and when to be there.
About Jack's only interruption from rodeo came during his time in the service. He entered the army in 1953 and spent nearly a year in Italy. Whitey Christensen had been around Earl's rodeos for years, and Whitey and Fran's daughter Joan and Jack had seen each other at the rodeos from the time they were still in grade school. All the grown-ups would be at the dance and the kids would be playing around outside, waiting for their parents. Jack and Joan didn't start dating until 1953, however, and then as soon as Jack got back from the service in 1955 they were married. About this same time Warren and Peggy had slowed down in going to the rodeos some so Joan started doing the secretary and timing chores.
The way Earl Anderson got into the rodeo business seemed only natural for Earl-and for his family-as it turned out. Earl and his brother Gus had a livery stable in Eaton and all the farmers in that area had horses that Earl had broken. As a result of these contracts, Earl had access to lots of horses and it was only natural that some of these horses had some buck in them. That was how Earl came to have the weekly ridings. The first "real" rodeo that Earl put on was the rodeo at Grover and then he produced what was then called the Spud Rodeo in Greeley, so called because they had "spucf' or potato races. Vern Elliott had been producing the rodeo at Greeley for years for a percentage of the gate but when the committee told Vern they could no longer put the rodeo on that way, Elliott went to Earl and asked him if he would produce the Greeley rodeo. Earl agreed and continued to put the rodeo at Greeley on until 1958. In those days, the rodeo was always July 3rd and 4th.
When a rodeo committee asked Earl to sign a contract to put on a rodeo, he decided the time had come to quit. "If I gotta sign a contract I'm just as crooked as the guys who want me to sign it," was the way Earl put it. In June of 1959 they had a bucking horse sale at the rodeo grounds in Grover and Earl Anderson was out of the rodeo business. He died of a heart attack the fall of 1960.
Jack had kept a few young bulls and he leased these bulls out for several years. One of these bulls, J5 or "Jet Age" was named the bucking bull of the year in 1961 at the National Finals Rodeo. "Jet Age" was sired by the bucking bull #5 from Earl's string, and #5 had been sired by #3, the same bull that Warren had ridden the first time he was ever ridden.
Jack continued to enter the bulldogging and pick-up at rodeos and Joan often did the secretarying and timing for Summit Rodeo, who had bought much of Earl's stock.
Do you remember Warren Adams' memories of the trip from Iliff with the bucking horses? As we talked about the adventures, Jack recalled the same trip, only his recollections were about the trip to Iliff and Warren's had been about the trip home. Jack and Clint Bashor, both still in high school, were Earl's main cowboys. They started the trip at daylight. "We always started at daylight or dark, never at noon when Dad was doing something," Jack recalled. Earl told the boys to catch a two year old out of the bucking horse string to ride on the trip. Clint caught "Chico," a palomino, and Jack caught a buck skin, "Dunny". They both had to tie a leg up on them to get on them, then off they'd go. Earl was driving his '41 Plymouth and was always in the middle of the horses. Jack and Clint would be trying to get "Dunny" and "Chico" to turn around to head off a horse and Earl would be trying to turn them in his Plymouth. When they got to the Nelson Ranch east of Grover they got Keith Nelson to help them for the rest of the trip. By the third day Jack and Clint had made some progress with "Chico" and "Dunny" although they were still having to tie a leg up on them to get on them. That day they decided they would trade horses awhile so Jack rode "Chico" and Clint rode "Dunny". Before they got to the Iliff River Bridge, however, they had traded back. This old plank bridge had some 2 x 12's that had been used to repair holes and between the 2 x 12's that stuck up and no rails on the sides it was a pretty scary crossing. Their horses kept trying to shy close to the center of the bridge and they were pushing against each other. Despite some harrowing minutes, they made it across. After they had made it safely across, Clint turned to Jack and said, "Whew, that was pretty scary." When the horse heard the "Whew" he blew up and went bucking off down the road. That same "Dunny" that Jack started on the trip to Iliff became one of his most solid pick-up horses.
When Earl was still in the contracting business, Jack recalls getting the bucking horses in right before the Grover Rodeo and trimming their tails and trying to comb out their manes some. Herman Marquardt, who lived east of the Nelson Ranch, would come bringing a railroad tie and a cleaver. He would put the tails on his tie and use his cleaver to shorten their tails. Earl would try to save some of his better bucking horses from the fate of Herman and his cleaver.
They built the arena in Grover sometime in the 1930's.
Before that the rodeo had been held under the water tower and they had used railroad ties, bridge plank, and pig wire as a make shift arena but sometime in the '30's they decided they needed to build something permanent. That structure-or much of it lasted until 1983. It was then that they decided to rebuild the entire working pens and to make them an all-steel structure. Jack and his son Steve and Dave Bashor took some baling twine, dragged their feet around to use as a pattern, and that was how they designed it. It is in the shape of a half wagon spoke and designed so that the pens run out of the hub of the wagon wheel and the outside alley serves as the rim of the wagon wheel. Committees from as far away as Indianapolis and Quebec, Canada, have used this design as the basis for their own working pens.
Joan, Jack's wife, is one of the most talented individuals you will ever meet. Her most recent projects include making ornamental lawn structures out of cement. She calls them her "Concrete Critters". They use a cast and then when it is completed Joan paints them. She is also a volunteer in the master gardener program and goes to auctions and garage sales and resells items in a flea market. Busy? You bet! And that's just the way she intends to stay.
Jack and Joan have three children: Julie, who lives near Greeley, Steve, who is on the ranch, and Marcy, who lives near Lincoln, Nebraska. All three are married and have children so Jack and Joan really enjoy their grandchildren.
Jack and Joan have so many varied interests. They love to play cards; they enjoy traveling; but what they both live best is just being on the ranch. These are the kind of people that small communities need to keep things going-the kind who don't ask anybody to do anything they won't do themselves.
Steve, Jack and Joan's son, is presently serving as secretary of the Grover Community Club, so you can see that the third generation is carrying on where Earl Anderson began.
When you visit with Jack and Joan or with Warren and Peggy one thing especially stands out: their love of and respect for their parents. It's pretty refreshing to see this kind of family values and you can see it in both families. They know where there roots are and they intend to preserve them.
At the beginning of these articles we wondered why they continue to have the rodeo at Grover. It's part of a legacy that began in the 1930's or earlier. The Earl Anderson grandsons-Tim and Doug Adams and Steve Anderson-will be picking up, and soon, if not this year, a couple of the great-grandsons, Ty Anderson and Casey Adams, will probably be entering the kids calf riding. Don't be surprised if you see a little blond-headed girl in the calf riding, too, in a few years! It's the kind of legacy that we'd all like to be able to leave, for what better legacy is there than a living one?
Jack and Joan Anderson