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Boise, Idaho
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Night of The Rodeo Queen

Well, my mother was a rodeo queen
When she was just nineteen
Before she met and married Dad
And had to cook and clean

Before she had five children
To sew for, bathe, and feed
Yes, my mother was a rodeo queen
When she was a mere nineteen

She danced one night with Bing Crosby
Back in those carefree, happy days
And led her courtly procession
‘Round the arena in a rodeo parade

And as bulls and bucking broncos
Queued up in the wooden chutes
Cowboys prepared to mount and ride
With rodeo clowns in hot pursuit

My mother presided over all of this
With dust kicked up everywhere
And bloodied lips and knuckles
Of cowboys who hoped to snare

The coveted silver buckle
Of a rough and ready ride
It was over in a matter of seconds
But thrashing hooves could decide

Whether a cowboy got up
And quickly walked away
Or swallowed heaps o' sawdust
While trampled in the melee

Now, those bull-riding contests
Were reserved strictly for the men
But Mom could rope and ride
And barrel race with the best

You see, my mother was a rodeo queen
And to royalty she was born and bred
Born to a cattle ranching baron
How could she have ever guessed

That one day she would put away
Her fancy saddle and spurs
And take on all the responsibilities
That marriage heaped on her

Years later while standing
At the kitchen window
With her hands soaking
In a sudsy bath

A stack of breakfast dishes
Towered before her
As she gazed out
At the garden path

And the world stopped
For a moment
As she remembered
That magical night

The night when the crowd roared
Just for her, and she only nineteen

The night my mother rode into the arena
And was crowned a Rodeo Queen

© 2008, Sharon Brown
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Sharon comments: I wrote "Night of the Rodeo Queen" in memory of my mother, Betty Jean Tippett, who was a rodeo queen at the 1940 Lewiston Roundup in Idaho. She was also a rodeo princess at the Pendleton Roundup in Oregon.

I still have a satin shirt and corduroy gauchos from her rodeo queen wardrobe. She was very petite as a young woman, and later in life, after childbearing years were well behind her, my mother regained her girlish figure and was able to fit once more into her rodeo queen costume and wear it in the annual parade at the Lewiston Roundup on the float for past royalty.

Knowing that my mother had moments of glory and stars in her eyes as a young woman warms my heart. I think the poem says it all as to why I felt inspired to write it.


Pendleton 1938

(These photos are also a Picture the West entry here.)


Hand on the Wheel

There I was
The old red pick-up truck
With peeling paint
And dented fender
Dusty seats and
Cluttered dashboard
‘Round the field
On the bank
Of the swift-flowing river
We were tucked in
Underneath vertical hills
Of the rugged river canyon
Out of sight
Of the big ranch house
Where Mama was cooking supper
I drove
All by myself
As the sun was going down
Behind the canyon walls
While Dad pitched hay out the back
Of the flat bed
Me, so small in a big cowboy hat
That I had to push it back
Out of my eyes
To see
Had to sit up high on my knees
To reach
That big ol’ steering wheel
And look out the windshield
Just barely
With the gear stuck in neutral
Old truck going slow
Shaking along, inching forward
Round and round the field
In a spiral
Of fragrant alfalfa
Calves bawling, cattle mooing
Ambling towards us
I drove
With tiny hands on that big wheel
So slowly
Round and round
Till all the cows had been fed
Every last one
And a day’s work had been done

© 2008, Sharon S. Brown
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Sharon told us: "I originally wrote this poem for my dad, Don Fouste, on Father's Day in 1997, and have revised it since then. I was living in southern Florida at the time, and he in my hometown in Washington State, a million miles away. Because of the distance, I wasn't able to spend that holiday with him, so I wrote him this poem instead. I didn't know at the time that I had only one more shot at Father's Day with him until his crossing to the Other Side.

"The 'Hand on the Wheel' captures a warm memory of spending time with my dad on the cattle ranch where I spent my early childhood. Our ranch was named Rogersburg, and you can read more about it in my bio. I was under the age of 5 in this 'snapshot.' Such an idyllic childhood I had in those early years on the ranch. A daydreamer's delight."


Read Sharon Brown's
Hollyhocks and Four O'Clocks, and Rimrock Sourdough in a
special Mother's Day tribute to her mother


Memories of a Mermaid, Hand on the Wheel, and Vitalis Man in a
special Father's Day tribute to her father

  About Sharon Brown:

I spent my early childhood on a cattle ranch located at the mouth of the winding Grande Ronde River where it flows into the mighty Snake River, near The Gateway to Hells Canyon, in the southeastern corner of Washington State. Across the Snake River from our ranch was Idaho.

The Nez Perce tribe once camped on that same river bank where our ranch house was built, during their seasonal migrations, and we often came across their artifacts. So as a child, it seemed like such wild country in which to run free, the stuff of which city kids could only read and daydream about. And indeed we had the run of the hills, could saddle up a horse anytime we pleased, and were taught at an early age to be careful around swift flowing water and rattle snakes. I loved it!

I have fond memories of those early days of ranch life, which I have since felt inspired to share in poetic musings. I have written poetry here and there throughout my life, since childhood, but more so within the last several years. I felt inspired to try my hand at cowboy/cowgirl poetry after watching my brother, Smoke Wade, perform at various cowboy poetry festivals. Some know me as his Sister Sue. Others know me as Born2Roam.

You can email Sharon Brown.


Sharon Brown is a part of a 2011 anthology, An Eclectic Collage. The book is described as, "...a collection of poems, life essays, short stories, recipes and other writings written by over two dozen women..." An Eclectic Collage includes eleven of Sharon Brown's poems.

An Eclectic Collage is available from the Freundship Press website and Amazon.

Six of Sharon Brown's poems are also included in An Eclectic Collage Volume 2: Relationships of Life, which "uses poetry, life essays and short stories to look at how we relate to one another as well as to ourselves. Written by 55 women authors, An Eclectic Collage Volume 2: Relationships of Life is filled with personal stories of a very varied group of women....This book is the second volume written by the Women of the Pixie Chicks Writers' Group and comes just six months after the success of An Eclectic Collage: Creative Works by the Women of the Pixie Chicks Writers' Group."

An Eclectic Collage Volume Two is published by the Freundship Press and is available from Amazon.

Find links to the above books and to Sharon Brown's audio files for purchase and downloading here.



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