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photo by Trisha Pedroia

 

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Vince Pedroia exhibits a multi-faceted finesse in most every tapestry of verse
he weaves from the finest fleece.   
          
Paul Zarzyski

 

California poet Vince Pedroia (1946-2007) was a popular part of the cowboy poetry world.

Vince grew up on his family's farm in northern California where the main focus was cherry and apple orchards. They also raised sheep. Vince started his education in a one-room school, and later graduated from the University of California (Davis) with a degree in Veterinary Medicine. He worked as a small animal general practice veterinarian and returned to UC Davis to study neurology. He later received his certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. He founded the neurology team at the Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park, California and was the Center's Medical Director and served on its Board.

Read more about Vince below, in excerpts from a program presented at the celebration of his life. In that program, his involvement with cowboy poetry is described:

Vince was in stage plays in high school, and always had a secret desire to perform in front of audiences. He was a writer of short stories most of his life, although never tried to publish them. He also drew about 100 cartoons including sheep, horses and dogs. He went to the Elko National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January 2002 and started writing his first cowboy/ranch poem on the way home. His poetry gave him the opportunity to do the performing he always wanted. His book, A Mano, was published December 2006, and the CD was recorded in February and released in May 2007. He began performing locally in April 2005 with the "Five Hombres" and did subsequent performances in December 2005, March 2006, and October 2006.


photo by Trisha Pedroia

Below:

Selected Poems

Book and Recording

More Cartoons

About Vince Pedroia


Visit www.VincePedroia.com

Vince Pedroia made many friends in the cowboy poetry and Western music community. Here, he is pictured with beloved poet Colen Sweeten in 2007 at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada:


photo by Trisha Pedroia


Selected Poems

 

My Sister’s Horse

Lookin’ Through Old Books

A Mano

The Ditch Business

Partnership

Mingler at Elko

Disguised

Our Dogs


 

 

My Sister's Horse

My sister’s horse was smart
I knew this having been a long time observer of his habits

Catchin’ ’im up
Now that was a trick
Shake the bucket, hide the rope
Be ready to move when he turned to kick 

She chased him around
And around in his pen
He’d stop and he’d go
And she’d chase him again

She finally caught ’im
And tied him up there to a rail
She curried off the mud
And she combed out his tail

She went into a little shed
And came out with all the tack
Yes, sir, you’re right
That pinned his ears back

But she got it all on ’im
And threw the reins up over his head
My but his wide-eyed look
Gave me cause for dread

Now I know what you’re thinkin’
That he’d end it right then
Buck ’er off in the barnyard
And go on back in his pen

No, my sister’s horse was smart
I knew this having been a long time observer of his habits
I knew he had other plans 

So they went down this road
A winding and twisty way
Shaded by Douglas fir, a few buckeye
And some California bay

They rode along easy
A trot and a lope
My sister’s horse schemin’
And my sister full of hope

They went a half a mile
And passed through a gate
The road there nearly level
And pert’ near straight

The stretch, my sister called it
Opportunity, thought her horse 

Now it seemed to me unwise
To give a smart horse his head
Better, I thought
To rein ’im in a bit instead

But wisdom carried no weight
After all they’d come to play
My sister called it a gallop
But I called it a runaway

Now at the top of that stretch
There was a sharp turn to the right
Yes, the intentions of her horse
Were about to come to light 

Surely this would be
A test of strong wills
A gold medal matchin’
Of ridin’ and buckin’ skills

My sister’s horse figured
That he had the upper hand
The only remainin’ question
Just where would she land?

And he bucked so hard
It would have made your brain rattle
But he was one surprised horse
When Sis was still in the saddle

So his plans had been foiled
She was not about to leave
And he knew there was trouble comin’
’Cause she was rollin’ up her sleeve

There was an old apple orchard
That the road went through

 
And that frustrated horse thought
“Now this oughta do”

So he lowered his head
And he took a long, long look
And he found a low limb
That looked like a good hook

Now I had run on home
To tell all the rest
That my sister and her horse
Were still out takin’ their test

And we didn’t know
What really happened, of course
That led to the separation
Of my sister from her horse

He ran into the yard
And he stopped there at the gate
No one let ’im in
But he didn’t seem to mind the wait

My sister came limpin’ down the county road
Draggin’ the set of broken reins
Apparent disregard
For obvious aches and pains

Now her horse thought he was through
That he’d soon be back in his pen
He had no way o’ knowin’
She’d try gettin’ on again

No, he was not so smart that time
Missin’ his chance to leave
And he knew more trouble was comin’
’Cause she was rollin’ up the other sleeve

© 2002, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

 


Lookin' Through Old Books

Lookin’ through old books
You never know what you’ll find
Maybe an old pressed Douglas iris
Your mother’s favorite kind

You’ll find a dog-eared page
And wonder whether she ever came back
A bill of sale for a gelding horse
His saddle and all his tack

You’ll find a note in the margin
A comment on what’s written there
A photograph of your old grandpa
Beside a foal, beside its mare

And you’ll find a love note to your mother
But in a hand that you don’t recognize
The kind of thing that you might find
That’ll take you by surprise

And you’ll find a 4-H emblem
That never got sewed onto your coat
And a scrap of paper with a telephone number
In the same hand that wrote the note

Yes, lookin’ through old books
You never know what you’ll find
Like an old pressed Douglas iris
Your mother’s favorite kind

© 2002, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

 


A Mano

During the 1950s the federal government supported a work furlough program for Mexican men, braceros, to harvest apples in Sebastopol. Don Mills, a local labor contractor, would make the arrangements for these men to come to our place to pick our fruit. This is my attempt to pay tribute to these men, saviors of our crop, and perhaps California agriculture, then and now.

The men came from Mexico
To pick our fruit

A mano
, by hand
Our fragile Gravenstein apple crop falling
Hence our need, our haste 

To the ranch in the station wagon
A ’56 Mercury, green and yellow
Everything in a little sack between their legs
Inside two rubber bands their papers,
A few photographs and a few
pesos
On the way, to the market
For beans, flour and lard
With an advance on their work

A mano
, by hand

The next day already to the orchard
After the fog lifts
Both hands picking
Gently into the bag 

Swiftly down the ladder
Sandals with tire tread soles
Bending on wooden steps
The sound of snaps
The sound of apples rolling into a wooden box

Each box with a ticket
With their number
Like a business card
Piece work

A mano
, by hand 

Thousands of boxes
Filled, stacked, loaded out, stacked again
And loaded again onto the flatbed
And hauled to Molino
All a mano, by hand 

Then the whistle from the far-off fire station
Noon, lunche,
comida
The sound of cracking dry limbs
Then the cracking of the fire

Burritos
onto the embers 

Brush away the black ash
Quiet now
The joy of hunger served
By real Mexican food

A mano
, by hand

By the end of the second day already
On their white cotton shirts
Over their shoulders and across their backs
A brown sweat stain
Beneath the strap of the apple bag 

By Sunday, rest and to the market
Checks cashed for money orders
With signatures or X’s for marks
To Mexico
For the rancho they said they’d buy
And how I hoped it was true 

Later in the sunshine leaning against the corral fence
Tempting Grandpa’s horse with tufts of grass
They all seemed to know horses
But never were they invited on 

By six weeks, over and gone
Cleaning up the cabin
A white cotton shirt over the back of a chair
The stain deep and dark now
And a single button there sewn on with blue thread

A mano
, by hand

© 2004, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

 


The Ditch Business

My father was an angry man
And I was bound to follow suit
We were mad at the government and mad at the family
And mad at each other to boot

It wasn’t about the cockleburs or maggots
Or the imperfections of leather
It was about the stupidity of people
Not the vagaries of the mountain weather

It wasn’t that the ewes chose to lamb during storms
Or that late at night there were lambs to pull
It was about our troublesome neighbors
Not the low prices we got for the wool

See, we kept our rifles all loaded
For the varmints that we’d have to kill
But for dealing with unreasonable people
We just loaded our tempers at will
 

When the road washed out in the storm of ’58
The neighbor had plugged up the ditch
I was told to stay and watch the flock
“I’ll take care of that son-of-a-bitch.”

Then the sheriff came, the accusation was made
They said Father had delivered a blow
Twelve years old I’m in the witness chair
“My father ever angry?  I don’t think so.  Why, no.”

But my father was an angry man
And I was bound to follow suit
We were mad at the government and mad at the family
And now mad at the judge to boot
 

© 2005, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

 


Partnership

During the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, in 2006, luthier Chris Jenkins from Arlington, Texas, donated a guitar with a California coastal redwood face plate to the silent auction for the benefit of the Western Folklife Center. One morning Chris removed the guitar from its display case and I heard Pedro Marquez play it.

It was in Arlington, Texas
Chris Jenkins stretched six 180-pound-test steel strings
Across an ancient California coastal redwood top
Then the luthier relinquished his prize to the lap
            of Pedro Marquez
As he waited, he watched, he listened
And Pedro played
His eyes closed
His head bowed
Pickin’ and pickin’, pickin’ out a partner
Chords of communion 

The growth rings paralleled the strings
Wide ones from years of prosperity, gold rushes, oil strikes, and
            triumphant locomotive whistles up new canyons
Narrow ones from years of sorrow, lynchings, wrecks,
            depressions, and wars
The cellulose sinews tuned by the moods of the times
  

But Pedro played, up and down the neck
His fingers from frets to knobs
Easy to tune the strings
Difficult to tune the guitar
The wood having its own song

The drone of the top string
Over a narrow ring, the year of Gettysburg
The lilt of the bottom string
Over a later, wider ring
A year of good rain, high prices
And cattle on the move 

Pedro Marquez played on and on
His imagination a traveler
Across Nevada and Utah, through Colorado and down
            into New Mexico
His flying fingers giving the old wood freedom
And now a new song
And Pedro’s soul slowly found its marriage
Riding double
On the melody from the luthier’s prize
 

© 2006, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.
 

 


Mingler* at Elko

When I first visited the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, suddenly full of inspiration and excitement for opportunities for creation and performance, I was daunted because I realized I was not, nor had I been, a cowboy.  I had ridden horses around the place as a youth and later in endurance contests, and I had herded our flock of seventy ewes as a youth on the ranch, my only credentials.  But I wanted so much to fit in there. 

Mingler* at Elko

On cruise control to Elko
Eighty miles an hour down Highway 80
The interstate dividing the desert before me
Snow on the mountains, grayish-green sage on the flats 

Inside the Elko Convention Center, so many cowboy hats
Enough 100 X beaver to block out the sun
And belt buckles the size of disc blades
And so many big moustaches
Enough hair to make hackamores
For all the horses Charlie Goodnight sent up the trail 

Lines and crowds everywhere
Thumbs hooked on pockets
Not a venue open, and the G Three Bar is full too
Maybe there’s a special performance across at Subway
            or down at the Star 

Hmm, not many in here, but I’ll have to sit in the back
And peek through the hats 

Holy Toledo
A poem about Milton Faver’s sheep
Can it be true?
Will my hook have the celebrity of the lariat?
Will the smell of lanolin on my hands no longer segregate me?
  

In the grand drama of it all
Will blue bag finally take its proud and proper place
            beside mad cow disease?
May I get on that stage, behind that microphone, and beneath those lights?
I guess so, lucky me
I have seen with my own eyes
I have heard with my own ears
The neo-modern cowboy poetry genre
Embraces shepherds
They have made amends
The guns have been locked up
The wire has come down
Sheep and cattle graze, mingling freely on open range
On the mountains, in the sage
And in the westbound lanes of the highway home 

Cruise control off back to Reno  

*Mingler, n. one who mingles, does not appear to be a word in my dictionary, but reading Shakespeare, it seems as if it is fine to make up a few words now and then.

© 2006, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.
 


© 2007, Vince Pedroia; this image  may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.
 


Disguised

Outrageous hot, plunging, reckless, brilliant colors
Reds and oranges, painted on paper
And painted over, but little bits peeking out
Reminders
But only to those who knew
Wretched invisibility
Trapped little birds
Wings pinned behind the dark greens and blues
Painted over
But the little spots look still wet
How can it be
Painted over so long ago

© 2006, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.
 

Artist Louisa Fraser explained she often used an old painting/canvas that she no longer liked, and painted over the piece. Colors from “below” would come through the new piece. This inspired Vince to write a couple of poems about “painting over.” Louisa sketched Vince’s vineyard and created a new piece for this mixed media project.
 


illustration by Louisa King Fraser; this image may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.


This giclée print is available for purchase from www.VincePedroia.com.
 


 

Our Dogs

Inevitably they talk about their dogs
Leaning against the bar
Leaning against the fenders of their pickup trucks
Laying around the campfire
Gazing at the stars
Inevitably they talk about their dogs 

Little do they know
Those little silver specks in the heavens
Are the reflections from the eyes
Of all their old friends long gone
And those silver streaks, not falling stars,
No, Frisbees, tennis balls and sticks
That got away in the weightlessness of space 

I was on duty often when they came
And I cried along with their masters
When their time had come
The rich, the poor, hippies and cowboys
Old couples, little kids
Survivors of the holocaust
Marines home just in time 

Well, we know where they go
But whence came these drifters?
Some just showed up on the porch, quietly waiting, like they had an appointment
Others came in little squeaking boxes and
Relentless hands fed them with bottle and nipple
Their mothers lost
Until irresistibility became full value
And they rode home on the leather seat of the Rolls Royce 

© 2007, Vince Pedroia
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

 

Vince’s accomplishments and contributions as a veterinary neurologist were a source of great satisfaction and pride, and a huge part of who he was. This poem is the only piece Vince wrote about his 36 years in the veterinary profession.

 


This image may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

Poem first published in a broadside print produced by Mary Whitehill, DVM, and Trisha Pedroia, 2010. Design by Colored Horse Studio.

This broadside is available for purchase from www.VincePedroia.com.
 


 


Book and Recording

A Mano 
Book and CD

 

Vince Pedroia's 2006 work, A Mano, earned high praise from Paul Zarzyski:

From the free verse romp of his “Prince Valiant of the West” paying crude, rude tribute to brutal truth; from his empathetic celebration of sweat-’n’-callus white-collar migrant worker lives in the title piece; from the fanciful narrative of “Black Magic,” a metered and rhymed genuine-article Cowboy Poem complete with a saddlebag full of clamorous shenanigans building toward its bunkhouse-bard punch line; from these varied sensibilities to the demonstratively personal, poignant, and courageous ponderings in his poem so precisely titled “Pause,” Vince Pedroia exhibits a multi-faceted finesse in most every tapestry of verse he weaves from the finest fleece. Donning numerous Renaissance man derbies, Vince is also a moonshine artist, a maestro of divinely high spirits, a master at distilling short stories—hell, sometimes novellas!—down into the 200 proof elixir-of-the-grappa-gods we call poetry. A MANO is a book built by both heart and hand—the fine guitar bowed to in the poem “Partnership.” Read this work aloud.  Enunciate each syllable.  Assimilate every nuance. Sip from Vince Pedroia’s pool and stroll away healthier, more soulful, and far more human.

                                        —Paul Zarzyski, Poet (a.k.a. “Burdizzo” Zarzyski) 

The book includes 20 original poems, vintage photos, family photos, and contemporary photos by Vince Pedroia and his wife Trisha and others. The handsome volume, which has had three printings, is carefully designed and printed by BK Publications of Eagle, Idaho.


Illustration from the back cover of A Mano
© 2006, Vince Pedroia; this image may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

The CD includes Vince Pedroia's distinctive recitations of all of the poems in the book, and well-selected music by Mark McDonald.

Contents:

Introduction
Lookin' Through Old Books
Horseshoe Bend
Goin' Down to Duncan's
Education
Shorts, Longs and Long Rifles
A Mano
My Sister's Horse
Partnership
Grandpa's Ghost
The Ditch Business
Prince Valiant of the West
The Lure of the Bell
Black Magic
Billy Burnham
Quaking Grass and Queen Anne's Lace
Cousin Johnny in New Mexico Called
Left Behind
Pause
Mingler at Elko
Wonderin'

The A Mano book is available for $20 postpaid from:

 www.VincePedroia.com

The companion CD is available for $20 postpaid. You can order the book and CD together for $30 postpaid.

 


More Cartoons

 


© Vince Pedroia; this image may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.


 


© 1990, Vince Pedroia; this image may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.


 


© Vince Pedroia; this image may not be reprinted or reposted without express permission.

 


About Vince Pedroia
excerpts from program presented at the celebration of his life


His Younger Years

Vince was born in Petaluma to Helen and Victor Pedroia. He was a country boy, growing up on the 300 acre family farm, El Centro Orchards, on Occidental Road. The family raised 70 or so sheep but the main focus was on cherry and apple orchards. The orchards were planted about 1915 by Vince's maternal grandparents, Ansel and Gretta Banks. Vince was tending the orchards in his early life by helping in the harvesting of fruit, propping and pruning trees and the many other jobs related to their growing. The experiences from his childhood were reflected throughout his life. It wasn't surprising that he chose to be a veterinarian as a profession. There were many times that Vince had to pull lambs, tend to injured sheep, and castrate and detail lambs. Vince took great pride in the area that he grew up in and never took it for granted. He was very interested in the history of the Occidental area and had hoped to help create the history of Vinegar Ridge. Hopefully, that task will be carried out by other historians of the area.

His Education

Vince attended the one-room Jonive School outside of Occidental until the end of 7th grade, completing his last elementary year at Harmony School in Occidental. Vince graduated from Analy High School in Sebastopol then went on to Sonoma State University for a year before transferring to UC Davis (UCD), graduating from the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in 1971. Vince worked as a small animal general practice veterinarian in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa before returning to UCD in 1980 to study neurology. He worked in Sacramento and Berkeley before joining Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park in 1988. He received his certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 1995. While at Animal Care Center, Vince founded the neurology team, was the Center's Medical Director and was on the Center's Board of Directors. He also published articles and authored book chapters about veterinary neurology.

Animal Care Center Foundation

A project that Vince was very proud of was the former Animal Care Center Foundation which was dedicated to supporting local families and pets during times of final farewells whether it be for health reasons, behavioral concerns, or the end of life.

Animal Care Center Dog Park

Vince wholeheartedly supported the idea of a dog park at Ragle Ranch Regional Park in Sebastopol. He thought it would be exciting and wonderful for the community to have a place where dogs could run freely and socialize. The Animal Care Center generously provided a donation to help bring the Dog Park to life which made Vince feel tremendously proud.

The Ultrarunner

His inspiration was Olympic marathon runner Frank Shorter. He saw him run in the mid-70s in Montreal and that started his love of running. "I just kind of like that place of being alone outside, of taking a journey of some sort on foot." —Vince Pedroia

  • Western States 100-mile Endurance Run—7 times, twice under 24 hours
  • Angeles Crest 100-mile Endurance Run—8 times
  • Leadville 100-mile Endurance Run
  • Wasatch Front 100-mile Endurance Run (1986)
  • San Juan Trail 50-mile Endurance Run—all 15 years
  • Cal 50, American River 50 and other 50-mile endurance runs
  • Humboldt Redwoods marathon (1979), Napa marathon, San Francisco marathon
  • Ride & Tie Championship races—7 times, plus many smaller ride & ties (first ride & tie in 1979)
  • Redwood Empire American Cancer Society 24-hour track runs—4 times, 1st place in 1993, 120 miles; subsequent year 3rd place, 125 miles
  • Tahoe Relay swim; swam Donner Lake 2 or 3 times; other open water swims, including under the Golden Gate Bridge

"Yet his most memorable achievement is how he touched so many lives...we are all finer folk for knowing him. As usual, he beat us to the finish line." —Lynn Harris (running friend)

Cowboy Poetry

Vince was in stage plays in high school, and always had a secret desire to perform in front of audiences. He was a writer of short stories most of his life, although never tried to publish them. He also drew many cartoons. He went to the Elko National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January 2002 and started writing his first cowboy/ranch poem on the way home. His poetry gave him the opportunity to do the performing he always wanted. His book, A Mano, was published December 2006, and the CD was recorded in February and released in May 2007. He began performing locally in April 2005 with the "Five Hombres" and did subsequent performances in December 2005, March 2006, and October 2006.

His Family

Vince is survived by his wife and best friend Trisha; children Joelle Prather (Richard) and Jason Pedroia; grandson Victor Jakob Pedroia; sisters Jocelyn Gardner (Jack) and Yvonne Thompson (Ken); Judy Kime, the mother of his children; and many nieces, nephews and extended family members. He is also survived by many, many good friends.

Vince loved his dog, Sassy. She was his companion at work and at home and gave him much comfort and laughter. He also loved riding Trisha's horse, Andy, bareback, with just a halter on, through the vineyard.

Then we laugh
And go side-by-side
Blue sky as far as the horizon
Horizon as far as the sky
And roundness lets us go on forever
Together
                    
Vince Pedroia
                           from "Brethren," 2006

 


 

Kathy Yerger, the Administrator from Animal Care Center where Vince practiced, commissioned this piece from artist Glen Halverson, Sebastopol, CA in May 2008 to bring to life the “Our Dogs” poem. The dog is made of woven and twisted copper wire, and has antique barbed wire for a collar and bandanna. It is mounted on copper armature, which allows for motion, and captures the exuberance of the playing dog jumping for the stars.

 
photo by Trisha Pedroia
 

 


 


photo by Trisha Pedroia
 

Visit www.VincePedroia.com

 


 

 

It was with the deepest sadness that we learned of the death of Trisha Pedroia on November 23, 2010. Trisha was an accomplished horsewoman, a loyal friend, an enthusiastic supporter of Western music and poetry, and an adventurous lover of life. She will be greatly missed by her many friends.

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

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