Back When I Aspired To Driving A Cattle Truck For A Living

I had graduated from high school earlier that year and trying to “find myself” is the best way to describe where I was in life. It was already the time of year when the weather was starting to get cooler, so most likely it was November.

Butch Sayers got me to go with him to Marysville, California to deliver a truck load of Corriente Steers (Mexican Roping Steers). We left Marble Falls in the middle of the afternoon and arrived in Del Rio at the stockyards after dark. The trip had been sprung on me suddenly and I didn’t have a chance to eat before we left. I mentioned to Butch a couple of times that we may want to make a stop for something to eat. All he was thinking about was getting to Del Rio and loading those steers. The Stockyard Cafe was right there when we drove up. I suggested we have a bite to eat and then load the steers. That fell on deaf ears I guess.

After we got loaded, we both went in and ordered up a big chicken fried steak each. It was a busy place that night and took forever to get our food. For what ever reason I stabbed my fork in that steak to drag it over in the middle my plate to keep the gravy from running off the side. In doing so, lifting the steak that is, I noticed something underneath my meat. It looked like a small birds nest or something. Upon closer inspection I found out it was a big wad of hair.

I wasn’t as discriminating an eater then as I am now. Upon seeing what I’d dragged out from under my steak, Butch immediately abandoned the table and headed for the truck. I got to thinking about how far it was to California and how much trouble I’d had getting Butch to stop, I went ahead and devoured my steak and then ate Butch’s too.

I understand how a single hair could get in one’s food, but I never did quite understand how a wad of hair as big as a brillo-pad found its way under my chicken fried steak. I guess some things you don’t have to fully understand.

We made it to Tucson without much of a problem. But the truck was beginning to act up. We dropped the steers off at a cattle rest stop and limped on to a truck stop to see if we could get the truck repaired. We diagnosed the problem as a worn out turbocharger. We pulled it off and couldn’t find another, but got one shipped in for the next day.

This is the very same truck a couple years later after Mark Fox had bought it from Butch when Butch headed to the Oil Fields and by this time Mark Fox had sold it to my Dad, Cecil Lewis. (him standing beside that old KW Cabover)

I had no idea how cold it could be at night out in the desert. With so little experience in matters of traveling around the county, I didn’t have a coat, nor the money to buy one. Once the turbo was back on and the steers reloaded we headed on for Northern California.

Butch mapped out our trip and climbed in the sleeper, telling me to wake him up when we reached the Tehachapi Mountain Pass, headed down into Bakersfield. He knew I had never driven down such steep grades and didn’t want me to panic and burn up a set of brakes. I guess that was all lost on me, because at some point in time he started climbing out of that sleeper with that truck headed down the steep incline. I forget what all he said, but I knew he wasn’t happy with me. Since I was already committed, he let me continue on until we got into Bakersfield.

Butch took over and drove on up to Marysville, allowing me to sleep. After we unloaded, Butch got back behind the wheel. I got the feeling that my driving days were over. I think I had scared him a little too much. He drove on down to southern California, while I got more sleep.

We fueled up and he turned the wheel over to me once again. He crawled in the back and I drove straight through, only stopping at the checkpoints at the state lines and to fuel up once. Butch must have regained a comfort level, because I never saw him until I pulled up and stopped in Brady, Texas to eat breakfast.

A year or so later Butch was oversees working in the oilfield wire line business, I was married to his niece and we both had left the life as cattle truck drivers behind us.

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