In the early days of the Austin Rodeo moving to the new facility at the Travis County Expo Center in the Mid 1980s, Kenny had been very involved and was a “Founder“. A lot of the contractors in town volunteered a lot of time and money to that effort.
I was not quite as involved. In fact, I just pretty much rode in on my brother’s coat-tails and enjoyed all the fun of the annual stock show and rodeo. He was very generous with tickets and the like.
One night he and I decided to take my 3 older boys along with his pup, Kody and go for a night of rodeo action. They were about ages 10, 8, 8, and 5.
I took all my boys that day and bought them new hats and new boots. They were all decked out. I let one of the pretty girls at the western wear store outfit them.
After the rodeo we stopped by the carnival rides for awhile. Kenny had been working on becoming more and more festive as the night went on. We had all six ridden together in his double cab pickup. So when we left we headed out the back way, more in the direction away from Austin toward his place down east of the current Austin Airport. Which was good. Kenny wasn’t needing a lot of traffic to compete with for the highway. I suggested that perhaps I may be better suited to get us home, to which Kenny in fine form let me know he could herd that baby home with no problem.
In fact as he pulled out onto the Farm to Market Road behind the Expo Center he began to whip his left leg with his left hand, driving with his right hand while zig-zagging all over the highway, pretending he was riding a wild bronc, hollering Yee-Haw Yee-Haw. The backseat came alive with MORE, MORE, MORE.
The boys were all standing up in floor board and doing their own brand of war-whooping. Except Little Ron, the younger, he was standing in the backseat leaning over front seat.
Ron was always grinning.
It was a chaotic scene, made worse when Kenny lost control and the pickup vaulted off the highway out through the ditch and stopped when it struck a 12″ diameter Bois’ de Arc tree. The sudden stop catapulted young Ron up into the front dash, headfirst. His new hat being the only cushioning he had. The straw hat was wadded up on his head. He was fine, medically. I’m not sure any of them were ever alright psychologically after that night.
The impact was made worse by the loud car horn that continued to blow. Kenny’s forward motion into the steering wheel had jammed the horn button. Not wanting to call too much attention to the situation, Kenny jumped out to raise the hood and try to unplug the horn. The hood was jammed and wouldn’t open. The pickup continued to run. Finally he started reaching in through the grill with his pocket knife, cutting wires. The more wires he cut, the less lights he had working. One last slice and the horn went silent.
Bloodied hands and all, he jumped back in and started to flee. By that time he decided it may be a good time for me to drive. Really? I declined. He only lived about 5 or 6 miles away, so somehow we managed to limp on over to his place, with very limited lights and a slight overheating problem.
Just another night at the rodeo !