Tony Rustad's Memories
Humboldt's Running of the Bulls
It was an article in the Free "Tidbits" paperabout a small town, Mesquite, Nevada, that has added an international flavorto its summer festivities, an annual "running of the bulls", thatreminded me of our own "running". Every year Dad brought a bullto our little farm west of Humboldt for a few days, a ritual which I didnot understand until years later.
Mike and I rode our bikes along the lane, watching themassive creature stand alone in the pasture, a virtual mountain of red againstthe fenced prairie pasture. He looked like a Satan, ready to break and destroy.We stood still against the fence watching the beast breath quietly, waitingfor the explosive furor if it should be irritated. Dad warned that we shouldnot wear bright clothing if we went anywhere near the pasture for the nextfew days or weeks. " A raging bull has been known to leap over a fivefoot fence in defense of its territory." I wondered why Grampa Rustaddared to walk out into the pasture with the cows considering the menacewhich stood so defiantly near by. But day after day I heeded that warningabout the fierce animal instincts.
It was so until Brad Hemmes stopped over one morning. Bradwas ever the brash excitable daring youth that you read about in the "HardyBoys Adventures." It wasn't enough to stand by the fence and watch.Brad dreamed of numerous methods to taunt and defy the creature. If theloud noises, screams and hollars didn't produce the desired effect, thensticks and stones were employed next. My brother Mike lost interest in theuseless endeavor, determining that the activites of the day were a wasteof time. He walked back to the house intending to bury his imagination intoanother of his many books. As I remember it Brad was so full of ideas, oftenblaming others.
"Lets get your 'Daisy' out. It can't hurt 'im. Derso tough. Just sting a little bit." It was for an imaginative ideathat we raced back to our garage to get the "Daisy", knowing rightalong that Dad would not approve. We were so bold about how good a shotwe were. Brad said he could shoot the clingons off the bulls bottom fromfifty yards. "75", I said.
I thought Brad would be the first, but it was ever hisintent that I do the shooting. "Come on, Dare Ya." "Doubledare." "Dare you", I said, "I ain't shootin' no bullin the butt." "What would dad do if it jumped the fence?""They don't jump electric fences." "Do so, they don't payno 'tention to the fence." "Dare ya to run up and pat him on thebutt." "You pat 'im." "I said first." "So.""Dare ya,. You don't da-are." "Do so."
How it was that I volunteered to run with the bulls, Idon't altogether remember. But the sick feeling in the pit of my stomachwas evidence enough that it may be a mistake of consequence. I rememberthinking: "Dad did not tell me to not to go in the pasture for a coupleof weeks." But the power of this thing, the "dare," was reallygreater that responsibility, safety, or warning. It was a rite of passage,the only proof of success for a 10 year old. To meet the dare was a greatvictory.
It was so as I crawled under the fence into the pasturewith Satan. Brad coached "Don't act like your scared. Just walk steadyto him. He won't be bothered if you don't act scared. Then when you getclose, slap him and run to the gate. I'll open it for you. You bet."
It seemed that Brad had really done this before. Each stepI took, followed step, quiet and cautious, careful not to stumble. It was35 yards, then 30 - 25 yards - 20. At fifteen yards the steps became smaller.Each step traced the other slower. The bull winced. He shifted towards me.Face to face at about 15 yards. It wasn't fear that came to mind when Irealized that the bull was now between the gate and me. It was terror. Thebull was not suppose to turn. The only place for me to run was to the olddogwood tree on the east side of the pasture. If I made it there, I washome free. I could wait out the nasty old guy.
I pivoted and ran. And ran.
I pivoted and ran. And ran.