Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The New President Meets Old Grunter

With the passing of Walter Cronkite, whose evening newscasts were essential viewing for me, we have seen clips of Walter's life and times. I don't know if Walter had any commentary on this particular stage of President Kennedy's inaugural parade in January 1961, but I thought I'd post this photo. As you can see, there are a lot of smiling faces, including that of the new President (directly above the Presidential seal) and a clapping Vice President Johnson to the right of Kennedy. That's Buddy Heaton passing by the reviewing stand on Old Grunter, a "partially tamed" buffalo he purchased for $500 in 1950.

"Old Grunter didn’t come with a detailed set of riding instructions," Buddy recalled, "and it took two years of trial and error to get the hang of riding the buffalo right side up. A good part of that time was spent sailing through the air and then having to pick my backside up off the ground. It quickly became apparent that a healthy young buffalo is not the gentlest of God’s creatures, y’know.”

While on Old Grunter, Buddy managed to shake hands with Kennedy and Johnson during the parade. Also on Inauguration Day, Buddy rode Grunter up the steps of the Capitol Building.

In 1972, at the age of 25, Old Grunter died after eating some contaminated alfalfa. “Burying an old friend like Grunter was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life,” said Buddy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

On the Trail

Ethan at the Buffalo Trace Trail last Thursday during the weekly run with the herd. He and I covered about 2.5 miles of the 5-mile trail, alternating running and walking. The prairie grasses and flowers in the background were prevalent in the days when buffalo roamed central Illinois.