BRANDING THE CALVES, PART 2 CONT’D. FROM “BRANDING DAYS” JANUARY 27, 2014 — WITH A FEW INTERRUPTIONS.
“MONDAYS WITH MELITAS” — FEBRUARY 17, 2014
Now, maybe we can get back to the story of the cowboys at the Rancho Mission Viejo taking care of those little calves in the springtime when they rudely grab them from their mommies and do things to them so they will grow up to be very good, tender steaks, hopefully, instead of tough, tough, tough, ones. Where did I leave off? Well, it was right in the middle of the little “calfie” story. To get back up to speed, I will have to knock at the door of my Noggin and ask: “Knock, knock, Who’s there?” The old Skull will answer with a question: Who’s
asking, and where have you been?” That may sound a bit muddled, but that’s the way things are these days around here, so back to the ranch.
This time, we have pictures to prove everything. There I am in one being the bartender in “The Swallow,” waiting on Jess Sanchez and our famous little Japanese Cowboy — he worked and lived at the ranch, and spent a lot of time at the bar. Yamada was a very teeny guy, and that came in very handy if he had to get from one side of the horse to the other. He could just walk quickly under the horse. His attire left something to be desired. The levis drooped over the boots with the turned-up toes, very beat up, at that. His hat was the crowning glory. Who could figure how he got it to look that way? It was a most unique concept, and was definitely his own design. Also, Yamada was our “Swallow” lifeline to gather the “mountain oysters” as the cowboys lopped them off into waiting buckets. You will no doubt recall that other items went missing from the calf. They removed the barely developed horns, then they gave the calf its brand ownership on its rump with the red-hot branding iron, while another cowboy would poke the little critter with a huge syringe filled with goodies to keep infections away, and inject some healthy stuff at the same time. You know, it would take 3 or 4 cowboys to hold one little calf while these painful, bad things went on.
Five or six of us would leave from the “Swallow” in the morning. I was the lone female since I had grown up on this type of action with the calves. There were a few gals who would be there, but most women were not interested and didn’t have the stomach for it. We’d pile in one car, and would have our “props” with us: I had my Polaroid and would take dozens and dozens of pictures, hanging over the corral at all angles, and with the fellas holding me up a lot of the time so I wouldn’t play Humpty Dumpty at that early age of 35. (That would come later.) We also had extra buckets so we could exchange with Yamada when he had a full one.
Around 4 o’clock we would leave to get back to the bar and make our day complete. We knew there would be a gang hungrily waiting to get in on the delicious, gourmet spoils of our effort— AND YAMADA’S. Josie, the cook, would start in by cleaning all these morsels, then she would proceed to toss them in the deep fryer. A couple of us would go up and down the bar offering these tasty bites, and all the while the customers are ooh-ing and aah-ing, licking their chops, buying more beers. More beer. The cash register had a lovely ring to it. Life was good.
PAUSE — NOW ABOUT THE PICTURES
**There is the one showing my building with the Liquor Store, the Restaurant, and the “Swallow” on Camino Real and the corner of Verdugo leading down to the Depot.
**There is the one inside the bar with me serving our Japanese Cowboy, and notice his cowboy hat.
**There is one of me with Johnny Manriques under the shady trees — with a beer in hand. (N0, that is not a “selfie.”)
**There are several showing the action in the corral plus the buckets are seen.
** Then a lone cowboy up in the saddle. That is Viejo (meaning “old one”) who was the sweetest, dearest, kindest Cowboy ever. He reminded me of my Dad, who was the sweetest, dearest, kindest Dad ever.