I was almost killed when a Brahma bull escaped during a rodeo being held in Northern Arizona.
My Tata (which means grandfather, in Spanish) sold trinkets, dishes, hats and toys to the Indians living on the reservations in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico during their festivals and holiday celebrations. My dad would take us to go work with my Tata and one summer we found ourselves at a bull and bronco riding rodeo in a small town in Arizona.
He’d park his van, full of toys, dishes, Confederate flags, cowboy hats, bandannas, bird calls, magic snakes and other paraphernalia, so that it made one wall of his stand, which he dubbed “Fun City”.
We’d set up three long tables on the other three sides and start to put out the merchandise, with the old fashioned cash register sitting in the middle of the table facing the front of the stand.
As soon as we arrived, the moms with their kids would start milling around checking out the new dishware while the kids would start begging to be given quarters so they could buy the toys and candy. Tata had been a peddler for many years and his stand was so well known, that the crowds would be waiting for us before we got there in the early morning hours, hoping to get the best merchandise available. After all, once we emptied the van, there’d be no more product to buy.
Engrossed in our exchange, neither the buyers nor sellers at the stand were really paying any attention to the rodeo.
The Indians and cowboys who were opening and closing the gates to control the bulls coming in and out of the corral were blind drunk. Laughing and joking around, they let one gate swing lazily open as a fresh young bull, mad-as-hell and full of powerful energy was being led into the corral.
He came charging out the gate, blind with rage, and headed for the first object in his path, which happened to be my Tata’s vendor stall.
I looked up from my transaction in time to see the bull roaring toward us, head down, powerful muscles stomping the earth in his rage. The small crowd of buyers stood in shock as the huge Brahma bull was bearing down on our stall.
“Everyone, get into the van!” my dad screamed, and just in the nick of time they scooted under the tables to jump into the back of the van.
I leaped into the van full of crying kids and frightened moms just in time to hang onto the side as the behemoth swerved just a fraction to the right, bypassing us within a hair’s breadth, and making the van swerve violently back and forth like a hurricane hit it.
The cowboys, realizing their error, instantly grabbed their lariats and came running after the bull, attempting to distract him by slapping him with the ropes to get him to turn in their direction.
I didn’t realize I had shut my eyes tight until I opened them, to see that a quick thinking cowboy had jumped on the nearest horse and was lassoing the bull. Along with four other men on foot, they managed to get the beast back into the corral and continue the rodeo, laughing and slapping each other on the back.
The Indians, with their enviable attitude of “ok, that’s over, we lived” went imperturbably back to their shopping while my brother and sister and I stood in temporary shock, staring at each other with big eyes.
We sold everything in that van and were given small gifts for helping to save their lives, learning a lesson in the meantime.
“You may experience terror for one second, but you either live or die. Then, for the living, life goes on!”
(True story by Diane Tegarden.)