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Prime Time: The bull and the Lone Tree

Bill, Curt, Doc and I did a lot of fun things. Some of these activities might be considered dangerous today, but we didn't think twice of doing them.

One of our summer trips was out to the Lone Tree. Behind the Tracy Dairy which May Hatch ran, was open field. The fields were plowed every year and corn and other crops were grown there.

The four of us boys went out to the Lone Tree a few times when we were 7, 8 and 9 years old. Our mothers packed peanut and jelly sandwiches along with bananas, apples or oranges. We did not bring beverages with us. Pop was a delicacy. We would have a bottle once or twice a month.

We met at the corner by my house and walked north a couple of blocks to the dairy, over the barbed wire fence, out across the plowed field to the Lone Tree. We hated walking over the furrows. Our feet twisted every which way as we walked up and down the furrows.

The Lone Tree was at the junction of four fields. Fences went north and south and west. On the northwest quadrant lived a bull. He was big and looked horribly mean. That did not matter to us. We thought we were invincible.

We sat under the tree and had our picnics. Afterward, we leaned up against the fence that went west and we looked at the bull. Each of us brought a red neckerchief in our back right pockets. We had heard that bulls got mad when they see red, and we wanted to have fun with the bull.

We took turns climbing under the lowest wire of the fence. These fences were just wire; there were no barbs to stop the cattle. The three of us who were leaning on the fence shouted encouragement to the daredevil who was approaching the bull.

The daredevil would walk slowly toward the bull and then wave his hanky at the bull. The bull always ignored us, but we thought it was a thrill anyway. When we would get within six or seven feet, we would shout and then turn and run for the fence, ducking under the lowest wire as if our lives depended on our quickness. Again, the bull paid no attention to any of us, but each year for three years we had to go to the Lone Tree and visit our friend.

Stupid? Daring? Silly? All we knew is that we had fun. Of course, our mothers only knew that we went out to the Lone Tree. We never told them about the bull.