ALL-AMERICAN CATTLEMEN’S DAY
Saturday, June 9, 1973
Memories of that day, by Steve Moreland, as of December 31, 2018
This was in the May 1973 issue of THE NEBRASKA CATTLEMAN:
Beef Breeds Field Day at Whitman Ready for June 9
The appearance of country western singing star Leroy Van Dyke, judging contest for 4-H and FFA individuals, seven breeds of cattle representing ten area ranches are on display for the public, and a star-studded program along with a western style fashion show will signify an action packed “ALL AMERICAN CATTLEMEN’S DAY” to be held near Whitman, Nebraska, June 9th.
“Unity within the beef production picture” will be the purpose coupled with the field day theme “Advancement of lean meat production on an economic level.”
Top quality speakers and judges representing the feeding, packing, and merchandising levels of our industry are being invited and will be announced in the near future.
Participants in the “ALL AMERICAN CATTLEMEN’S DAY” can expect to see high quality cattle of the following breeds: Angus, Simmental, Charolais, Chianina, Hereford, Limousin, Gelbvieh, and Maine Anjou displayed by the following ranches:
Jerry and Deloris Adamson, Cody, Nebr.
Shepard Cattle Co., Hyannis, Nebr.
Double Hook Ranch, Whitman, Nebr.
Hollers Ranch Co., Cody, Nebr.
Lyle Wright Herefords, Hyannis, Nebr.
Dan Vinton, Whitman, Nebr.
Ray Ranch, Chappell, Nebr.
S & W Ranch, Purdum, Nebr.
Rogers Cattle Co., Sargent, Nebr.
Leroy Van Dyke, Nashville singing star, famous for his songs, “Auctioneer” and “Walk on By,” will present an hour long program in the afternoon and be on hand for the presentation of awards to the winners of the judging contest.
It will be an excellent opportunity for interested cattlemen to compare their favorite breed with the other breeds on display, while the wives are entertained by a western style fashion show. Numerous awards will be in the offering for interested youth as well as all guests will be in contention for the quarters of beef to be given away as door prizes. All in all, an action packed educational day for the whole family.
In the June 1973 issue of THE NEBRASKA CATTLEMAN a more official advertisement was published. The information was similar, and it proclaimed: Field Day Site—In the Heart of Cow Country, 2 miles east of WHITMAN, NEBRASKA on Hiway No. 2
*JUDGING CONTEST for 4-H and FFA *FASHION SHOW – modeled by Nebraska breed Queens *$500 in Savings Bonds to winners of Judging Contests *QUARTERS of beef as door prizes *SPEAKERS REPRESENTING Feeding-Packing-Merchandising Industry from U.S. & Canada
Appearance by: LEROY VAN DYKE, Nashville Country Western Singer
Registration 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. MDT
Well, as you can imagine, this sounded like an exciting way to spend that particular day. My mother Elaine Moreland and my three younger sisters, Sandra, Sybil, and Nancy had left the day before to travel to Minnesota, where my mother had grown up and where her family still lived. They would be spending about a week on that trip. My dad Bob Moreland and I decided to journey to Whitman for the ALL-AMERICAN CATTLEMEN’S DAY. As could be expected, it was a very interesting and entertaining day, and we had opportunity to visit with many friends, neighbors, and other ranch-oriented people. Leroy Van Dyke put on a superb performance. He seemed to enjoy the enthusiastic Sandhills hospitality, and the fact that we all loved his music. By popular demand, he was persuaded to perform again that evening for an impromptu dance at the Ashby Town Hall.
Being young and single, I was all for staying over for the dance. Dad, however, thought he’d already put in a pretty good day, and he was more interested in going back the 90 miles to our ranch northeast of Merriman. When we got home, I called a friend Dave Roth, who lived down on the Niobrara River south of Merriman. I asked if he’d be at all interested in going with me to Ashby to the dance. He was more than willing, so I turned my pickup around and headed south again on Highway 61. Just on the north side of the river, I turned west to pick up Dave. He is five years older than me, and was already a Viet Nam veteran. In 1973 he was helping his aunt and uncle, Wilma and Jim Gray, on their ranch known as the old Mensinger place.
Dave and I had a nice trip to Ashby, and arrived in plenty of time to eat supper at Ila’s café before the dance got underway. We spent the evening there, and stayed until the last dog was hung, so to speak. It was in the wee hours of the morning when I dropped Dave off at his home on the river, before sleepily heading north towards Merriman.
On the highway about three miles north of the Niobrara River bridge, there appeared to be a car wreck ahead. A pickup was in the east ditch, with headlights pointing up in the air facing the highway. A car was in the middle of the road facing southeast, with headlights shining on the pickup in the ditch. I stopped a little ways back, and turned on my emergency flashers. Getting out of my pickup, I walked to the stranded pickup which was pointing up in the air at a 45 degree angle. I recognized the driver, Ron Morton, who was passed out and slumped over the wheel, and a woman was sitting in the middle. Wayne Ladely, a cowboy who wore a patch over one eye, was sitting alongside the lady. It turned out that he was the driver of the car which was on the highway, with engine shut off and headlights rapidly growing dimmer. In visiting with Wayne, he said that Ron was coming from the south, and had passed out and gone off the road. In trying to come back onto the highway, his pickup ended up in the position it was in. Wayne had been coming from the north on his way back to the Rich Cobb ranch where he worked, and had come upon the Morton vehicle. While visiting with Wayne, I head coughing in the grass to the east. My eyes were growing accustomed to the dark, and I groped my way to where a young teen-aged boy was lying in a prone position. He seemed to be just as drunk as all the others involved in the fiasco, and was evidently relieving himself when he passed out.
By this time another car had come from the north. This turned out to be Dan Conner, who had been to a dance at the Gordon American Legion. He was sober, and he turned on his flashers as a warning to anyone else coming from the north.
Back in those days, wireless cell phones were probably not even yet invented. The country lines in and around Merriman had gone to dial phones in 1967, and the old one-wire system had been replaced with two parallel copper wires, which went from post to post above ground. Before departing for Ashby, I did have presence of mind to put our “test phone” in my glove box. As area ranchers were compelled to fix their own phone lines in those days, this test phone was invaluable in finding problems on a line. It was also a great emergency phone. I drove my pickup to a knoll where I could stand in the bed of the box and reach both wires of the phone line. Pinching each wire of the test phone to a wire on the phone line, I was reassured to hear a dial tone. I dialed “0” for Operator, and asked for information for the number of Clyde Weber, who lived in Merriman. He was a deputy sheriff for Cherry County, and he seemed to be the logical one to call for this occasion. By this time it was probably 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. Clyde groggily answered his phone, but came fully awake after hearing the details, and said he would be right down. Dan Conner had a case of 7-UP in the trunk of his car, so we imbibed in that while waiting for Clyde. Clyde arrived, investigated the situation, and we pushed the vehicles off the road so no one would run into them. Wayne Ladely, Ron Morton, the woman, and the boy were all loaded into Clyde’s car, and he drove into Merriman where probably the four inebriated souls spent the night in the local crow-bar hotel until they sobered up. I drove on home, and had an hour or two of sleep before dear old Dad called me to help him run his ranch. And thus ends my memories of the All-American Cattlemen’s Day of June 9th, 1973.