A Pinch of Rodeo
By Joe R. Nichols
We worked the rodeo in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and spent the night. Our next out was the night performance at Strong City, Kansas. There were two car loads of us traveling together, and we had all day to get there. There’s not a lot of things to see or do on that drive, and I kept trying to come up with someway to kill some time and stay out of the heat. Getting to the rodeo early just meant more time spent sweating.
The route we chose took us through Sedan, Kansas, and a few miles from town I saw a billboard advertising a museum. This historic attraction featured a famous person born to the town of Sedan. Being from Kansas, I was aware of this person, although I hadn’t thought about him forever. I never mentioned the billboard, and I don’t think anybody else noticed it.
I was in the lead car, so when I parked on main street of this small town, the other group pulled in as well. Everyone ambled out of the cars, stretching, looking around, and acting confused. “What are we doing here?” one kid asked.
“Yeah, why are we stopping in this dink of a town?” another said.
“We’re going to the Emmett Kelly Museum.” I announced with enthusiasm.
“Who the hell is Emmett Kelly?”
“He’s a clown.” I said.
“A rodeo clown?”
“No, dumb ass. He’s the most famous circus clown in the world. You know, Barnum and Bailey, Ringling Brothers. This is where he was from.”
They all looked at me like I was nuts, but I walked right in and paid my seventy-five cent admission and began to take it in. About half way through, I looked around at my buddies. They were all split up, not talking at all to each other, and absorbing the displays and information.
Back outside on the street, I spied an ice cream parlor across the street. We spent at least an hour in there, telling stories, soaking up cool air, and taking our fill of some great ice cream. We never saw another human being besides the lady curator in the museum and the gal running the ice cream shop. Not one car even drove through town the whole time we were there.
As we crossed the street back to our cars, one cowboy remarked to me, “You know, I thought you were crazy for stopping here, and I never would have gone in that museum otherwise, but that was a neat deal. I’m glad I got to see it.”
There’s always great things to see all around us. You just have to have your eyes and your mind open.