Beef in the Backseat

Whether you take pride growing up in the country or in the city I think you’ll like this story which gives new meaning to the words, “cattle car”. Being a city girl myself, the “beef” in my backseat was always children dishing out sound effects, each hoarding space by drawing imaginary lines. Read on if you’d like your funny bone tickled.   file000782803913

“I was a city girl, 26 years old with three young children and one on the way, when we moved to the country outside Tacoma, Washington. We didn’t have much money, so we were always looking for ways to stretch a dollar. In the summer of 1961, we agreed with some friends to go in together on a calf. each family would pitch in $12.50, and we’d raise it on my farm.

It was my guess that $25 would buy a 40-pound calf, and an animal that size would easily fit into the back of our 1941 two-door Chevrolet, right? So when the day came, I simply took the backseat out, put down an old carpet, threw in a 10-foot coil of rope and considered myself ready to haul livestock. My two older kids stayed with a neighbor, and I packed up my baby and drove to town to pick up my friend Rose and her baby. She held the little ones while I drove the cattle car.

The farmer was friendly, and we visited awhile. But when Rose paid him for the calf, he looked at my car and just shook his head. Then he walked away with our lead rope and returned with a beast the size of a full-grown cow!

I couldn’t let on that I didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing. ‘Oh, this will be easy,’ I bluffed. ‘We’ll open both car doors. I’ll pull. You lift his front feet, then push him in from the back.’

I pulled the rope for all I was worth, while Rose and the farmer pushed as hard as they could. The poor calf had no choice but to climb into the car. His big head hung out one back window and his tail hung out the other.

The drive home was uneventful until we reached Tacoma. About this time, the calf had taken to stamping his feet and shifting his weight, which caused the car to rock from side to side. We stopped at a red light in front of a Woolworth’s dime store. The sidewalks were full and the intersections packed, and every person within staring distance was doing exactly that.

Then, while we were waiting for the light to turn green, we heard a noise. A noise like someone sticking out a tongue and blowing a raspberry. A noise that made me think, no, no, not here!  ‘Rose,’ I asked, ‘was that you?’ ‘No,’ she replied, ‘not me. You?’

I didn’t want to believe my eyes, but I saw the calf’s tail sticking straight out the window. And then it happened. Cow business! Right there in the middle of Tacoma! with some of the stares turning to open-mouthed shock, I slid down in my seat, trying to hide.

It’s not easy to work a clutch and a gear shift when you’re crouched down that low [and pregnant!] but believe me, I managed. We finally got the calf home and let him out of the car. I think he was glad the ride was over, I know Rose and I were.”

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”  Victor Hugo (1802-1885) Poet, Novelist, Playwright

story by Joanne Tripp, Country magazine, Aug/Sept, 2012


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