He was born in Westfall, Kansas, February 15, 1914. He was the third of seven children. His mother hauled him and his brothers and sisters off to church every Sunday in a car that she learned to drive in the 1920s. I can just see that old car now!
When he graduated from high school he and two of his brothers went to Montana and worked on a dam. The brothers went back to Kansas and Dad apparently bought an Indian or Eagle motorcycle and came to northern Colorado about 1935. He worked on a farm East of Fort Collins, met my mother, Loretta Edith Cogswell and settled on a farm East of Fort Collins, just north of Cactus Hill Observatory District #101 Elementary School where my brothers and sisters and I went to grade school for eight years.
Dad eventually bought that farm from Sam Kemp, who had a contract with Safeway grocery stores to provide Japanese popcorn. This corn was canned in a blue can in the fall and shipped to the Safeway location. His hard work turned the farm into a productive sugar beet farm. He also raised corn for silage to feed his growing herd of cattle and a hay. He eventually turned the farm into a ranch called Shamrock Shorthorn Ranch. He cut out the Cloverleaf wood for the sign, painted it white and I got to paint the green lettering. He hung it out beside the driveway for everyone to see. I will forever be proud of being part of that sign. Wonder where it is today?
Dad had a sawed-off type gun he called a “mule leg” or a “hog leg.” He kept it high in the coat closet on the porch “just in case.” We never knew what “just in case” meant. After bugging him for several years and begging him to let me shoot the gun, he finally said OK when I was about 14. Setting up a 5 gallon bucket on a fence post for a target, much preparation went into the final “OK, now it packs a punch, so you have to keep your arm straight and rigid! Do not bend your elbow!” After several minutes of making sure I was safe and understood all the details, he gave me the gun and repeated the “keeping your arm straight!”
Sure enough as I pulled the trigger, I bent my elbow, WHAM! The gun came back and smacked me in the forehead and the hammer caught me in the right side of my nostril and tore a big rip in it! There was blood everywhere! My dad thought for a minute I had shot myself, until he realized I had hit the big 5 gallon can. He scolded “I told you TO KEEP your arm straight!” He took his old hankie out of his back pocket and held it up to my nose until it stopped bleeding like a “stuck hog.” Then we both had to go see Mom who scolded both of us in no uncertain terms! Boy was she mad at my Dad!
In 1955 after a terrible long hailstorm that destroyed cattle, horses and broke windows out of houses and damaged roofs and did lots of damage to cars and vehicles, Dad decided he needed to go into the John Deere Equipment business. He was in his total element as he got to visit with farmers and ranchers and old family friends every day and tell his stories and jokes and learn new ones.
Dad was a big hard-working auburn haired Irishman. He loved to tell jokes and stories and pull pranks on everyone especially us kids. He taught us work ethics, common sense, love of animals and how to say Amen, please and thank you. He also taught us how to sing Jesus Loves Me and the Old rugged Cross and the Old Strawberry Roan. Perhaps that’s where he learned to sing in the car going to church with his mother and sisters. I still sing in the car — that way no one can hear my monotone-Dad voice!