Trucking Broncos and Sour Mash Victims

Old Bronco Bit Hard

By Al Gray

 English Setter “Jake” circa 1978

Calla Jean produced one fine litter of pups in the spring of 1960. In dog breeder parlance, Calla was the dam and Pal was the sire.  When the pups arrived, Stevens Creek Road had been paved a scant 4 years. Eisenhower was still President. Folks in Augusta knew the Old Fruitland Nursery. The Masters was dispensing tickets to all. Down the hill there was Bowen Pond, but no West Lake, only about 850 acres of Rhodes family and friends’ land which would become the pups training ground.

Nell, Bullet, Rock, Sand, Penny, King, and Bronco were lemon and white English pointers from a long line of the breed that had served the Rhodes family for decades. They came up during what was perhaps the heyday of quail hunting in East Central Georgia.

Penny turned out to be ours; or rather we were hers, especially my father. She was the first respectable quail dog he had owned, despite having a father, Allie Gray, who loved quail hunting about as much as he did gospel quartet music.  I would never say this to my father, but Penny had a couple of faults. First, she fancied herself a rabbit dog and you never wanted to encourage her by shooting a cottontail, because that would mean getting rabbit points the rest of the day. You could usually tell when she was pointing a rabbit, because her tail would have a crook in it. If it really was pronouncedly crooked, that probably meant a snake. If you didn’t encourage Penny to snake and rabbit hunt, she was a very good quail dog, too.

Her brother, Bronco, would turn out to be the stalwart bird dog of the litter. He belonged to my great uncle Land Rhodes, who did more quail hunting than anyone else in the family and even most anyone in the state. He took Bronco all around, starting with the usual trek from the gate into Bowen Pond, up to Mr. Skinner’s old hog farm, over to Baston and Furey’s Ferry Road, where his cousin Sterling Rhodes ran a small store. (This is the corner where the First Citizen’s Bank now sits.) There Bronco and the other bird dogs could be watered while the hunters took their own refreshments while gossiping with Sterling.  The return trip carried the party back through what is now Watervale subdivision and on home on Stevens Creek Road. It was a half-day hunt. In that day, the hunters could bag a couple of dozen on that hunting trek.

Other hunts took our family of hunters to McBean, Girard, Stoney Bluff, Millen, Hephzibah, Vidette and Sylvania. Mostly we hunted out of my father’s mechanical Broncos from the Ford factory.

Land Rhodes with Junior Gray (looking back from Bronco window)

Bronco, the English Pointer, purely loved to hunt. He was also a wizened master of the hunt and nonverbal communication. Many were the times that we made a turn, missed seeing Bronco, then found him standing expectantly at the corner of an adjacent field on the other side. He would be ‘saying’ “I got ‘em down here in the lespedeza patch, fellas, where did y’all go?” After he knew we had seen him he would dutifully trot back and remake the point that we had missed. Sometimes we would not even have to turn around, because Bronco would stand unmovable at an intersection of a field with his head high, until we noticed his resolute beckoning style and hunted his way.

Those were the days. Moonshining was not remotely dead in rural Georgia in the early 60’s and thrived until growing marijuana displaced it. Liquor stills were in the middle of the densest parts of the woods along branches and creeks. It was not uncommon to encounter one quail hunting. Old Bronco was part of one visitation. He had pointed a single bird on the edge of a corn field in sparse blackberry briars. Uncle Land was up to shoot with this writer as back up. The bird erupted from the broom straw and sailed into a high, twisting flight over the top of the more towering blackberries close to the creek. BAM! The quail tumbled out of sight. We gingerly walked around the briar patch until we found a path – a recently used path – that led to the fallen bird. After stooping under vines and briars for about 20 yards, we came to a clearing, in the midst of which stood an operating still. Not wanting to tarry, the search for the downed quail resumed in earnest. Turning to leave empty-handed, Land spied the quail – belly up in a vat of sour mash!

The years passed and Bronco began to lose a step. His range, never great, diminished. Along came the trio of Go Boy, Rusty, and Freedom, all of whom had greater range and complimenting abilities. The day came in which there were hard decisions on which dogs to carry in the aqua Bronco, with Bronco the Hunting Fiend increasingly relegated to the half-day hunts. The old warrior became a yard dog, an old, decrepit relic of glory days past.

He didn’t like that one bit. He did not hide it well either.

He liked it less when he was left behind even on those short hunts. He was left pacing the yard twice, I think, before The Day. It was early one morning, shortly after daybreak, when we pulled into Uncle Land’s yard. We began to load Go Boy, a young pup and Rusty into the bog box with Freedom and another dog of mine, who had already settled in for the next leg of the ride. I left the passenger side door of the aqua wagon open to load coolers, guns, and ammunition.

The implausible happened. There was the sound of loose gravel. I turned to see a lemon and  white blur LEAPING through the air and through the open truck door! Old Bronco had had enough. He was going today, thank you very much. The old boy clambered atop the dog box from the inside, laid down, and had his graying head facing the front. I made a motion to grab him by the collar.

He growled.

It was a very serious growl in Bronco’s life-long history of nonverbal communication. It said “Sonny-boy, we go way back. I remember when you got on the school bus every day. You didn’t want to make that trip. This trip is different. I am going hunting today…..or do you want to lose your face?” Yep, all that came out – loud and clear – in that growl.

I backed out and called for help. Uncle Land, Bronco’s master, was ready to go and wasn’t going to tolerate nonsense from a canine retiree occupying the space where the cooler was supposed to go. He reached up a grabbed Bronco’s collar. Well, it is a good thing the dog was dull and gapped toothed because Bronco was in no mood to be trifled with. He bit Land hard.

Old Bronco went hunting that day. The cooler got strapped onto the tailgate.

After then, it got to be a game. We knew to avoid leaving the door open and we knew to block the doors into the dog box, but yet again, Bronco managed to leap through. We learned that you could not let him even get onto the tailgate, for if you did, you had a snarling fiend on your hands.

After the season, we redesigned and rebuilt the dog box to prevent a dog from wriggling to the top of the dog box from the outside.

Bronco the English Pointer, who morphed into one very mad dog when it became necessary, set the example for the other dogs and was indispensable in training them. Eventually even the headstrong Go Boy and Freedom learned the trick of coming back for misdirected hunters. None other ever went to such lengths to go hunting as old Bronco.

We should all be like that, never giving up the hunt, leaping at opportunity, and hanging on for all the glory we can embrace.

Sometimes this old scribe has occasion to journey to some of those hunting haunts of so long ago. In places, the fields are much as they were 40 years ago. The last time I was down below Girard, upon turning down the River Road, a glance out of imagination saw a statuesque lemon and white pointer, head erect, saying in his old style “Sonny-boy, there are quail down in the broom straw field………”

The next time I will make sure I am driving this vehicle of mine.

The 1969 Ford Bronco in July 2012
One day maybe Bronco will bring along these two fellows in my vision.

Land Rhodes & Junior Gray approach a pointing bird dog circa 1978
That will be one fine day, even if Bronco bites me.

American Man-Gods Intentionally Foul, Bringing Woe

A Lawless Nation Reformed
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray

This week the long-awaited and much-dreaded Freeh Report came out on the horrible child molestation cases at Penn State University, with particular emphasis on the enormous cover-up on the part of the coaching staff, athletic department, and administration. The guilt was universal. It was deep. It was inexcusable. It was disturbing.

It was American hero worship perfected. Coach Joe Paterno was revered across the land. Lauded and praised without limit and without cease. Paterno became a god among men.

It should not have taken these revelations to put the lie to the notion that any man is a god. There is one God and HE is about to render judgement on us all.

America is collapsing before our eyes.

The Rule of Law is DEAD.

The elites are utterly corrupt and they strengthen their grip on the good and honest folks every day.

There is nothing new under the sun and we find guidance readily in the Bible in Habakkuk 1.

The [a] oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.

How long, O Lord, will I call for help,

And You will not hear?

I cry out to You, “Violence!”

Yet You do not save.

Why do You make me see iniquity,

And cause me to look on wickedness?

Yes, destruction and violence are before me;

Strife exists and contention arises.

Therefore the law is ignored

And justice is never upheld.

For the wicked surround the righteous;

Therefore justice comes out perverted.

“ Look among the nations! Observe!

Be astonished! Wonder!

Because I am doing something in your days—

You would not believe if you were told.

Yes, the law is ignored. It is ignored in Washington, DC. The law is disregarded under the Gold Dome in Atlanta. The law is antithesis to the government of Augusta, Georgia.

Justice is never upheld. Justice comes out perverted. This political season the burgeoning Liberty Movement succeeded in bringing forth the votes to carry many state and local conventions, yet they were denied victory by unethical, blunt naked power plays. In finance, a Federal Reserve primary dealer – a bank empowered to buy and sell US Debt as a government agent – stole $1.5 billion from customer accounts, an action met with no arrests. Last week Peregrine Financial Group was alleged to have done the same thing to the tune of $200 million. This month has also seen Liborgate, a global interest rate scandal that victimized billions of people, implicate the central banks of England and the US Federal Reserve. Justice is never upheld.

The wicked surround the righteous. Look at the Penn State mess. Those who notified authorities saw no investigation, only greater accolades heaped on the perpetrators. Who would believe their words against the man-gods of national champion football staff? Here in Georgia, the legislature is designated the most corrupt in the USA, this in a “Bible Belt” state replete with prayer breakfasts and notions of the “religious right.” We are horribly gone wrong at the hands of these people.  God will not be mocked. In Augusta, we see a government adrift, one that has only functioned over the last 4 years by wave of deceit, duplicity, and horse trading of largesse bestowed on the connected of the two warring factions.  This is happening in the face of a Greatest Depression. The parasites have multiplied and grow more aggressive in their demands for appeasement.

Something has to give and it will.

Observe! I am doing something in your days. Yes, the Lord is doing something. In the day of Habakkuk, it was the Chaldeans who swept out the corrupt. Tomorrow it will be the kids in the Liberty movement. The corrupt are old and weak. The lovers of Liberty are youthful and principled. They might have been overcome this time by deceit and strong-arm thuggishness, but the next time they will be stronger, more numerous, and more experienced. The judiciary may be co-opted by the forces of deceit, but judges and politicians have to live in society. Facts and truth forcefully presented will make even a judge fear to take the side of wrong. We are not there yet, but that day will come.

There is an awakening across America. Woe be unto the deceivers. Their power is built upon lies and lies disintegrate in the face of truth. The ugly truth may terminate Penn State football. It should, just as it should sweep out nearly every politician in the land.

We are not there yet. The corrupt are still in power.  They still control vast portions of the media, nationally and locally. They can still destroy the reformers. The Paterno-god was not the only fake deity. Locally we have more than our share.

The awakening  is happening. The awakening will not be denied. Sooner than most can understand, forces will align and the evil will be swept away.

The prophet complains to God of the violence done by the abuse of the sword of justice among his own people and the hardships thereby put upon many good people (v. 1-4). II. God by him foretells the punishment of that abuse of power by the sword of war, and the desolations which the army of the Chaldeans should make upon them (v. 5-11). III. Then the prophet complains of that too, and is grieved that the Chaldeans prevail so far (v. 12-17), so that he scarcely knows which is more to be lamented, the sin or the punishment of it, for in both many harmless good people are very great sufferers. It is well that there is a day of judgment, and a future state, before us, in which it shall be eternally well with all the righteous, and with them only, and ill with all the wicked, and them only; so the present seeming disorders of Providence shall be set to rights, and there will remain no matter of complaint whatsoever.

Tomorrow will be bright in America, but for now some of us must gird for battle like modern day Chaldeans on a mission from God. In verse 6, the Lord says “behold, I am