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Broken Ribs

            I was told, when I really got into horses, that it would only be a matter of time ‘till I got some bones broke. It just comes with the territory they said, I thought I would try hard to prove that was not necessarily the case. I’m sure there are some people out there somewhere that have proven that, but I’m not one of them.

            Robert Humphries called me one day and said he needed some help catching a few horses. Robert said that to me quite often, but even though a lot of times I ended up worse for the wear, I always liked helpin’ him out, it usually was an adventure that got pretty darn Western. 

            He had some stock in a pasture on the edge of Springville, Utah, and he needed four or five horses out of the bunch. Things went pretty smooth. We roped out all but one that were needed without much trouble. There was one more that was kinda cagey that had missed puttin’ his head in our loops a few times, so now he was the last one. He was runnin’ with a couple others that had given us the slip, and they were feeling pretty sassy. I was able to get a good run at them and was just about to throw my loop when we were comin’ too fast toward the fence.  There was an opening at the junction where another fence intersected with it at right angles and the horses slipped threw it ok, but Hondo had his head down and didn’t see it. His blood was way up and he wouldn’t slow or stop when I tried to rein him in. I had a second to decide if I was goin’ through the four strand barbed wire fence with him or hit the dirt, I hit the dirt at full gallop, Hondo busted through the fence.  I think I’d have been better off going with Hondo.  He got cut up some but he hit the wire going so fast it just snapped the wires as he went through.  I hit the ground and bounced a few times and landed unconscious with my head up a culvert. As usual Robert had girls there watching all the goings on. Their heart was for Hondo, they caught him and started doctoring him and giving him all the TLC.  Robert came and pulled me out of the culvert still unconscious and started trying to get me to breathing again, which eventually worked. I came to and he helped me to stand up and walk around some, but I didn’t look or act so good, so he left the girls with Hondo, to finish fixin’ him up, and he took me to the doctor.

            The doctor didn’t like all the dirt and horse manure in his office and I don’t blame him, but he checked me out and treated me for shock and trauma, x-rayed me and told me I had two broken ribs, the top two on the left side just below my collar bone and told me that taping me up really wouldn’t help to heal them, they would do that on their own. Robert got me back to my apartment at Hole in the Wall, I was pretty woozy and real sore, but there was a show on about Chief Joseph, so I watched that, then crashed for the rest of the day and night.

            The healing process was very slow. Matter of fact the ribs did not heal. They rattled in there for almost two years, and I was “always” sore there, very sore. I never went back to that doctor, I should have I think, but he was so anxious to get me out of his clean office, that I definitely did not feel welcome there, so it sorta made me not want to go back.

            Anyway, about a year and a half later I had the opportunity to go back to the South Pacific on a painting assignment for my mission president, John H. Groberg to do research for a series of paintings he commissioned, I was gone about a month, during which time I got to go back to old familiar territory and dear friends in Fiji, Tonga, and Niue which I loved doing, it was a dream come true. I also got to go to Samoa, which I’d never been to before. While I was in Savaii, Samoa, a big strong Samoan chief heard about my broken ribs, which had never healed, they still clicked and rattled in my chest. He said he would give me a “Samoan Massage” which was bound to help them to heal. If you’ve never had a Samoan massage well maybe I should say, if you ever have had a Samoan massage you can never forget it. It is not fun! It is not pleasant. It was excruciating. I hurt for several days. I can’t say I was grateful for it at the time. I was grateful when it was over. I was grateful I was still alive, but I really was grateful to him for caring about me, and wanting to help me. I have never been rubbed like that. I think I was rubbed the right way, but it felt like I was rubbed the wrong way. I was afraid he was going to break more of my ribs but I think it really was the start of the healing process. I know one thing, he got some serious blood flow going on in there, I was just glad it didn’t flow out. My oh my, talk about hurt DEEP!  I love the Samoans, the Tongans, the Fijians, the Niue’s, I surely want that understood, and as I said I think the chief did me good, powerful and good people.

            Whatever the massage didn’t do, got finished up when I returned to the States, and I took a job riding summer range in Montana.  It was kill or cure there for sure.  I think the constant jostling, and pounding in the saddle from sun up to sun down on a daily basis, continued that blood flow that my friend the chief started, and by summers end, those ribs had stopped clicking and healed up. Just what the doctor didn’t order. 


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