I grew up in southern Arizona on the Santa Lucia and the Sopori ranches in the 50’s & early 60’s. “Jefe” of the Santa Lucia was Mr. Richard Merchant. Mr. Merchant won the calf-roping championship at Madison Square Garden in 1923, in Calgary in 1927, 1928, and 1930 along with Prescott in 1926 and 1933. When growing up then we were taught respect. You never called an adult by their first name. It was always Mr. or Mrs., and “if” you won a ribbon or perhaps later on a buckle, it went on the fireplace mantel, not on your belt. Wearing a buckle you had won was considered “boasting and bragging.”
Some of my fondest memories growing up are with Mr. Merchant. In the summer he would always take me along in that old green Jeep pickup when checking windmills and other ranching chores. He would share the 2 or 3 cookies his wife had made, and sometimes I would get to eat lunch with him and Mrs. Merchant at their home. Her first name was Dorothy, and she was my 2nd grade teacher. Their living room was packed with all the awards Mr. Merchant had won competing. Of the many memories I have of Jefe, was his respect for those who worked with him on the ranch, his honesty and how humble a man he was. Other fond memories are of him helping me learn to “size-up” a horse, “throw” a rope, and “pull a calf.”
In the picture, I’m 5th from the left, leaning over the horn with my arms crossed. You can tell I was taller than the picture shows, by seeing where my left foot rests in the stirrup.
– Ron Weyenberg