The first day of school, when I got on the bus, they asked me what my name was. I told them, "Buster Brown" because I had heard the shoe adds on the old battery powered radio. Some of my cousins had pronounced my name "Darn" so I decided to take a new name. The name stuck even though some of the kids on the bus knew my real name (Doran). I really liked school, or more honestly, I liked the excitement and interaction with other kids.

I liked shooting marbles and always had a sack full. Looking back, I just didn't know how good I had it. I always wanted to be older and to be grown-up. If I had only known, I would have taken a little more time growing up and would have placed more importance on getting a good education. Some of the kids that I thought were a little slow (and were always cracking the books) grew up to be doctors and lawyers and such.

I remember missing the school bus after school on purpose. I'd stand on the urinal in the bathroom and watch the bus start rolling, then I'd run out (not too quickly) and act like I was trying to catch it. Dad didn't fall for that one more than twice. He was on the school board and always told the new teachers that if I needed a whipping to make sure I got one. It seems I sure got my share of those whippings in grade school. I didn't mind the ones at school but didn't cotton much to the ones I got after I got home.

I was always a believer in just going ahead and doing what I wanted to do, and suffering the consequences of my decision later. As I grew older, I came to weight the consequences before I acted. Most all of my teachers were more than fair and really good teachers. I must have given some of them a few gray hairs by the way I sometimes acted. I do remember one teacher (a man) that I just didn't respect. He made the mistake of telling me that when I grew up I would either be a gangster or a communist. I must have really had him worked up at the time. Looking back, I feel sorrow that I disrespected him so much because God requires us to give respect to those in authority and doesn't say a word about if they deserve it or not.

In contrast, I remember another man teacher that certainly had my respect. It seemed like he could look a hole through me anytime he chose. One time, some of us boys were jumping off our desk and slapping the lights (that hung from the ceiling on chains). A couple of the boys weren't participating in this for awhile and then when they built up their courage they tried it a time or two. When this certain teacher walked into the room he said, "All you boys who were swinging those lights, stand up." All of us stood up except the last two boys to participate. He then told us to sit down and for the other two boys who were still sitting to come with him to the office. A good lesson on honesty and justice followed.

I remember an older neighbor boy (Sonny Clift) paying me a nickel to kiss this girl or that one the first year I rode the school bus. I think that was about the time I started going bald (LOL).

I remember when I was about eleven or twelve a friend of mine (who was two or three years older) was riding bulls at the small-town, amateur rodeos. He told me that was where the money was. I began to practice riding range steers that Dad had brought in off pasture (he was trying to feed and finish them for market). Dad didn't really like it when my friends and I would drive them out of the lot into a low-roof shed and take turns jumping on their backs from the top of the shed (trying to ride them without benefit of any rigging).

I remember a three-rope bucking barrel that a neighbor's son (Sonny Clift) had rigged up between three trees. Sonny was about grown at the time and riding bare-back broncs. Anyway, we (the younger boys) practiced on that barrel a lot. I was thinking I was getting pretty good until the older boys showed up, and got on the ropes one day. They throwed me straight up about ten foot and as I was coming down that old barrel was coming up again. I remember crawling off with the wind knocked out of me and having some chipped teeth. I think this kinda put a damper on my bull riding plans.

I remember getting my back hurt real bad when I was around twelve years old. I was messing around with a portable chute on wheels that Dad would pull behind the truck and load cattle. I fell off the top of the chute backwards and hit on my back on some junk iron and knocked some disk out of whack. I was told later that one doctor recommended sending me to Oklahoma City and having the disk fused but another recommended wearing a brace. I think God they didn't opt for the fusing as it would probably made a cripple out of me. I do remember for awhile after I'd be doing something and my back would get out of whack. I'd hit the ground and roll around until it went back into place. I developed a fear of this happening in front of people, so I was careful how I lifted, turned and so forth. The Doc told Mom and Dad that I would probably not be able to do hard work when I got older, but he didn't tell me. Mom and Dad encouraged me to get a good education, I guess the old story about leading a horse to water but not necessarily being able to make him drink applied to me. Because I received most of my education the hard way.

I do thank God for the discipline I received and the godly people who lived and worked in that small community.

These stories remind me of some of the happenings in raising my own four sons and three daughters. Though I didn't always let them know it, I usually saw the humor in most of their misdeeds and the situations they would get into because of them. We tried to instill honor and honesty and I'm real proud of all seven of our kids.

©Doran McEntire
Used With Permission
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