Looking Back

A bevy of bulls

By William H. Porter

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When I was a skinny kid growing up around Tucson, and harboring visions of one day being the fastest human being in the world with a rope and tie string, my attention was frequently focused south toward Old Mexico. For about 30 miles from Tucson — half way between the valley city and the border town of Nogales — a fellow named Otho Kinsley had set up a little rodeo business.

Right off the highway there was a big arena called "Kinsley Ranch Rodeo." There was a bar, in which folks quenched their thirst when they weren't contesting, and there was a barn, in which they danced when the sun went down. To tell the truth, it was a fine little spot.

It was sort of a tourist trap in the respect that lots of tourists pulled in off

the road to have a cool one, watch a steer being roped, or move to the music. It was also a toughhand spot. All the tough ropers in the state made the New Year's Day rodeo and the one held each Fourth of July. Kinsley kept his little rodeos special by not overdoing them. If he put on four a year he was extending himself.

The good ropers I can recall included men like Chuck Sheppard, Breezy Cox, Dave Stout, Boozer Page, Dale Smith, Richard Merchant, Del Haverty, Carl Arnold, Claude Densen, Buckshot Sorrells, John and Tommie Rhodes, Fred Darnell, Asbury Schell, Bud Parker, Joe Glenn, Marion Getzwiller, Cliff Whatley, Jim Hudson, Manerd Gayler, Lex Connelly, O. C. Glen, Tony Alltamarano and a whole corralful of extra-good local hands.
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And there were bull riders, too, for Otho Kinsley had a bevy of bulls of which he was justly proud. Some of the Brahmans and cross-Brahmans were named Little Snuffy, Paleface, Pieface, Buttermilk Sky, Oscar Thompson, Fearless Fosdick, Rotator and Climbin' High.

The most famous bull, the one that brought in the most dinero, was called Speck. Years ago Kinsley had this to say about Speck: "He's a fine bull....one of the toughest to ride I've ever seen, But gentle as a lamb in the chute."

Speck was mottled brown and white — "just like a trout' — and when he came out of the chute and went into his spin, he cleared the way for yards around the gate. He was a spinning bull from the moment he was clear of the gate. He turned round and round in

short, rough, fast circles, upsetting the balance of nearly everybody who tried to ride him. So rambunctious was he that Kinsley stood him "open to the world" for any amount of money.

Speck put down such top boys as Jimmy Hazen, Mitch Owens and Chappo Valenzuela. He was finally humbled in a well ballyhooed match "Bull Riding" by Dick Griffith at Tucson on December 8, 1946.

After the ride (eight seconds) Speck's owner approached Griffith to shake his hand. "You did a good job, Dick," he said. "How did it go?"

"You've got some swell bull there, Otho," said Griffith. I liked to blacked out when he went into this first spin."
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In addition to his own ranch rodeos, Kinsley took his bulls to Association shows all over the state — and once to Silver City, New Mexico, where the chutes had seen better days.

"You know what's going to happen when we corral those bulls of yours?" an official asked Kinsley.

"I know," the big man said. (He stood 6 foot 3 and weighed nearly 300 pounds.)

But the show had to go on and the bulls had to be penned. For a while the Brahmas were docile, but just before the bucking event they surged forward in mass escape.

They jumped over the chutes, broke down the top boards, ripped planks away with their horns, ran loose in the arena, and soared over all the high fences surrounding the

field. The panicked audience according to Kinsley, stampeded in a similar way to the Brahmans, caving in the wooden grandstand.

The following year a brand new plant was built. No one was sorry and much credit for the improvements went to Kinsley's cantankerous bulls.

Kinsley used to announce all his own shows. "Why shouldn't I?" he'd say. "I know all the cowboys and I sure know my stock."

He really enjoyed announcing the little rodeos. And he loved it when his bulls would ground cowboys. The harder the hands fell, the louder Kinsley would chuckle over the loudspeaker. Of course, he didn't ever want to see anyone get hurt, but it was easy to tell who he was rooting for.
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When Otho Kinsley died in Tucson several years ago, a way of life went with him. In failing health, he had sold his ranch in 1959 — and subsequent rodeos were just not the same. Soon they stopped altogether and the old chutes and arena fence were torn down.

That good rodeo competition, however, is still remembered by small coterie of hands. Some fine ropers made many speedy runs on roping stock. But in the bull riding, much to Otho's pleasure, it was usually the other way around. A lot of boys were given quick seats in the dust or mud.

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Thanks to the family of Bud Parker for sharing this with us.

(When the publisher of this story is found, permission will be requested and the source identified. Possibly a Tucson paper, the original is two columns but the date is month and year.)

(ovk --Otho was probably hurt many times handling stock. Once for sure at the Florence (?) Rodeo where a bull in a chute gored him severely enough to knock him out and require a trip to the hospital.)

C.C. "Bud" Parker
   Alice Parker Gayler -- Manerd Gayler
                 John Gayler -- Page Gayler
                     MariAlice Gayler

Assembled by ovk. Last updated 2/21/2002.