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For Ernie

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I'd like to share with you a story

About a friend of mine

His name is Ernie Harlow

And he's been gone for quite some time.


But not a day goes by

That I don't think of him

The chances of forgettin'

Are really pretty slim.


Our trails crossed many years ago

When I called him up to shoe

I'd heard he was the best around

And not by just a few.


He sure had a way with horses

He would eye 'em up and down

He could tell you in a moment

If they're lame or if they're sound.


He knew their dispositions

Before he ever drove a nail

Lazy, broke, or outlaw

He called 'em without fail.


He never missed a shoein'

He'd be there when he said

And it would usually be real early

Before I was out of bed.


But, there was always a thermos of coffee

And a good natured, “Hello”

It helped to clear the cobwebs

And get me on the go.


He got me my first trainin' job

Ridin' colts out on a ranch

He saw I had potential

And thought I deserved a chance.


Somtimes he'd take me with him

When he went around to shoe

And it always did amaze me

Just how many folks he knew.


I sure learned a lot from Ernie

Watchin' hours upon end

Of all the nails that held a shoe

Very few did I see him bend.


He used to give me sound advice

When I was ridin' colts

He taught me how to line 'em out

And how not to spook and bolt.


He was known near and far

For his expert ropin' skill

He could head 'em, or he could heal 'em

In my mind I see him still.


One time he and Sam were ropin'

At the Oakdale Rodeo

They had a ten second lead

With just two rounds left to go.


They had to win those go-rounds

And they could take that money home

But Ernie dallied up his little finger

And cut that sucker to the bone.


“Tape my finger up,” he said

“I know I'll be just fine...

I think I can pull it together

And throw this rope just one more time.”


But they wouldn't let him rope that day

He told the story with a laugh

They took him to emergency

And had to do a skin graft.


He sure had a great attitude

About everything he did

He loved his wife and family

And raised up two fine kids.


He always saw the good in folks

And overlooked the bad

He could cheer ya up when you were feelin' down

And I never saw him mad.


Now his son Paco

Carries on his legacy

He shoes 'em just like Ernie did

It's like poetry to see.


He left behind two grandkids

Their names are Brendt and Chad

And if he coulod see those boys today

I know he would be glad.


Ernie was my inspiration

And I guess that he still is

And I still talk to him sometimes

Just as though he still lived.


I'm sure proud to say I knew him

And that I could call him friend

And he sure did leave an empty space

That only time will mend.


But, I can still see his face a-smilin'

Through the mare's tails in the sky

Ernie's memory lives forever

He was just that kind of guy!



FEBRUARY 13, 1994


© Copyright 2010 Wendy Brown-Barry



















Special Poems

  1. Ernie