Weldon was handsome, fun loving, always happy, so it
was not surprising girls tried to catch his eye in whatever way
possible, which could be through me.
“Is Weldon your brother? How old is Weldon? Why
do they call him, Chief? Will he let us ride in his Jeep?” And,
those questions I had heard all my life around the ranching
community, so much, that my answers were quick, easily spoken, and
in an off handed manner. Now these people, where we had moved were
new to me, but evidently, the interest in my good‑looking cousin was
the same with the girls in these farming lands as it had been when I
“He’s my cousin, but his Mama is dead. He’s eight
years older. Chief is just a nickname, his real name is Weldon. I
mostly call him by his name. No, he won’t let you ride in his Jeep.
The insurance won’t allow it.” My reply was cut and dried, because I
had been over the inquiries so many times before. At his age most
boys were already involved with girls, but then, they weren’t “rich”
Osage boys, who had lived through a tragedy of murder committed by
those who had a wish for easy money.
More than anything, Dean and Leon continually
preached about remaining separate and apart. We didn’t know what
they were talking about, but we knew they meant business and were in
agreement on this matter. None of us were to make friends that
easily, even though we may have wished to pick our own, friendships.
Even as children, our companions were quite selected. I felt they
were more like body guards, rather than friends. More than once a
savvy friend did not allow me to get into what could be a
questionable, situation. Dad even quoted a scripture,
“Do not make a friend without first realizing,
you may have to give up your life for them.” All this clandestine
kind of lifestyle spoke to the reality that Dean forever believed
his wife, Bertha, Weldon’s mother, was murdered.
“When I grow up, I’m not going to make my kids
afraid of people,” I thought to myself. Unfortunately, with the easy
wealth of the casinos in the Native American community, this again
has become an issue. The one thing the insane way of living did was
to give me freedom from being prejudiced against kids from wealthy
families. I understood their feelings and tried never to behave in a
jealous, mean, or in any way to shut them out of our play circle,
even if other children were hateful and stand off, I didn’t do that
myself. Consequently, I made friends with good people, when we were
children, who have remained with me for a life time.
“People always ask me if Chief is my brother!” I
mentioned, to my mother.
“He is your brother, Inidan‑way.” Mother was
always using that phrase and sometimes I understood, other times I
“What is Indian‑way?” I asked.
“It is because we call our cousins, brother. If
his mother was living she would expect this relationship, too.”
Mother seemed serious enough, and so, that is how
I thought of my cousin, as my brother. “My brother, the Chief.” I
was pleased about this.
“Weldon! Mother says you are like my brother. It
is the way the Indians do.” I was always ready to catch his
attention in some way.
Weldon turned his head toward me, in the same way
his sister, Mariah would have done. His gaze fell on me for only an
instant. He looked, away and off into the distance, without ever
saying a word, but in this manner, we communicated as we had done,
ever since I could remember.
“When are you going to be back from the rodeo?”
This question was more to Weldon’s interest and I knew that.
“Well Kiddo, it’s like this. I follow that road
until I win a pile of money or break my neck tryin,” Weldon was back
to his lighthearted ways.
“Is it like riding that little Shetland, you told
me about?” I could see some conversation forth coming and this was a
way to work for that.
Weldon never was around for long, ever since he
was a kid and how well I knew this part of his personality.
“Nope, not like riding a Shetland.” Weldon
grinned but didn’t say anymore.
“Sounds like fun to me!” I was trying to get his
“Well, I suppose some might call it fun. Mostly,
it is just plain old hard work.”
Dean had walked into the room and heard the
“Son, you want to be careful about wrapping that
rope on a bull too tight on your hand. That won’t keep you on the
bull, all it will do is let him drag you around after he’s thrown
you and you can’t get your hand out of it. I’ve seen it happen and
it isn’t a pretty sight.”
This was all the talk there was about the Rodeo.
Weldon knew the family didn’t approve of the Rodeo. Not Dean, Leon
and certainly not Velma.
“They rope those poor little calves, slam them on
the ground and tie them up, just for sport. I hate that and don’t
ask me to go to a rodeo.”
True to her word, she never went and didn’t
encourage any of us to go, either.
Weldon was a man now, doing man’s work, and the rodeo
was all about making money to further his other projects. There were
those jeeps he bought for farm work and, that was only one of the plans
he was working toward.
“How’s Mariah doing on her trying to start a herd?”
Weldon made no comment and neither did anyone else.
Her involvement at the time was too intricate to discuss. She was loaded
with work and did a wonderful job with her children, the house, cooking,
and sewing. They all felt the calves and man’s work was just too much.
Mother kept sending me back over to the ranch to try
to help her. I did my best to do what she wanted. The children were my
specialty though. They were adorable little girls, the two of them, and
not that much difference in our ages, so we really just played together.
For some reason, I didn’t tell Weldon about his sister crying in his
room. Neither did I ever tell anyone else. Her sadness, fears, anxieties
were our secret and, I honored her trust. Telling Weldon would have only
been a pain to him. His lighthearted ways and happy outlook on the world
was something to give us a pleasant break and we looked forward to his