Mother hated horses. As a little girl, the buckboard she rode in flipped while fording the Spanish Fork River when the horse startled, catapulting her into the current.
I still hear the mandate:
“Michael, you are forbidden to be anywhere near a horse!”
How does a nine-year-old boy, living in 1950’s Syracuse honor his mother?
It was a beautiful summer day in 1959. Mom whisked my brother Craig and I out the door and off to Cub Scouts on bikes. Nora Payne was our den leader. She loved the boys, and we loved her. She lived on 4500 West just north of Antelope Drive. We lived at 900 South and 2000 West, which meant that we would have to pass in front of the Syracuse Elementary School.
Sitting bareback atop a haltered horse our friend, Russ Simpson, beckoned to us. Craig and I were to ditch our bikes behind the shrubbery of the old school and join him on his family’s mare. After all, he was headed to scouts, too. It all seemed quite innocent.
Russ’ family lived at the corner of 4500 W and Antelope Drive. All had gone well until the mare smelled home pasture and began to lope. Russ was in the driver’s seat with halter in hand. My brother Craig was behind him, in front of me. They both had places to wrap their legs. Sitting on the rump end of the horse, I did not.
On a sudden lurch I found myself flung from the horse, my back colliding with her left rear hoof just before I landed square on my back. I had the wind knocked out of me! So there I lay, flat on my back in the middle of Antelope Drive [Syracuse Road, then] at 4000 West.
Mrs. Bambrough, working in her garden, had witnessed the whole affair. Running to my side she asked me question after question. I couldn’t answer. In exasperated panic she said:
“Oh honey, I’ll call your mother!”
Syracuse residents had only party-lines in those days. There was a pretty good chance the line might be busy. I couldn’t take that chance! Recovering a bit and terrified that my mother would know that I’d been on horseback, I squeezed out:
“Oh Mrs. Bambrough, if you have to call her, please say to her I was hit by a truck!
Now, being hit by a truck in the 1950’s on the Syracuse Road would have been quite a stretch. In those days, you could take your afternoon nap in the middle of that road, that far west!
Following a Syracuse Chamber of Commerce meeting a couple of weeks ago at the Glen Eagle clubhouse, I waited for over 15 minutes to make a left-hand turn onto Antelope Drive at 2:00 PM naptime! Something has changed!
Change is rough. We all fear it a little. With the arrival of the West Davis Corridor there will be much of change.
Leading change insures that the future harmonizes with community values, both old and new. May I invite you to become involved in helping to lead change. Make the effort to attend City Council or Planning Commission meetings, participate in public hearings. It is so important that those bodies hear you. Learn how you might assist others in the event of emergency by becoming CERT trained. Volunteer to help with a City project.
Mother eventually realized the futility of sheltering boys from her fears. She sought the help of others in preparing her boys to be safe on horseback. It was a good change.
Mayor of Syracuse City