A milestone in the history of rodeo, its importance evidenced by Pat Scudder’s necktie, took place February 27 (1977) as one of the game’s staunchest bachelors and most popular characters, Leonard McCravey, fell by the way, hog-tied by Doris Sachs of Longmont, Colorado.
The wedding was at George and Shirley Williams’ place out of Edmond, Oklahoma in what was to have been a small ceremony. Don Fedderson and George cooked up a little shindig but as the date drew near, plans became pretty flexible and the word was spread “When we get a good enough crowd, we’ll marry ‘em and when the meat’s done we’ll eat.”
An extremely steady fellow, frank and outspoken in a sincere manner, with good conversation his bread, Leonard’s philosophical observations on the human condition have lead to him being known at various times in the rodeo business as “Major Hoople” and “The ol’ Philosopher”. Pete Logan referred to him as the “Aristotle of the Chutes” and in more recent years Shawn Davis dubbed him “The Sinner." Coupled with being the best sport of them all, ‘Lenny’ likely has more friends in rodeo than anyone, several of which Gene Pruett claimed devoted most of their time over the years to trying to drive Leonard nuts.
A much sough travelling pardner, it’s been said he’d rather get under the wheel and drive all night than get into bed. A book could be written on the situations he’s gotten into and out of. It’s impossible to ruffle Leonard and he may hold the record for bearing the brunt of practical jokes that Will James described as the cowboy’s staff of life.
A good crowd gathered for the historic event. Many arriving the night before, Joe Green sporting a new toupee, and Jiggs Beutler hosted the group for cocktails and steaks. Next morning, some of Lenny’s buddies had a few inserts prepared for the judge’s speel. From Buffalo Bill’s ballyhoo, Doc Claussen came up with “a true cowboy of the old school, virile, muscular and so symbolic of heroic manhood”.
When the judge gets to the part about if anybody objects, speak now or forever hold their peace, Buck Rutherford can hardly stand-hitched and shaking his head says to Imogene Beals, “I’d oughta speak up – it’s just like seein’ ‘im go to the electric chair.”
Then when the judge says, “repeat after me” . . . Lenny vapor-locked . . . after considerable silence the judge just went on with it.
After the vows and cake, Clem McSpadden suggested they’d ought to get a photo of Leonard and the great old retired bucking horse Trails End, who was grazing near the house.
The horse was caught and the silver-mounted Bucking Horse of the Year halter and Rutherford’s bareback rigging were put on him. Leonard got up alongside of Trails End to pose for pictures and then his buddies grabbed him with, “Leonard, you’ve bragged too much about your ‘quarter century on the hurricane deck’ and your little bride’s never even seen you ride so put your hand in there.”
Buck and Homie Rowe got Trails End by the ears but Leonard who never did really overly crave riding ‘em put up quite a fight. The old horse, normally tractable, got spooked and at one point had “two buckles on the ground”. But at that they say it appeared ‘Lenny’ was the hardest to hold.
Jim Shoulders was laying three to one on Leonard but “if two can’t, a half dozen can” and soon Freckles Brown, with what Red Dougherty claimed was “premeditated homicide” in his heart got a lock on Leonard’s ankle and got his boot across Trails’ back – the rest was easy. But when the goons turned Leonard loose and before Rutherford released Trails End, self preservation again prevailed and in a wink Leonard made his getaway. Everyone gave Buck heck but he begged off claiming he “couldn’t turn him loose without giving Leonard (who had mane and all) a chance to get set – the way he was praying”.
But anyway the ceremony is taped and since Leonard didn’t signify, many wonder if it’s legal . . . Maybe they’ll have to do it over.
(From Gene Miller’s “A Grubby Commentary On A Cowboy Wedding in Oklahoma!”)