Growing up in a saddle-bronc-riding family and being in love with the event since I was about 10 weeks old, it’s no surprise that most of my heroes were bronc riders. Among them were my father, Tom Tescher, my uncle Jim Tescher, Alvin Nelson and Kansas-raised Bobby Berger.
Another was a popular, well-known, respected bull rider – Freckles Brown. Freckles grew up in eastern Wyoming, but spent most of his adult life in Oklahoma. He rodeoed from the late 1930s into the mid-1970s.
I once stayed with him for a few days. He was one of the most humble people I’ve ever known – polite, soft-spoken and a gentleman. He lived clean and was well known for his honesty.
Around 1960, Freckles borrowed $32,000, a lot of money at that time, so that he could buy his ranch. He borrowed the money from friend Todd Whatley – and on just his word!
Freckles exercised faithfully to stay in shape in the days when most contestants made fun of that. When he needed to walk somewhere, he’d run instead, which probably contributed to his lengthy career.
In 1962, at age 41, he won the world championship in bull riding – rodeo’s roughest event. In 1967, at age 46, at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, he was the first to successfully ride the famous bull Tornado. Until then, Tornado had remained unridden in 185 attempts.
In his 50s Freckles qualified for and competed in the NFR, again riding bulls.
While qualifying for one of his later NFR appearances, Freckles bucked off in more than half his bull-riding attempts. Someone asked him for his reason or an excuse. In his usual humble and honest way he answered, “They just bucked me off fair and square.”
Although Freckles died of cancer in 1986, he left a lasting positive impression on me.
The author, a previous contributor to the magazine, lives in Sheridan, Wyo.