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The Fabric of Life - The Wonder Horse

I am 17 months older than my bro. When he was born, I was at the hospital. According to family folklore, there was a rocking horse in the waiting room at the hospital and I couldn’t stay off of it. As for me, I don’t remember one whit of that day, it coulda been day or night. I couldn’t tell ya. That is how family legends go.

The Wonder Horse from Collierville, TN

Well, the only thing to do was that my maternal Grandfather went right out and bought a rocking horse for his oldest grandson. He was just that way. That was June of 1957.

The rocking horse in question is not just any rocking horse, it is a Wonder Horse, manufactured just outside of Memphis in Collierville, TN which was down the road from where we lived.  I asked the question recently where my Grandfather bought the Wonder Horse and nobody knew. My Grandmother would have known but she passed this summer so I guess we will never know.  My Mom says she remembers he just showed up with it.  I think I like that story better than he bought it at the Western Auto.

So when is a Wonder Horse more than a Wonder Horse?  This particular Wonder Horse has achieved mythical status unintentionally and quite by accident.  We have pics of my bro sitting on it wearing a baby blue cowboy hat with a silver hatband in his footie pajamas — dead ass asleep.  The Wonder Horse has ridden countless treacherous mountain trails, herded more cattle than they got in Texas and won every race entered for over 50 years.   It has been tied up with string to the nearest chair and decorated with Mardi Gras beads. It is a necessary prop anytime Black Beauty plays in the DVD player.  Mythical status indeed.

Here is the deal.  Somewhere along the line, it was decreed by the  unofficial family council that each succeeding generation would have the steadfast services of the Wonder Horse.  Each kid over the decades and through three generations has had possession.  He has lived all over the country at one point or another and survived at least one earnest attempt to dispose of him at the nemesis of all old toys  -the family yard sale.  Luckily,  the Wonder Horse was removed from the sale catalog at the last minute. So every member of our family has the Wonder Horse in common.  Every one…..  for 53 years now, starting with me.

The latest caretaker of the Wonder Horse started second grade this year which is getting pretty senior in Wonder Horse years.

Henry saddles up on the Wonder Horse for the first ride...

It was time for the Wonder Horse to move on down that line and I had already laid the plans. When my daughter was here for this visit, I was going to break the Wonder Horse down for shipment to that Italy while Henry’s daddy watched. My Dad was saving a lawnmower box just for that task. Well, scratch that plan. With them being stationed in Tucson come January, I will just load the Wonder Horse up and deliver him in person.

I do know the Wonder Horse cost about  $50 in 1957 which was major bucks for a toy back then.  On eBay, the vintage Wonder Horses sell for a few hundred dollars now.   What do you reckon this one is worth?   Like the commercial says — ” One vintage Wonder Horse, eleven owners in the same family over the last 53 years – PRICELESS.”  With just a little luck, the Wonder Horse will be ridin’ the range and winning those races long after his first rider starts the dirt nap.  That makes me smile as I write this entry. “You know your Pops got this Wonder Horse when he was just a little kid like you back in 1957.”  I can imagine a 3 or 4 year old trying to process the facts as he knows them.  1957??  That might as well be some date in the Pleistocene Era.   An old, cigarette smelling, gray bearded guy in a straw hat rode this horse? That Old Man that lived in an RV and you called a Gypsy?  This was his horse?  Well, the joke is on them.  They won’t understand the full portent until they have kids on the ground. And when the weight of the legacy sits on their shoulders, I know it will continue.

End Note: Rio Grande By Dave Alvin from the Ashgrove album. Good road trippin’ music –what with the West Texas trip coming up and all.

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