Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tall Tale Tuesday: How Grandpa John was Saved by the Buzzards

Grandpa John, no doubt telling
Cindy and me one of his stories
If you've been following my posts, you know that my maternal grandfather, John Bartram, was quite the adventurer. He was a rodeo cowboy who traveled the West and the world entertaining audiences with his fearless attempts at riding bulls and broncs. Grandpa John was also an entertainer of a different sort: he was the master of tall tales. He was so good at telling his crazy stories that some of his kids and grandkids didn't realize they were made up or embellished until after Grandpa had already left us.

Here's one of Grandpa John's favorite yarns. Grandpa lived with us, off and on, while I was growing up, and I recall hearing this one more times than I can count!

One day, Grandpa John was riding across the Kansas prairie when his horse stumbled into a large dry well. He and the horse plunged to the bottom of the well and were unable to get out.

After a couple of days, the horse died and Grandpa, of course, was worried that his time on this earth was also nearly at end. Pretty soon, the buzzards started gathering and circling the well.

When the buzzards began descending into the well to eat the flesh off of the dead horse, Grandpa had a flash of brilliance. He decided he would leap up and grab each buzzard, in turn, by their legs. He then hitched a saddle strap to each buzzard until there were enough buzzards attached to his saddle that the large, frantic birds simply hoisted both the saddle and Grandpa out of
the well.
 To hear Grandpa John tell it, it sounds completely plausible!


  1. ...believed it for many years! My favorite memory was when he taught me how to tie the knot he used. He called it a 'rope trick' to get me interested...you lay one hand facing up, one down w/rope trapped in your thumbs and twist. I was probably 7 at the time. The 'trick' intrigues me to this day...so simple yet so effective. Grandpa John was way more interesting than anyone I know now! Deadpan story teller...some of his 'truths' are stranger than fiction!

  2. We've a Grandpa John in our family, too. What a joy. Great picture. Great story.

  3. Thanks to all of you! I'm full of stories about Grandpa John. He was one of a kind! That whole side of the family is full of characters.

    Vikki, I forgot all about the "rope trick"!! Thanks for reminding me. =)

  4. What a wonderful guy he must have been - I'd have believed his stories.