Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sports Center Saturday: Rodeo!

John Bartram, 1911-1987, bronc rider extraordinaire
We tend to think of athletes as football/basketball/tennis players, swimmers, runners and the like. We had athletes of a different sort in my family: bull riders, bronc riders and steer ropers. Let me tell you, these were tough guys! Rodeo is a hard sport: it takes some serious skill and determination to stay on an angry bull or bucking bronc for a full eight seconds and, even if you do, you run the risk of serious injury or even death. Steer roping is no simple task, either, especially when you're trying to rope a wily steer from the top of a moving horse. But the family and friends I knew who competed in rodeo events were passionate about the sport. And they excelled at it. 

I've already written a bit about my Grandpa John Bartram and his brother, Dutch. Here are some pictures and newspaper articles (thanks to Google News!) that detail their rodeo prowess.
June 2, 1934. Berkeley Daily Gazette
This one documents when Grandpa John
broke his back.

June 1, 1937. San Jose News
Ray "Dutch" Bartram was a winner
at the Madrone Rodeo

August 10, 1937. Lodi News-Sentinel
Both Grandpa John and Uncle Dutch
did well in the steer bucking and
steer roping events.
I don't know anything about this picture. He looks
just like my Uncle Jimmy (his oldest son) in it, though.

At the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Hayward, California.
Grandpa John and Uncle Dutch both worked for Harry Rowell
in the 1930s and 40s.
Hard to believe anyone can stay on a bull for a full eight seconds.
These guys were true athletes!


  1. What a fun post and great photos!! I've always been a rodeo fan. I used to have a quarter horse that would have made a great barrel horse back in the day!

  2. Thanks, Lisa! I grew up going to rodeos. So much fun! I'm lucky to have all my grandpa's memorabilia.

  3. I want to see the pictures of YOU on the buckin' bronc Wendy! Isn't it in your genes? :) You are so lucky to have his memorabilia - and to have ancestors who were in the newspapers!

  4. Haha!! I have pictures of me in my cute little cowboy boots, but I never did compete in rodeos. I raised sheep in 4-H, instead. =p I'm really lucky that my family seemed to save everything and pass it down.