Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Talented Tuesday: Grandpa John and his Trick Goat

By now, you've all read about my maternal Grandpa John Bartram's rodeo exploits and tall tales. Grandpa was a truly talented man. I think one of my favorite of his talents, though, was that of goat trainer.
Grandpa John and Billy, out at the Frager Ranch in Pleasanton, CA
In the summer of 1959, after Grandpa John and Grandma Donna's tragic car accident which left Grandma permanently disabled, my Great Uncle Rob Christensen (Aunt Rae's husband) gave my mom's younger brother, Clay, a goat. His name was Billy. Grandpa John took it upon himself to train Billy in order to entertain the kids (and likely, himself). Billy was quite the performer (see picture, above).

When Billy and Grandpa weren't practicing their tricks, Mom and Uncle Clay used to play "King of the Hill" with him on the chaise lounges outside. Mom says he even liked to visit inside the house on occasion.

But, Billy had one trick that was completely self-taught and unique:

For some reason, Billy liked to find the just-laundered clothes which had just been hung out to dry by the woman who was helping around the house at the time. He would single out Grandpa’s underwear and eat the crotches out of as many of them as he got it in his mind to munch. Each time the wash came out, Billy waited until no one was watching, singled out Grandpa’s drawers and had a snack. The woman who was helping out was too embarrassed to tell Grandpa that the crotches of his underwear was missing, so she hid all the damaged laundry. For the longest time, Grandpa couldn’t understand why all of his underwear kept disappearing!

Mom, Uncle Clay and Grandpa had Billy for a few years. At first, he lived with them out on Foothill Road in Pleasanton, then he was pastured for a time on Vineyard Avenue (on the south side of Pleasanton). When Uncle Clay and Grandpa moved to live with Grandpa's sister and brother-in-law, Millie and Manuel Frager, Billy moved there with them. At some point, they gave him to someone who worked at the Rowell Ranch (where Grandpa John had also worked), and those people butchered old Billy. Poor Uncle Clay, who was just a kid, still remembers seeing Billy's hide drying on the fence at the Rowell Ranch.

I never got to meet Billy, but Grandpa John used to delight in telling my sister, Cindy, and me about his extraordinary tricks. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find this wonderful photo of Grandpa and Billy in action.


  1. Great story, Wendy. Brings back lots of memories -
    feeding Billy whipped cream from a can, helping him out the bathroom window, and watching him butt at least one aunt in the rear. What a GOAT!

  2. Thanks for sharing all your memories about Billy, Mom! And thanks for letting me pillage your photo albums the other weekend. =)

  3. I'm officially in love with your family. If I ever get fed up with mine may I please be adopted?

  4. Thanks, Susan. You can join our clan anytime!!

  5. Thanks, Jen. He really was cool! I hope your big move is going well!