Mainly I was involved with horses. For most of my life, my time outside of school was spent with horses.
The manner in which we began showing horses was really interesting. We rented out a barn to a guy who was getting paid to take care of horses, but we had to stop that because of the liability. One day a horse charged a little girl who was taking out a bucket of oats. The barn became a sort of Peyton Place with lots of things going on with the rental. The code seed company was here in town and the father of the guy we rented the barn out to liked horses but also drank a lot and would take the horses out but come staggering back sometimes without them. He had a son, a wimpy guy, who didn’t really like horses but liked to pretend that he did. He started showing pleasure horse classes. He talked me into trying one of the shows. He took my horse, Walking Preacher, in the horse trailer with his and my horse beat his in the show. He told me he couldn’t take my horse anymore because Walking Preacher broke the trailer. I knew that it was a lie, that he was really just mad that my horse beat his.
Because of this we bought a trailer and started going to horses shows ourselves. We showed we classes for American Saddlebreds and Walking Horses. We got a better breed, Midnight Dark, and began going to the bigger shows in Dallas and larger cities like that.
If you are getting into show horses you had to start at the lower price range and then build them up. There was a very rich man who had a daughter with an interest in horses, so he purchased for her an expensive horse, but she didn’t do very well and it made him angry believing it was solely the horses fault and not his daughters (because in his mind she was perfect). We ended up purchasing this horse, who proved to be wonderful.
We had a horse called Sterling Silver. My mom and dad felt bad for him because one day it was so hot, and because the horse was getting up in years, were worried for its health. My parents took him one night to sleep someplace where he would be comfortable. When they went to get him, Sterling took off while my dad was putting the chain on him. That horse ended up dragging my dad into a stall. All we heard was crashing and banging and at first we didn’t know what had happened to my dad and whether or not he was alright, but he was just fine.
My family brood mares for many years. One by one they became old and died. My mother bought the first one in 1948 in Louisburg, Tennessee. She had a Madora mare and brought it back with a colt. We had five stalls in total. It was a lonely sight when the last gray mare got old and was not moving very quickly anymore. One of the hands who worked in the barn was a guy named Janey Wright. He lived on the premises and took care of the horses. Another guy who worked with the horses was a guy named Jim. He would park his car on our land. Jim’s car had shiny hubcaps and one of our geese would spend hours admiring herself in the hubcaps. When Jim would come to the car ready to leave for the day the geese would bite him on the leg, so he would be distracted and not drive off. At one point we had a goose, chicken and ducks. The chicken hatched two ducks, a little goose and a few little chicks. In no time at all the goose got taller than the mother chick and would try to burrow under her. But when she saw her family coming she would start to run.
I had geese with all different temperaments. When you raise geese, they think you are their mother. Most of the geese we had were so loving and sweet. Two days before my bar exam the geese were all around me on the patio slab outside our house. They were running their bills through my hair and books, when my mother asked, “is this your idea of studying for the bar exam? You are going to feel bad when you fail!” My response was, “I won’t fail, I’m going to rely on my natural brilliance!” She was astounded I would say such a thing, but I did manage to pass.
Rite of Passage
The bar exam was so different than it is now. At that time, it was all easy answers. You took your exam all in one day and got your results posted on a board by the Supreme Court, the same day you’d be sworn in. Everyone invited their family and friends and if your name wasn’t on the board, well, you’d go to the zoo or do something else. We took the test in the Capitol building where the Supreme Court was located at the time. You could hear the window frames flapping in the wind, and with the windows always open there were constantly flies in the room. It got so hot you thought you would easily suffer from heat exhaustion. I can’t imagine it was a very thorough grading process, as I mentioned the exam was easy and the lawyers were grading and posting the results all in the same day.
I didn’t attend my high school graduation because I was at a horse show. I ordered the robe and the little motor board, and my mother took a picture of me in my robe and then we departed for the horse show. I didn’t attend my college graduation either, again because of a horse show, but I did go to my law school graduation.
I started law school the day after I enrolled in school. I didn’t really plan on going to law school, but eventually I did. I took the exam four years after I finished my undergraduate degree. It was the only test I ever took that I thoroughly enjoyed. I had all these history courses during my undergraduate years, so the LSAT seemed like a good fit. I remember one question in particular that read, of these individuals, which three are contemporaries and which one is not? The answers were: Ludwig, Beethoven, a King and a famous artist. Because I enjoyed history so much I got all of the answers correct."