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A.O. Kime Articles:

AGRICULTURE
Betrayal
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SOCIOPOLITICAL
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My guardian angels, whether doom or destiny

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A story of a near-disaster in 1969... guardian angels at work?

It was during a deer-hunting trip near Payson, Arizona on the Doll Baby Ranch in 1969. There were five of us, myself, then 28, my son Roger, nine, my boss Jack who was about 45 and his two sons Chris, a teenager and Johnny was about 20. We brought four horses with us from Willcox, Arizona, where we all lived which is about 200 miles south of Payson. My mother had been living in Payson for about seven years by then, having moved there from Willcox in 1962. Her house was where we were going to base ourselves.

Anyway, we weren't quite geared up for the trip as we should have been so we made it hard on ourselves right from the beginning. First of all, we hauled those four horses in a stock-trailer instead of a horse trailer, so they were quite wind-blown after 200 miles. It was a stock-trailer four horses would fit in nicely, but no more. Concerned about the constant wind in their face and the heat, we made several stops along the freeway to water them. We were hauling the trailer with a one-ton stake bed truck which was our delivery truck for the business we were in, a fertilizer and chemical company.

We were basically all country boys while Johnny was also into bull-riding, nonetheless we weren't equipped for hauling four horses a long ways. There were horse trailers around to haul two but apparently we couldn't find one to haul four. The other factor which caused some of our upcoming problems was that we were a little green for this sort of thing since we weren't working cowboys and not around horses all the time. We all knew how to ride but really not experienced enough to know what may be required for hauling four horses a long ways for a hunting trip in unknown territory and having to care for them in strange quarters, away from home. However we tried to think of everything we might need. And none of us knew the layout of the Doll Baby Ranch either.

When we got to Payson after about 5-6 hours, taking longer than normal because of the stops we made for the horses, it was late afternoon. Our plan was to board the horses for that first night anyway with a neighbor of my mothers who lived just down the hill about 100 yards. This old man, whom everyone called 'Mr. Walker', had once been a prospector and had a small corral where he once kept his donkeys and it was just big enough... except for one thing, the wooden railings weren't very tall, about four feet. None of us thought anything about it, at least nobody said anything. After putting the horses up, making sure they had enough water and feeding them some alfalfa we brought along, we all settled in at mom's for a nice dinner where we were to spend the night. So far, not too bad.

Flying horses

The next morning we discovered all the horses were gone, they had jumped the fence. We immediately began searching around Payson in the one-ton truck and pickup we had brought with us from Willcox. We found two horses within about an hour and brought them back. The other two remained missing for about another hour but because the word quickly spread around Payson, my mother soon got a call from someone who knew where two horses were which were wandering around. Sure enough, they were ours. Looking on in total disgust as we loaded them into our ugly old cattle trailer was a local cowboy on horseback. He was about to corral these two strange horses running loose all over Payson. We were all pretty embarrassed at this point.

It was probably mid or late morning before we headed out towards the Doll Baby Ranch to begin hunting. It was very hilly country with sharp jagged rocks everywhere, which pretty much describes the Payson area, yet beautiful. On a narrow winding dirt road, we soon came upon a very steep hill. It was decided that the hill was too steep for the one-ton truck to pull a trailer up loaded with four big horses so we unloaded the horses, saddled them up and rode them to the top of the hill. At that point I can't remember if we loaded them back into the trailer to proceed or if we just rode them to our eventual destination which, as I recall, was only a few miles further. I think we were just looking for a good spot somewhere within the general area because I don't remember if we had a map or not.

Except for my nine-year-old son, we all mounted up, paired up and headed out to hunt. We hunted the rest of the day until late afternoon, it was then time to call it a day and head back to mom's house. We didn't see any deer but planned to get a much earlier start the next day. We loaded the horses back into the stock-trailer and headed back towards that narrow winding dirt road. When we got to that steep hill once again, the same one where we unloaded the horses to go up, we stopped the truck to consider briefly whether to unload the horses again or not. Meanwhile Jack and his son Chris went ahead in their pickup to wait for us at the bottom of the hill. It was decided that it shouldn't be any problem going downhill, we'd just take it slow. Well, that was a very bad decision.

Near disaster

Johnny was driving and I was in the passengers seat and my boy was sitting in the middle. I would say that from the top of the hill to the bottom was about a mile or a little more. This narrow dirt road, one vehicle wide, was steep and had several sharp curves as it snaked its way down. The high side of the hill was on my right and on the drivers side was a steep slope going down about 70 degrees, almost as steep as a cliff.

It wasn't long before I knew we had a serious problem when Johnny said the brakes weren't holding as we began to slowly gain speed. Every curve became hairier as we were gaining speed and the truck and trailer were beginning to bounce more on this rough narrow road. Johnny grabbed the two-way radio microphone to warn his father and brother below we would be coming in fast by yelling "runaway, runaway". In other words, get out of the way fast.

Believing we weren't going to make it to the bottom of the hill safely, but before approaching about the fourth sharp turn, I opened my passenger side door and grabbed my boy's arm with the intent to pull him with me as I bailed out. We just about didn't make the last turn and the bouncing was getting violent, the trailer and horses were really taking a beating. I don't know how fast we were going by then but it probably wasn't much more that 30-40 MPH, but way too fast for that road.

The problem was, me and my boy couldn't jump out too soon because the road wasn't wide enough and we'd be jumping into large jagged rocks. We could have gotten run over by the truck and trailer too. My plan was to time our jump just right as the truck left the road and went over the steep side. I took what I thought was my last look at Johnny because I was sure he would be killed... he had no choice but to ride it out.

Suddenly, while in a straight-away section, but at a time I didn't think we would make it around another curve, Johnny yelled out "we're slowing down" but at the time we didn't know why. Johnny had the truck stopped after about 50 more yards.

The miracle

We all got out of the truck wondering what made the brakes work all of a sudden, but frightfully glad. We walked back to the trailer to see how the horses were and then saw the reason why we were able to stop. One of the horses had fallen out and from dragging it and from being some 1700 pounds lighter, we were saved. Thankfully his bridle rope never broke and was still attached to the trailer. The horse was down with his head under the trailer as if his momentum carried him forward after the truck stopped. I thought the horse was dead because he wasn't moving, but as quick as Johnny cut the rope with his knife, the horse jumped up and although dazed and skinned up somewhat, within a minute he wanted to go where the hay was on the truck. Other than flesh showing where the hide was gone in four or five places, the horse was okay.

The thing about it was, the latched trailer gate had swung open allowing the horse to fall out. Yet it had been securely latched with a pin in it. How did this pin come out is the question. Yes, it must have bounced out, but it shouldn't have. Even so, what are the chances it could happen when it did? Yet, there's more.

As I'm sitting here writing about this for the first time, some 30 years later, I can't remember what kind of pin it was. I can't say now whether it was a plain old bolt or a type of pin which couldn't bounce out, like one for a clip on the bottom end. However, I remember telling people for several years afterward that it was the type of pin that couldn't bounce out... but now I can't visualize it.

If it was a pin with a clip as I apparently knew then, it surely was a miracle and I remember considering it a miracle at the time. Even if it was merely a bolt, it's still remarkable it bounced out in the nick of time. It's also remarkable that the horse quickly fell out and remarkable the rope didn't snap or yank the bridle off. We were just seconds away from being killed, Johnny for sure and perhaps my boy and I from the jump. If we had survived the jump, which seemed better than going over the side, I'm sure both of us would have been badly hurt. It was a very rugged and rocky road.

Right after we got the truck stopped and were all standing behind the trailer with the horse now up and walking about, a cowboy in a pickup which was behind us stopped to see if we were okay. At the time we didn't know anyone was coming down the hill behind us. This cowboy's face was showing a lot of concern and was in awe about what he saw us go through. He told us he saw our stock-trailer bouncing around so bad it was leaving the ground at times. He couldn't believe our good fortune either.

I might as well tell the last part too, another part of the trip which was embarrassing. After the incident, taking no more chances we unloaded the remaining three horses to get the truck and trailer down the hill safely. It shouldn't be surprising the horses didn't want to get loaded back into that trailer. While tugging and slapping their butts to get them in, one of the horses, while rearing up and stepping backwards, tumbled down the side of a wash we were next to. That horse flipped head over heals about three times before he reached the bottom. Remarkably, this horse wasn't hurt either and was finally loaded. Everything went smoothly from then on but we didn't hunt anymore either, still somewhat shaken we were all ready to go back to Willcox.

I've reflected on that event often, wondering how many other times guardian angels spared my life. From near disasters in airplanes to automobile accidents and other close calls, without injury, my guardian angels have been working overtime.

Don't forget to read the amazing article
"The sun... is it alive or not?" and if you
like poetry see "metaphysical poetry" and/or "poetry a la mode" (yes, right here on the world's 1st and only 'reality plus' website)

While reflecting on all the specific incidents I could cite, probably other people could cite just as many if not more. It may be common a person experiences a dozen near disasters in a lifetime. I can only think of 7-8 real ones for me. Maybe being shot at (and missed) and nearly falling off a cliff wouldn't qualify as near disasters though. Some soldiers get shot at everyday and assuredly mountain climbers have their moments. So I guess I've only had five or six. I might have to subtract another if being charged by a wild cow in an open field doesn't count. It might if it was a bull I suppose.

A.O. Kime

Matrix of Mnemosyne... the place of smoke signals from the spirit world

Last modified: 03/05/16