HORSE TRADING WITH GINGER ALE
In the early sixties I had purchased a small horse ranch near Nogales, Arizona, and after finding an attractive deal on several registered Quarterhorse mares, I was looking for a stud. My wife at the time had a grand champion halter mare, Salero Maiden. Her sire was Parker’s Chicaro a former sprinter brought to Arizona from Texas by W.D. “Dink” Parker. “Dink” put Parker’s Chicaro on the track and subsequently turned him out with his mares on the Salero Ranch near Patagonia. His bloodline was impressive: by Chicaro Bill-Chicaro TB-Chicle- Spearmint-Man o War. His dam was Beula Burns-little Joe-Black Joe-Traveler. I made some inquiries and discovered that Parker’s Chicaro was then owned by two brothers from Victorville, California. I telephoned them and made an appointment to look at the old black stallion.
They ushered me into a large barn and standing in a small stall I saw Parker’s Chicaro standing with a dull, shaggy coat, ribs starting to show and a forlorn look in his eyes. I thought about him running free on the Salero Ranch courting his mares and living a good life. I leased him on the spot. Upon his arrival at my place I could see that he was in need of lots of care. Each morning I mixed a can of condensed milk into his grain. Within three months his ribs no longer showed and his coat was a glossy black. With the exception of Salero Maiden, I bred all my mares to him that year. Chicaro and I had become friends.
A year later I received a telephone call from the younger brother inviting me for a drink at a fancy hotel bar in Nogales, Arizona. I had a distant inkling why he had called, so I drove to town. Jose Estrella, the bartender, was a congenial man, and a friend of mine from across the border. I had approached him a year or so earlier with a request: if I ordered a Scotch and soda he was to bring me a glass of ginger ale. If I ordered Scotch and water he was to indeed bring me Scotch and water. The reason for this is that this particular bar was the favorite place for livestock people to make deals. I don’t try to make deals while drinking. It is not good for my business. Therefore, when I sat in the booth with the gentlemen from California and one of their friends from Bakersfield, I asked Jose for a Scotch and soda.
The three Californians had already drunk a good supply of their chosen drinks and were almost to the point of slurring their words. We had a rally of small inconsequential conversation before the younger brother asked, “Do you want to buy a horse?”
“What horse?” I asked trying to sound like I didn’t know what he was after. I knew they had purchased an expensive Three Bars stallion before I had leased the old fellow that I stood at my little horse ranch.
“Parker’s Chicaro,” he said.
I paused and took a sip of ginger ale. “How much do you want for him?”
“Twenty-five hundred,” he said.
“Hell’s fire,” I said. “I don’t have twenty-five hundred.”
The conversation changed to something I didn’t listen to. It continued for about fifteen minutes while I made up my mind on the offer I had in mind.
“All right,” I began. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a year’s note for a thousand dollars with no interest if you have the transfer papers with you and will sign the horse over to me tonight.”
He smiled. “You just bought yourself a horse, John,” he said, and went to his briefcase for the papers.
I wrote out the promissory note, signed it and we exchanged paper. Their friend entered the conversation. “Tell you what I’ll do, John. I’ll pay that note you just signed and give you a thousand dollars for the horse, and pick him up in two weeks.”
With no hesitation I said, “Parker’s Chicaro is not for sale.”
I went to the bar and ordered a Scotch and water. During the following year the gentlemen from California brought four mares to breed to Parker’s Chicaro. His stud fee was two hundred dollars. One evening after I had finished with all the outside mares, I told Jose all about the black stallion almost paying for himself.
“That horse of yours is quite a gigolo,” Jose said.