LINDEN, Texas - We moved to Imlay from Texas in 1942. In 1943, one of my buddies, Dale Austin, came running to find me and excitedly said there is a huge herd of sheep coming toward Imlay from Mill City.

I had never seen a herd of sheep, except in the movies. (We didn't know it was "flock," and not "herd.") So we headed for the stockyards, where we knew the sheep would be loaded on the train cars for shipment to Oakland. We perched on the highest gate posts, which was telephone poles used as gate posts, about 12 feet high, and watched as the "herd" approached. Very exciting.

There were a number of men, we called them sheepherders, a couple dogs, and a young boy moving the sheep slowly toward the stockyard corrals. I was particularly interested in the boy, who was about my age and size. Soon we were chatting, and I learned his name was Robert Belzerana. His parents owned a ranch on the other side of the mountain, in Buena Vista valley.

Robert and I became friends and in a few years rode the school bus together to high school in Lovelock. I got on the bus at Tungsten Mine, Robert got on at Mill City. Every day he and I sat together and since we were both fun-loving and full of mischief, we were compatible buddies. Most of our skulduggery was subtly done.

One antic I well remember we did on the school bus involved another Tungsten boy, Vernon Taylor. Vernon had chopped off one of his fingers years earlier with a hatchet while splitting wood for their cook stove. It was his middle finger and Robert suggested this scheme to pull on the girls on the school bus. They told the girls Vernon still had the cut off finger and did they want to see it? They certainly did want to see the finger. Gloria was ecstatic.

Vernon got a match box, cut a hole in the bottom of the box so his good finger on the other hand would fit through the hole. The next morning he put ketchup around the finger in the box, closed the lid, and kept it closed until the appointed time to scare the girls.. The girls were anxious to see the finger. Vernon said you can see it at Mill City, after Robert gets on. Robert got on, the girls crowded around, Vernon opened the box, they oohed and awed, until Vernon raised the finger straight up. There was screaming, and Gloria almost made a new door in the bus.

Then we moved away to the big city of Winnemucca and my Imlay and Lovelock days became history. I really didn't like my predicament, but a kid has to go where the parents go, like it or not.

Robert and I lost contact and many years later I was visiting my sister Lila in Imlay and she mentioned something about Robert Belzerana. I want to see Robert, I told her. Let's go out to the ranch and visit him. So we did, and found he had gone to Reno for the day. Had a nice visit with his wife and son. No Robert. I never saw him again.

More years passed, I was living in Dallas and sister Lila phoned me one day with sad news. Robert and his son had been killed in a small plane crash on the mountainside above their ranch. They were flying low and killing coyotes with a shotgun. No one knows exactly how the accident happened but they flew into the mountainside. A great fun loving man was gone, along with his son.

Whenever I think of Robert, my first thought is seeing him about 70 years ago, helping to move the sheep into the corrals, me on the high gate post, him working in the dust, doing a man's work, just a lad following in his father's footsteps, a rancher and sheep man in the making. It was fun knowing you, Robert. You made good memories.

This is so true for some of us. Stand up to be seen, speak up to be heard, shut up to be appreciated.

Roy Bale can be reached via email at