LINDEN, Texas - Bill Harmon, long-time Imlay resident, passed away recently in Winnemucca. When his health declined, he left Imlay to live with family in Winnemucca. In recent years, say the last sixty or so, I had very little communication with Bill.

Recently, there were three retired railroad engineers living in Imlay that had worked on steam engines during the 1940s and 1950s, until the steamers were replaced by diesel engines. Bill Harmon, Bob Martin, and Stanley Monroe were the three. Now only Stanley is left.

Even though I saw Bill only sporadically as adults, I saw a lot of him during World War II when we lived in Imlay. I was about a 12 years old when my father bought a mustang filly for me to break and ride all over the mountain above Imlay. I still have the handwritten bill of sale from Sam Fancher. The sale price was twenty dollars, but I wouldn't have sold her for a million. My first love.

Cliff was Bill's younger brother. Cliff and I attended Imlay school, and Bill rode the school bus to High School in Lovelock. To me, he looked a lot older than a high school student. I shared my concern with Cliff about my pony needing her hooves trimmed, and he said my brother can do that for you. Saturday morning I spotted Bill at his corral, so I rode my pony up there and asked him if he would trim her hooves. He said sure, and immediately went to work on her. I was amazed at how professional he did the job. Evidently, he learned that skill at an early age. I had watched buckaroos do that chore many times, and Bill was one of the best. On finishing, I asked him how much I owed him, and he said not a thing. After that, he kept her hooves trimmed, no charge.

Roundup and branding time rolled around in 1943, and Cliff told me his brother wanted to see me. So I rode my pony up to their corral to see what he wanted. He explained the next day was an all day roundup and about a dozen or more buckaroos were involved. They were going out in all directions and working the range cows back to Imlay and the stockyards for branding. "Do you want to go with me tomorrow?" he asked. "I have the west end to work, from the highway to the river, from Pitt Taylor dam back to Imlay." Man, I was on cloud nine, and don't think I slept 10 minutes that night from the excitement. Truly, I was stepping in high cotton. A 12 year old going on a roundup. Wowie.

We rode out at dawn, and rode about 10 or 12 miles westward, way past Humboldt House, before turning and searching for range cows. It was a long day, and I ate all my lunch and half of Bill's. My little pony was dead tired, and my hip pockets were dipping sand when I got off in Imlay. I probably was very little help to Bill, but he had somebody to talk to, and I felt soooooo important. It's been about 70 years now since that day, and I vividly remember every minute of it, saddle sores and all. And I was forever grateful to Bill for taking me along that day.

Thank you Bill Harmon, and wouldn't it be a blast if someday we talked about that day again? I wonder.

• • •

Dumb Texas laws. It is illegal to drive a vehicle on public roads without windshield wipers. Now there is no law that says you have to have a windshield. You can legally drive around town without a windshield, but you must have windshield wipers.

Roy Bale can be reached via email at