I’m not proud of it, but it appears that with advancing age, my attention span is becoming shorter and shorter. (No pun intended..oh wait, that was the last blog)
I’ll sit down to this keyboard with every intention of writing something interesting and on schedule only to get hopelessly distracted searching the web for more information about some trivial item that I figure will enhance the project. Next thing I know, several hours have passed. My butt is tired, my eyelids are heavy and the man-cave daybed is only a few steps away. Tomorrow.
I’ll concentrate better tomorrow and finish what I’ve started then.
Here’s how this week’s endeavor morphed into whatever follows.
Somebody brought up the blog I did on Neal Wanless..the big time Powerball Lottery winner who lives a secluded life on his Western South Dakota ranch whom I saw on TV buying a car at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale for an ungodly amount of money.
He’s always reminded me of another South Dakota kid I did a story on back in the early 90’s who, like Wanless, loved rodeo and the idea of being a cowboy; only my guy lived on a Brookings County farm and was the son of a high school classmate, Dale Swartos.
So enthusiastic was this kid about rodeo-ing, that his dad found and purchased a used mechanical bull and set it up in the barn so the kid could practice night and day.
Well, I couldn’t remember the kid’s name but it only took one Facebook message to his cousin Tim Swartos to put me in touch with Kevin..the teen age cowboy from Sinai determined to be the next world champion bull rider. (The following four images are from our 1993 interview)
I remember Kevin Swartos as the strong silent type who had already mastered all that mechanical bull had to offer..no matter how high the speed or degree of difficulty was cranked. He made it look easy and it was suggested I give it a go..which I immediately nixed with no possibility of exception after which I’m pretty sure I heard photographer, Kevin Kjergaard quietly making bwwaaak bwwaaak chicken sounds from behind his Keloland camera.
Well..young Kevin Swartos did alright for himself on the amateur rodeo circuit, riding bulls in about fifty of them. His best was his Junior year in High School when he won a third of the 15 events entered.
I remember Kevin telling me during the interview way back when he was 19, that he preferred bull riding because he didn’t have to trailer a horse around to events..plus everybody loved watching the bull riders because of the danger and he kind of enjoyed the attention..no doubt from the ladies
Even though bull riding is the most dangerous event in rodeo by far, Swartos told me he was really lucky. “I escaped serious injury. I got stepped on a few times. Once the hoof ripped my pants off just inches away from turning me into a steer. “
Rodeo is no longer part of his life.
Well, that’s not entirely true. He’s married to Kelly Jo Scofield..who grew up in a rodeo family whose brother, Justin Scofield, is a tie down rodeo champion. As a result, Kevin’s kids all love the sport too but even though their dad was fearless in life..the military..and the bull ring..it’s their uncle Justin the kids idolize.
Kevin told me, “The kids think uncle Justin walks on water and that’s okay with me”. I was never good with a rope. Participating in calf roping and other timed events is a whole lot safer and, thanks to Justin, the kids are good at it.”
Nothing like a family to mellow a legitimate tough guy who wasn’t afraid to put his life on the line for his country..or a few bucks and an 8 second thrill ride in the rodeo arena.