Published on December 1, 2020

How my daughter met her great grandma’s gentle bull

By Roy Edwards
The Bulletin

Mid-August, 1964, my ex-wife decided it was time for our daughter, Shirlene, to meet her 95-year-old great grandmother, Granny Zettel. She lived just west of Nelsonville, which is west of Bellville, Texas. We loaded the car with Shirlene and all the baby necessities, and away we went.

Granny Zettel lived in a dog-run house she and her husband had built in the 1800s. A living room and kitchen was on the right side, a 20-foot-wide breezeway ran down the middle, and two bedrooms were on the left side of the house. It sat on an 11-acre farm.

There was no electricity or plumbing in the house. There was a wood burning stove to cook on, and a well with a hand-operated pitcher pump on the right side of the porch for water. Granny kept a few head of cattle, chickens, a pig or two and about 5 acres under cultivation.

And, she had a bull.

This bull was not your run-of-the-mill animal. When he was born, his mother refused to let him nurse, so Granny raised him by hand.

At about 6-years-old then, he was a magnificent animal, and he was…BIG. Granny estimated he weighed close to 2,000 pounds. His wide head was covered with white curls while his body sported a beautiful tannish-red coat that always looked like he had just been groomed. Three white “socks” completed his overall good looks.

Because Granny had hand-raised him, he was gentle as a lamb, curious as a cat and friendly as a puppy. Anytime someone approached the fence, he would come to get his forehead scratched, his curly face rubbed, and hopefully, a treat, like an apple or a carrot.

Shirlene was a toddler, and she was in the middle of being potty-trained. During the heat of the afternoon, she went to her mother and said, “Potty, Mommy, Potty.”

Granny had an outhouse. You do NOT want to introduce a toddler who has never been to anything but a clean, air-conditioned restroom to a Texas outhouse during the hottest part of an August day.

Ah, but we found an alternative. Just outside the corral was a big old oak tree, so Mommy took her to the shade of the oak, pulls down her diaper, holds her hands and tells her to squat down and pee. Mommy is looking down at Shirlene.

Shirlene is looking up at Mommy.

Neither one of them notices the big, beautiful, curious bull easing up to the fence. The bull stuck his head between the first and second strands of the barbed wire fence.

Curious, he cold-nosed Shirlene’s bare bottom and snorted.

Shirlene jumped three feet in the air and locked her fingers behind Mommy’s neck. She was making a noise not unlike an air raid siren. Her diaper was still on the ground, haloed around a pair of footprints.

She forgot to pee.

That bull snort put Shirlene’s potty training back about 6 weeks.

(Write Roy in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)