Hard work, perseverance, and just plain stubbornness for success were the attributes of one of the most unusual men I have ever met.
Al Rivers was of Shoshone, Swedish, and Portuguese blood. Each representative, racing through his veins, was attributes that would manifest throughout Alís colorful life. He would have the patience of the Native American, the quick wittedness of the Swede, and the persistence of the Portuguese. No challenge to Al ever seemed hard as he made his way through life.
At the age of sixteen, Al was doing a grown manís chores on the farm of his grandpa. His own grandpa taught him to ride, and the methods he used were not always nice. Al had to listen carefully to his grandpa as he did not like to repeat himself. Equestrian tricks came pretty easily to Al under the strict tutelage of his grandfather. Riding, roping from the back of a speeding bronc, and other tricks of horsemanship, became second nature to this avid student.
Al soon felt that he had learned enough from his grandpa. He left the farm one day to strike out on his own. He was drawn to the rodeo circuit as he had heard that this was a way to make quick money. He soon learned that there was a lot the old timers didnít tell him as he competed at Reno, Prescott, Cheyenne, and lastly, Salinas known as the California Rodeo. He fanned the broncs, rode the bulls, and assisted in other phases of all that went into making a rodeo exciting.
Sleeping many nights in cold stables, going without ample nourishment, became a way of life to Al as he struggled to become the best at Rodeo. Sometimes he even entered boxing matches in the towns he visited, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. When winnings ran thin, Al would have to resort to other kinds of work. Through all the hardships he never considered his life to be anything but sport. At the age of forty-one, all Alís friends urged him to retire from active rodeo activities. He did so, but continued to be a great rodeo fan, following the riders around.
I met Al when he was ninety-four! One would never know that he was this ripe old age. He was very physically fit, still had the classic cowboy look, and did all that he was able to make the California Rodeo at Salinas a success. After he had retired from rodeo, he became a building contractor in the Salinas area. He was well known by many residents of Salinas and especially the cowboys who came to town to compete in the rodeo in July.
The story going around at the rodeo the year I met Al was that a neighbor lady had snapped a momentous photo of Al. It seems that he had decided that he could still jump rope. She cried, ďAl, whatís the matter with you, donít you know that you are 94?Ē He simply replied, ďI do this every day, you just didnít get up early enough to see me before!Ē
I asked Al what attributed to his old age? His reply surprised me! ďIt has to be God and the life of His wonderful Son. I talk to Him wherever I go. I never leave Him at home. Someday I will rest in eternal bliss, then, Iíll settle down!Ē
If we all could share Alís simple faith, his wonderful outlook on life, Iím sure this world would be a better place, and surely there would be less infighting!