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Stories - truths and tall tales
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Big John's
 
   

Well, I was resident farrier at Al Amaya's Lazy A Ranch for several years back in the mid-seventies, and drank coffee w/ Virl every morning he was in town, not off either working on the road painting stacks & flagpoles, or running a race...

Virl was, in many Almaden folks' minds back then, kind of an official mayor and certainly conscientious goodwill ambassador for both Almaden and the horse world in general.

I could ramble out great stories on Virl for pages, but I'll just do one favorite:

Every morning @ Big John's restaurant where we all coffee'd up for the day ahead, several of us would shake Boss dice (poker hand on dice thrown from a cup, w/ twists)....same pattern followed every morning....Virl, Juanito, John (when he wasn't cooking), Jim Green, myself, and a couple other guys would start with shaking for breakfast bills (about $2), which would progress to $1-a-hand, to double/nothing, etc...and depending on the morning, those games could get REALLY interesting....

The alltime classic, by which all others were judged (and found wanting) was the rainy morning when Virl and Jim Green got into it....(Jim was famous for making the stakes whatever anyone offered...and losing...and so long as the opponent promised a future opportunity to even out, Jim would smile all the way out to his truck).

When I walked in, they were at $5-per-hand....by the time I finished breakfast they were @ $50 per hand....they stopped at $100-per hand, only after Jim lost 5 hands (and paid up, of course....smiling all the way to his truck).

But this was Friday morning, and Virl & Jim (and the rest of the damned valley, it seemed) would all be back that night for the weekly Prime Rib Dinner! (Major event in Almaden Valley, trust me....it was dark and remote back then).

So later that night, with Jim's wife watching in horror, Jim proceeded to lose a prize mare AND her standing foal to Virl while trying to break even on the morning's loss.

Next morning, Jim & I are shaking for $1's when Virl walks in, announces to Jim & the rest of the place that he felt really guilty about coming with his trailer this morning (to pick up his winnings from last night, y'see...), and offered to let Jim off the hook....

Jim, of course, was FAR too proud to let THAT happen, so he says "Hey, let's just shake (dice) for it!!"....

(None of us could believe it....).

And it took about an hour for Virl to win Jim's brand new Ford truck and brand new Lane Trailer he'd used to bring the mare & foal down from the mountain that morning....

I hadda drive Virl's rig back to his place, because Virl just HAD to drive Jim home to drop him off (to his wife....lol...I don't EVEN want to know how THAT explanation went!!), and then drive his new truck back to his place with his new horses already loaded in it....because (and he actually said this) "I HAD to be able to watch his face in the rear-view as I drove his new truck & trailer and two of his best horses down the hill from his house".....Smiling like a leprechaun the whole time he said it :)

And Virl never let Jim forget it....lol.

Virl Norton Great American Horseman
   
posted by: Dave Preovolos - 04 23, 2014
 
   
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
Virl Norton Great American Horseman
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