Buster Welch, 1979

Buster was in sixth grade, living with his grandfather, Sheriff Welch of Mills County, after the untimely death of his mother. The family gathered in the big rock house on Bennet Creek on December 8, 1941 to hear President Roosevelt give his radio speech on the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Talk among the boys in the one room school houses in West Texas focused on the rush to volunteer to serve in World War II by all of the young men and boys of ages 16 or better, who forged their mother’s signatures to enlist before the age of 18. Buster was among the 6th grade boys who planned to apply for the jobs young cowboys would leave to serve in the fight to defend our freedoms.  Buster signed on for summer work with Foy Proctor. Foy Proctor’s big range cattle operation, like King Ranch and others, providing beef for the war effort. Buster’s dream of a life on horseback was delayed by his assignment to the various chuck wagon cooks of the era. He was known as “Get Wood” by each of the cooks and that is what he did, he kept the campfires going night and day.

The demand for beef and lack of cowhands finally put Buster on the seasoned horses that were left to be used by young boys who graduated from the chuck wagon to the cow outfits. Buster, with his red hair and freckles attracted a great deal of attention cutting cattle in the shipping pens at the rail heads and soon contests developed wherever there were pens and cattle between all those who thought they had the best cutting horse. Soon Buster was training horses for cutting horse events and winning in what became The National Cutting Horse Association.