Telling Our Stories:
Story telling is the Shuswap
way of passing our history
to the next generations
Some good memories of Pros Rocky (Also Prosper Michel)
I must have been in my teens when I found out that Pros Rocky was actually related to us. He often came to visit us at our house just in front of the church. As soon as he would come in the door he would say to dad, "Hello uncle". I thought that was just a casual greeting he gave to all his elders on the reserve. Then at other times usually when he was drinking, he would say to Jake and I, "There's my cousins". Little did I know that his mother was actually dad's (Grampa Frank) sister.
Anyway, what I wanted to do here was to tell a couple of rather amusing stories about Pros. The first is in regards to the Sugar Cane rodeos. One of my fondest memories about the rodeos was when a couple of riders used to go up into the hills above the reserve to get the bucking horses for the rodeo. I remember that Max Bob used to be the one charged with going to find the horses. It was a site to see the herd of about twenty horses coming over the hill at full run with Max and his helper following at full gallop. The horses seemed to know exactly where they had to go. They would head straight to the corrals of the rodeo arena.
Pros was always the rodeo announcer. Being that there was no electricity near the rodeo grounds, Pros had to use a home made announcer cone like the kind you see circus announcers use. Pros' cone was made out of birch bark. The same bark used to make birch bark baskets.
After every rodeo there was a dance. At first they were held in an old house which used to belong to Patty Antoine. Then later a huge dance hall was built just in front of our house. At one dance, I think Pros was using his announcer's cone to call square dances or to make announcements or something . Anyway, I was up on the stage beside him as he was announcing. I was about eight years old at that time. I reached up my arm and put my hand in through the front of the cone and I grabbed his mouth while he was talking. He got so mad that he lifted the cone and brought it down on my head so hard that it got stuck on my head like a dunce's hat. Everyone in the dance hall laughed so hard.
Another story I remember well happened at the Williams Lake Stampede. The Williams Lake Stampede is a world renowned event and happens every July 1st weekend. Anyway, at this one stampede, I guess Pros had been celebrating rather heavily as was most of us. The bull riding event had just started. Bull riding is the most dangerous event of the stampede. 2000 pounds of crazed Brahma bull with two feet of sharp horns was what a cowboy had to face once he jumped off or was bucked off. As one bull ride came out into the arena, this figure comes running out from behind the chutes and starts chasing the bull and it was not a rodeo clown. It was Pros. The rodeo announcer was in a panic. Pros was out there bull fighting. The bull would come at him, he would put his hand on the bull's head and run around him. This went on for what seemed like forever. Then the bull seemed to just give up chasing Pros and the crowd cheered. The pickup men came and chased the bull out of the arena then some cowboys came and escorted Pros out of the arena to the thunderous applause of the crowd.