Juan Salinas, Rodeo Roper and Horseman
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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This is the story of Juan Light Salinas, a South Texas cowboy born and raised in the Brush Country who became a superb calf roper, joined the ranks of the best rodeo performers in the United States, and thus the world, and went where no Mexican had ever been before—and few have gone since. ...
1 Webb County, Texas
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Webb County, Texas, lies on the north bank of the Rio Grande, the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Th e county is in deep southwest Texas, 150 miles south of San Antonio on Interstate Highway 35, and 150 miles due west from Corpus Christi. Laredo is the county seat of Webb County, which is the sixth largest county in the state of Texas and part of what many call the South Texas Brush Country. ...
2 The Antonio Salinas Family of Webb County, Texas
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One of the descendants of Spaniards who became a prominent citizen of Laredo was Bartolome Garcia, the great-great-grandchild of Don Tomas Sanchez, the city’s founder. Bartolome, sometimes also referred to as Bartolo, married Maria del Carmen Benavides in 1833. One of Bartolome’s largest contributions—literally—to the growth of Laredo was the fact that he had twelve children. ...
3 Life on the Rancho Las Blancas
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Being Antonio Salinas’s son, and living on his ranch, Juan always had the best of horses, equipment, and help. Juan rode as soon as he was old enough to stay on a horse. He learned to rope as soon as he had the strength to swing the loop. He had so many animals around him that his entire day consisted of practicing his riding and roping skills. ...
4 The Move to Encinal
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In the early 1900s the Martin family, related by blood to the Salinases, did not have any adult males to manage their financial affairs and businesses. They relied heavily on their cousin Antonio Salinas, my grandfather (Pap� Antonio), to administer their businesses. One of the last tasks assigned to Antonio was to buy ranches for the several branches of the young family. ...
5 Young Juan Takes Over and the Roping Starts in Earnest
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One of the reasons the family moved to the Encinal area was that Papá Antonio was in failing health. He suffered a cerebral stroke about 1918, and finally succumbed from its effects in 1923. Th e young family took the death extremely hard; their strength, their means of support was gone. In reversed roles, young J. C. Martin, and John Martin, known to the Salinases respectively as Tío Jose and Tío Juanito, served as executors of Papá Antonio’s estate. ...
6 Juan Goes on the National Circuit
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Having roped in every major rodeo in Texas for several years, not to mention all the small rodeos and match ropings, Juan was encouraged by those in the know, and those around him, to take the big step and go on the national circuit. Th e year was 1936. He was reluctant. Keep in mind that he was a high school dropout. He was no dummy for sure, but he was not an educated man. ...
7 Circuit Experiences
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After two years of working the national rodeos, Juan still kept roping the local and area rodeos, and met up again with Toots Mansfield, whom he had beaten that one afternoon in Uvalde a couple of years earlier. Juan ran into him at all the South Texas ropings, and admired the young man. Juan could tell that he was a cut above the ...
8 Anthony Salinas Destined to Be World Champion Calf Roper
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T�o Tony Salinas, ten years younger than T�o Juan, married at about the time that T�o Juan started on the national circuit. He married his local sweetheart, Lucille Juvenal, from Encinal. In 1938, they were blessed with a little towhead they named Anthony. I have photos of Anthony on the national tour with his parents and with T�o Juan and Toots. ...
9 World War II Adjustments
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Th e Salinas brothers were rodeo performers, but they were also cattle raisers. The cattle raising got them an exemption from the military draft during World War II. True, they spent a lot of their time traveling around the country roping and having a good time, but back home they were producing beef for the nation. ...
10 After Ten Years, The Party’s Over
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Time eventually takes care of everything, they say. With athletes, time means that eventually the aging process takes over and the body starts to wear out, and consequently slow down. It is a message that it is time to take it easy or quit. I know now that Tío Juan’s body did not quit on him until he was about eighty-five years of age, ten years before his death. ...
11 Settling a Score at the Salinas Ranch
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After he had been home several years, Tío Juan started his own ropings and rodeos at the Salinas Ranch. He told me that he had three ropings per year - one to benefit the Encinal Lion’s Club, one to benefit Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Encinal, and one for his own benefit. The ropings at the Salinas Ranch were quite amazing affairs. ...
12 Leading a Cattleman’s Life
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Leaving the circuit meant that Juan and Bertha were home with no travel obligations. Juan and Bertha never had children, and this had freed Bertha to go with Juan to all the rodeos. They enjoyed each other’s company, spent countless hours together, and had a good time. I can safely say that they had a great life together. ...
13 A Real True Friend
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When Juan was growing up at La Becerra, he made friends with all the kids his age in the area. While on the rodeo circuit, T�o drifted away from his local friends. When he returned, he was married and had formed a different social circle. As T�o got older, he slowly came back to his early friendships. T�o Tony died in 1973; Bob Coquat died shortly thereafter. ...
14 Employees, Good and Bad
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In his long life T�o Juan had many employees; some good, and some bad; some memorable, some not; some characters, some not. I could write about many that I knew or heard about, but I write here about just a few. ...
15 Accolades and Kudos
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After Tía Bertha’s death, we became aware of how much help Tío needed. With Bertha alive, they put on a very good front; Tío looked and acted strong and independent. With Tía Bertha gone, we found out that Juan needed help with everything he did. We learned we had to help bathe him, dress him, and help with bathroom necessities. ...
16 The Last Years, Travels with Juan
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The last ten years of Juan Salinas’s life were the years I came to know him well. In the first year and a half after Tía Bertha’s death, I spent an hour or so every day in the afternoon at his house, waiting for my brother Abe and his wife Angie to show up. When Abe and Angie showed up, I went home. ...
17 The End and the Almost-Fight
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T�o Juan enjoyed very good health. He was never sick a day in his life, was never in a hospital until his last illness, and still had all his own teeth when he died. His only malady was poor eyesight. A horse never threw him. He only suffered a broken bone when he was eighty-three; ...
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Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 32 b&w photos. 4 line art. 1 map. 2 charts. Index.
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Fronteras Series, sponsored by Texas A&M International University