For 65 years, Tom and Kathy Acord dreamed of attending the Pendleton Round-Up.
They drove through the area shortly after they married in 1952. The town, busy with the Pendleton Round-Up, drew them in. They explored the Indian Village and walked around outside the rodeo grounds. The young couple (she was 18 and he was 20) ached to go inside and watch some rodeo.
“But we didn’t have any money,” Kathy said. “We couldn’t get in.”
“We dreamed about it ever since,” Tom said.
Life got busy and the couple started a family.
Tom worked for a short time as a fireman for Union Pacific Railroad in Hinkle, then moved to Alaska to work as a telegraph operator. He held down two jobs and completed correspondence school to become an electrical engineer. While living in Juneau, they got horses and built a riding arena with about 200 rental stables.
They eventually moved to California, where Tom worked as a U.S. Forest Service engineer. They retired to McCleary, Washington, last year.
Every year, around Round-Up time, they thought about returning. Distance or some other thing always interfered — until this year.
“I got online, then called and got tickets,” Kathy said. “We told our children, we’re going to Pendleton.”
Their progeny, a son and a daughter, were a little worried about their octogenarian parents heading to a rodeo in wild and woolly Pendleton.
“We’re old,” Kathy said, with an amused smile.
The experience did not disappoint. They sat in the South Grandstand for the first time Wednesday and marveled at the athletes and the animals. They had attended little rodeos when they could and loved them, but hadn’t experienced anything in the same league as Pendleton.
“It was wonderful,” Kathy said. “This was a cut above.”
The couple will attend all four days. They don’t plan to check in with their kids, Kathy said with a mischievous grin.
They agreed that the Round-Up experience was worth the 65-year wait.
“Every year since we came back to the mainland, we have thought of going to the Pendleton Round-Up,” Tom said. “We finally made it.”
Contact Kathy Aney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-966-0810.