Isabel, South Dakota RodeoBy Billy Norman
In the late 1960's Johnny Johnson and I decided to go to Isabel to the annual rodeo and enter the bull riding. We went up on Saturday morning as we were entered in the two o'clock rodeo. Johnny warned me on the way to Isabel that he had a bunch of sheep to round up and deliver early Monday morning so he had to be home on Sunday night.
I rode my bull and every time I tried to ride him he went straight forward out of the gate and I would catch my right knee on the shoot and it would jerk me off the bull. They gave me 2 rerides but the same thing happened so I gave it up. They wanted to give me a third try but I didn't take it. Johnny bucked off on his bull. We both had a second go round entered on Sunday.
Isabel had a big dance on Saturday night. Johnny and I met a couple of cowgirls at the dance. We spent the evening with them.
That night we stayed out one mile north of town at the Isabel Campground and Lake. We just had our sleeping bags. After the dance we drove out to the campground, crawled out of the car and into the bags. We woke up in the morning to church music. There was a group of about 30 people sitting on a lawn behind us singing. They were about 30 feet away. So here we had the lake and then us and our car and then the church people. We talked about it for a long time and finally decided to get down into the sleeping bags, get up and hop to the car. There was a lot of snickering and laughing by the church people. We put on our clothes and got the hell out of there.
On Sunday I bucked off my bull and I can't remember how Johnny did. We spent the afternoon with our new girlfriends at the rodeo. About ten o'clock that night we headed for Belle Fourche which was over a hundred miles away. The deal was one of us would drive until he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. At that point he would wake up the other one and he would drive. I started out driving. I drove the Isabel road approximately 20 or 30 miles out to Highway 212. I turned right and headed for home. I drove about 20 miles and couldn't drive any further. I pulled off the highway on to an approach. Johnny got in the front to drive and I crawled in the back seat and immediately fell asleep. Johnny backed the car out the wrong direction and headed back the way we had just come from. I was asleep so I didn't notice. He drove 20 or 30 miles down the road and he saw a sign with an arrow pointed to Isabel. He woke me up and we couldn't believe what had just happened. We struggled the rest of the night but we made it back. Johnny was able to take care of his sheep the next day. I know I couldn't have done it.
That was our weekend in Isabel. My knee to this day is still screwed up. They want to give me a new knee but the doctors say my health is too bad for an operation.