2006 Old Cowhand - Smiley Olson
How do you get to be an "Old Cowhand" for Freedom's Biggest Open Rodeo & Old Cowhand Reunion? Is it the pick of the pioneer stock from that northwest region? Let us look at the bio of one Edwin "Smiley" Olson and see what makes him Freedom's Old Cowhand 2006.
Edwin "Smiley" Olson was born the second child of Claude and Ruby Olson on September 12, 1927 in northern Woods County. Smiley has two brothers, Kieth and Claude, as well as four sisters: Beverly, Joyce, Ruth and Bonnie.
Smiley was raised in the "laplands" (that area shared by the Oklahoma/Kansas border). Smiley's mother was a teacher at Edith school. Smiley attended Rose Hill Grade School and graduated from Capron High School in 1945. Smiley's favorite sports were basketball and baseball.
How did Edwin get the nickname of "Smiley?" One day while practicing baseball coach middleton told Edwin to hit the field and to try to "smile" about it while he was out there standing in 'no man's land.' Fellow team player Ted Snyder said, "Hey, that's going to be your nickname from here on out." Ever since then Edwin has gone by the name of "Smiley." Those who know him say that it's the endless smile that he has carried with him throughout his life.
Smiley's roots have always been in Oklahoma, and are deeply planted in the western town of Freedom, Oklahoma. Smiley did join the Navy in 1945, but within a year he was discharged because he was missing a finger due to a run-in he had with a cream separator as a child. Smiley has worked for the Santa Fe railroad as a signal maintainer; the smell of black gold took him to the oil fields with a job at Atlantic Refining Co. BUT... his oilfield days didn't last long. After a trip home on weekend he was told by concerned family members that the draft board was inquiring about his whereabouts. Smiley, instead of waiting for them to draft him, he joined the Army in 1950 -- spent time in Korea and Japan. Smiley was honorably dischaged in 1953.
Smiley's cowboy life was soon calling him to Etna, Kansas to work at the Z-Bar Ranch. Smiley fondly remembers his mentor Dewey Reed. Dewey instilled into Smiley the "real way of the cowboy." Smiley carries those lessons with him throughout his life. Back in the cowboy days you didn't take sick livestock to the corrals for doctoring. You often found yourself roping, when necessary and doing it out in the pasture. It was good training for the horses and good training for the cowboy. Smiley found that the cowboy way of life was certainly the most rewarding but making a living at it was tough. In 1954 Smiley joined the Air Force and was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. It was during this time that Smiley married his first wife, Letha Burris and became the proud father of scott.
In 1977 Smiley retired from the Air Force. Smiley and Letha divorced. Smiley wanted to broaden his horizons and considered the oil fields in Alaska. Smiley never made it to the Alaska oilfields, though. While living in Alva and waiting for the weather to clear to head north, he ran into Doc McKinley who made him an offer that he could not refuse on McKinley's ranch northwest of Freedom.
It was in 1978 that Smiley attended a New year's Eve dance in Freedom at the American Legion building where Johnny Sue Gregory cught his eye. They combined their two families and lived on the ranch owned by Mackey McKinley. The rest is history. Some of said about Smiley, "When you meet Smiley you know you're in good company. He is as good a natured fellow as you'd ever want to meet."
Sounds like Smiley Olson is very deserving to be Freedom's Old Cowhand 2006 at the 69th Freedom Rodeo & Old Cowhand Reunion! Congratulations, Smiley, for being recognized for your pioneering spirit, dedication to the Freedom community -- goodwill toward others! Thanks for just setting a good old fashioned example for others to follow in our "cowboy" way of life.
View/Write Comments (count 1)
updates (0 subscribers) |
Comments: Smiley is my dads'(Kieth) brother I and I think the world of him! ~Trayce Hellman 2008-08-18 15:31:02
Create Your Badge