Buckles

Lewis Brothers Trucking Company - Courtesy Harley LewisRodeos are a multi-generation venture for the Lewis family. “Joe Lewis, my grandpa, was just an old cowboy,” Harley Lewis reminisces. “He didn’t have a lot of things. He had his Stetsons and spurs in the corner of the kitchen. That’s why I cherish his spurs so much. I have those and his service flag. He served in the Army during the Korean War outside Seattle. Mainly, I just remember him working really hard. He had a trucking company mainly shipping rodeo horses and bulls from New Mexico to New Jersey, and also later in Alabama my uncles ran that part. The horses would lay over in Narcissa.” Mike Lewis, Harley’s dad, recalls, “my cousins and I would wake up and run out the door and grab a horse and go riding. My father and his brothers were all on the PRCA rodeo circuit back in the 1950s. I just grew up riding.” 

Mike continues, “I remember when I was about twelve riding in the Afton rodeo. My winning money would basically pay for family to travel and enter into the next rodeo. After that I worked for Jim Shoulders, 16 times World Champion from Henryetta. It was during that time I entered in the All Indian Rodeo in Okmulgee in 1975. I won the bareback riding contest, but another contestant put in a claim that I wasn’t Indian. I had been on the Cherokee Shawnee role since I was a child, so I did not lose my title.”

“With the Coggins outbreak in the 1970s limiting the availability of horses, the hundred man riding events, with 100 men in 2 days, became prominent. I would often ride 3 events. After riding bulls, I almost preferred them over bareback bronc riding because of the fast release. But there was this one bull in Coffeyville. He turned three positions before he ever made the first jump. Freckles Brown was judging the rodeo and said to me, “That’s how you ride a nasty one!”

 “I was a good rider, what they call a day average winner. I was getting ready to travel with Donny Gay and Hawkeye Henson, but I injured my back while riding in Tulsa. The doctor said now would be a good time to use your education, and so I did.  My brother Dave continued to ride into the 1990s.”

George D. “Joe” Lewis Buckle that he won on the night he met my grandmother, Geraldine “Jerry” Lewis, in Arkansas City Kansas in probably 1954. He wore it all the time until he wore it out. 

My grandmother said, “He won the all-around and I was queen of the round-up club and I got to give him the horse clock trophy. First time I ever saw him and my heart was gone.” 

-Harley Lewis

“I entered the bareback, saddlebronc & bull riding. I drew the best high jumping spinning horse in the bareback. My saddlebronc just bucked straight ahead and my bull made a circle. I placed third in the all-round at that show & won the bareback. Then went on and won several contests up to May 1975 at the PRCA at Tulsa and got hurt, pulling all my lower back muscles leaving me to make choices about my life.”

-Mike Lewis