IN THE NEXT ISSUE:
Stay tuned for Part IV of the Cow Creek Chronicles
appearing in the holiday edition of Indian River
Magazine arriving in mid-November.
What happens after TL and Jo Ann sell
the biggest part of Cow Creek?
Will developing a trout farm at Tellico get
them out from their mountain of debt?
COW CREEK CHRONICLES
Tune into the Cow Creek Chronicles podcast
by going to iTunes, Spotify or the
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least 800 acres of which had been converted to citrus groves.
Echoing the sentiments of the other children of cowboys
at the ranch, Jamie Percy remembers the effect the sale had
on his dad, Jimmy, the ranch’s general manager. “My dad
always said that was the saddest day of his life,” Jamie Percy
says. “It completely changed my dad’s life. He put his heart
and soul into that ranch.”
Around the close of the sale on Oct. 1, 1976, Buddy Mills
remembers Tommy and Jo Ann taking a last drive through
the ranch to bid the cowboys farewell and to thank them for
what they had done.
By the time of the sale, Earl Storey had moved to another
ranch. From its core crew, that left Will’um Thomas and Curtis
Arnold, who would continue to work for TL, managing
the grove acreage, and Percy, who would continue to oversee
other aspects of the Sloan holdings. TL had received assurances
from Vavrus that Junior Mills could continue to work
at Cow Creek.
On their final visit to the ranch, Buddy Mills says the Sloans
drove to see Cow Creek one last time and returned to the
headquarters, stopping their Chevrolet Blazer to talk to Junior.
“He kind of coasted up there and stopped and they put
down the passenger window. Daddy stepped up there, and
he said Jo Ann broke down and went to crying. She told him
what it meant to her to have him and Mama and us kids
there. And finally, Daddy said she had just got to the point
where she got so choked up she couldn’t say anything. And
that was their last drive through.’’