BACK AT THE RANCH
Cow Creek Chronicles writer Gregory Enns retraces his steps writing
the story of loss and love and returns to the ranch where it all started
Buddy Mills, Deroy Arnold and Alfred Norman return to Cow Creek Ranch after decades. Norman’s days on the ranch go back to the 1930s, when his father
was foreman; Deroy’s, from 1957 to 1976; and Buddy’s, from 1970 to 1977.
A few months before my father, Bob Enns, died
in 1990, his younger brother, Eddie, was sitting
with him on my dad’s front deck on South
Indian River Drive in Fort Pierce. I was visiting
from Sarasota and their conversation turned to mutual
friends, Jo Ann and Tommy Sloan.
Jo Ann was one of my mom’s best friends — they were
born on the same date and year, July 22, 1930 — and
called themselves the birthday twins. Tommy had gone to
school with Uncle Eddie at Fort Pierce High and was also
a friend of my dad, who cowboyed and hunted at the
Sloans’ Cow Creek Ranch on his days off as editor of the
“Bobby, if you ever tried to explain that whole situation
with Tommy and Jo Ann to someone, you just couldn’t,”
Uncle Eddie told my dad.
In the decades of knowing the Sloans — I had mostly
known them through visits to the ranch — I knew their
lives were out of the norm. They were the first people we
knew as millionaires, unusual for Fort Pierce.
Then there was their domestic situation. Tommy lived
with another woman, Diane Robertson, from the early 1970s
until his death in 1996 while remaining married to Jo Ann.
It was the observation of my uncle, a former St. Lucie County
commissioner and future Fort Pierce mayor, that made me
realize how unusual — and complicated — their story is.
A Reader’s Digest version might go like this:
K.B. Raulerson arrives in Fort Pierce in 1896, followed by
brother C.F. “Frank’’ in 1907. The sons of an early Florida cattle
rancher from Geneva, Florida, they develop their own cattle op- >>