CATCHING UP WITH DEROY
After the visit with Buddy, I set about reconnecting with
Deroy. After a few telephone interviews, I learn that his
father-in-law is Alfred Norman, son of John Norman, Frank
Raulerson’s longtime foreman who helped establish Cow
Creek Ranch. Deroy invites me to visit them at Triple S
Ranch, where Deroy has been foreman for the past five years.
Before Deroy, Alfred, now 86, had been foreman of Triple S
since the 1960s and still lives at the ranch.
During my visit to Triple S, Alfred recalls the early days of
Cow Creek, how his father had to transform rough Florida
scrub lands into pastures, and shares memories of Frank
Raulerson and how he had a penchant for Tampa Nugget
cigars and Cadillacs.
As I talk to Deroy, I realize that if Cow Creek had an exemplar,
it would be Deroy, who spent his earliest days at Cow
Creek, learning to ride horses and herd cattle. Essentially, everything
Deroy learned as a cowboy he learned at Cow Creek.
Deroy’s Uncle Will’um and his dad Curtis were best friends
and, except for Army stints, they had spent their whole cowboy
careers working for Frank Raulerson and then the Sloans.
They married sisters, Arizona “Punk” and Vena “Vee,”
who grew up with the surname Raulerson but were no relation
The four spent many of their weekends with Deroy camping
out in a small trailer — and later a camp cabin — on the
north side of the ranch. Their camp was a favorite destination
for my parents when we were riding around the ranch, with
Will’um often busting out a bottle of bourbon for the occasion.
Will’um and Punk didn’t have children and doted on
Deroy as if he were their own son. The result was that Deroy
was essentially raised by four people.
From my visits to the ranch over the years, I got to see
Deroy become the cowboy he is today. I was envious of his
ability to ride horses and work cattle and participate from the
earliest age in the Cattleman’s Day Parade that rode through
Fort Pierce every year. He also appeared as a young boy in
the Discovery segments appearing on ABC television in 1968,
working in a roundup in one scene and dragging his saddle
to the barn in another.
I had only seen the show once — when it originally aired
in 1968 — and during our meeting at Triple S Ranch Deroy
produced a VHS tape of the show. After our meeting at Triple
S, I took care of getting it digitized.
It proved to be a great record of how Cow Creek appeared
Deroy Arnold, left, grew up on Cow Creek Ranch and is now foreman of
nearby Triple S Ranch. His father in-law, Alfred Norman, right, also grew
up at Cow Creek and was the longtime foreman at Triple S.
back in the late 1960s and how the ranch was being managed
by Tommy and Jo Ann. It also confirmed a memory of
how my dad used to joke about how the show depicted him
galloping across the television screen on old Matthews, the
cracker horse he rode working cattle at Cow Creek on Mondays,
one of his days off from his newspaper job.
My dad had begun helping out at the ranch on Mondays
through his friendship with Tommy and Jo Ann. Though no
skilled cowboy, he enjoyed the ways of the Florida backwoods
and the authenticity of his friends at Cow Creek.
I vaguely remembered the Discovery scene, but reviewing
the video confirmed the ride across the screen. The host, Virginia
Gibson, was talking about the expert horsemen at the
ranch. The joke was that my dad was an amateur surrounded
by far more skilled horsemen than he. Yet, the show’s editors
chose to feature him riding. I guess you could call it his 8-second
ride on national television. >>
Newspaper editor Bob Enns gallops across the television
screen on Matthews during ABC’s Discovery show in 1968.
Deroy Arnold, left, and Alfred Norman with photos from Norman’s father’s days as foreman
at Cow Creek Ranch going back to at least the 1930s.