June 24, 2008

Anatomy of a Rodeo Clown **

** Anatomy of a Rodeo Clown, Aleta Lutz

Last year I was at an open mike at The Oaks when a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday broke out for Aleta Lutz, a 91-year-old lady sitting on at a side table sipping Shiner from a small glass. After my set I snagged an empty chair at her table to chat. After all, how often do you get a chance to talk to someone who is 91?

That's intriguing enough, but when I discovered she was a writer, I was hooked. We talked until she had to go home, and made arrangements to keep in touch. A few months later, Aleta and her son Jim the Bola Man made the trek from Manor to South Austin for dinner We talked of the writing life and other things. She started out as a young girl during the Depression, writing true crime stories and being paid per word. For many years she lived down around South Padre Island and wrote a society column for the newspaper. Now she lives with Jim in a old farm house, the house where they filmed What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

After dinner, I gave her a FredBook. She gave me a copy of her book, Anatomy of a Rodeo Clown: The Story of Charley Shultz.

I've kept it by the bedside and read the short, bite-sized chapters and learned of the hard times of a Depression-era Okie who stumbled into a career as a rodeo clown. Interesting story. And autographed by the author!

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