My cousins and I took turns on Grandma’s wash day running at the white sheets hanging from her sagging clothes line in the back yard. We held mock horns – our stubby index fingers along the side of our heads – pretending we were bulls charging the giant matador’s cape – a full size flat sheet still wet from the wringer washer. “Toro, Toro! Olé! Olé!” we’d yell then go off finding some other six-year-old style of amusement.
There were no bull fights in Indiana, Pennsylvania – the Christmas tree growing capital of the USA and home to the teachers’ college Indiana University. I suspect we learned about bull fighting from our main source of cultural exposure TV. It was probably from a Three Stooges slapstick comedy. In “Snappy Bullfighters” Moe and Larry are costumed like a bull and Curly is the matador. When a real toro bull entered the ring Curly let loose his “Woo Woo Woo Woo” and the Stooges all ran from the snorting, charging bull. I remember that my cartoon favorite Bugs Bunny confronted a toro bull too with a carrot in on hand and a cape in the other. That was how I and other kids growing up in the 60s learned about bull fighting.
I never gave bull fighting much thought in my lifetime until I read headlines in Mc Allen, Texas newspaper The Monitor – “Bloodless Bullfight Sunday.” I decided Ed and I would go to the Corridas, the bull fights.
The Santa Maria Bull Ring is located in LaGloria, Texas. According to the owner/operator and former bull fighter Fred Renk, this is the only authentic ring built strictly for the purpose of bull fighting. There would be three bloodless bull fights here during the 2008 season and Ed and I would attend two of these events. My childhood exposure would be dismissed during these afternoons with Renk, his bulls, and the matadors. This is art and cultural heritage struggling to fit into a contemporary world.