Milking the Brahma Mama

In 1974, Sid got elected as the district attorney for three counties in northeastern Oklahoma. He defeated the previous D.A., Bob Vinzant, in a close race.

Soon after the election, there was a rodeo in Rogers County, the county where Bob Vinzant lived. Somebody had the idea to invite Sid and his staff to participate in one of the less prestigious events in the rodeo, the wild cow milking contest.

As Sid tells it, “They would bring these humpback… what do you call the cows that are so mean? Brahma. They would bring in brahma cows, ’cause they had to have cows to produce those calves. So they had these brahma mamas, who were meaner than shit. They weighed a thousand pounds. And so they would have a brahma milking contest. And they’d bring one o’ those brahma ladies out with a rope around its neck, and then hand you a paper cup, and it was up to you to figure out… with two of you, one holdin’ the rope and one underneath. And they had a clock goin’ — how long it’d take for ya to get a little milk outta this damn brahma cow.”

I asked if they cared how much milk you got. “Oh, any amount would do. God, if you had any, you were the winner.”

The organizers invited Sid because, as he puts it, they didn’t give a shit about him. “So they came in, and really, you could just see the guilt in their eyes, and they said, ‘We want to invite you — and we’re so excited that you’ve been elected district attorney. We haven’t had a chance to meet you yet.’ So they explained the contest in detail, you know, to the city boy. And I said, ‘Oh, we’d be pleased to.’”

Rather than milking the cow himself, Sid delegated the task to two members of his new staff. ¬†Apparently, the organizers didn’t realize how much rodeo expertise was in the district attorney’s office.

The district investigator, J.B. Hamby, was an imposing man who had a reputation at the rodeo. Supposedly, he had stopped riding bulls because he broke them, literally. He was a former deputy sheriff who would later become the police chief in the town of Catoosa. He died in a gunfight in Catoosa, and he is fondly remembered to this day.

When Hamby faced the brahma mama, he was with a coworker who had lower standards of virtue. I’m not sure what his job was or what his name was, but Sid calls him Nipshit.

“If there was an illegal way to do it, he’d rather do it that way. He wanted to know if I’d like to have a fish fry for the offices. I said, ‘That would be nice.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ll furnish the fish if you wanna grill ‘em.’ And by God, he came up with all these beautiful fish. Somebody later told me that the way he fished — you know the crank in an old telephone? Well, that’s a generator. He would go out in a wooden boat — fiberglass or wood — and he’d put the two wires in there and then crank like hell, and stunned fish would come floatin’ up. You pick the good ones, leave the rest, and they’ll shake it off and go back to swimmin’ again.”

Nipshit, a graduate of Oklahoma State University, also had rodeo experience. He was a former president of the Junior Rodeo Association. According to Sid, Nipshit was also a great-nephew of the famous humorist Will Rogers, who was himself a son of the county’s namesake.

When Investigator Hamby and Nipshit went out with their paper cup, they knew what they were doing. “The two of them went out, and the crowd all cheered, and I mean, in a matter of seconds, they had milk in the cup. And they won this great big trophy.”

From then on, if you walked into the Rogers County courthouse and went to the district attorney’s office, the first thing you’d see was the brahma-mama-milking trophy.

As it turned out, Nipshit’s milking technique was just as shady as his fishing. “Years later, I learned that Nipshit had a mouthful of milk. And while he was under there, he spit the milk into the cup.”