Beef in the Backseat

Gal pals learn that just when you think things can’t possibly get any worse, they do.

calf in the backseat

Beef in the Backseat

Joanne Tripp learned an embarrassing lesson. Illustration by Kevin Rechin.


Story by Joanne Tripp
Centralia, Washington

I was a city girl, 26 years old with three young children and one on the way, when we moved to the country outside Tacoma, Washington. We didn’t have much money, so we were always looking for ways to stretch a dollar. In the summer of 1961, we agreed with some friends to go in together on a calf. Each family would pitch in $12.50, and we’d raise it on my farm.

It was my guess that $25 would buy a 40-pound calf, and an animal that size would easily fit into the back of our 1941 two-door Chevrolet, right? So when the day came, I simply took the backseat out, put down an old carpet, threw in a 10-foot coil of rope and considered myself ready to haul livestock. My two older kids stayed with a neighbor, and I packed up my baby and drove to town to pick up my friend Rose and her baby. She held the little ones while I drove the cattle car.

The farmer was friendly, and we visited awhile. But when Rose paid him for the calf, he looked at my car and just shook his head.
Then he walked away with our lead rope and returned with a beast the size of a full-grown cow!

I couldn’t let on that I didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing. “Oh, this will be easy,” I bluffed. “We’ll open both car doors. I’ll pull. You lift his front feet, then push him in from the back.”

I pulled the rope for all I was worth, while Rose and the farmer pushed as hard as they could. The poor calf had no choice but to climb into the car. His big head hung out one back window and his tail hung out the other.

The drive home was uneventful until we reached Tacoma. About this time, the calf had taken to stamping his feet and shifting his weight, which caused the car to rock from side to side. We stopped at a red light in front of a Woolworth’s dime store. The sidewalks were full and the intersections packed, and every person within staring distance was doing exactly that.

Then, while we were waiting for the light to turn green, we heard a noise. A noise like someone sticking out a tongue and blowing a raspberry. A noise that made me think, No, no, not here!

“Rose,” I asked, “was that you?”

“No,” she replied, “not me. You?”

I didn’t want to believe my eyes, but I saw the calf’s tail sticking straight out the window. And then it happened. Cow business! Right there in the middle of Tacoma! With some of the stares turning to open-mouthed shock, I slid down in my seat, trying to hide.

It’s not easy to work a clutch and a gearshift when you’re crouched down that low, but believe me, I managed. We finally got the calf home and let him out of the car.

I think he was glad the ride was over. I know Rose and I were.

Judy January 10, 2013 at 12:45 am

I tho’t you would like this cute story….Enjoy!


chad May 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm

lol . could just picture the people on the sidewalk not only with their mouths open when the cow had to pass some gas but also holding their noses after wards. if nothing else you learned to make sure you have room for the cow


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