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It’s a small world, especially in rodeo

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Every once in a while I’m pretty sure I hear that Twilight Zone music in the background and hear the always recognize able voice of Rod Serling, the host of the 1950s and ’60s television show.

Yes, every once in a while a coincidence occurs that is eerie enough that the Twilight Zone is the only answer.

Twice already since I’ve called Boerne home I’ve gone through a people experience that just doesn’t occur every day.

First, shortly after I began working for your favorite newspaper here, I found out an employee of one of our nonprofit organizations moved here from my Indiana hometown and is good friends with one of my sisters, who still resides in the Hoosier state.

Second, a couple of months ago I received an email from a woman who said she has subscribed to the paper because she and her husband have visited here, hope to retire here and thus have subscribed to get the best news and information about the area. When she read a previous Coffee with Keith that mentioned my father had worked in the steel mills of Northwest Indiana, it perked her interest.

The woman asked me if I used to live anywhere near Valparaiso, Indiana.

Bam. That is my hometown.

Through some subsequent discussion, we found out her husband and my wife graduated from high school together and that I was friends with his younger sister.

So, yes, Walt Disney hit the nail on the head when he said, “It’s a small world, after all.”

But, now for number three.

Rod, cue the music. ...

Toward the end of last month, I contacted the Miss Rodeo America organization to see if I could receive updates on the competition in Las Vegas, especially relating to Jordan Maldonado, our current Miss Rodeo Texas and Boerne resident. I emailed that it sure would be nice to have any updates about Jordan and learn how she is faring against the other 26 Miss Rodeo state winners this week.

I received the following email back last week:

“Hi Keith,

“We are hoping that we can get you periodic updates on Jordan. Our volunteers are fairly busy during pageant but I am hoping we can assign someone to send you these updates after the major events at pageant.

“Regards, Crystal.”

And then there was this postscript that blew me away …

“P.S. Are you the same Keith Domke that was in Riverton, WY?”

I stared at the computer screen, then reread that the message came from Crystal.

The answer to her question is yes.

I emailed her back.

“Yes, I am. Are you Crystal Rivers by chance?”

Her answer: “I am! How have you been?”

I couldn’t help but smile.

Crystal Rivers, now Crystal Myers, is from Riverton, Wyoming, and was Miss Rodeo Wyoming one year when I lived and worked in that great city. I wrote stories about her similar to what I’ve written about Jordan, reporting on her winning the state competition followed by a preview of the national event.

Crystal and I became friends, and Nancy and I even purchased a homemade outdoor wooden bench during an auction in her honor to raise funds to help pay for her expenses.

We still have that bench, and we moved to Missouri shortly after she got married.

I also still have a horseshoe she gave me as a thank you for my support.

I gave her a very brief summary of what’s happened since Wyoming.

“It is a small world,” she emailed back. “I have wondered where you were numerous times. I was actually downsizing a couple months ago and found all the wonderful articles you did of my year.

“It is wonderful to hear how well you are doing.

“It is amazing that you still have the bench. If I remember correctly that thing was very heavy.”

Yes, the bench is very, very heavy.

She told me she has two children and is volunteering for the Miss Rodeo America organization as the Media Committee co-chairman.

Crystal, like Jordan, is as polite as they come and prove, in my book, that what Jordan told me recently is gold. I asked her why she got so heavily involved with rodeo and what makes the sport so special to her.

“I just love it, and it teaches respect,” she told me. “It teaches you to be humble. I’ve found that kids who grow up in the rodeo atmosphere get the most respect. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself, and if folks like Jordan and Crystal are a part of it, rodeo is, indeed, a gentleman’s (and gentlewoman’s) sport.

And we truly need more of that kindness today.

Respect can be extremely difficult to come by in today’s me-first world. So, to come across two young women separated by several years and by hundreds of miles who not only know what it means, but practice what they preach is exceptionally refreshing.

Respect is earned, and that sometimes can be a tough gig for me.

But these two get mine in every way, shape and form.

And I am forever a member of their fan clubs.

Thanks, Jordan. Thanks, Crystal.

As always, thanks for reading.