A Cure for Bad Manners

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The late Benjamin (Bud) Adair was one of the most colorful personalities to come out of Circle City, AZ., a dusty road stop along Highway 60 between Phoenix and Wickenburg.

Bud operated a truck stop, motel and restaurant in Circle City. He also ran unsuccessfully for sheriff of Maricopa County and governor of Arizona. He formed a non-profit organization called Desert Troop Search and Rescue and used the volunteers to search for people lost in the desert or for motorists whose cars had broken down.

Bud and his wife had several children who helped Desert Troop. J.R. Adair was off the wall and a little crazy. He aspired to be a cowboy and became a Brahma bull rider. His son Junior was a big soft-spoken man who left home at age 19 and bought a small restaurant that catered to cowboys, horsemen and the rodeo crowd.

The restaurant was located near Turf Paradise Race Track on Bell Road. Junior served a good restaurant and Kona Coffee and I used to have breakfast there. One of his waitresses was a cute girl named Dixie. Born in Alabama, she had a Southern drawl and was married to a jockey named Rick.

Everyone who knew Rick considered him mean and unpredictable. It was well known that he drank a lot and when he was under the influence of alcohol would beat Dixie. She often had to cover her bruises with heavy makeup. Junior was aware of Rick's behavior. He liked Dixie but didn't know what he could do to help her.

One morning around 8:30 a.m., I dropped in on the restaurant to have my usual bean burrito with chorizo and a green chili topping. Half of the tables were filled and Junior, in his clean white apron, was working the grill. He smiled at me and waved at an empty table in the corner of the room.

'Make yourself comfortable,' he said. 'Dixie will be right with you.'

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Several horse trainers were in the room having coffee. I was in the process of talking to him about a maiden he was running that day at Turf Paradise when a loud commotion erupted near the grill.

It was Rick. He was drunk and he was mean. He and Dixie argue briefly. Then he slapped her. He slapped her hard and she went down. Rick leaped on her and began beating her in front of the horrified customers. I started out of my seat, but Junior beat me to it.

He calmly untied his apron. Then he walked over to Rick, who was about five-foot-four and weighed less than 100 pounds. Junior, who stands six-two and weighs 220 pounds, picked up Rick as easily as if he was lifting a puppy and sat him down on the red-hot grill.

Rick screamed. Junior just held him like he was deciding whether to cook him rare, medium or well down.

Smoke sizzled from Rick's pants as he pleaded for Junior to let him go. He promised he would never touch Dixie again. After a good 30 seconds, Junior took Rick off the grill.

'Don't you ever touch Dixie again,' Junior said softly. 'I mean it.'

After Rick had slunk from the restaurant, all the customers gave Junior a round of applause. Dixie was crying, but she hugged Junior.

The story has an even happier ending. Dixie divorced Rank. She and Junior were married and from what I hear, they are living happily forever after.

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