WILLCOX Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees
JACK WOOD (80)
2003 COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Jack Wood was born in 1935 in Moriarty, New Mexico to Albert and Mary Wood, joining brothers Clay, 10, and Wayland, 5. Later additions to the family were brothers Lee and Bill. About six months after Jack was born, his parents sold the ranch in Moriarty and purchased a business in Oscara, New Mexico, which consisted of a store, post office and gas station. Mary operated the enterprise while Albert continued to work on ranches in the area.
When asked if he and his brothers helped their Mom, Jack said, “Not much, but she always fussed that we kept her broke with all the candy and sodas we consumed and the cigarettes we sneaked out”. Jack added that he and his brothers learned to smoke at an early age, and it took many years to figure out that bowed legs, smoking cigarettes, and coughing all the way to the barn did not make you a cowboy.
After operating the business in Oscara for about 9 years the family sold and moved to the Bouquillas on the San Pedro River in Arizona. This is where Jack and his brother Wayland began to help their Dad on the ranch and hone their skills as cowboys.
In 1949 the family moved to the Diamond A Ranch in southwestern New Mexico. Jack was 14, and the following year he began his professional career as a paid cowboy for the Diamond A. Jack started out at $80.00 per month, big bucks for a 15 year old in those days, and before leaving the ranch was earning $125.00 per month. He said, “Those were not bad wages, as a cowboy was furnished nearly everything he needed from a bed and grub to tack and a horse. Not too much else a cowboy needed working out on a ranch”.
Jack and his brother Wayland attended the Cloverdale School. He said they used two big 4-door sedans as buses to get the ranch kids to school, coming in from two different directions. They would pack those cars with quite a few kids, but the cars in those days were pretty roomy inside. He remembers one was a Mercury sedan. The school only operated 6 months out of the year, as the kids were needed on the ranches the rest of the year. Jack said he was at the top of his 8th grade graduating class in Cloverdale. He later added, "I was the only one to graduate 8th grade that year." As he was the only graduate, the school administration didn't think it practical to order just one diploma, so he never received one.
On October 14, 1954, while still employed on the Diamond A, Jack took Arlene Awtrey as his bride. Arlene had resided on the Diamond A with her family since she was 8 months old. The new couple decided to change atmosphere by moving to Bisbee where Jack obtained employment with the mine.
Jack referred to his first job with the mine as, "like working on a chain gang, without the chains." "There was just this group of guys and whatever the bosses decided needed to be done, we did it, from digging holes to loading large amounts of rock in trucks with shovels. Our crew was the pre-backhoe days." He marveled how a machine can do in one scoop today what it took 9 or 10 men 8 hours to do in those days. "We worked hard, but it was good for us and the wages were not bad."
The newlyweds found city life convenient and enjoyed going to the drive-in movies, but within the year Jack began to miss ranching and living in the wide-open spaces. He accepted a position with the Greene Cattle Co. When this position played out in 1957 he and Arlene moved back to Bisbee, where they remained for another three years. During all this moving around, Wood children began to arrive, five in all: Wayne, Coleen, Nancy, Quanah and Bill Jack.
Again, city life began to wear on Jack as the call of the open range gained volume and soon he found himself working on the Lone Mountain Ranch in the Huachuca Mountains. Jack asked Arlene if she minded leaving all the conveniences in Bisbee and moving to a wood cook stove, wood heat and gaslights. Arlene said no, as long as she didn't have to chop wood." Warner Mattice, a man with a reputation for knowing a good cow or cowboy when he saw one, had been eyeing Jack, and lured him to work on his newly leased ranch in Dixie Canyon, a short distance outside of Bisbee.
With the mining industry in full swing in Bisbee, Phelps Dodge was busy acquiring property all around the area and approached Darrel Cluff, owner of the Dixie Canyon ranch, about the possibility of purchasing it. PD then purchased the historical Monk Ranch outside Willcox from Jay Cook and traded it to Darrel Cluff for the Dixie Canyon Ranch, moving Jack, Arlene and their first four children again. When the lease with Mattice ran out, Darrel Cluff regained management of the ranch and retained Jack as ranch foreman. Staying on at the Monk suited Arlene just fine as she was tired of moving and just wanted to settle in one place for at least 10 years. When referring to Warner Mattice, Jack and Arlene said they enjoyed many good times together and thought of him more like a Dad than a boss.
When asked how Darrel Cluff was to work for, Jack said all his bosses were good and then recounted this incident. He and Darrel were working down in the corral and had a bit of a disagreement over how to do something. Both men got a little heated and then Cluff told Jack, "When I'm here we do things my way, and when I'm not here, you can do things the right way.
In 1974 Darrel Cluff sold the Monk Ranch to Dennis Layton and the name changed to the Monk Layton Ranch, and again Jack, Arlene and the kids were faced with the possibility of moving. However, Layton asked the Woods to stay on. Jack told Dennis, "If we get along I'll stay and if not I'll leave," I guess we could safely say the two hit it off and in December of 2003 Jack and Arlene will celebrate 40 years on the Monk. One might say, “Arlene got her wish plus 30 more years”.
As we all know, these small equestrian animals can sometimes be more stubborn than animals twice their size and test the patience of many experienced riders. When the Shetland mule or Wart became too much for the girls, Jack would take to the saddle in order to teach these little guys some manners. It must have been very amusing to see long legged Jack ride one of these short, stout, stubborn creatures out across the range, as each of the girls had at least one tale about an adventure related to this event. We can only share in the imagined image of the event and know the good laugh they must have shared.
Another underlying theme is the pride, respect, and love each of Jack's children has for their father.