Tracy Latting, Mike Latting, and Stanley Latting

Recorded March 26, 2021 Archived March 25, 2021 39:58 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi003482


Stanley Latting (80) speaks with his niece Tracy Latting [no age given] and his nephew, Tracy's brother, Mike Latting (68) about growing up in Robbins, IL, the siblings' time in their family rodeo business, and what horses have meant to them as a family.

Subject Log / Time Code

Mike talks about driving to a bunch of rodeos in the midwest and not revealing to his father how fast he drove.
Mike talks about his father's (Thryl Latting's) first rodeo in 1964 in Robbins, the start of what's still going on today even though COVID-19 cancelled them but they're back.
Tracy explains why horses are good at turning kids around.
Tracy says her first job was as a trick rider for Latting Rodeo Productions at age 8. She remembers doing a parade in Robbins and describes a trick ride.
Tracey talks about what being on a horse does for her.


  • Tracy Latting
  • Mike Latting
  • Stanley Latting

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type




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00:06 Tracy, latting age better than a fine wine. I'm in Crestwood and it's Friday, March 26th, 2021. And I am here with my uncle Stanley and my brother Mike.

00:22 And I'm Mike latting 68. And I'm here with my uncle and my sister. Actually. I'm in Saint in Illinois. About 50, 60 miles, south of robins. Were we all grew up?

00:34 And please get the date.

00:37 My name is Hamid.

00:41 I thought you were through.

00:43 Is Friday, the 26th 2021?

00:50 Okay, I'm Stanley latting. It's Friday, December 26th. 2021. I'm with my niece Tracy latting and my nephew Mike latting and I'm 80 years old and

01:05 We all grew up about the same place, but

01:09 Three different decades, and we're going to discuss that.

01:18 So, so Uncle Stanley, how did you guys wind up in Robbins? There was nobody with no other family. Here. We did. I didn't do anything. I don't think we knew anybody else. We were on the west side of Chicago and we came here or not.

01:45 You know, I was here when you guys came here and give your mother and father was here, but

01:50 It's about. That's about all I know.

01:53 One thing that I always appreciated about Grandpa who is being traces grandfather, but I don't know Stanley's father and my father's father is that in providing for his family, has seemed to me as though he was always looking for a place. I was

02:11 Open.

02:12 And safe. And a something that would would make sure that his family were was look at and and the safety was there. Also. And then, I even notice that with where I grew up in robins and the play the rest that I live on right now. Really, my Grandpa bought it. And you know, we're down here on down here and you look across the road is 880 Acres of nature Conservatory, but even before that happened, it was a safe haven and and it was a type of place, but I think my grandpa look for in in settling so that the people that he had around him would be in a in a good situation, I could be wrong, but that's the way it is. We lived on Ridgeway and there was no houses around there. What's up across the street now, but when they built the house next door, does he said it's time to go.

03:12 So they sold the house. We went to Michigan city. So we were going to let he had a you know, yeah, I don't know how much land it was. It was it was it was rude. That's what you like. But you know, we just lived in that he built the basement and we were going to put the house on top of that. But he was working here. You know, he had to work here at work that Harvey. He only came home on the weekend by that that my grandmother was in robins and he will come home on the weekend and we stayed up there. Mama couldn't drive after. This ain't going to work. He always wanted to. That's what he wanted when he retired. He wasn't able to build a house.

04:02 But it's just like you said, that's what he wanted. So that's how we got into where we at now.

04:09 You are exactly right.

04:14 What I remember, I remember.

04:20 I was probably in my teens headed, but I'm sure my teens had a driver's license. And I remember coming down here, to where I'm living right now, to pick up a pickup truck to go to some rodeos. And I think you would just put a motor in it. And the last name grandpa said, was not, make sure you stay under 55 miles, an hour. And being a guy from Michigan jumped in that pickup truck with Road in Missouri. At we drove drove all over about three or four rodeos over there. Three day. I was young and we brought her back to Grandpa and he said, how fast did you drive? And he said stop. Don't you ask? How come you remember about the people that came before? It has made sure that you were able to get you in and make things happening and, and a machine and prosper in your own life.

05:15 And even if they want their children to be better and you know, as far as is even as far as we are, you know, you and I did better than my father. Did my father never owned a new car until it was a couple years before he died and then they're going to do better than me, but that's you ain't just like you're saying, you know, that's the way.

05:47 And I feel, I really feel that I don't know. We may have been a little bit better off week.

05:53 We are. What is the weather? Hey, did daddy always had a good job Daddy. He helped build and a lot of time in India.

06:07 He helped, you know, that's that's just like you were saying, you know, he looked out for different things.

06:14 I remember him telling me when I allowed to have to adapt back into this little bit one night, when Grandpa first bought this place down here. He brought me down here as a little bitty kid and he had a little trailer house set up on the top of the first Hill trees and brush in the Briars and I'm thinking, oh my God, my grandpa got no lights anywhere. I'm thinking. Oh my God, I forgot me down here and say, nothing, but I'm coming down here with Grandma. We going to spend spend a couple days. So we get down here and I remember him taking a chicken.

06:48 But from the store and get it right down the middle and barbecue that chicken out on the on the grill and I can remember him telling me. I'm going to take us to hate that. We can't do you want nothing from Grandpa? I don't know what the last thing over there over the fence and it was probably three or four years later that I realized what he was talking about. Cuz it's hell. But I am when I, when I, when I think about that and how this place lived in and and how it looks now, and and and I remember getting out of going back home, couple days later and said, I don't never want to go down there in the country. Again. I manage that with no lights. No people. I mean, I can take it. And so I go off to college and end up going to college in in Wyoming and in Colorado, and I got and I got snake bit. I guess what I got you where I didn't want to be around civilization per se.

07:48 I didn't want to live in a big city anymore. I couldn't stand all that concrete. If it wasn't dirt underneath my feet, something was wrong. So by that time my dad bought his partner out of the rodeo coming and he called me and I already have a job lined up in Colorado and and

08:05 My dad called me said, we'll listen to but our partner out and when he said that, I really needed, it really wasn't everything else to say. Because what he was telling me was I need you. Now know, my entire life always needed him, and he was always there. And there's no way in the world that I was going to say. Well, that I got this lined up. I got that lined up and I can't make that happen. Well, the one thing I did say, though was suddenly he heard my grandpa say a long time ago, you know, when you reach a certain age and everyone hand, in this one, rooster in the same house as it, lets me so you can come back to visit but you can never come back here. And when daddy told me that that he needed me to come back and help him run the rodeo business has grown. So, I came down here to my grandma. Grandpa was living down here and he go back and forth to his house, Robin on the weekends and stuff, and a couple days during the week. And when I got here,

09:02 I am grabbing show me how big he got me a greenhorn in after you show me how to make things livable and then continue to, to be able to get up in the morning and go to bed at night 2 Days. Later, Grandpa was gone and he jumped in. This is truck and went back to Rockland set fan to the chance. I think that was a set of y'all raised me and kind of, let me think that I was doing what I want to do. But all the way all the time, I was going down the line that you and Daddy set up for me, and I have not left. I'm still here today. Wouldn't change anything for the world. And, you know, that's kind of what Robinson did for me. Difference a hernia.

09:59 Bring up. It was a little, a little different for me. And I'm I'm listening to wanting that openness and, you know, like you said earlier, I still live on the same property that I was, I was raised. You know, where is Dan? And I'm looking in the backyard now and I'm looking at space. Although it's only two acres. One thing. I do remember saying and Mike. I think I haven't been at your house. We were sitting on the we were sitting on the front porch, which is something I don't think we've done in Forever.

10:39 And I remember sitting out there and looking up at the stars. And for a second. I went I don't ever do this. I do not think I could tell you as I'm sitting here looking at now. I love my backyard. I do, I love my backyard, but then I see those houses right there and I'm going 15 miles away is not such a big thing. And I love that solid you, but I love being close enough to get to downtown if I choose or in the suburbs, if I choose, like if three cars go down my street.

11:19 I'm ready. I'm like, I can take it. That's just too many people, you know, and so I think that's kind of where I am. But I also remember uncle Stanley when you used to take all the grandkids down to Grandpa's house. And remember that Hill that was up there. You would drop us off on the hill that was still 1/4 Mi and outer you. Come on down and we would, we would rather because it was and we couldn't do that here. You know what it was? It was so it was, it was great and has run away with the long driveway and still go, okay? With the house is still up there, but we still have to go but just

12:06 Being closed in, I guess if you will attend that closed in but closed in by structure, Again, by concrete, and then to go out there and see all of that. And if I'm being honest, I can move right now. I could I could pack up right now and move to the country and would never miss accept this weekend that we never used to living in the city. We did. I do it for 20 years, but then there's only five people tween you in the next hour, you know that I'm like that but I had when I got a job, I got my wife was working but I was working and then she she didn't drive, she had to get to work. So we had to do what we had to do if bit.

12:56 I'm speaking in 1964 and and we were all a lot younger than not at all. Sure. I'll say then when Daddy had it in the first rodeo and he always he always said that that was something that he wanted to do and maybe put the rodeo for the robins volunteer fire department. And I remember I had the Bulls are in the bucking horses are in the steers there and we didn't have bleachers there. But there was like folding chairs. I went all the way down the side of the rent and boy that was there was a seem like a gazillion people there that day and that was the first rodeo the daddy ever ever put on. And that was a, that was the start of

13:49 Letting Rudy Productions Incorporated, which is still going on today, but it was also the start of my career I'd say in.

14:02 Yes, it's something that he started that that I was forcing us to continue and you know, it would have happened, had it not been for Robert and we come back and put on a few more rodeos in in in robins. And you know this year with covid-19 was covered in a we canceled everybody know that we had a schedule for this year or last year. But this year it seems as though we're going to have all the ones that we had last year and we've got a few new ones and and you know, that something like that would never happen had. I not grown up and Robin the breeding program that my dad started. Raising the bucking horses that we raise horses right here in the state of Illinois, that that we sold that have gone off and and won national titles. And who would have ever thought that? You know, there's a black guy out here in in Little Country Town. That's that. Had this dream. I was going to start raising horses and

15:02 Everybody's want them, you know, that's my sister and she's found out these kids found out that a black man could be a cowboy and they loved it. The rodeos at the Bulls at the amphitheater, wood Amphitheatre in a teacher. That's something that's left out of the history books. If you can tell, you can tell people, people saw a lot of people say, they didn't know they had black cowboys. You can go back and find in these books to hit black. All kind of cowboy bad Cowboys everything there, all day.

16:01 It is very interesting to even kids now like at my school every now and then I will show them a video, you know of me running barrels. And they're like, who is that? And I'm like a video of me. That's you they don't.

16:20 First of all, to have a horses in this area that are competitive. They don't, it's usually on television, you do the finals, PBR stuff like that. So they don't expect it in their backyard. And so there's a whole different concept that comes with it and depending on who you were talking to you, like with my students, and it's like it's great. They want to see it, you know, sometimes you talk to other people and they're still non-believers for whatever reason, you know.

16:51 I'm always use it for a hood, being a retired principal. When I go to school and the kids would have issues, lot of times. We had I know my wife is getting tired of it. So I'm trying to bring the boys home and you know what? The consent of their parents and of course, you know, we're out here in the country. So everybody knows everybody. But you'd be surprised of the kids and we were able to turn around two horses to agriculture. I had one of the students and, of course, he wasn't a problem kid, but I had a kid from right here. And in Hopkins, Park, Illinois qualify for the National Finals Rodeo Drive. She's living in Houston, Texas. Now started right here, right here at the house. Yes. Yes, and and he's a, he's probably one of the wasn't in a guy made it to the top top, which is a lot of kids in that that we've been able to get started around here.

17:51 The game of different way to look at things. Gave him a different perspective on life. Gave them getting the opportunity to 2 to go places and see things and do things that they probably wouldn't ordinarily had an opportunity to do. The dude ain't got nothing to do, but you can give him something, you know, where I used to go in the backyard with the neighbors and we would go forth, and we would have this creative imagination. They don't do that anymore. Mike. And I used to know, my God, Mike, and I just remember when we used to ride down the arm of the National Guard, is there now where they turned off the truck at the street, and I would go riding over there.

18:51 It was always that like cowboy things and we go you're going after the bad guys and just being creative on horses and just, you know, just go get them. You know, you got to go get them first before they get up and, oh my gosh, like having a ball just playing on horses and outside, you know, a lot of kids don't do that now and that's what the horse. They don't get their own side. They want to ride in the car. They don't have anything else to do.

19:31 They have on time. I was telling Tracy the other day back over there on the canal. It doesn't look like it does. Now. We used to cover my friends, get on the horses and ride up there, right up on the top of the canal, you know, like we can look on one side and see the water seal and there was like, you know, we were making those old westerns, you know, a hundred miles an hour working with horses work so well with turning kids around but I don't think it's just working with you. It's doing anyting, you know, what that was something to do, but I think with horses though, that is something that they didn't believe they can never do right?

20:31 Kids who are not around horses that ability to realize, that it's not just about that. They are responsible for something that can't do anything for itself. Unless it's out in the range. You know, where where God is taking care of them if they give them responsibility. And when you really stop, and look at some of these kids, they will start to take better care of those horses than they do it themselves. Because it's like know that horse have to come first.

21:04 Yeah, and then we'll take it to clean clean. You catch up when you when you get here.

21:17 Yeah,. Look at the ground so that the horse that is step in a bad spot. So really you are a babysitter of that horse who was in reality babysitting you when you get done you got to make sure he's he's cool off. You know, you got to make sure he's at his his his feet are right. You got to make sure his body's right? You got to make sure he gets water, then you got to make sure it gets fed. And then let's do you get to take care of yourself and NAB.

21:55 Right, you know I got to tell you something Mike when you were telling me about when you were talking about that breeding stock and everything. This was been about

22:06 15 years ago, I was I was on the 57 and I was I had it this time. I had a jacket when I was working at Clark. It had my name on it had Latin winning. I stopped at a rest stop in the guy that was working in the rest. Stop. Looked it up to me and he said laddie. I said, yeah, you said you know, you said got some of the best breakfast bucket rocket best bucking stock in the, in the United States and that shows I think that shows a lot of what Daddy put out there with his heart and wanting to do first while claiming that he loved doing, and then wanting other people, especially kids around the area to see. Don't feel like you can't do something too, because you've never seen anyone else do it, you know, take that step and look.

23:06 What you can do and I can do. You want to be proud of what he did, do what he want his family to be proud of it. Cuz I remember I went to Rodeo and he made sure that's my brother in the state and it was slow at first people, ask me all that. When is going to be in Rodeo, you know, at these shows. And that was I love that place and truly miss it. But that was one thing that people would always say, can you

24:06 Do something else so we can keep coming back, you know, it's just what do you know? It was a different too, because there he put on the put on the, the story. So, it wasn't just a great. And that's why I think he had those buttons pretty to Black Cowboys. Are for real, you know, because you know, I've got posters my sister-in-law. She's got a girlfriend. It's a teacher and certain times a year. She achieved come and get my posters. You take him for just put him in the school in a different class.

24:55 And if they gave me my first job.

24:59 Yeah, just got my first job was working for letting Rodeo Productions. I have to trick rider, you know, all of the eight years old when I get to the other people that were working at doing those same job, but I think we took out the room and board and toothbrushes and I think I was making $10 a performance trailer trucks to Daddy home.

25:59 Okay, and I tell you what. I remember we didn't we didn't do very many parade. But I remember being in a parade out here in robins and I was doing the the deaf because like Jack and this guy thought I was falling like on my head and he ran on the crowds on this car was broke because he didn't take it. But this guy reached out and grabbed me and I'm like, oh my God. Oh my God. Damn fine. I'm fine. He said okay, so I got back up in front of the office until behind you and you swing around your foot is in a loop, but you fall back. So that one foot is straight up. Your head is here the ground.

27:00 And you're strapped to the horse. And so that's why he thought I was gone. That's the death driver. That got sidetracked. How old were you maybe? 10 11, maybe so yeah, I haven't gotten high school.

27:21 The guy came out of the stands with a save, his little girl that didn't eat any protective credit whatsoever.

27:31 Oh, yeah, I hear what I just wrote up until high school and then stop that. What about 15 and started Roman riding? Who knows? Why I did that? I grew up now because that is what they want you to all of them and I'm like and get the two horses, Caesar Brutus to Red Roan.

28:03 What? I'm trying to hurt me all the time, but it's simply you do you have one foot on each horse and your strength is playing Roman riding. Well, you have the two horses you're standing up, you have one foot on each horse and you have the rain and they're not connected by anything. So you can walk, you can make a contribution. Can go as fast as you can and use the split them and come back open. So people could see that we weren't tied together, we go over things, you know, so that's

28:37 It's Roman riding and I don't do that anymore. I've grown up. So use is truly wasted on me because I wasn't afraid. You know, I was not afraid, you're already the same way back in the day. Even on horses, that I would just jump on. I was there was no fear was like, Ricky Bobby want to go to ask. Do you know, and I enjoyed it. I mean, I haven't done it in a year or so now but yeah, we'll see what happens. I, I did. I enjoyed it.

29:21 You haven't done what any?

29:25 Oh, I didn't got no job. He told me, you said you were going to retire better better now. And then I get, I get a little. I need to go Seattle.

29:56 Until something happens if to say where I was the racing cars, it's probably something to get it out of my system. You know what I noticed, the older I get. There are certain things that change. Like the last Rodeo that I was in was the central region finals. That was the last one and

30:18 I wound up selling, you know, my competitive forces, but I thought Elena do I have a pony back there to keep her company Little Miss Missy, but really, I don't know. I'm not sure yet. I don't, I don't no time for the bad thing is that you can retire and come out of retirement. Like I did that when I when I got there by the time you get to be 30, you need to you need to be done with it. He said because the eye of the tiger is going to leave you. He said you're going to have responsibilities as a as a grown man to be taken care of your family, and I going to be able to take any chances that used to take as far as your body is concerned. And, and you only get a split second to think about it. If you haven't made that move in that split-second, well, then you're off. So you just want to stay home.

31:18 I didn't retire from Red Bull's, I quit riding boots. I didn't I didn't retire from quit, riding bucking horses. And I went to the other side of it to where I was, we were given having cold. So every year making bucking horses rocket, I can get my, my high, my competitive High, watch those horses buck and maybe throw another guys up. But one thing I'm going to say is that I heard it. I heard the old world use a couple times, you're old and I think all of us refuse to be more mature everyday course, I've got all this. I've got more weight in my beard. In my uncle, got his, he's older than me. You know that I

32:06 Horses and stuff on the pasture with my kids are all grown. And so, it's back on me again. But anyway, a great place to grow to grow up to a, to enjoy, to have family and friends. And, you know, I don't think I can trade it in for anything in the world.

32:43 And will you left wondering if it hadn't been for Rob? If you could have did what you did with the rodeo but you didn't have the space, you could have did that in the you could have did it where you're at now, but you had to have something to do that and you trace that back to your father, my father, you know, cuz my father always wanted a horse as you love the horses and that's where your father got it from. And that's where you got it from. It passed over me because I was scared of

33:18 I had I have two horses, run away with me. One was right out there at Boots & Saddle and ones, was it at in Michigan City. I was just riding the horse, the horse ran away with me. The only thing that saved me was out here and into the bar, I grab the show, the dog going in there. I'm not getting and I was riding. I was riding behind your father. One time. We was right up on that street. Just west of the police station was coming down there. He had a horse called shorty. It was black. That was the second Hart. First, wife was tapping. It was just a horse, then it's black. Or is he had was named shorty. He was a quarter horse and I was riding behind him and a dog came out and bought the horse is shorty jump and I fell off my head and I wouldn't get back on that horse to me.

34:18 Robbins gave us a lot of opportunities, you know, some of the people probably don't even notice. I mean, look at you. You're like, yeah, I'm done. I'm done. So that was your opportunity to go one way or another, you know, and like with me, I remember being a kid in our street was like the playground, everybody came over to our street, probably because it was one of the safest because no one knew the street went through. So we never had a lot of traffic on that street cuz people just got a straight. So we just won't go down there. So we would have, we had the Olympics on, I Street of the kids, you know, and that was away from the horses. So it was almost like a dual life because even they sometimes didn't realize what was going on right in the backyard, but

35:09 As far as retiring, I do remember going off to college and being done. I said, you know what I'm done. I'm done. I remember coming home from college going to a rodeo.

35:21 And the smell.

35:23 It was the smell.

35:27 And I didn't look back. It was from that moment on up until this past year that that I

35:34 Was riding, you know, any who would think that the smell would cause you to do so much and I guess it does. Let me know. You do is figure College. Tracy. There's one of the reasons that is the reason that I was allowed to go to college. Then, you know, the horses and horses and ride will be going up, going to college and Rodeo scholarship. I'm Casper. And then in Pueblo, Colorado to get my degree, but had it not been for Rodeo. Had it not been for horses and Bulls head and had been for my dad. Had it not been for Robbins. None of that. Would have taken place.

36:15 Enzo really on who I went. I went to, I went to school, that you went to was the high school. You went to.

36:27 Marasmus your friend of mine, friend of mine Trace, you know, Steve.

36:44 We were together. I showed it to him and who is Maya?

36:47 Is my nephew's. I want to be doing right now.

36:59 But I do, I think Rob is just did a lot for us and didn't even know it.

37:06 You do realize that you don't realize that the inspection is a grade. Because, as much as I never wanted to live here, I'm going somewhere. I'm going out built my house, right next to Mom. And Daddy. I guess I didn't want to be her so much that I'm still here, you know, but it's, it's home.

37:30 People still, look at me sometimes like what are you doing? Do you still have those horses? I'm like, yeah, you know, it still have it every now and then they'll see me going down there. See, I'm working out here like now I'm ready to ride Lena. Like she needs to get her.

37:52 It's sometimes for me. It's freeing, you know, sometimes I have so much on my mind, you know, between work and everything else that I used to be able to just get on and walk in this little acre here and just released a lot of that. And I think for a lot of people it is that way. I actually thought about doing the club at school, like, Equine, Therapy doing something virtually, because these kids love to see them in and just being able to know what I do with them, from cleaning them, the cleaning out their feet, to put it on his side. All you do this with the proper way to put on the bridal, you know something so like what do I am thinking about that? But just something but again, that's something that Robin was able to do for me.

38:47 Well, I don't think that's about wraps it up.

38:52 So is there any? I just want to know, Uncle Stanley, you you basically still live here?

38:58 Why did you choose not to move?

39:01 Why did you not live in Chicago? That's to get more than one car. I was able to come back here. I got I got a little this is pretty good. I learned a lot today.

39:30 Look at more than I knew.

39:33 Yeah.

39:36 We're not aware about dinner. Ready to come out here and help me do chores.

39:41 There's always stuff to do up here. Well, you know, I got enough in his house.

39:55 All right. Well,