Coastal Voices: The real story about tsunami-swept steer

By Larry Bush February 12, 2013 11:26 am

We recently read in the Triplicate about the passing of Harold Del Ponte (“Longtime leader dies at age of 96”). We were sorry to hear of his death. However, in reading the story regarding his life, there were discrepancies about the steer who survived the flood.

I have known Harold for over 75 years and my wife has known him since we were married nearly 56
years ago. We bought the Angus cross bull (at that time) from Harold for
$2.50 when the animal was 2 or 3 days old. We took him home to the Glen, where we raised him on a bottle. He became a steer in his early days. 

He was 2 ½ years old when the flood took our home and our animals, leaving us with the clothes we had on and thank God our three little children who were safe. 

The steer that we had named Bahamas survived the flood and came into the harbor in Crescent City. He was rescued by some men there and was very ill from his ordeal. When my wife went to the fishing shack to see if possibly it could be our steer, he stood up for the first time and came to her. 

We were willing to give him to the city of Crescent City so that he would
have a place to live for the rest of his life. However, before that could be done, the rescuers had hired an attorney so that they might keep him. After a lot of controversy over who Bahamas belonged to, Lyle Corliss, the local brand inspector, determined he was in fact our steer.

If it had not been for the help and efforts of Colin Henninger, George and Millie Merriman, Wally Griffin and others at the local papers, we would not have been able to get him back as a principle of the matter. We got him back after paying the rescue fees, vet bills, upkeep and attorney fees (again with Colin’s help).

Later in the process, the rescue fee was returned when the one person who led the rescue was going to receive an award from the National Humane Society.

We then took him to our doctor’s (Dr. Vipond) ranch, where he lived for the next three years. He got out periodically and since we had moved to Oregon, we ended up paying several trespass bills. We then put him in Requa at my cousin Alvin Larson’s place. By this time nearly five years had passed and we knew we had to do something so he could have a permanent place to live out his days. 

With the help of my brother, Norman Bush, we then let Andy MacBeth take over. From then on, I assume that Andy made arrangements with Harold to pasture him and put him on “display.” We have heard that donations came from around the world for his keep.

I have no idea who the Crescent City officials were that stated he was going to be butchered, but at no time after the flood did we ever consider butchering him. Any animal that has such a will to live should be allowed to do so. 

All of the above facts can be documented by reading the articles in the Crescent City American and the Triplicate. There was much publicity written regarding our steer in both of those papers. There are also people still living in the area that remember the story and remember Bahamas. 

In order to have accurate reporting on a story, I would think that the author of this story about Harold or any other story, would have got the facts.

I don’t know why with all the credits that can be given to Harold’s memory, this story of the steer would be one of them.

Larry Bush lives in Tillamook, Ore.