Our friendship with Margie and Buck Rogers began in 1953 when we met at the OWAA conclave in Missoula, MT, now home port to our organization. We were buddies over the ensuing years and have many treasured memories of trips to the outback in much of North and South America.
Buck brought to every OWAA meeting an upbeat presence, always seeking ways to challenge his fellow writers. He made it a point to whisper in each new president’s ear before he made his acceptance speech: “Now get your words in order … and don’t screw up, hear?”
He was PR man for Braniff Airlines and hosted some unusual affairs at OWAA meetings. Plus, he formed the Braniff Outdoor Council to promote South American fishing and hunting trips. Its members were OWAAers and up to a dozen were taken on annual trips to many Latin countries, especially Colombia. Their articles built solid relations.
There we made repeated trips to El Dorado, a remote enjungled camp where jaguars, caymans and giant boa constrictors were never far away. Although the council is extinct today, one pleasant memory lives on: La EsQuela de los Hermanos Grandes — the School of the Big Brothers.
The council members saw the need for a school and together raised enough funds to build an adobe schoolhouse that took in 25 youths from five to 20 years of age. The bishop for the area happened through, was impressed by the quality of the teaching and it became a permanently funded school. Without Buck’s pioneering, hundreds of needy youths never would have had a formal education.
Another memory of Buck emerges when I remember an OWAA past meeting site at Rolla, MO. After one session, a group went fishing in the hills and was having lunch. Buck was busy talking, but stopped just long enough to tell the waitress, “Bring me a ham and cheese with mayonnaise on both sides of the bread, hear?”
When she came to me, I whispered, “Be sure you bring Buck’s sandwich. Just the way he ordered it; he gets riled if you don’t. He wants mayonnaise on both sides of the bread, meaning inside and outside, hear?”
When she served Buck he was busy talking, picked up the sandwich and mayonnaise oozed out between his fingers! He growled, “What the heck is this mess?” And I replied, “Now Buck, don’t blame that little country gal … you said you wanted mayonnaise on both sides of the bread … and she followed through.” He licked his fingers and retorted, “Well, tell you what. That’s the tastiest ham and cheese I ever tasted!”
Buck was the eternal optimist.
Yes, he was of much benefit to OWAA over dozens of years. Buck also conducted a successful public relations business that brought him into contact with leaders of the outdoor industry. And yes, if Buck soared with the “eagles,” he would agree it was because Margie was the wind beneath his wings. Together they served OWAA in many ways that made them a melding force in our history.
Homer Circle, of Ocala, FL, has enjoyed a half-century of outdoor writing. Circle served as OWAA president in 1967-68, and has been with the organization since 1946.