If you live in Comanche, and you don’t know Chad Newman, you must live under a rock. Who doesn’t know “Chad Bo” as I affectionately call him? Chad is an absolute staple around town. Whether you know him from church, Comanche Electric Coop, Rockin’ J’s, or just seeing him around town, you’ve surely experienced the joy that he brings along with him everywhere he goes.
When I first started writing the Bio Of A Cowboy series, I sat down and made a list of folks I’d like to feature. Chad was on my short list. But, the man is pretty serious about his work and schedule, and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to secure a time to sit down with him to visit during my working hours. Yes, yes, Aaron & I eat dinner with Chad on a fairly regular basis over at Rockin’ J’s, but, in those moments, I’m just a girl trying to enjoy a meal and the company of friends. I really prefer to have one on one time with the folks I intend to feature just because they tend to open up a little more than if there were an audience. All of that to say, I didn’t know when I’d have the opportunity to really interview Chad.
BUT, then one fine afternoon, he strolled right in to the feed store. “YESSSS” I thought whilst giving myself an internal high five. I marched right up to the front and said, “CHAD BO! I want to write a story about you. When can we talk?” And, in typical Chad style, he closes his eyes, shakes his head back and forth and roars with laughter. “Right now is fine,” he says. Yay!
Oh man, oh man… where do we start? I know I want to talk about work. Chad’s been with CECA for 13 years! THIRTEEN! That’s a long dang time when you’re only 35. Typically, work isn’t that exciting of a topic, right? But, I have the inside scoop. Aaron works with Chad, and I know that Chad’s work life is not typical. I know that Chad’s work life reveals a lot about the man that he is. See, he doesn’t have to be at work until 7:30am each morning. But, he gets there every single day at 5:30am. FIVE THIRTY A.M. It’s dark out. No matter the time of year, it’s still dark out! I am still in bed. It’s always intrigued me why he would show up two hours earlier than is necessary.
“Ahhhh, cause I like to do it” he says so very matter of factly. And, what is it that he’s doing? He’s making coffee, opening the gates, getting ready for the day… He strives to have everything ready for the rest of the guys before they get there. I’m thinking to myself, “hmmm… if my coworkers want coffee, I suppose they better get busy makin’ it.” I am obviously not near as kind hearted as Chad. But, it’s something I have always appreciated about him. Aaron has told me before that this is what he does every single day. That kind of work ethic, dedication, loyalty… I believe the character traits he embodies as he does this are endless. Admirable. I wonder to myself if he knows this? I’m inclined to think not.
And, as I sat and talked with him that afternoon about other areas of his life, he continued to reveal wonderful bits of wisdom and admirable character traits. As I listened to him talk for that hour, I believe I was on an emotional roller coaster. At times, we laughed. At times, my heart ached for him. And, at times, I learned from his simple yet profound statements. I didn’t much have to lead the conversation. He was so willing to share with me, and I love that about him. He talked openly about things of which I’d never heard him speak.
I guess we’ll just start at the beginning, hey?
“I have a learning disability. It sucks. It’s frustrating,” he says quietly as he glances down. He recalls an incident at school when he was just six or seven years old. “I had a real bad temper in school.” He told me of getting frustrated and throwing open the door and slamming it behind him as he ran out of the classroom. “I was gone,” he said.
As is often the case, he began to find refuge with one of his teachers. “She had a way of calming me down,” talking about Mrs. Patricia Kasberg. There was an unspoken gratefulness there… I could see it in his eyes. It reminded me that any one of us has the ability to impact a child’s life if only we’ll take the time to slow down and look for those opportunities. While I’ve never met Mrs. Kasberg, I am thankful for her.
We talked more about school and childhood. He reminisced about his high school years, specifically his time managing the football team. “I miss it.” As he begins to remember, I begin to see him really come alive. He throws his head back, laughs, and, with full emotion, he says, “Ohhhhhhhh son! I had more fun than…” And he trails off. I desperately want to know how that sentence ends. Instead, it ended with laughter, and I suppose that’s enough. I suppose that says it all. And, for a minute, I wished we were back in school. I wished I had one more opportunity to really pay attention to the unabashed joy that he experienced on a Friday night under those lights. And, honestly, I just want to experience my own unabashed joy, you know? How often do we just let ourselves go?It’s like, I want all that defines me & binds me into adulthood, maturity, parenthood to be undone. I want all my cloaks, whether it be worry, self-consciousness, expectations, etc., to be shed. I want to become undignified… letting my proverbial hair down. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve done that? I want to lay my armour down and experience joy the way that Chad can experience joy.
But, let’s put my introspection aside here and get back to it. Basically, I found that school was a bundle of frustration and fun for Chad. So, when I asked him about the happiest moment of his life, I couldn’t have guessed what he would say, but it does not surprise me.
“After I graduated, I started walking down and got the biggest ovation! I was a’ hoppin’! I had tears running down my face.” Unabashed joy.
We talked more about his day to day. We talked more about his hopes for his life… maybe that’s best left for another day. Honestly, I was overwhelmed with all that he had to share… with his openness, his honesty. We talked about dove hunting. We talked about companionship. We talked about Rockin’ J’s. We talked about knowing everyone in town. We talked about church. And, in everything we talked about, he exhibited a realness unmatched. I certainly wish everyone communicated so openly.
The last thing I asked him was what single piece of advice would you give to a large group of people? His answer was short, sweet, to the point, and full of wisdom. “Keep yourself clean.” It struck me. It convicted me. It made me want to be better. And, then he told me of a verse in the Bible that means a lot to him. Jeremiah 29:11 reads “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” No doubt, Chad. No doubt.