Johnny Horton was a fisherman in Alaska – a tough job requiring a tough constitution, and Johnny Horton had more than enough of that. He was physically strong and aggressive in his playfulness, as my little brother, Ricky, found out one day.

Everyone loved little Ricky. He was small for his age but lion-hearted and outgoing. He and Johnny Horton were playing in the 3-lot-wide back yard during one of the singer’s visits. Ricky, probably a first-grader at the time, wanted Horton to swing him on the rope swing tied to a limb of our big oak.

Horton’s first push was fine, Ricky recalls. His second push sent Ricky higher. Third push sent him even higher. By the fourth push, Horton had Ricky soaring to heights he’d never known on a swing – so high the swing's rope would sag at the top end of the arc then snap back to business on the way down.

After one more hefty push, Horton began laughing as Ricky screeched orders to “Stop!”

Suddenly, Ricky recalls, he was caught in Horton’s arms and being let down gently. Trust was restored, but Ricky high-tailed it to the house .