Dickie Joe Ladner


As Interviewed by Amalie White Wenner, March 18, 2015
"I was unable to get a job. I couldn't get in the military. I tried to get in on the naval base. I tried to work in a computer company. I tried to work at the shipyard. And no one would hire people [who were] handicapped."
Dickie Joe Ladner

Introductory Profile: About Dickie Joe Ladner

Dickie Joe Ladner, reserving his specific birth date, was born just a few months prior to the polio vaccine being released for the public. The interview I had the pleasure of conducting with him concentrated on his life as an adolescent, and since he is a polio victim, how he grew to overcome this hindrance. He grew up having to tend to crops, living by the concept of “You grow what you eat”, and from this spawned his passion for farm labor, which later influenced his course of employment. He is currently gladly pursuing his career as a full-time rancher in Saucier, Mississippi, proving that anyone can conquer their obstacles with vigorous effort and dedication, just as he did from infancy.

Dickie Joe Ladner is a very diligent man - he always has been - and zealously committed to operating his ranch, and every feature about him resonates with his ardor toward managing his cattle and fields: his tanned skin, his gruff voice, his stalwart posture, his rustic accent, and his attire of overalls and boots; even his withered leg (where the polio affected him), because any sort of impediment this may cause, he makes up for with sheer labor, making his exterior very robust and durable. But just because his surface seems rough doesn’t mean his heart isn’t plush. Mr. Ladner’s voice may be coarse, but the tales he can articulate with it are nothing short of sentimental and heart- melting, though he knows how to piece together a comedy too.

However, much of this hilarity didn’t trickle through during the interview. It was evident from his solid tone and austere demeanor that he was acting much more solemn than was usual. Discussing his childhood - laden with trials cast down by society for him to overcome - was a very somber experience, but concluded with a very inspiring finale: being able to walk for the first time in his life. Hearing him describe that moment as he stood and walked for the first time sent a twinge of admiration surging through me, and it was here that the tension alleviated, and his manner of speech brightened more.

And such is the life of a rancher - constantly burdened with tasks to overcome, but always worth the grind in the end. Dickie Joe Ladner was destined to be a rancher, even with the deterrent of his polio, for though his body may have been affected by the disease, his heart was affected with passion, and he grew to overcome his limitations, and merited the title of rancher, and is still showing to the world today that he is capable of anything and more the world can throw at him.