By CHRIS BATEMAN
"I was ambushed."
So explained Joe Martin, who thought he had Ty Wivell talked out of choosing him as grand marshal of Saturday's Mother Lode Roundup Parade.
"There are so many guys that deserve it more than I do," said the reluctant would-be marshal.
But then the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Posse honcho got sneaky: Wivell went behind Joe's back and talked to his wife and kids, who knew there wasn't a better man for the parade-leading job.
"My family outvoted me," Martin said with a grin. "I was stuck."
So Joe Martin, Sonora native, rancher, logger, business owner and community leader for more than a half century, will indeed lead Saturday's mammoth march through Sonora.
The Sheriff's Posse veteran is the Roundup's first second-generation grand marshal: His dad charter Redshirt Joe Sr. led the parade in 1972. Also, his late sister, Aloha, was an early Sonora rodeo queen.
His heritage notwithstanding, Martin said he still thinks there are better people for the job.
"But I'm honored to be chosen," he confessed. "I'm in very good company."
The 73-year-old Martin succeeds his good friend Punny Dambacher in receiving the Posse's top honor. In fact, he will ride Dambacher's horse, Leo, in the 10 a.m. march up Sonora's Washington Street.
"I'm not about to do this in a car," figured the 2003 marshal. "If I can't ride a horse, I don't deserve to be in a parade."
Plus, as owner of his own trucking company for more than 40 years, Martin has logged plenty of time at the reins of internal combustion engines.
Not that he is any stranger to a saddle: Son of Joe and Jessie Martin, Joe Jr. was born in 1929 on his family's ranch, just off Sanguinetti Loop Road in Sonora. He learned to ride long before starting kindergarten at Sonora Elementary School's Dome campus.