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John J. O'Connor III received a lot more than a 'Howdy, son' from his future father-in-law

November 11, 2009 |  3:56 pm

Connor2When Sandra Day O’Connor introduced her future husband to her father in the early 1950s, the result was a family story for the ages.

Her father, Arizona rancher Harry Day, was busy branding and castrating cattle when Sandra showed up with her fellow Stanford law student and fiance, John J. O’Connor III.

After spotting the couple, her father “reached into a dirty-looking bucket and pulled out a couple of bloody testicles,” the future U.S. Supreme Court justice wrote in her memoir. Her father pierced them with bailing wire and “placed them in the branding fire, where the ‘mountain oysters,’ as we called them, sizzled and cooked.”

Eventually, his future father-in-law offered the delicacy to John, the city boy from San Francisco.

John gulped and popped an oyster in his mouth.

“Umm, pretty good,” he said without flinching.

John O’Connor died Wednesday at 79. To read his obituary, click here.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: John O'Connor holds two family Bibles in 1981 as his wife, Sandra Day O'Connor, is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice Warren Burger. Credit: Associated Press / Michael Evans