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current edition

It’s rough to be a button, and a roustabout at that,

When Christmas snow comes driftin’ deep and white across the flat,

And all the older cowboys are a slickin’ up for town,

You’ve got to swaller mighty hard to keep the blubbers down,

For someone’s got to stay behind, the way a ranch is run,

To feed the stock, and it’s just your luck to have to be the one. 

Slims got a gal he aims to spark, Toms goin’ on a toot.

They’re all plumb full of vinegar for a Christmas gallyhoot.

Frank aims to celebrate at church, have dinner with his Ma.

Your own folks will be missin’ you way back in Arkansas.

In town, there’ll be a Christmas ball for Breezy’s dancing feet,

With old friends meetin’ up again and bright lights on the street. 

Ol’ Slim he makes the offer that he’ll stay and you can go,

You savvy what it means to him, so you just tell him no.

You’ve hired on as a roustabout, and you’ve got no folks in town,

Too young for gallyhootin’, so you’ll hold the rancho down.

You don’t make no complaint, of course, no whimper and no sob,

For you’ll never make a cowhand if you can’t hold down your job. 

You watch ‘em mount to ride away across the frosty morn,

And you’ve never felt so lonesome since the day that you were born.

You hear Breezy holler as he gives his pony slack.

We’ll fetch you out some candy, kid, whenever we git back.

It snows some more on Christmas Eve, and so you go to feed.

You fork the hay out generous, it’s more than they will need.

But Christmas kinda gits you and your feelings overflow,

Towards every livin’ critter that’s stuck out in the snow.

Come Christmas day you try to read some wore out magazines,

But all you hear is lonesome wind, and all you eat is beans.

You’re 40 miles from nowhere and the days go draggin’ by,

Before the boys come driftin’ home, wore out and red of eye. 

You don’t barge out to meet ‘em, for by now you’re kinda sore,

You slip into the kitchen when you hear them at the door.

“Come git your stick of candy kid,” you hear ol’ Slim's command.


You have to swaller hard because it’s more than you can stand.

So Slim, he comes and gits you, and it make your gizzard drunk,

To see your brand new cowboy gear that’s piled up on your bunk.


There’s chaps and boots, a saddle and a pair of fancy spurs.

“Well, there’s your candy kid,” grins Slim, your vision kinda blurs.

You being just a button and a roustabout to boot,

You purt near bust out bawlin’. You sure don’t give a hoot.

For though you’ve sure been lonesome while you held the rancho down,

It’s sure ‘nough Merry Christmas when the boys git back from town!

Yes, I know it’s after Christmas, but it’s such a good story that I couldn’t pass it up. Anyway, what I really want to say is, “Wishing you a joyous, peaceful and prosperous Happy New Year!”

See this horse in this picture?

Man he was a cracker jack.

And say, friend, you were mounted

When you were on his back.

 

Just a range-bred cayuse,

No blue blood or pedigree.

A shaggy buckskin critter,

But horse enough for me.

 

For when it came to cuttin’ cattle,

He was lightning on his feet.

And at times he would keep you guessin’

If you were going to keep your seat.

 

And talk about a rope horse,

There wern’t no steer he couldn’t hold.

Around a bunch of doggies,

He was worth his weight in gold.

 

He was a tricky devil,

As cunning as a hound.

And if he could catch you nappin’,

He would plant you on the ground.

 

He knew every trail in the country,

And every ranch and town.

But too many years of roundup

Finally got him down.

 

He got so stiff and lame

That I knew we had to part.

So one fall I left him home,

And I guess it broke his heart.

 

For he stood out there in the pasture

With his head a-hanging low.

For he knew it was time for the roundup

And he knew he couldn’t go.

 

He kept a-looking sadder

And a getting powerful thin,

‘Till along about October

The old horse, he cashed in.

 

But the coyotes and the magpies

Didn’t polish those faithful bones.

For I drug him down in a wash

And covered him up with stones.

 

My eyes, they sort of blurred,

As I thought of the days on the plains,

And I wished him knee high in bunch grass

At rest on the final range.

Wyoming cowboy, ranch hand and camp cook Rusty Fryer composed this poem in the 1940s. It is reprinted from his book of poems called “The Spell of the West.” Rusty often worked for my dad building fence, baling hay and cooking the best grub in the country for a hungry crew.

While working, he often recited this and many other poems. Rusty also liked a drink or two, and at times, wetted his whistle for free after entertaining the local boys with his poems and sage advise. His writing often appeared in the hometown newspaper.

With the 2017 National Western Stock Show in full swing, headlines and articles on the internet proclaim, “The National Western Stock Show is considered the Super Bowl of Livestock Shows as one of the World’s Largest Cattle Shows! The National Western Stock Show hosts nearly 20 breeds of cattle during its 16-day run. Visitors are able to view traditional competition among exhibitors of breeding animals ultimately used for seedstock in agricultural production, including beef cattle, sheep and goats. Viewing these events is all part of the Stock Show experience and can be done with a grounds admission ticket.”

Hundreds of exhibitors and viewers from across Wyoming have enjoyed the National Western Stock Show for over a century. Following is an article from the hometown newspaper 100 years ago.

Registered Hereford bulls from the fertile Upper North Platte River Valley in south central Wyoming captured several top prizes at the 1916 Denver (Colorado) Stock Show.

Grand Champion Hereford bull was “Wyoming,” a senior yearling sired by Beau Carlos II from the Davis Ranch located along the North Platte River between Saratoga and Encampment. The bull was bred and shown by ranch owner L.G. Davis and sold in the livestock sale for $5,000 – the highest price ever paid for a bull at that time.

Capt. Davis Progressive Rancher

According to an article in “The Saratoga Sun,” Cap. Davis established the JX ranch, eight miles south of Saratoga, on the North Platte about 1900. He was known as “Captain” after returning from serving with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War.

Enterprising and energetic, Davis experimented successfully with irrigation and the raising and feeding of alfalfa and native hay. Irrigation ditches he plowed at the turn of the last century are still in use today. His Hereford cattle gained a national reputation, and in addition to topping the Denver sale, he also received the highest price paid for a carload of steers at the Kansas City market in the 1910s.

When he established the valley’s first herd of over 100 registered Hereford cattle, the “Laramie Boomerang” newspaper reported that he had started a Hereford breeding revolution:

The cattle were a departure from those of the past – heavier bone, shorter legs, longer barrel and heavier weight,” all of which contributed to greater meat development.

Louis Grant Davis married Helen Elizabeth Turnbull in 1891 in Saratoga. She came from Illinois to teach in the valley. She was a college graduate, which was most unusual for women at that time, according to a family history account. They had two children, Dorothea and Robert (Bob).

Lou was one of the most colorful and well-known members of the town of Saratoga, and he and his wife frequently entertained the governor and well-known leaders of the state at the Davis Ranch. An undated picture in the Martin/Perue collection shows President Teddy Roosevelt and Capt. Davis on horseback at an undisclosed location – possibly the Davis Ranch. Others in the photograph include Wyoming Gov. Brooks and Sen. Warren.

A natural leader, Capt. Davis was president of the Saratoga Valley Stock Growers Association in 1900 when the organization’s first action was the printing of a brand book.

When the Saratoga State Bank was charted on April 1, 1899, Davis was a founding director for the Cosgriff Bros. When the Cosgriffs sold out in 1920, Davis became bank president. He held that office until 1926 when the bank was sold. At that time, he also sold his ranch to R.J. Spears and retired to Kansas City, Mo.

Presently, the ranch is part of the Kelly Cattle Co. Over the years it was also known as the Lazy River and McIlvaine’s Lazy CJ.

Capt. Davis returned to his beloved Wyoming in 1951 at age of 84 to be buried with military and state honors in the Cheyenne cemetery.

This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine! The year is 1910, 106 years ago. What a difference a century makes! Here are some statistics for the year 1910:

The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.

Fuel for the car to the right was sold in drug stores only.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only eight percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 miles per hour.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average U.S. wage in 1910 was $0.22 per hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

Ninety percent of all doctors had no college education! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and the government as “substandard.”

Sugar cost $0.04 a pound.

Eggs were $0.14 a dozen.

Coffee was $0.15 a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death were: Pneumonia and influenza; Tuberculosis; Diarrhea; Heart disease, and Stroke.

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas, Nev., was only 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet.

There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write and only six percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores.

Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.” (Shocking? Duh!).

Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.A.!

And, you couldn’t forward this message to someone else without hand writing or typing it yourself. In 1910, it would take weeks to get across the county, while now it is sent to others all over the world – all in a matter of seconds! Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

“Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.” 

“Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.”

“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”

“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.”

“Meanness don’t just happen overnight.”

“Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.”

“Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.”

“It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.”

“You cannot unsay a cruel word.”

“Every path has a few puddles.”

“When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.”

“The best sermons are lived, not preached.”

“Most of the stuff people worry about, ain’t never gonna happen anyway.”

“Don’t judge folks by their relatives.

“Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”

“Live a good and honorable life. Then, when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.”

“Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.”

“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.”

“Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.”

“The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.”

“Always drink upstream from the herd.”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”

“Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.”


“If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.”

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and leave the rest to God.”

“Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just beat you to death with his cane.”

And remember, “Some days all you can do is smile and wait for some kind soul to come pull your fanny out of the bind you’ve gotten yourself into.”

This advice was printed years ago in a local publication and still applies today. The author is unknown, but you can bet your bottom dollar he had spent a lot of time on the cold, hard, steel seat of an old tractor. As the cowboy saying goes, If it ain’t all true now, it surely will be someday.”

Or as I brag on my historical tours, “I’ll tell you a lot of stories, and a few will even be true.”

And most important, make every effort to shop at home and support the good merchants in your hometown.