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The Wyoming Department of Employment, Division of Labor Standards, claimed a small rancher was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to investigate him.
    GOV’T AGENT: “I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them.”
    RANCHER: “Well, there’s my hired hand who’s been with me for three years. I pay him $200 a week plus free board and room.
    “Then there’s the mentally challenged guy. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90 percent of all the work around here.
    “He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night so he can cope with life.
    “He also sleeps with my wife occasionally.”
    GOV’T AGENT: “That’s the guy I want to talk to – the mentally challenged one.”
    RANCHER: “That would be me.”
    (Yes, I know it’s an old one, but with all the new rules and regulations being forced on us, it could well happen. Anyway, let’s hope things will improve in 2012. May you all have a Happy New Year! – Dick Perue)
This poem was written by a Marine stationed in Okinawa during World War II and is being submitted in memory of Pearl Harbor and to remember what Christmas is really all about.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, he live all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
And to see just who in this home did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stockings my mantel, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on the floor for a bed?
I realized the families that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world the children would play,
And grownup would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
The very though brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.
The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
My life is my God, my Country, my Corps.”
The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
And we both shivered from the cold night’s chill.
I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas Day all is secure.”
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right
“Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a Good Night.”

Early settlers along the Upper North Platte River, just north of the Wyoming/Colorado border, found themselves isolated on the fertile ranches unless they could ford the river, cross on the ice or build a bridge.
    Perhaps the earliest of the bridge builders in the valley was Billy Butler who had settled in 1878 on what is now the 1 Bar 11 ranch east of Encampment. In the 40 years he was in the valley he built many bridges including one at the crossing that still bears his name – the Butler Bridge – that spans the Platte on the Brush Creek road at the One Bar Eleven.
    According to articles in the Platte Valley Lyre on Feb. 4, 1892, “W. H. Butler has gone up the river to work on the Ira Barcus bridge.”
    Feb. 11, 1892: “The new bridge across the Platte River at the Barcus Ranch is about completed.
    “It is 208 feet long and is supported by five piers. These piers are heavy log cribs, filled with stone and are triangular in shape, the points extending up the river.
    “Old timers say that it will be almost impossible for the bridge, as it is now constructed, to be washed away as was the old structure last spring.
    “The bridge is being built by ranchmen of the vicinity, with Mr. Ira Barcus bearing the largest share of the expense. Others who expect to use it will have given their time and labor for one day or more in getting out logs.”