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Ed’s Archives

Another Story as Told by Ed Collins ~ Our Favorite Local Cowboy

Hot Bloods for Boys – cont’d


Southern Pacific had taken up all the railroad tracks from San Jose to Santa Cruz. We used that gravel road from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz as our main highway up and down the canyon. It rambled along the creek. We never saw anyone on it, just us five wild boys and “Two Dogs”. Los Gatos Creek was prohibited for people because it was owned by Los Gatos Water Works, and therefore, no one was allowed up there. But this Pomo Indian war born, raised and logged up there. He said, “I will not leave these redwoods.” No one ever caught us fishing. When we were hungry we fished, killed deer and pigs. Sometimes we would trap quail, doves and wild turkeys.

We loved to ride all the way over Loma Prieta Mountain and drop down to Calero Dam then tie our horses in the shade. They would have white sweat and salt all over them from the straight hard trek, so they enjoyed the rest. We would swim across Calero Dam to this hamburger joint owned by some old Pomo Indians. They just loved the five of us boys. Mona would see us swimming across the lake and go to cooking for us. By the time we got there she would have hamburgers, fries, chocolate shakes all ready for us. If we didn’t have money, she would feed us anyway. She knew we were starving boys. Sometimes we would bring deer meat or pig to them – they really appreciated it. One time we caught a whole heard of wild black baby pigs right where we wanted to tie our horses up. I shot one and Tommy shot one with our bows and gave them to Mona. Were they ever happy, and that made us happy too.

One time we were all camped in the hills above the city of Monterey. It was so foggy and cold; we had our Hudson Bays wrapped around us. This time we were on a hunting trip. Two Dogs said, “We need to split up in pairs tomorrow. Running Coyote and Black Elk (me), go to seventeen mile drive.” We liked hunting over there. The second day Running Coyote and I were hunting and came upon two large black boars with six or seven inch tusks. They were big boars, and they were mad. Of course we had no dogs this trip, so I said, “Are we going to have a feast of pig and Indian potatoes and onions tonight for dinner, or are we going to just have Indian potatoes and onions?” We liked the first idea.

Running Coyote said, “I am brave and Black Elk is brave and we are going to kill a big black boar today. Let’s ride!” We took off running; I could hardly hold my horse back and knew we were on to something. He could smell the boars. So we let our bloods run full out and we caught those boars in a ditch with big rocks behind them. These boars were totally mad at us, and not the least bit intimidated by our big horses. These boars were very dangerous at this point. They would charge our horses, and our horses would out dodge them. Then they would jump back in their shelter. The next time one of the boars charged me, I pulled my bow back and let one fly. Blam! Right in the boars side! Man, he came out of that ditch and chased my horse and me; lucky for me I was on a horse! And my horse was a good hunter; we had done this before – but not without Two Dogs.

It was hot and we were all tired. Running Coyote’s horse was all nervous and raring and jumping around and being a little bucky from fear. Fear is a funny thing. It makes your blood pump fast. It makes you really sharp as to what is going on around you. Some turn and run. Some stand and fight. Pretty soon Running Coyote falls off of his horse. By that time I had gotten another arrow ready. The mad boar, running back to this ditch, hit Running Coyote and threw him about five feet in the air, and he just laid there. I thought he was dead. My heart was pumping so fast I could hardly pull my bow back. Finally, I let one fly. Bam! Right in his heart and down he went. I jumped off of my horse, took my buck knife and took his life. I was shaking so bad I could hardly walk. By that time, Running Coyote was getting up and brushing himself off. “Did you see that?” he said. I told him. “Yes, I saw you; are you alright?” “Yeah! I guess so, but he sure scared me.” “Me too!” I said. We walked over to the dead pig.

He was dead all right, but the other one was not. Here be comes, Oh Geeze! “Run Tommy!” and Blam! Up in the air I go as he ran past me, stopped and turned around. I was trying to get up, but I was bleeding from my leg. “Oh no! He got me.” The big black boar turned around and charged to make the kill. Running Coyote was standing about ten feet away from the boar by an old oak tree. I was still trying to get up and pull my buck knife, when Running Coyote draws back and lets on fly. Blam! Right in the heart, and down he went. Wow! What excitement. I walked over and took his life. There, it was over. Those pigs could have killed us easily, but by chance only, we beat them to the punch. We were both shaken. That was something, for two thirteen-year-old boys to kill two full-grown boars in eight minutes.

We were lucky and brave. We were wild boys -wild as those boars. We cut out all four big tusks and put them in our possibles bags for proof, and also their ears. We cut the back straps out to eat that night and field stripped the boars for the coyotes and birds to eat. We then loaded up and road to a creek. We hauled wood for an hour, and then lit it. Flames rose sixty feet in the air for about twenty minutes. After the fire went down, we cooked out feast and rolled up in our Hudson Bays next to the hot coals and slept. The fog didn’t bother us that night.

Next morning we broke camp. We were still tired and sore. I had washed my leg with Indian soap and wrapped it with my bandanna. It was not infected, and was no longer bleeding. Tommy, or Running Coyote, yelled, “Let’s get the heck outta here!” Our horses were more than ready and willing. So we lit out for the Monterey camp – loaded with meat, ears, and tusks, and our humongous story.

Everyone laughed at us but we had the ears and tusks to prove it. Plus the gash in my leg from where that black boar hooked me. Two Dogs said, “You two are either complete idiots, or two damn brave hunters.” We like the latter. Two Dogs stitched me up without medication; I think that hurt worse than that dang pig getting me.

Once we were almost to the top of Mt. Madonna just starving; we were so hungry. Finally, we came to this fast running creek about two feet deep and two feet wide. Two Dogs said, “Ah! We eat.” “How are we going to eat with no poles or hooks?” We were all a little dissatisfied, and Two Dogs said, “Do what I do, do what I say and you will eat tonight. Stick your arm down in the water slowly; now feel around for a trout. When you find one, be very gentle and rub his stomach like when you rub the blue belly lizard’s belly and he relaxes and you can lay him on his back. The same with a trout, rub his belly and he will relax. Ease him over to the bank, then grab him and push him up against the bank and throw him out of the creek onto the land.” “Oh no! I’ve never heard of such a thing.” Two Dogs said, “Try it.” Blam! In less than a minute I caught one. “Yahoo! It works.” By the time we finished catching our dinner and just playing around, we had caught fifty fish from fourteen to eighteen inches long. We couldn’t possibly eat all that meat. We had such a good time – it was outrageous. Two Dogs said, “I allowed you boys to catch all these fish because this was your first time fishing “The Indian Way”. From now on, you just catch as much as you’re going to eat.” Two Dogs taught us so much great stuff. I don’t even think it’s all written down. “The Indian Way” does help when you’re in a pinch. I mean every single time we all rode together he taught us something new, something we had never heard of before, things our parents couldn’t teach us. Even our Boy Scout master was so surprised of the knowledge we had about living in the wild.

These horses we rode were not our own.  By that, I mean my parents did not buy them for me.  “Two Dogs” (an old Indian who taught us boys things) had introduced us to this old gambler by the name of “Old Man Ford” when we were 12 years old.  Old Man Ford went regularly to the Bay Meadows Race Track up in Belmont, Tanforan Race Track up in Daly City and Golden Gate Fields across the San Francisco Bay in Albany.  All the time betting on the horses, and he was not above claiming a few when he had won some money.    okrunWhen he had six horses at his ranch that he had claimed from the tracks, Old Man Ford would tell us boys to ride them and ride them hard. “These thoroughbreds need lots of sweaty blankets!  They need to be rode down at least once a week,” he would tell us.  I don’t know for sure, but I think Old Man Ford and Two Dogs had some kind of deal worked out to keep the thoroughbreds exercised, because we rode a lot and we rode far and they always had shoes on.  Old Man Ford said, “Your can take them home and keep them there, just put lots of mountain miles on them.”

When Two Dogs said, “We’re riding this weekend.” We never knew if he meant Saturday and Sunday, or just Saturday, or just Sunday.  He hated to tell us where we were going, and that would drive us crazy.

We had little or no control on these horses.  When you put a snaffle bit in the mouth of a horse fresh off the track, they think “race.”  So you pull on the reins to whoa and they think “race faster.”  So we had to squaw-rein them with rawhide around their lower jaw and one rein.  They had no concept of actually stopping.  So, Two Dogs taught us how to put a rawhide string down the side of their face, through the upper lip on their gum out the other side on up to our hand and wrap the rawhide around our fist so we could jerk hard, and they learned real fast what whoa meant.  We could stop them on a dime, no problem after that.  We would braid their mane in a circle and twist the circle so we could barely get our hand through the hole, and grab a fist full of mane – that way if we got bucked off we would still be attached to the horse and we could jump back on if he was running away.  Sometimes at the trot we would just be hanging on, so tired and sleepy, so I would pull my Hudson Bay blanket up to the horses withers and try to sleep, or at least catch a wink.

Two Dogs was a very hard man and he knew horses well.  He also knew boys well; we were tough and would never give in.  He told us himself, “You boys are more like Indians than Indians.”  That would pump us up and made us feel good about ourselves.  We could ride all day and not run across one single human being, or maybe one or two hunters or fishermen.  The cold fog would roll in and I would be so cold at night.  When I could not stand freezing any longer I would get up, wrap my Hudson Bay blanket around me and go find my horse.  He would lie down like a dog and put his chin in the dirt and sleep, and he would allow me to cuddle up to his belly and get warm and sleep too.  That was always warmer than freezing and praying for the sun to come up.

We most always ate breakfast on the horses on the run trying to cover fast ground.  Then lunchtime would come and we would eat in a white lathery sweat.  We would then run alongside and the horses would trot for about an hour, then we would mount up and lope for five or so miles.  We were always so glad to see the sun dipping away.  At night we would most always build an extra large fire and cook what we had to eat, then run around the fire yelling and screaming until we were exhausted.  One thing we learned that worked okscoutpretty good; we would roll out hot rocks from the fire and into our Hudson Bay blankets and climb in, it was so warm, oh yeah, then we would sleep.

The five of us boys, young and wild, joined the Boy Scouts of America.  We were so proud to be Boy Scouts.  Our parents were pleased; most of all, our girlfriends were proud of us.   All five of us boys would put our Boy Scout shirts and ties on and a clean pair of jeans and a pair of moccasins and put our Hudson Bay blankets on our horses and ride over to our girlfriends’ houses.  They would climb on the back and hold on tight and we would ride for hours.  Geez, we thought we were in heaven.

Tommy Spriggs lived only a half-mile from me.  We built things together, like a corral at my ranch, and one at his place.  We built forts – lots of them.  We would take bales of hay and stack them in a square and leave one off on one side so we could run and dive in quick before we got grass bombed.

Richard and Allen Lindsay lived about three quarters of a mile past Tommy’s ranch. We would dig caves in the side of a creek bank about four feet high and eight or ten feet back in the hill.  Then we would dig a trail from the creek to our cave.  We even put candles in the caves.  Then we would have grass-bomb fights, get hit, die and fall off the bank, and roll down to the creek.  Then all of a sudden, we would come alive again and continue the war till we were totally exhausted.  We would then all walk home arm in arm Buddies till the end.

Bill Leanesio was a year older than the four of us.  We all went from first grade through the twelfth together.  Eddi Collins, well that’s me, I was a little wilder than the others but we were all Boy Scouts to the core.  We ate and slept Boy Scouts.  We learned to build, clean and fire safe camps, set up our own tents, tie knots, build our horse’s lean-tos to keep them dry, ground-tie our horses, feather-line them, and learned how to be polite and respectful to other human beings.  All five of us were about to begin the wildest adventure of all, and it was not with the Boy Scouts of America.

By chance we met this old Pomo Indian; his tribe was from the San Jose area but he was born and raised right up here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He became our friend. His name was Jim. His Pomo Indian name was “Two Dogs,” because his two dogs never left his side when he was young. Two Dogs was sixty years old. He was special. He liked to teach us “The Indian Way.” The education we received from him worked perfectly with the education we received from the Boy Scouts. Our minds were like sponges. We couldn’t get enough information. Well, you can imagine, five young wild boys – our imaginations ran wild with us.

boy and dogThe first day we all met Two Dogs we sat and talked for hours. He told us of the days when the train ran from Los Gatos to Alma, (now Lexington Dam). He would jump on the train and ride it up alongside Los Gatos Creek to Ryland Dam and jump off in the bushes when it was still climbing and traveling slow. He filled our minds with so much wonder we could hardly sleep that night.

The next day Two Dogs said we had to have Indian names. We thought that was cool. Tommy’s name was “Thunderbird.” Richard’s name was “Chased by Bears.” Allen’s name was “Running Coyote.” Bill’s name was “White Eagle,” and Eddie’s (me) name was “Black Elk; Ogallala, Sioux from North Dakota.” I did not know at the time that I was one-eighth Cherokee from Oklahoma on the topside, and one-eighth Choctaw on the bottom side. But, I‘ll tell you we all felt like we were full-blood Indians.

When Two Dogs took us on a hunting trip or exploring trip, it was nothing for us to cover fifteen or twenty miles in one day. As we rode around the mountain trails, Two Dogs would reach out and grab a fresh bay leaf off a tree and chew it, and we learned to do the same. Then one day he grabbed a poison oak leaf and chewed that. He said, “If you chew poison oak leaves, you will never get poison oak.” So, we all chewed poison oak leaves. Fortunately for us boys, we didn’t get poison oak. Since those years, I’ve seen people with poison oak inside their system so bad that they had to be hospitalized. For the five of us though, we were good to go and I chew poison oak to this day.

One night the sun was one finger from falling out of the sky. Two Dogs said, “We better set up camp.” Yes, we were all dead-tired; we rode hard that day. Two Dogs found a big patch of poison oak and threw his Hudson Bay blanket high and it landed spread out. He jumped on his blanket and his bed was about two feet off the ground and nice and springy. Us boys did the same. We had already turned the horses loose; there was plenty of mountain grass and water so they wouldn’t run off. We slept so good that night.

There were lots of stinging nettles around the creeks and ponds. Two Dogs taught us how to make leggings and moccasins to protect our legs and feet. I got bucked off my horse and landed on my back once right in the middle of a large stinging nettle patch. I was in great pain for about four hours. So don’t you know I have a good eye for them now – I can spot nettles fifty feet away.

Most of the time we wore Wrangler jeans, and I made some Cheyenne-style leggings and flathead hunting moccasins, no shirt. Two Dogs said we did not need shirts. If we got cold we would wrap our Hudson Bay blankets around us. We were so wild; we carried little or no food at all. Maybe some jerky or some Indian potatoes and an Indian onion.

Hudson Bay BlanketWe would be riding along and come across a wild boar. Everyone would give chase. The dogs would run them for a long way and finally the pig would bay up in an arroyo or against some rocks. The dogs would be barking and going crazy. We would follow the sound and find the pig. Two Dogs would jump off his horse and walk up to the pig as the dogs were charging in and out trying to bite the pig. Two Dogs would take his buck knife, reach down carefully and take the pigs life. The pig would bleed to death and we would cut the six-inch tusks off and make necklaces, and cut the back straps out for our feast, and then field strip him for the coyotes and the birds. We never camped near a kill because the mountain lions would smell it and come down at night. That act alone made us boys wild. That night we would make a very large campfire. You could see the fire for miles. We would cook pig and potatoes and onion and Indian bread and eat like kings. After eating we would run around the fire jumping, dancing, and yelling as loud as we could till we dropped. We washed the pig grease off with Indian Soap (a plant). Then we rolled up in our warm Hudson Bays, and slept good.

We rode all the trails and dirt roads from Hwy 17 at the summit, south to Monterey. We all lived not far off Hwy 17 in a small community called Redwood Estates. We rode north on trails and logging roads to Big Basin State Park, and up on to Davenport toward Half Moon Bay. We spent lots of days riding the beaches and camping out in the fog. We also spent lots of time down in the Los Gatos Creek area. It was beautiful down in that canyon.

Southern Pacific had taken up all the railroad tracks from San Jose to Santa Cruz. We used that travel road from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz as our main highway up and down the canyon. It rambled along the creek. We never saw anyone on it, just us five wild boys and Two Dogs. Los Gatos Creek was prohibited for people because it was owned by Los Gatos Water.


The Social Timber Rattler

Old Man Ford, Two Dogs, and all five of us boys were sitting around the corral just talking in the shady parts from this huge, very old oak tree. This day it was 100 degrees in the shade, so we were not moving around much. Mostly Old Man Ford and Two Dogs were talking about strong running horses back in the old days.

All of the sudden this five-foot long green Timber Rattler comes slithering out of the barn. Before anyone saw him, Two Dogs says, “Everyone just freeze and don’t move, and just talk in the same voice you have been talking, OK?” By that time everyone had spotted the timber rattler and was a little on edge, but Two Dogs assured us nothing would happen if we didn’t jump around and scream. This snake is just too hot and he came out for some cooler air. By this time he was traveling over one of my moccasins so I said, “Why does he feel like he has to travel over my foot?” Everyone grinned; no one laughed out loud. I was a little shaken. Two Dogs said, “He knows we are all here, but we are not threatening his life. Kinda like he came out to listen to us talk and relax under this large oak shade tree.”

This rattlesnake had twelve rattles and a button. Two Dogs figured he was at least ten years old. He traveled on over to the other side of the corral near Billy, and just laid there in the leaves all stretched out. So we just started talking again. Two Dogs said, “If he is lying there stretched out like that, he’s not afraid for his life.” “We are not afraid for our lives either, but I ain’t taking my eyes off that big sucker! I ain’t never seen a snake that big.” I continued.

“Let’s eat him!” Tommy blurted out. “What should we do with him?” Two Dogs said, “Yeah Eddie and Tommy, you boys could kill him right now. It would be an easy kill, that’s for sure. Then we could all make rattlesnake hat-bands and belts out of him, and eat his meat, and make a fancy rattle out of his rattles, and put his poison on our arrows and kill small game. But, It seems to me that he has been living here abouts for quite some time. He knows the horses and the horses know him. Now, he knows us and we know him. Humans eat cooked meat horses eat hay and rattlesnakes eat mice for the most part. Let’s see if we can keep a very dangerous friend around without him trying to kill us, or us trying to kill him.” Everyone agreed that was a good idea.

Finally it started cooling off, and Ol Mister Timber Rattler wakes up from his afternoon nap and slithers on over by the trunk of this huge oak, and down a hole he went. Two Dogs said, “I’ll bet you anything he lives under this tree.

The next week we all got out of the corral by 4:30 and we were back by 10:30. We made a fast ride over to Bonny Dunes and back and we were all sitting on the redwood rungs of the fence watching the horses eat. I guess after all the noise stopped and the horses settled down, Ol Mister Timber Rattler decided to come out of his house. He went right over to the middle of the corral and stretched out, and when the horses finished drinking they just walked around him going for the shade. So us boys and Two Dogs just laid down in the shade and talked and slept. Well, I wasn’t exactly sleeping; I had one eye on that big rattler. His head was as big as my fist. Two Dogs said, “If he had a good clean strike at you, he could actually knock you down. He is just one long muscle.”


The Branchiforte Boys

Old Highway 17 was a two-lane, cement road that traveled from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz. It touched new Highway 17 (the four-lane) a couple of times on the way over the mountains. This one day we picked up the Old Summit Trail and crossed Highway 17 and dropped down in back of Jim Booth’s ranch and in back of the pheasant farm off Summit Road, we hit the old Highway 17. Virtually no traffic and we had already been riding for three hours, so we just let the horses walk kinda fast down the old road. We could hardly hear each other talk cause of the horse shoes hitting the pavement, and in the shade of the giant redwoods you could see the sparks from the horse shoes.

This was a great day. No morning fog, nice and warm, and we are going to the beach. To this day I don’t know what drew us to the beach or the ocean so much. There was so much to do there I guess. Well, we were getting close. I can always tell when we hit Branchiforte Drive – I can smell that salt air and it smells soooo good. Our horses can smell it also and they open their nostrils wide and inhale, then exhale with deep breaths.

Craig and Byron came walking out of the little store. “Hey! How you guys doing?” I asked. “Fine!” they said. I gave Byron some money and he went back into the store and bought lots of candy. Craig stayed outside with us and talked about fishing in the local creeks; he knew them all. Craig said, “We’re headed for the beach!” I said, “So are we, let’s go!” We headed on down the little cement streets with the little beach houses and finally came to the San Lorenzo River. The two boys running with us didn’t hesitate. They ran down the little hill and dove into the river. These boys were used to this for sure. They were tall and lean with very broad shoulders – powerful swimmers.

Bout that time my horse makes a leaping dive and the others follow. We just lay straight out in the water and hang on to the horses’ manes and let them swim. Craig and Byron knew this place around the bend and past the beaches where we could catch clams and baby octopus. We would catch as many as we could eat, then take the rest back to our camp and boil them and eat them with butter. They were good. When Craig and Byron got full, they took off running up river for home. We were all kinda sore; we played football all afternoon on the beach. Before they left, Craig told Two Dogs that Byron really wanted a boar this year – A big one! Two Dogs told Craig he would think on it.

Two weeks later Two Dogs said, “I told the boys from Branchiforte to meet us up on top of Hunter Leggit country. They will take their truck and camp on top of the mountain trail. We will see their smoke.” Now, this is a 120 mile trip, one-way. Craig and Byron took our pig dogs in their truck with them. It took us a week of hard riding to make camp. Craig and Byron had worked on the camp all week. It was fancy, they even dug four outhouses. All the horse corrals were built. They had trucked in four 55-gallon barrels of fresh water from a spring they had found upland. These boys had done a fine job of building this camp.

Wild boars are spooky. If you move, they can see you a half-mile away and they will take off running the opposite way. They can really cover some ground fast. The babies all seem to keep up. So, there you are clear out in the middle of California and all the boar and sows and babies take off and leave you. Only Manzanita brush and very hot sun are left for you. The brush is so thick for miles, from the San Joaquin to the Pacific Ocean. When you find a large patch of ground that looks like a bulldozer was turning up the ground, that’s big boar country. The boars use those large 6”, 7”, 8” tusks to dig up roots, acorns and wild bulbs. One thing good, when you’re in big boar country, there doesn’t seem to be quite so many rattlesnakes. They leave fresh rattlesnakes and I guess the snake venom can’t get through their thick hide, cause they would just catch one and eat him right up and go on digging for acorns.

The first morning hunt Craig, Richard, Allen and Billy headed upland. Two Dogs, me, Byron and Tommy headed towards the coast. It was plenty foggy and the trail was clear. We went single-file and ran quietly down the mountain. Finally my dogs began pulling me. I could hardy hang on to their leads lines. They‘re trying to be quiet but they have a scent. They are whimpering. All I would have to say is, “Go get hold of some pig!” and they would be gone in an instant. We are too far away and I don’t want to lose my pig dogs. All of us humans are sweating and breathing very hard; we have covered about 4 miles. I am so tired; everyone else is way in back of me now. My dogs are taking me off the trail through the brush then back on the trial at a full run. I was a bloody mess, but I wasn’t going to turn the dogs loose till my lead dog sounded off on a hot scent. On down the trail we ran about ¼ mile. Then my lead dog sounded off and took off so fast he broke his lead chain. I was sitting in the dirt trying to hold the two pups back. Finally, I heard my lead dog baying; he had something back up this steep arroyo, so I let the pups go.

Byron got to me first. He was a really fast runner. I could hardy breath, “They’re up there!” “OK!” he said, and headed up the arroyo. I got up and followed. We were climbing over some rocks and there, right in front of us, the dogs had this huge boar bayed down in the rocks. “Wow!” I said, “That’s a trophy boar Byron!” Byron said, “Yeah!” He lay down on the rocks and took careful aim. The dogs were lounging in and out after the big boar. The boar would slash to the left and then slash to the right with his large tusks. Byron took a deep breath and exhaled slowly and squeezed one round off of his 30-30. The boar dropped. By then Two Dogs and Tommy were there. Byron jumped up to go see his kill. Two Dogs said, “Wait a second, these big boar don’t die that easy.” Sure enough, he moved – the dogs were going crazy. Blam! He hooked one of my pups and threw him straight up in the air. Two Dogs said, “Eddie, go take his life.” Man, that made me nervous. I said, “Why can’t Byron shoot him again?” Two Dogs said, “No sense in wasting a bullet.” So I took my big knife out of my leggings and walked over and held my good pup back and told my lead dog to, “Get a hold of some pig!” And when the pig lunged for my lead dog, I took his life. I was shaking so bad. Everyone screamed and yelled but I just sat on a rock trying to get my breath and calm down a little.

Byron got busy digging out the boars’ large tusks and the back straps for dinner. Then we headed on down the mountain and set up a small camp down there where San Antonio Dam is now. We all went right to sleep, including my dogs. Byron was sure happy to get that big ol’ boar. He made a necklace with the tusks and some sea shells. He was Wildman.

Now, can you believe this! Six years later, Byron married my little sister. Now can you believer this!? They’re still married …. 40+ Years!!!


Betty & Dupree

There was no one close that would fit Dupree. This boy stood 6’8” tall; the tallest boy in the county for sure. Lotta Black Folk in Louisiana named their babies French names. But Dupree was special. His mamma taught him to speak French and read and write fluently. But that didn’t change things down here for Dupree and his mamma. These was poor times. Food was really hard to come by. But Dupree would go out and cut and split wood for White Folks that lived in the area and they would give him food and cotton and his momma would make these huge shirts for him. Dupree was a nice young man of 22. He was so polite and clean. His mamma was very strict with him. He had to take a bath every night, no matter how tired he was. And every morning he had to shave and put a clean shirt on. People would see him in town and think he was rich. But the fact was, Dupree had never even seen a dollar bill up close. His good friend was a White boy that lived across the creek that drained into the bayou. His name was Johnny – Johnny was a big boy too, 6”5” all muscle like Dupree.

Everyone thought these two boys were crazy cause if Dupree was over at Johnny’s house playing guitars and Dupree’s mamma called for him, her voice would echo clear out into the bayou. Dupree could drop his guitar, jump off the porch, take ten giant running steps and dive into the creek, take two swipes through the water and grab a branch on the other side and pull himself out of the water, take ten running steps and one big leap up to the top of the stairs on the porch and still have enough air to say, “Yes um.” And mamma would say, “Now shoo them alligators off the lawn that was chasin’ you, they make big messes.” Dupree would smile, he know them alligators couldn’t catch him. Johnny and Dupree were the only two boys that wasn’t afraid to swim around alligators, cause Johnny would do the same thing when he was at Dupree’s house – They thought it was funny.

One night Dupree and Johnny were walking down the street kind of late and all of a sudden, these boys from the other side of town hollered at Johnny, “Hey White boy, is that your shadow?” Dupree turned around and saw there was only ten boys with sticks. Dupree said, “Let’s let them get close and turn on them and give them a lickin’.” Johnny laughed and said, “Lets run from them and let them get real close to us, then lets dive in the creek and swim to the other side.” Oh, Dupree thought that was a fabulous idea.

So they took off running (scared but not too scared), and all ten of those boys took off after them yellin’ obscenities at them and all the while getting closer and closer. Then Dupree and Johnny dove into the creek and one, two, three up on the other side – just in time to see two boys get eaten, and that scared the boys on both sides of the bank.

Pretty soon the cops came. “What’s going on here?” The boys from the other side of town said, “Those two guys pushed our friends in the creek and the alligators at them.” Johnny could speak French also – he told Dupree, “We better think fast, those boys are lying to the cops.” Dupree answered in French, “Let’s go to my house, OK Johnny said, and they took off running. The cops could not catch them cause Johnny and Dupree were on the other side of the creek. The cops were afraid to cross the creek also.

Finally the next day, 4 cop cars pulled up to mamma’s lawn and they yelled at mamma’s house, “You boys come out and nothing will happen to you, we promise, we just want to talk to you, so come on out.” There were eight cops with night sticks standing in front of their cars; this did not look good. Johnny said, “I will go out. If they don’t do anything to me, then you come out.” So Johnny walked out on the porch. One cop said, “See we’re not going to hurt you, come on down and tell us what happened last night.” Johnny walked down the stairs. About that time an alligator grabbed one of the cops and dragged him to the creek and in the excitement the cops took their night sticks and began hitting Johnny and beating him. Johnny yelled, “Run Dupree, Run!” And they kept beating Johnny, and Johnny grabbed one cop and threw him in the creek and an alligator got him. Then he picked up two cops by the shirts and smashed them together and they fell to the ground dead. But there were too many cops with night sticks beating his head so he was going down, the blood was ruining his sight. He grabbed two cops by the neck and with his last bit of strength and his last breath, he broke their necks and they all three fell dead.
Meanwhile Betty, Johnny’s sister, and Dupree were high in a tree watching the cops kill Johnny. Dupree was crying as he was carrying Betty out of the tree. Now they had to get out of there because the cops will come back and kill Dupree for sure. So they headed up the Mississippi river. Dupree couldn’t stop crying; Johnny was his best friend. And now what was he going to do? He has a white girl under age with him, but Betty knew where this boat was and finally they are safe on the river.
Betty was always around Johnny and Dupree, but they never really paid much attention to her. But now she is finally growing into herself 6’ tall and the zits are gone, and Betty is beautiful from head to toe. Dupree looked at her in the fading sunlight and said, “Oh no! What am I going to do with you? You can’t stay with me!” “Yes I can, and I will stay with you! My brother told me to take care of you and that’s what I’m going to do! So shut up and keep rowing!” Dupree laughed to himself, “Her mouth has always been a little sharp, but as I look at her, her beauty is unmatched.” And their love for one another grows deeper and faster each day they’re on the Mississippi. They would camp out at night and get food and start rowing very early in the morning when it was still dark. When people would approach them, Betty would cover herself and turn away and would not talk.
By the time they reached Chicago, Betty’s belly was showing; she was very happy – Dupree was very worried. Dupree met some Black friends and they let him tie the boat up and build a shanty on it and live there for now. Dupree would go cut wood for the richer White people and bring back food, cotton and some money. Betty had to teach him about money.

Then one day Betty told Dupree, “I want a diamond ring.” He just looked at her thinking, “I am the luckiest man in the world.” Then Betty told Dupree, “Honey, I want a diamond ring.” Dupree told Betty, “I’ll buy you most anything!” Dupree told Betty again, “I’ll buy you a diamond ring!”

Oh, how he loved that Betty – So he said, “Today is a great day about 70 degrees, let’s go for a walk in the park.” Betty was so happy. So Betty opened a box in the boat and pulled out a brand new clean shirt for Dupree she had made coming up the river. Dupree looked at Betty with heavy tears in his eyes and said, “No many should love a woman as much as I love you.” She was standing there barefoot and rags for clothing and her hair covered with a burlap sack so no one could see she was a beautiful 6’ blond. Dupree asked his friend’s wife if she would make Betty a brand new dress, cause he was gonna marry that girl! His friends were afraid for them, but she made a beautiful white dress out of white feed sacks. Dupree was so proud, and their friends could see how happy and in love they were – it made them happy too.

So Dupree went down to the jewelry store. Shot a policeman and wounded four or five more, and ran for Betty.  But something hot pierced his back and now he can’t run so fast anymore. Dupree finally got to Betty and said, “I got you a diamond ring.” Ya, Dupree finally got to Betty and said, “Ya, Honey I got you a diamond ring.” And he put the ring on Betty. Dupree slumped a little, but looked at Betty with here brand new white dress and a brand new big diamond ring and said, “No man will every love you as much as I love you.” Betty and their friends were crying. The policemen finally got there and beat Dupree with their night sticks, but Dupree just laid there with his eyes fixed on Betty. She was so beautiful and he will love her forever. Now the blood is blinding his vision and he feels he cannot move and the policemen are clubbing Dupree and finally his eyes close softly and Betty is screaming, “Come back Dupree, please come back!”

Betty & Dupree – the song

Betty told Dupree – Say I want a diamond ring

Yeah, Betty told Dupree – Say Honey, I want a diamond ring

Dupree told Betty – Say I’ll buy you most anything

Yeah, Dupree told Betty – Say Honey, I’ll buy you a diamond ring

So Dupree went down to the jewelry store

Shot a policeman – wounded four or five more

Dupree told Betty – Say, I got you a diamond ring

Yeah, Dupree told Betty – Say Honey, I got you a diamond ring

Policeman came to Betty’s door – Say, Dupree’s going to be sailing for so long

Say Honey, Dupree’s going to be sailing for so long

Sail on, Sail on, Sail on Dupree, Sail on

Well, you don’t mind sailing cause you going to be sailing for so dog gone long

trees on fire

    Fire in the Night

Rick was heading down highway 29 to his ex-wife’s house to deliver Garrett (his next to oldest son). He just happened to notice a small patch of red up on the mountain.

He stopped and talked to Kath and her husband Joe for a while, then left. He cut across the valley on Lodi Road, then turned left on the trail and headed on up the valley. Then he came to a low spot on the hill and looked up and the red on the mountain was much larger. He thought, “That is up by my boss’ house.” And he continued up on the valley to the ranch. As he pulled in, the grapes had already been picked and it was just getting dark, and a big ol’ buck jumped the rock wall and tore across the road right in front of Rick. “Geeze!” He slammed on the brakes as he’s talking to himself, “Of course my deer rifle is sitting on the porch.”

He pulled up in front of the horse trailer and as he is climbing out, here comes his boss tearing up the road; whips in and jumps out of his truck. “Rick, there is a forest fire up in back of my place. I got one horse loaded but the other one would not get in the trailer and the policeman made me leave. I told him this was my place and that’s my horse, I’m staying!” The policeman said, “I’ll take you to jail if you don’t leave right now!” “So my horse is still up there very close to the fire.”

Rick said, “I’ll get your horse for you.” And he ran out to the horse pasture and called Baxter. (He is Rick’s good solid rope horse – nothing bothers him.) Then Rick brought Baxter over to the tack shed and saddled him up and loaded up. The dogs were all barking and ready to go. So Rick called Chance (his youngest son), and told him to put the dogs up so he could leave.

His boss was very nervous, his wife was up in the Sierras with her sister’s family and his house was about to burn down, and his horse was in grave danger. He told Rick to watch the cops because, “They will make you turn around.” Rick said, “I’m going up through he grapes and hit that trail that runs along the ridge. Then drop down to your place.” So he took off through the grapes; that was fast going because he just got between the grapes in a lane and ran all the way to the trail. The trail was dark with low hanging branches from the trees. He couldn’t travel fast. Finally he could see the flames, and Baxter could see again, so they took off at a nice easy lope.

Rick dropped off the trail and headed for his boss’ house. The flames were 200 feet high. The tall pines were exploding like bombs from the pitch inside them. Some trees were falling and Rick and Baxter had to go around them. It was getting mighty hot in there but Baxter kept his cool. Planes were flying over, dropping that red fire-retardant. Helicopters were dropping water out of the sky, trying to protect the house and Angwin Hospital. The police had big search lights shining the light in the windows of the houses and pounding on the doors saying, “Get out of your house now!”

By this time, Rick arrived at the house. He could see the horse in the corral prancing up and down the fence line. He rode over to the horse, jumped off Baxter and put the halter on him. Then lead him out of the paddock. He loaded up on Baxter, dallied up the horse and headed for the road. Just then a helicopter dropped a load of water on his boss’ house and barn. The fire was right at his back fence. Firefighters were rushing up the driveway. They passed Rick and said, “What are you doing up here? Get those horses out of here!” Rick smiled and said, “OK.”

He got down the road a ways and came upon the policeman who said, “What the heck are you doing? Take those horses down the hill!” Rick smiled and said, “OK.”

Chief Fire Arrowfire arrow

So Blue Wolf’s best friend was a little jealous of all the praise and attention Blue Wolf was getting; Blue Wolf’s best friend was Fire Arrow. He could let fly a fire arrow through the redwoods without sticking it into a giant redwood tree, and stick it in the dirt on the other side of the trees. – Which was a hard trick to do!

Fire Arrow and Blue Wolf were great friends. They were most always together, fishing hunting, and swimming, except this one evening. It was hot and the Spaniards were just leaving on their large animals after trading all day with the Pomo people. Their horses were weighted down. The last Spaniard out was riding really slowly, so fire Arrow ran after him and tied on one of Blue Wolf’s obsidian arrow heads onto his arrow. (They were very sharp.) Then he dropped to his knees, pulled his bow till the arrowhead touched his finger, and let it fly. The obsidian arrowhead was so sharp the arrow went right through the Spaniard’s heart and stuck out of his chest 4 inches, and dropped him dead right there.

Fire Arrow ran up and caught the Spaniard’s horse, took the lariat off, put it around the Spaniard’s chest, jumped on the horse and rode into an oak thicket. He jumped off the horse and grabbed some leaves and brush off the trail so the other Spaniards could not find any evidence of a killing in the area.

Fire Arrow was very nervous and scared. He climbed back on the horse and drug the Spaniard upland on the old hunting trail through Almaden and up into the mountain. He took the lariat off the Spaniard and rolled him off the cliff. Then Fire Arrow took the saddle and threw it off the cliff. No one would ever find the saddle or the man.

As Fire Arrow rode off the mountain the next day, he could see the Spaniards dust headed back towards the Pomo camp. He had to think with a clear mind. So he shot a buck with his bow and field stripped him. Then tied the horse up to a tree and threw the small buck over his shoulder and hiked back to camp just as the Spaniards were getting there. They asked everyone where the man was and no one knew. They did not ask Fire Arrow because they saw him coming in from a different direction and knew he had been hunting.

Finally, after hours of questioning all the Pomo people, the Spaniards left for San Juan Bautista. That evening just before dark, Fire Arrow called his friend Blue wolf to the creek to sit and talk. Fire Arrow told him the whole story. Blue Wolf was shocked to hear the story but proud of Fire Arrow, because the Spaniards had previously shot a Pomo man who was not only Fire Arrow’s uncle, but Blue Wolf’s too.

He took Blue Wolf to the horse. They decided to give the horse to the Chief. But the Chief said, “I have a better idea. Let’s give the four legged animal to our friends that live in the East Hills and when they see the Spaniards coming down the El Camino Real and see the dust from many horses, they can ride down the mountain and warn us of the Spaniards and we can all hide from them.” At first the Pomo from the East Hills were afraid of the four legged animal till they saw Fire Arrow and Blue Wolf ride him and how fast he was. This was good for the Pomo tribe of San Jose.

That night ten Pomo braves and five squaws from the Clearlake Tribe came into the San Jose Pomo camp fully loaded with trade goods. And that started a very large powwow. They lit huge fires and all danced and ate turkey, pheasant, venison and indian bread. Blue Wolf was glad to see the braves and women from Clearlake again. Other tribes saw the huge fires and joined the powwow. The Clearlake people traded off all their obsidian arrow heads early – that was a very prized tool. The drums were so loud and people were dancing everywhere. Then the Great Chief asked everyone for silence and he said, “Form now until the Mother Earth is no more, the first son of every woman will be called Blue Wolf.” The drums started up again and everyone was cheering. Then the Great Chief asked for silence again. He said, “Fire Arrow is our new young Chief. These two young braves’ names will go on forever.” The drums pounded even louder and everyone yelled and danced around the fires. For five days they traded and danced around the fires.

As soon as the Clearlake Tribe came into the San Jose camp, Blue Wolf noticed a young girl his age. She was beautiful! She was wearing brand new moccasins and a brand new dress with lots of trade beads. Her hair was clean and freshly braided with a very nice headband. When she would pass him dancing around the huge fire, Blue Wolf’s eyes would light up and his heart would pound as hard as the drums. The next time she danced past Blue Wolf, he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her away from the fire dance and he said, “I know you. You’re the girl that sat next to the Great Chief of Clearlake. What is your name?” “White Dove,” she said, “And you are Blue Wolf.” Blue Wolf asked, “Why did your father let you come down here?” White Dove said, “He sent me to see if you would find favor in me, for next year I may wed.” “Wed! Wed what? Who me?!” asked Blue Wolf. “Yes Blue Wolf, you are very popular in Clearlake for being so brave. And my father likes you.” “Well you are very beautiful.” said Blue Wolf, “Let’s go ask my father.” Well of course his father was delighted, and they were married the next year in Clearlake and made their home deep in the redwoods between San Jose and Santa Cruz.

Fire Arrow went on to be a Great Chief in his later years. He was known for his shrewdness with the Spaniards. When we five boys went to Two Dog’s burial, there was a note on his chest that read; “To the last Blue Wolf, we will never forget.” He protected his name and let the Whites call him Two Dogs. But still taught us five white boys like his own, – The Indian way.

Blue WolfNative-American-Boy-th

Back around 1797, the Spaniards were making their advancement up into Alta California from Mexico. They would build missions, and the Franciscan Friars were empowered to build beautiful missions and maintain them with orchards, gardens and cattle. To accomplish this huge task, they enslaved the indigenous people. Then a long day’s walk away, they would build another mission on up the El Camino Real Trail. Father Junipero Serra led the way.

Word spread fast throughout the Pomo hogans that the Spaniards rode on animals with four legs, and they made good time on the trail. As the Spaniards and Father Junipero Serra grew closer to San Jose, the Pomo people of the area grew nervous and worried. They did not trust any of the newcomers. Finally, the Spaniards came and rode their four-legged animals around the valley for all to see. The Pomo Chief knew they had to warn the Pomo of Lake County on the other side of Yerba Buena (San Francisco) bay, but they didn’t have time to go around the bay. And, they didn’t have time to build boats and cross the mouth of the bay. This was an urgent situation. A boy in the tribe came up with an idea. His name was Blue Wolf. He was only 13 years old. He could swim one of those Spaniard four-legged animals across the mouth of the San Francisco bay, about one mile wide.

That meant the braves of the tribe had to steal one of those animals. So eight braves left the Pomo village in San Jose and headed south to find the Spaniards. One day later, they found them building Mission San Juan Bautista. The braves talked to the Indians that were working on the mission. They said that Father Fermin Lasuen was kind but very stern and if the Indians didn’t work hard enough, the Spaniards would whip them. But they fed them well and the Indians were learning a new religion. The Pomo braves went back up the trail till nightfall. Then they snuck back into Mission San Juan Bautista and stole one of the four-legged animals and took him back to San Jose. Everyone was in awe of the beautiful animal. The chiefs rode him around and they were proud of the braves for accomplishing their task. That was nothing compared to Blue Wolf’s task.

That night there was a very large meeting of the chiefs and Blue Wolf’s whole family. They decided Blue Wolf would make the trek to Clearlake and warn the Pomo in that area that the Spaniards were coming. Blue Wolf’s father was proud but his mother was crying. She said it was too dangerous a trip for a boy of 13. The next morning at dawn, Blue Wolf mounted up with his bow and quiver of 10 arrows. The Chief gave him a lance. His mother gave him a pouch with food. He carried a knife in his leggings.

Up the trail he went. He was very brave to do this. No one had ever tried this before. Two days later he came to the mouth of the San Francisco bay, jumped off his four-legged animal and stretched and smelled the fresh salt air and looked across the mouth of the bay. He didn’t realize how long a mile was. “That‘s a long way to swim,” he thought. As he looked down at the ocean water, he noticed that the water was rushing out to the open sea like a fast river. So he got a log and threw it into the water and watched it float out to sea. “This is not good. I will be swept out and never be able to reach land one mile away.” So he made camp and with a long rope tied one front leg of the four-legged animal on one end, and a large rock on the other and the four-legged animal ate the grass and Blue Wolf slept.

The next morning Blue Wolf threw another log into the ocean and the log went into the bay very fast. This was a dilemma. How was the 13 year old boy going to cross this treacherous water? That afternoon, he threw another log into the ocean. The log just floated in front of him. So he untied the four-legged animal, jumped on his back and rode him to the ocean. He said a prayer as he rode into the ocean. The animal could swim good. With no wind and a sunny day, Blue Wolf was enjoying the swim. He held onto the animal’s mane and sat up to see the view.

About 100 yards from the opposite side of the bay, a large Blue shark passed him. Then the shark passed him even closer and Blue Wolf knew this was big trouble. So he readied his lance, and the shark came even closer and Blue Wolf plunged the lance deep into the sharks’ side. The four legged animal kept swimming. Other sharks smelled the blood from the big Blue shark and they came and tore him to pieces and ate him. Blue Wolf was safe from the sharks, but the bay water was beginning to rush out to the sea and it was sweeping them out too. But then the water swept them around the corner to the open beaches. Blue Wolf cried, “Swim hard animal, we are almost there!” Then the waves caught them and washed them to the beach. The animal was so tired he rolled in the sand and just laid there and Blue Wolf lay in the sand too and looked across the mouth of the bay and said a prayer. “I am very luck,” he thought. Then he cried out across the bay, “I am a brave Pomo Indian!” Then he slept.

He tied one front leg to his long rope and the other end to a large log that had washed up on the beach. There was some grass growing around the log for the animal to eat. Blue Wolf walked up the beach onto the rocks to gather food. He picked small shelled animals off the rocks. He took his knife and pried off an abalone and in the holes of the rocks he found a baby octopus – A fine dinner. He would take his thumb and pry out the shelled animal and wipe off the green algae. They were very chewy and good to eat. He took his knife and pried open the abalone and cut it into four bites. Then after playing with the baby octopus for a short while, he cut off the tentacles and chewed them up – A very rich dinner. They slept on the beach that night.

The next morning Blue Wolf mounted his animal and headed up the steep hill. He found a trail leading upland. Soon he rode upon a nice clean, cold, clear creek to drink. The animal was very thirsty. He found a pond in the creek and they both cooled off in it. The animal didn’t mind Blue Wolf swimming with him and Blue Wolf was having fun. But he had to get on his way and deliver his important message. Two days later they were making good time, but Blue Wolf was very hungry. About midday he rode up on a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs. He could hear them growling and he could see them through the trees. They were tearing apart an old log with a beehive in it. So Blue Wolf got off his animal and laid down quietly in the grass. Finally after a long wait, the bears left and most of the bees had left too. There were enough pieces of honeycomb with lots of honey in it that the bears didn’t eat. After eating all that honey and picking some berries and hazelnuts, Blue Wolf was good to go and they traveled upland two more days.

On the third day late in the morning, he came across four boys swimming in a large river. Blue Wolf did not want the boys to see the four-legged animal so he rode up the trail a ways and tied one leg to a tree. There was a lot of grass for him to eat. Then he walked back down the trail and met the Indian boys and they swam and played for hours. Finally Blue Wolf asked the boys where Clearlake was. They gave him good instructions and he left. Half a day’s ride and the trail split and Blue Wolf took the one going up the mountain. It was a very steep trail and it was hot. The animal was sweating white foam. He came upon a small creek and camped there for the night.

Next morning Blue Wolf woke up early. The sun was not up yet but it was light. He looked down the creek and saw a small deer drinking water. He grabbed is bow and arrow and got to his knees, put the arrow in the bow and drew back slowly, took aim and let one fly. The arrow pierced the deer’s heart and the deer dropped where he stood. Blue Wolf had not eaten much on this adventure. He cleaned the deer, stretched out the hide to dry and cut the back straps off for a feast. That night he slept well.

The next day he rode to the top of the mountain and he could see the lake. But it was a long ride. By dusk he rode his animal into the tules and his animal swam around and cooled off and Blue Wolf cooled off and made camp. There was lots of grass, so Blue Wolf didn’t tie the animal. This night the sunrise came early. The animal was standing near Blue Wolf so he grabbed his gear and mounted the animal and ate dried dear meat on the trail. When the sun was straight up in the air, Blue Wolf came to a large village of Pomo Indians. At first the Indians were afraid of the large four-legged animal. But Blue Wolf assured them the animal was his friend. They could not believe how big it was. Blue Wolf met his cousins he had never seen. His aunt took him to the Chief of their nation and Blue Wolf told him of the Spaniards and of their heavy clothing, and their sticks that made lots of noise and the deer would drop. And told them of the many four-legged animals and how fast they traveled. Then he told the Chief of his long and dangerous trip and the swim across the mouth of the bay. The Chief could hardly believe it, except he had seen the mouth of the bay himself when he was very young on a hunting trip. The Chief thanked Blue Wolf for his bravery and all the information Blue Wolf gave him. Everyone was proud of Blue Wolf and they started very large fires and painted themselves and danced and ate fish and deer and acorn bread and berries. The party went on for days. They made many obsidian arrowheads and tied them on willow sticks for arrows and then danced again at night.

Finally Blue Wolf had to leave his cousins and new friends. He was anxious to get home and see his mother and father. The Chief told Blue Wolf to go the long way around the bay and swim the river; it was much smaller and less dangerous. It would only take a week or so longer. But Blue Wolf was brave and strong and he chose to swim his animal across the mouth of the bay one more time, and his relatives were proud of him. But many Indians didn’t believe him coming up with such a wild story, such as metal hooded men with long lances and sticks that made loud noise and a deer would drop. And how could whole tribes of Indians become enslaved and what was this new religion. And why did they build forts a day’s march away then build another? This was a pretty big story for the men to understand. But the Chief knew Blue Wolf was speaking true words.

The next morning the Chief gave Blue Wolf his own lance and wished him well. Ten young boys Blue Wolf’s age followed the animal down the trail. That night they made a huge fire and painted their faces and danced around screaming and yelling as loud as they could. Blue Wolf had made good friends. The next morning they parted.

Blue Wolf headed on down the long trail on the mountain, finally reaching the valley below. The Ukiah were afraid of Blue Wolf and his four-legged animal and ran him off. The next day Blue Wolf came upon the four boys he swam in the river with. So he hid in the bushes and painted his face and body, then painted his animal. He looked like a wild-man. Then he grabbed his lance and yelled and screamed and charged his animal as fast as he would run. The boys were afraid and jumped into the river and Blue Wolf jumped his animal into the river. Then the paint came off Blue Wolf and his animal and the boys laughed and they liked the animal and Blue Wolf let them ride around. The boys had great fun that day. When night fell they built a large fire and danced and screamed and threw lances into the fire. They would be great warriors one day.

The next morning Blue Wolf mounted his animal and parted with his friends. One day later of hard riding, Blue Wolf reached the mouth of the bay. This time that mile across looked a lot further. The first thing he did was throw a log into the water, and the log floated into the bay. So he laid down on the beach and slept. Later that afternoon he threw another log into the bay and it just floated in front of him. So he said a prayer and jumped his animal into the ocean and began swimming across. It was another nice day and the animal was swimming fast. Then when they were close enough to shoot an arrow and hit the beach, Blue Wolf was very happy. But, a blue shark swam by and Blue Wolf raised his bow and arrow. The big blue shark came again and he let one fly into the shark’s side. Then another shark came again and Blue Wolf let one fly into his side. Now a very large Blue shark came and brushed against Blue Wolf’s leg and Blue Wolf plunged his sharp lance into this hide. There was lots of blood in the water and more sharks were coming. Blue Wolf was very worried and the animal was swimming as fast as he could, but not as fast as this big blue shark. And the animal squealed and kept trying to swim. Then again the big shark hit the animal. There was blood all over now, and lots of sharks. Blue Wolf decided to jump off of the animal and swim for it. As Blue Wolf swam he could hear the animal squeal and then the animal went down and all the sharks tore him up and ate him. Blue Wolf was safe and the waves took him to the beach. He could hardly breathe he was so frightened. He lost everything except the clothes on his back. And he was sad the sharks ate his animal. So with his head down, he walked looking for his trail to San Jose.

Finally he found his trail, and he thought if he ran two days he could be home. So Blue Wolf ran till dark. He was so tired he didn’t even make a fire. It was foggy and cold that night. When morning came, he thought, “One more day.” And he ran. The trail was good. That night after dark, Blue Wolf ran into his village and dropped by the fire. Everyone ran to him. He had been gone ten weeks. He looked terrible and gaunt from the 50 mile run. His mother and father were so glad to see him alive. The Chief came over and Blue Wolf told the whole story. Then the Chief told Blue Wolf the Spaniards came and killed two warriors for one animal stolen. But the Chief was very proud of Blue Wolf and he gave Blue Wolf his lance.

Boys on Horses

Oh No, More Stallions

Old Man Ford came home with three more stud colts he claimed from Bay Meadows. He was so proud of these colts. He told Two Dogs to, “Have the boys ride one, and pony one, then switch off.” “Ride the salt out of them!” were Old Man Ford’s words.

The weekend finally came. Two Dogs yells to us to brush all the horses down, “We’re taking them all this weekend.” “What!” I started mouthing off in defiance. Two Dogs didn’t even listen to me, as usual. Two Dogs said, “Now, everyone has two ponies to ride. We will take the dirt road to Ben Lomond and on over to Santa Cruz and camp on the beach.” It was a good logging road through the back country. We could trot most of the way. We all got on the horses we had been riding cause the new colts were really fresh, and half wild. Both of my horses were black – I liked that. Two Dogs gave us our lead lines with the colts on the other end. It was a little hairy for the first few minutes cause everyone was jumping around and getting used to the lead ropes in the corral. Then Two Dogs opened the gates and yelled, “Let em’ go!” So I laid down on my horse and let him go. Man that was exciting! They all took off running. I could barely hang on. The power of a thoroughbred taking off is awesome, pure muscle and legs – no brains. We ran full-out down the mountain, till we could see parts of Ben Lomond’s San Lorenzo River through the trees, about 10 miles from where we stated. The horses had slowed down to a nice easy gallop. We were all sitting upright and our colts were starting to pay attention. So Two Dogs said, “Let’s stop and give them a breath, then get on the colts before we get to the San Lorenzo River.” It felt good to stand up. The horses all started eating grass; everything was calm.

Allen said, “That was a fast trip.” Two Dogs said, “I’m surprised no one got killed. I had a hard time getting on my horse after I opened the gate.” I said, “Yeah, but it was a great ride!” Everyone agreed. Two Dogs said, “Well, let’s load up and head for the San Lorenzo.” The horses were still sweating white lather. We loaded up on our colts; they were still a little antsy, but calm. Off we went. We were able to hold them to a nice gallop but they were a little spooky. They had never been out running under giant redwoods. They kept ducking their heads. It was funny to watch them, but they didn’t slow down. We had to go up above Ben Lomond over cross the San Lorenzo. Boy, those colts did not want to cross that river. So I got off my colt and tied the lead rope around my good horse’s neck and climbed on him and took off across the river. The river wasn’t deep, only about two feet deep, but wide and lots of rocks. So once the horses go out into all the slippery rocks, they stated paying attention and we got across ok. Everyone else did the same.

Our horses still had lots of “go,” so we just let them run down the trail alongside the San Lorenzo. It was so pretty with the nice wide river and the thick redwoods on both sides. We saw a couple of fly fishermen. We got to the first bridge in Santa Cruz and every single horse stopped on its own. They did not want to go under the bridge. It took us 15 minutes to get them under the bridge. Luckily, in those days there were only two bridges over the San Lorenzo in Santa Cruz.

Finally we got to the beach. Two Dogs made us set up camp at Big Basin Park, next to the river where the river comes into the Pacific Ocean. He never let us boys go play first. In those days there were large logs all over the place, so we tied up all the horses and made camp and hit the ocean. Oh! It was cold but it felt so good. Then we got big logs and pushed them into the river and rode them down the river and into the riptide in the ocean, and the riptide would take us way out and we would paddle back. Two Dogs didn’t partake in such silliness, but us boys totally enjoyed ourselves. We all got a little sunburned, so Two Dogs walked over to a store and bought 5 bottles of vinegar and poured vinegar all over us to take the sting out. That night we made a very large fire and other people came over to talk and watch the fire and pet the horses. Oh, did we ever sleep. The fog came in, but the fire was so big and the coals were so hot we were warm all night.

Next morning we ate sea snails and Two Dogs made some bread. He told us boys not to get on the colts first thing because they were fresh and he didn’t want them to learn how to buck with the human on their back. We had to get them out in the middle of the river and climb on them and let them get used to us – then hit the ocean. They were so wild; their eyes were wide open and they were stepping fast. We let them run full-out down the beach and then turned them into the ocean and the waves. That was so much fun! I think they enjoyed it too. They jumped and swam and went under and came up with water in their ears. They would shake their head to get water out of their ears and get more water in their ears. I just wrapped my hand in my colt’s mane and let him swim. Then we hit the beach, off running full out. Man, what a rush!

We played around until about 9:00 or so, then Two Dogs hollered, “Let’s load up and head to Ford’s Ranch!” Us boys really didn’t want to leave yet; the fog was just starting to pull back over the ocean and the sun was coming through. So, we climbed on our colts and headed upland, and they still didn’t like those overpasses.

By the time we got up on the dirt road above Ben Lomond, it was about 3:00 in the afternoon and Two Dogs said, “OK, let’s make some sweat.” We all took off running. Billy got way out in front of us, about a mile. And we came around a sharp corner and there was his colt lying over a large log with a broken leg, and Billy was hurt. So Two Dogs got off his horse, walked over and took his big knife out and took the colt’s life. We all felt so bad. It’s really hard to take a colt’s life. He was a handsome boy and Old Man Ford was going to be really mad at us.

We made the ride up the mountain to Ford’s Ranch without any more problems, but when we got there Old Man Ford was really irritated and cussing. Then he said, “Your horses are looking really good, all muscled up. You boys are doing good.” That made us feel better. When I got home my mom said, “Where were you this weekend, over at Richard and Allen’s?” I said, “Yeah, Mom.” and headed for the icebox for food.

Jones Dam

835873_lake_diveTrout season started May first. The weather was warm. For some glorious reason, we had a three-day weekend. So we would be fishing all weekend. Two Dogs said, “You boys go fishing this weekend. Don’t throw any back, keep them all and we will dry a bunch for food when we are on the trail.” So we rode the horses down to Los Gatos Creek and turned them loose and began fishing. We were about straight down from Holy City. Man the fishing was good. We were having so much fun. We put wet grass in our creels to keep the fish fresh.

By around noon it had tuned hot and we were past Chemeketa Park and close to Oakmont so I said, “Hey, Let’s run down to Jones Dam and go swimming!” “Oh yeah!” Everyone was up for that. We got down close to the dam and me and Allen crossed the creek. We were going to fish the dam first then swim. I heard screaming and laughing. “What the…! Oh, no! Oh this is terrible! There’s a bunch of pretty girls swimming in our dam.”

So now we can’t fish the dam. Jones Dam was a very small dam, but it had lots of trout in it. We boys were not happy. I yelled, “What are you girls doing swimming in our dam?” They all stopped and looked at us. Mitzy Kennett yelled back, “This is not your dam, this is our dam! We swim all summer here!” Mitzy’s sister, Carol Ann, yelled, “You had better get out of here right now!” Tommy yells back, “Why do we have to leave our fishing hole?” Joan’s older sister, Carol, says, “This is not your fishing hole!”

“Well,” I said to my friends “We came here to go swimming didn’t we? These girls are all very pretty so let’s go swimming with them and have some fun.” “Yeah!” Everyone agreed.

I yelled to the girls, “Well then, can we go swimming with you?” They talked it over for what seemed like a half an hour. Finally Mitzy yells back, “I guess so, if you have bathing suits.” “Yeah, we got bathing suits.” I take off my leggings and jeans and run and do a big ol’ Texas dive that splashed all the girls. When I came up Carol and Joan started splashing me back. Then all the boys jumped in and we had a splashing war, it was so much fun. Carol Ann got out and grabbed the rope hanging out of a giant oak tree and swung way, way out over us all and did a big ol’ cannon ball and splashed us all. Now these girls were a lot of fun! I swung out to do a big cannon ball and Mitzy threw a grass bomb and hit me in the air. Hot dog! The war was on! We all threw grass bombs and swung out on the rope and played there all afternoon. It was so much fun.

Finally the girls said, “It’s getting late, we gotta go home.” None of us boys wanted the girls to go. As the girls were walking up the hill Carol Ann stopped and yelled back at us, “We sure had a nice time today.” And you can bet we had a very nice time swimming with four beautiful girls all day long.

We camped at the dam. Next morning we fished that dam so good, and caught a lot of fish. We fished on down to Alma. There were about 180 fish. The man at the store let us put the fish in his big freezer. Then we bought lots of candy and Cokes and went outside and ate and drank till we were almost sick. Allen Lindsay said, “Hey, let’s hike back up to the Jones Dam and see if the girls are there. We can fish our way home.”

It was about a three-mile hike and it was getting hot. We sure missed our horses. Finally, we got to Jones Dam. Yep, the girls were swimming and making all kinds of noise. So we took off our jeans and leggings and snuck around the dam and the girls did not even see us. All of the sudden we all started yelling and screaming and running down to the dam. Billy swung out on the rope and the girls were screaming and we had a big water fight. We all had so much fun.

Finally Carol Ann said, “I’m hungry.” Well, come to think on it, we were all starving. So me and Tommy went fishing and the other girls and boys made a large fire. Tommy and I had ten trout in nothing flat. The girls had lots of bread and peanut butter. What a feast we had. It was trout and toast and bread and peanut butter and ice cold water from a spring there.

Mitzy said, “I could live down here!” We all agreed it would be a fine place to live and fish. Carol Ann and Carol took a couple of poles and fished downstream for a bit and caught six trout. They were so excited. They wanted to take their fish home that night, so Richard Lindsay cleaned them while we all went swimming again. “Well,” asked Edie, “It’s getting late; we are going to have to go home pretty soon. You boys have a long way to go home?” But Tommy said, “No, we’re going to camp her tonight.” Joan asked, “Are you going to stay and swim tomorrow?” I yelled back, “Yeah, if you girls are coming down!” Carol Ann said, “Mitzy, and I will bring a bunch of food.” Oh man! Those girls are so much fun! Who ever heard of having fun with girls? We talked about the girls all night. They were even good swimmers. It was amazing, plus, they were all pretty too!!

Next morning it was foggy so we built a large fire to keep warm. We were thinking about going home because the girls wouldn’t come down here in the fog. Finally, around ten o’clock the fog lifted and here come the girls. They were laughing and talking and making all kinds of noise. And they had food. We all had so much fun eating breakfast that morning. We all swam all day. Tuesday morning at school we all stood in the hall and laughed and talked about how much fun we had at Jones Dam.

border collie finalDipstick

Everyone gets a good dog once or twice in their lifetime. So, I guess I’m on my second. I’ll start from last summer and work up to today. I was bass fishing off my wharf; my dog was lying next to me getting that first morning sun. My dog is a Boarder Collie, and his name is Dipstick. We (meaning my grandson and me) gave him that name because when he was a pup he would run fast to you and jump up in the air, turn sideways and pancake you right in the chest. To this day he will do it if he thinks about it and you are not watching.

So, I catch this nice big bass and I get him to the top of the water. By this time Dipstick is going crazy because he wants this bass. I egg-him-on with, “Get that big bass Dip!” So he dives off the wharf and swims over and bites that bass in the midsection and heads for shore. I’m thinking he’s going to get the hook caught in his mouth. Well anyway, he climbed up the rocks and didn’t really want me to take the bass away from him. After I got the hook out I gave the bass back to him. He was proud. That bass would jump and Dip would dive on him and bite him. Then he left if for Stony, my Queensland Heeler, to play with and came back out on the wharf. Sure enough I caught another one and I said, “Get that bass Dip!” and in he goes.

This went on for about a week. Then one day my fishing buddy, Joanne, and her cousin came crusing over to my place in a brand new bass boat. Man, that was something! We were just talking about the boat and nothing important, so I said, “Well, I’m going to catch a bass while we are talking.” I threw my lure in the water and at the same time Joanne said something interesting, so I was looking at her and listening to what she had to say. My lure sunk to the bottom of the lake, Blam! Something Big hit my line! “Oh, No! My pole is bent in half! Oh, Geez! I’m going to break my pole.” Joanne’s cousin said, “Grab the line. Whatever you have on the other end of your line is definitely going to break your pole.” I grabbed my line; it was cutting my hand and I was bleeding. Finally I get him close to the top of the water. Holy Cow! A three-foot-long catfish! Joanne’s cousin said, “I’ll get my net!” And about that time, Dip dives off the wharf and bites this humongous catfish in the midsection, and the catfish dove and took Dip with him. All you could see was the white tip of Dip’s tail. So now my hands are really bleeding and I’m trying not to lose them. Joanne’s cousin stuck the net deep in the water and caught the catfish and Dip and brought them up. Dip was half way in the net and that big catfish was all the way in the net, and Dip is trying to kill him and will not let go. The fish was splashing violently. Joanne, her cousin and I were totally wet.

Finally we got Dip loose and I picked up the mighty catfish and got him on the wharf. Dipstick swims over to the rocks, jumps up on the wharf and I’m trying to get the hook out of the Cat’s mouth and Dip dives on him, biting him hard. Joanne said, “Man, I’ve never seen such an aggressive dog; he it totally mad at that catfish.” I could not pick it up he was so heavy. So I dragged him down the wharf to the lawn, then I took the net off. It was like a dog and cat fight. That catfish didn’t like Dipstick either. So I kept throwing buckets of water on the catfish to keep him alive and fresh, and those two fought all afternoon. That catfish did not go down easily. That was the best fight we’ve seen in years. Now Dipstick is known in the neighborhood as the “Fish Fighter”. Isn’t that something?

Today the wind was blowing hard across the water and there were whitecaps, and about three-foot waves pounding the rocks. It looked nice out there so I put my cowboy hat on and walked out on the wharf, and yes Dipstick was right by my side. We stood out there watching the wind turn up the waves for a while, then I turned to go back to the house and the wind blew my cowboy hat off and into the water. I don’t know what made me say it, but I said, “Get that catfish Dipstick!” And he immediately dove off the wharf and grabbed my hat and swam to the rocks and up onto the lawn and gave me my hat! $@#*, what a dog….. My pal.

Another Story as Told by Ed Collins ~ Our Favorite Local Cowboy

Dancing Crow’s Path oApsaroke_mother finalf Life

The young Indian mother stood up and set her foot on the path of life. “Is this the long way?” she asked. And the cloud opened up and the voice came down softly, “Yes, and the way is very hard. And you will be old and very tired before you reach the end of your path of life. But, the end will be better than the beginning.” Dancing Crow was young and very happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years.

In the beginning of her path she played with her children and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams and the sun shone on them, and the young Dancing Crow sat on a rock and cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this feeling I have.” Then the night came and the storm, and the path was dark and the children shook with fear and cold. And the young mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle. And the children said, “Mother we are not afraid for you are near, and no harm can come.”

The morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed the hill, and Dancing Crow climbed the hill, and the children grew weary, and their mother was weary. But at all times she said to her children, “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top they said, “Mother, we would not have done it without you.” And Dancing Crow, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of harshness. Yesterday, I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength.”

The next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth; clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and Dancing Crow said, “Look up, lift your eyes to the light.” Then the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory. And it guided them beyond the darkness. That night Dancing Crow said, “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.”

And the days went on, and the weeks went on, and the months went on, and the years went on. And Dancing Crow grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was light as a feather. And at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And Dancing Crow said, “I have reached the end of my path of life. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone and their children after them, and their children after them.” And the children said, “You will always walk with us Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.” And they stood and watched Dancing Crow, their mother, as she went alone. And the gates closed after her. And the children said, “We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory, she is a living presence.”

Mother is always with you. She is the whisper of the wind in the leaves as you walk down your path. She is the smell of your freshly laundered socks. She is the cool hand on your brow when you are not well. Mother always lives inside you and your laughter, and she is crystallized in your every teardrop. She is the place you come from, your first home, and she is the map you follow with every step you take on your path of life. She is your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space, not even death.


Another Story as Told by Ed Collins ~ Our Favorite Local Cowboy

A Small Rattlesnake Story

Leo Rapp had a prune orchard up on the side of Loma Prieta Mountain. Leo did not like the deer chewing the pitch off of the prune trees. They would chew the sweet bark that the pitch ran down and kill the fruit tree.

In those days, everyone was on a phone party link. So Leo picks up the phone and here’s my mom and Tommy Springgs’ mom talkin and he says, “Excuse me ladies, is Eddie and Tommy around?” “Why, yes.” says Tommy’s mom. “Would you tell them to come up to my place and kill some deer; they’re just really after the pitch this year?” “OK Leo, I’ll tell them.” says Mrs. Spriggs.

Well, that was that. We jumped on our horses and took off up the mountain trails towards Loma Prieta Mountain. We got to Leo’s ranch in the afternoon. It was hot; our horses had white lather all over them and we were wringing wet ourselves. Leo said, “Step over here by the barn and let me hose you off.” “Oh Geez!” That felt so good. He hosed off our horses also and we put them in the corral, and immediately they rolled in the soft dirt. The dirt helps keep the bot flies and deer flies off. Leo said, “There are four doe and one buck. You can have anything you can kill.” So, Leo turns and goes back to his chores.

Tommy said, “How about me getting under that pickup truck and you go down and around the orchard and come up the other side?” “OK.” That was the plan. So I take off running down the side of the mountain, down into the redwoods. I’m huffin’ and puffin’ and sweating big time. I come to a dry creek bed and follow it back up to the Rapp Ranch. I’m in good position, so is Tommy. I start crawling on my stomach with my bow and one arrow in my hand. I can see Tommy under the truck, he is not moving; he’s just laying there watching me maneuver around the deer. “OK, this is it.” I think to myself. I get my bow and arrow ready, sit up on one knee, Blam! Right in the hip. That buck must have jumped ten feet straight up in the air and took off towards Tommy, then past Tommy. “Shoot him! Shoot him!” I’m screaming. Tommy is just laying there watching. Blam! I hit him in the hip again. He’s down. Tommy is still not moving. I run up and let one go right in his heart and look toward the truck and I see Tommy is looking at me.

I took my buck knife, walked over and took that buck’s life. I am so mad at this point. “Why didn’t you drop him when he ran past you?” Tommy just laid there and looked at me. “What are you doing?” I yelled. Tommy just looked at me. OK, so I ran up the hill and as I’m walking to the truck Tommy is still just looking at me. Something is wrong. I said, “Are you OK?” He didn’t move. So I walked around to the back of the truck by Tommy’s feet and looked under the truck. Well, son of a gun, Tommy climbed under that truck with a Timber Rattler getting some shade, and he was not ready to leave yet. So I talked to Tommy. “Are you having a nice rest?” and I had a big laugh. I was laughing so hard I had a side-ache.

Finally, I went down to my buck and cut the back straps off for Leo and his wife, and field-stripped him for the birds and coyotes. But I was still laughing about Tommy mothering up to that rattle bug. So, I ran down the hill and jumped in the back of the pickup and stared jumping and banging and yelling. Leo was laughing so hard. Finally, the young Timber Rattler came out from under the truck and went down a hole by a prune tree. Leo was still laughing and said, “I forgot to tell you there’s lots of rattle bugs up here this year.” Tommy was not amused.


Another Story as Told by Ed Collins ~ Our Favorite Local Cowboy

Me and Robert on the Road Shoeing Horses

In 1999 I broke up with my girlfriend, and Robert (my old friend) came over one day and said, “Well, I guess it is over between Laura and me. What the hell are we doing in life, you and me?” “I don’t know.” I said, “But I do know I have an appointment to shoe a horse in fifteen minutes, want to go?” “Yeah, what else am I going to do?” Robert said. So we loaded up the dogs and some extra horse shoes and headed out. I wish I hadn’t brought Robert, he was so despondent and grouchy and it was a long ride out there in that Madeline Plain – hot dry desert. So lucky for me, when we got to our destination the cowboy had four horses for me to shoe instead of only one. This happens all the time, so Robert (being a good friend) shod two and I shod two, and we were out of there in two hours flat. That’s four horses times $60 each. Hell, that’s two hundred forty dollars. “That’s good money!” Robert says. I said, “Yeah! We ought to hit the road shoeing horses and chasin’ women.” And we both laughed and headed on back down that lonesome desert road.

It was hot and we were drinking a Corona and just enjoying the desert scenery; just the noise from the truck and the dogs barking at some antelope. Border Collies (we call em’ Cow Dogs) are gamier than hell, and they will chase anything that moves if you don’t keep them chained up. So about that time they all bail out of the truck after an antelope. I stopped the truck, Robert gets out and takes a pee and calls the dogs back. When they finally get back Roberts yells out, “Get your ass back in that truck!” And they all knew to load up fast. I get out and take a pee. “We got anymore Corona?” I said. “Hell yeah, and its ice cold!” Robert said. So we popped a top and started down that dusty ol’ road. And we were laughing and talking about some ladies we knew upland in Caldwell, Idaho. For Robert and I to get a good idea was far and few between, but we were full of crazy ideas. I looked at Robert and said, “I know a lady down in Likely that has ten horses for me to shoe tomorrow. If we did them we would have runnin’ money.” Robert looked at me with that dumb-shit look and said, “I know this outfit up in Winnemucca that has lots of horses to be shod.” and he grinned. “Oh?” I said, and we looked at each other at the same time and we said, “Hell, Yeah!” And we were laughing about what a good idea we had.

My neighbor lived about three miles on down the road past my place, so we went there and talked him into feeding all our horses while we were gone. I was running 15 horses and Robert had 10. He was a good friend and said yes he would feed for us. Then he added, “You-all owe me!” “OK!” And off we went to our ranches to get clean clothes (in case we run up on some ladies), and lots of horseshoes and nails. We loaded up our duffel bags in the back of the truck and stacked our cowboy sleeping bags on top of them, and pushed our tools and anvils up against all that so the dogs could have about half of the back of the truck. We did chain them in. We headed for Likely California, about 50 miles upland on Hwy 395.

Well, that lady was so happy to see us she said, “Oh boy, two cowboys! I will give you 10 horses each.” (Wow, we didn’t expect that, but we were lovin’ it!) “My cowboys couldn’t shoe a duck, so you guys can shoe em’ all. And we are gathering and branding tomorrow, so all you can stay over and help. Maybe two days?” Robert said under his breath, “We’ll be leaving this outfit rich!”

We got done shoeing about 9:00 that night. We were so tired, and here come that lady with a bottle of whisky and a six pack of Corona. OMG! So after we crawled off the porch and slid into our cowboy sleeping bags it was 1:00 in the morning. This is one tough lady I’m talking about. Robert’s last words before he went to sleep were, “Let’s make sure we don’t come back this way.” I grinned. 4:30 came real fast by the clang, clang, clang of the triangle bell on the porch. “Come and get it before I feed it to the dogs!” So for two days we gathered and branded cattle and the lady paid us well. Then we were off down this ol’ dusty road and Robert said, “Pull around the corner, let’s take a nap.” He didn’t have to say it twice; we died for four hours. When we woke up we felt good so we loaded up the dogs, grabbed a Corona and hit the pavement heading for Denio.

Above Alturas we jumped off 395 and headed for Cedarville then cut across the dessert for Denio Nevada. So we stopped and ate and talked to the girls there and they sent us out to the Jackson Mountains to this large horse ranch. By the time we got there it was dark and we were tired. The ranch owner was very nice and put us up for the night. Next morning bright and early the call for breakfast was loud and clear. This country was sandy loam so we didn’t have to shoe any horses. That was the good part, but we did have to trim 40 colts and mares. That cow-boss would just rope em’ and bring em’ in. We also had to cut a few stud colts. Did I mention how hot it was? I told Robert, “We gotta’ find a better way to make a living.” The cow-boss laughed and said, “Yeah, we should all be bartenders over in Denio serving cold drinks to all the ladies.” We got paid and loaded up and headed for Winnemucca Nevada. Robert knew some ladies over there that would put us up for a couple of days and nights.

Well, we pulled in there with plenty of money and two fresh cowboys. Those ladies grabbed on to us pronto. Man, we had fun dancing and drinking and gambling. I won $5,000 at a dollar machine, so we quite gambling and just partied for another week. What fun! While we were partying and having fun, I met an Indian from Tuscarora and he said they have lots of horses needing shoes up there. So we said goodbye to our lovely ladies and headed up Hwy 789 to Tuscarora, Nevada. That Indian drove 100 miles an hour all the way up there and we had to follow him. We pulled into the Nice Valley Ranch up by Jack Creek. The folks up there were very nice to us.

It was gathering and branding time so we shod horses in between time. That’s mighty fine country up there. We both kinda wanted to stay on, but after two weeks of hard cowboying we were also ready for Winnemucca and those pretty ladies. “This time we aint gambling and drinkin’ every night.” So we all went out and had nice dinners. Robert and me found a horseshoe store and loaded up with more horseshoes, nails and rasps. I knew this ranch in Paradise Valley that had lots of horses, so I called the cow-boss and he said, “Hell yeah boys, get your butts up here!” When ranchers are excited to see you, that means they have lots of work to be done. Lucky for us the gathering and branding was done, but we had to drive them all the way to the Owyhee Desert up by Idaho and shoe their horses on the way – then ride all the way back. That was a 5-day trip we didn’t need. Did I mention how hot it was? But the owner of the ranch was a fine man and he paid us well and invited us back next year – “I think not!”

Next morning we left at 4:30 and headed for McDermott. We pulled in to have some breakfast and while I was ordering Robert goes over to the blackjack table and wins $3,000 and was back in no time. I couldn’t believe it. So we left McDermott fat and headed upland on Hwy 95. When we got to the split where Hwy 78 comes into Hwy 95 we stopped and let the dogs have a run, and we had a cold Corona and a sandwich. Then my mouth started; “If we go left down here a few miles and turn right on this dirt road, we can go all the way up to Harper Oregon on good dirt road.” Robert said, “I like dirt roads.” So off we went; nothing but big cattle ranches all the way up to Harper. Some of the finest country we’ve ever seen. We hit Harper and hooked a right on pavement on Hwy 20 and headed for Vale.

Rodeo was on! We rented a couple of rope horses and entered the ranch roping. It was a two-day jackpot, so to make any money we had to stay two days. So we drove out into the desert BLM land and set up camp, took our tools out, staked the dogs and fed and watered them. On the way back to town we stopped at this creek and washed our nasty dirty truck – and took a bath too. It cost us $400 each to enter Friday night. I was headin’ and Robert was healin’. When it came our turn, I stuck it on em’ right out of the box. Robert came around and healed that steer so purdy, and that put us in the #1 slot all night. While Robert was taking the horses back and paying the man, I met a couple ladies from Caldwell Idaho and we all went to the Cowboy dance and had a few Corona’s. Then they wanted to see our camp; I love Idaho ladies. Next day we were 5th up. I was nervous as a cat. Robert said, “Cool down Ed!” Our time came up, I stuck it on em’ right outside the shoot again and Robert came around and nailed the heals in 5 seconds flat! We won $2,000 each and a nice silver buckle. Well, our ladies were so happy for us. The man that owned the horses asked us if we were pro’s. We laughed and Robert said, “If we aint chasin’ ladies, or shoein’ horses, we are ropin’ calves.” That was the most money we ever won roping.

Team penning was Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Our ladies asked us if we would team-pen with them. They had their own horses there so Robert went and rented those same two horses we roped off of. First it was me and the two ladies. We won it! Sunday morning Robert and our ladies won it again! By this time these girls were sold on Robert and I, so we took our buckles and our money and we all headed back to our desert camp with our food and Corona we bought. We stopped off at the creek and all went skinny dipping and went on back to camp. What a fun weekend; we all had a blast! Robert shot a jackrabbit and while we cooked our dinner, we cooked that rabbit for the dogs. They enjoyed the fresh meat. We all laid back and watched a full moon come up and Robert said, “This is our life Eddie boy!”

I used to live in Caldwell so I knew lots of ranchers and cowboys. So Monday morning we all headed for Caldwell Idaho. The dogs were glad to be on the road again. We branded cattle in Emmett and shod horses in Caldwell, Marsing, Nampa and Kuna. All week we rode colts and shod horses and mended fence – really good folks. Friday night came, we all got dressed up and went honky-tonkin’ down at Shorty’s in Boise – we did some serious dancing.

Saturday morning our fire was still smoking so I got up and made some cowboy coffee. Me and Robert were sitting by the fire drinking our coffee and we looked at each other and I said, “Have we had enough fun yet?” And Robert said, “Yeah, I expect we ought to be headin’ home.” Our ladies did not want us to leave. They said that, “This was the best time they ever had.” And Robert and I agreed. One of the girls said, “Yeah, we got our own ranches to take care of.” And she said, “I have a three-horse gooseneck with a dressing room, kitchen and bath that belongs to my ex-husband, would you like to take it to Middletown?” We looked at each other and laughed, “We used to live there; sure we’ll take it back.” So we bought two horses to sell in Middletown, loaded it and hit the road again.

We said our goodbyes and left Caldwell. We went down through Homedale, through Owyhee and Jordan Valley on down Hwy 95 through Oregon and stopped at McDermott, Nevada. Gassed up and ate, then headed on down to the Denio turnoff. I was sleeping and it was hot. Did I mention how hot it was? I opened one eye and looked through the steering wheel and Robert was going 100 mph straight up! We hit Denio and Robert drove right through and headed for Cedarville, California. I took over driving and went on down to the Hwy 395 and headed for Alturas, then on down to Susanville. Then took Hwy 36 to Red Bluff. Man we were so tired, so we went to the Red Bluff Fair Grounds and let the horses out to exercise, drink and eat. And we fed and watered the dogs and slept in the trailer.

The next morning we ate, loaded up and hit I-5 South to Williams, cut up Hwy 20 to Clearlake and on down to Middletown. We dropped the horses off at a friend’s ranch and cleaned up the trailer and delivered it. Man was he surprised and happy. His wife made us a big dinner and we talked as we shod his horse. Unbeknownst to us, Middletown Days was going on and my Son’s country band was playing that night. So we all went dancing and had a great time and we surprised the heck out of my son, Rick. I don’t think I danced with one girl twice that night. So that’s about it, we spent the night down in Calistoga at Rick’s Rancho and headed home Sunday morning. We haven’t had any good ideas since.

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