Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

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See Page 1 for an index to the questions, answers, and poems.

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new 5/2/03

Spittin' on the Bar                                                                               Answered!

Ron asks:

I have been trying to find the poem about the cowboy who won a bet by spitting on a bar and the bartender smiling as he wiped the spit up.

It didn't take long for Carl Condray to say that this poem is Waddie Mitchell's "Bet at the BAR."  The poem is in Waddie's book, "Waddie's Whole Load" and on his "Buckaroo Poet" recording.

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new 5/2/03

The Perfect Gift                                                                              Answered!

Jones wrote:

I believe the poem was called "Thunderwear." It was read on the Carson show; I thought it was Baxter Black, but I'm not sure. It was a story about protecting yourself the morning after eating too many jalapeno peppers.

We knew this one, and we told Jones that the poem was called "The Perfect Gift" and it's in Baxter's "Croutons on a Cow Pie Vol 2" and on his "The Big One That Got Away Blues" recording, and possibly included in later books and CDs.

We told him he could find all of Baxter's work at Baxter's site.

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new 5/2/03

Charley Lee                                                                                      Answered!


Paul wrote:

About 1944 my older sisters read a poem from a book which may or not have been a schoolbook. I was quite small then, and found it fascinating.  The protagonist was one Charlie Lee, and fragments
remaining in my memory are:

Dawn broke gray over desert land
and sage shone silver white
as Charlie Lee, thong hand in hand,
stood straight in the lantern light.

"Ye've strung up Red and Burke, says he,
and ye say the next'll be Charlie Lee.
But 'twas never a rope was made for me!"
and he laughed in the quiet light.

And the indictment was that he'd been caught

... with fire and iron at the hidden sink
where only the stolen horses drink...

He offered the following defense

...so strip the mare and turn her loose
and I'll prove that she's my own cayuse!

So they stripped the mare and set her free
not saddle nor bridle nor rope had she.
"Bonnie, come here," said Charlie Lee,
and soft was the word he spake.

And of course the upshot was that Bonnie came to Charlie Lee, he sprang upon her back and escaped. As I remember, no judgment was made as to his actual guilt. I was, however, left with an impression of great love between man and animal. Can you help?

We asked Paul a few more questions and he told us such an interesting story that we asked him if we could include it:

In 1944 I was five, one of four children of a storekeeper in a place called Hamilton, Colorado, perhaps 80 miles from Utah and 60 miles from Wyoming. Of my mother's seven brothers and one sister all but two were cattle ranchers and that livelihood is endemic among my cousins, nieces and nephews today. 

We were fairly isolated at that time, with my father's store (post office, gas, oil, hardware, grocery, staple foods, patent medicine, clothes, fishing tackle, pop, and the all-important tobacco) serving ranches up to 35 miles away. We attended a two-room school about a mile from the store with perhaps 40 children including several from the oil camps.  And ours was one of the larger schools in the county.

Communication was almost non-existent. There were no powerlines, so radios were battery-operated and their performance was directly related to the age of the battery. We could listen to KOA Denver and KSL Salt Lake at night and during storms; otherwise we were limited to XERF Del Rio, Texas.  The store phone number was Hamilton 1 - there was no Hamilton 2 or higher - and Dad served as communications for the region.

Evenings were, therefore, limited to our imagination. Every house had a piano and someone who could play, a few string instruments, harmonicas. We created simple but satisfying music, singing and playing.  Reading was (and of course is) a passion, with books handed from family to family until they literally disintegrated.  Poetry especially was read aloud; we had learned that the sound of the words was sometimes more important than the meaning. And this was the source of my fragments of Charley Lee.

We found the poem about the same time Paul did, "Charley Lee" by Henry Herbert Knibbs.  It is in the Cowboy Miner Productions' volume of his poetry, Classic Rhymes by Henry Herbert Knibbs:


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updated 12/15/03
new 5/2/03

My Little Buckaroo                                                                        Answered!

Jan wrote:

A dear 78 year old man in my church choir (great singer!) would love to record the old cowboy lullabies he sang to his children and grandchildren for his greats....We need the sheet music...chords....just something to help me accompany him on the song:  "Close your eyes, my little buckaroo....." Can you help me?  He recently sang for his granddaughter's wedding and it was wonderful.  I'd love to surprise him with a way to play this song...Wish I could play by ear.

We told Jan:

We learned who wrote the song and there's a picture of the old sheet music here with this info:

Jerome, M.K. My little buckaroo New York: M. Witmark and Sons, 1937. 7pp.
Music by M.K. Jerome; lyric by Jack Scholl.
"From the Warner Bros. Picture
'Cherokee Strip.'
With Dick Foran, the Singing Cowboy, and
Jane Bryan."

We find it is in a book of kids' songs, mentioned in many places on the web, including here, saying the chords and music are included.

And then:

David Pushic wrote to tell us that one of our links to an audio "My Little Buckaroo" link was not the correct tune.  Seeing as this tune is close to his heart (he told us "I'm glad to help set the record straight, for the sake of the memory of my childhood and my Daddy's singin' it to me"); and he said he is "older than dirt"; and he has kindly put links on his own site...well, that meets our burden of proof and we gratefully accept his input. 

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answered 4/20/03
new 12/18/02  

The Longhorn (or "old Longhorn") Speaks                                           Answered!

Misti asks:

My mother once had a poem entitled "The Longhorn Speaks" (or she says it might have been "The Old Longhorn Speaks").  She says it starts:

The old longhorn looked at the prize-winning steer, and said, 
'what sort of thing have we here?' 
"he aint got no laigs and his body is ..." 
"sorta suspicion he's crossed w/ a pig..."

Tim Jobe set us straight on this one. It's "The Long Horn Speaks" and it's by Bruce Kiskaddon. Misti was close.  It starts:

The old long horn looked at the prize winning steer,
And he grumbled, "What sort of thing is this here?
He ain't got no laigs and his body is big,
I sort of suspicion he's crossed with a pig.
Now me, I can run, I can gore, I can kick,
But that feller's too clumsy fer all of them tricks.

  You can read the whole poem right here.

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updated 2/23/04
updated 5/01/03
updated 2/06/03    

The Bra  

We get many questions about this often-recited poem by Bill Hirschi.  For example: 

"I was wondering if you would happen to know where I could get a copy of the poem "Shopping Spree" by Bill Hershey"

"I'm looking for a particular poem, although I don't know the title exactly. I believe it is a rather popular poem, as I have seen it on television twice now.  It is about a cowboy trying to size his wife's breasts to a shopkeeper by using his cowboy hat size, or something along those lines..."

"I read the poem "The Bra" about 30 years ago, but I have not been able to find it since.  Could you tell me where I could find it in print?"

Here's our answer.  If you can improve on it, give us a holler.

We haven't found this poem, by Bill Hirschi, printed anywhere (it does circulate on the internet, but those copies are not printed with permission or in respect of Bill Hirschi's copyright).  

It's on Waddie Mitchell's "Buckaroo Poet" and in the liner notes he says: "Bill is a rancher near Rexburg, Idaho, whose poetry reflects his life and his lifestyle....Like most ranchers, though, he is too busy to get out and really do poetry. I wish he would."

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You can see Waddie perform the poem on the Poets and Pards video made by the Veluzat family in Santa Clarita. The video, made in 1996, features Buck Ramsey, Glen Orhlin, Virginia Bennett, Peggy Godfrey, Les Buffham, Ian Tyson, Riders in the Sky, Waddie Mitchell, Don Edwards, and Sons of the San Joaquin (along with special guest actors Robert Fuller, Peter Brown, Johnny Crawford, and James Drury and the paintings of William Mathews).  It's available for $19.95 plus $3.95 postage and handling from: Rave Entertainment, PO Box 220587, Newhall, CA 91322.

Poet Gene O'Quinn, who has indexed many books for our Cowboy Poetry Anthologies Index.  points out that the poem "Tall Timid Cowboy" by Wayne Cornett that appears in book Humorous Cowboy Poetry (Gibbs Smith, 1995), is also about a cowboy who goes to buy a bra for his wife.  This book is included in our Cowboy Poetry Anthologies Index.

Two Cowgirl Poets have responses to Bill Hirschi's poem: Yvonne Hollenbeck wrote The Truth About the Bra and Sam DeLeeuw wrote Boolie Shoppin'.

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updated 12/11/03
new 5/2/03

Cowboy Song                                                                             (Answered)

Erin wrote looking for a poem or ballad:

I think it is called "The Cowboy Song."  I had to recite it in high school. but I first read it in a high school English text in Honolulu, Hawaii.  It goes something like this...

"I come from Salem County,
In a boulder eider down,
Where the wheat is sweet
As an angel's feet...

...I haven't seen paw since a Sunday
In eighteen seventy three,
When he packed his sack
In a bitty mess trap
And said he'd be home by tea."

Gene O'Quinn, who answers so many of our Who Knows? questions, found the text of this poem, written by Charles Causley, who died in November, 2003.  Alan Francis put it to music, and has the lyrics posted here in a PDF file. There is an article about Charles Causley here on new NEA President Dana Gioia's site.  

The poem actually starts:

I come from Salem County
Where the silver melons grow
Where wheat is sweet as an angel's feet
And the zithering zephyrs blow

Erin wrote and told us: "Since I requested your help over a year ago, I was very surprised, yet grateful that you were to find the poem after all!  It is the exact the poem I recall.  Thank you so much!!"  That thanks goes to Gene O'Quinn.  We do try to always get our poem.

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new 9/16/03

The Apricot Poodle Bold                                                                  (Answered)

"Bearcat" wrote: hi.....heard a song/poem recited on local radio about 5yrs ago  (!!).......cowboy poetry type thing....was wonderfully amusing...both my son and i were smiling out loud :))

you wouldn't happen to know anything about it would you ?

shot in the dark - would love to get a copy of it somehow

We answered:

Now when we first read the question, we were dubious...but we remembered something about an apricot poodle...and sure enough, there is poem called "The Apricot Poodle Bold" by Corky Williams, that starts out:

I had bought a ranch in the Canadian West
Up in the B. C. wilds.
I was drawn by the cowboy way of life,
I had loved it since a child...

and goes on for a number of pages.  Wild-Man Bob orders a dog from a catalog, the dog takes to ridin' and drinkin'....you can find the poem in Riding the Northern Range, which is indexed in our Cowboy Poetry Anthologies index.

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new 5/15/03

Cowboy at College                                                                           (Answered)

D. wrote:

Could you tell me who the author is of "A Cowboy at College?"  It's a humorous tale about a young man who eventually says of his professor, "At least I know which end to put the bridle on."

We told D.:

The poem is by S. Omar Barker.  It is in the anthology Humorous Cowboy Poetry (we have it indexed in our Cowboy Poetry Anthologies Index) and also in S. Omar Barker's Rawhide Rhymes (1968), which is out of print.

The poem starts out:

I went up to a college, and they asked me what I knowed
To justify embarkin' on the education road

The cowboy brings the professor home to spend some time with him..

A-ridin' on the rancho with a hoss between his knees
Where the wolves are wild and curly, the coyotes all got fleas

And ends:

About this here professor I won't say no word unkind,
For he packs a heap of knowledge in that thing he calls his mind;
But now my lack of learnin' don't seem near so woebegone--
At least I know which end to put the horse's bridle on!

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updated 5/7/03
new 5/2/03

One White Foot....                                                                      (Answered)

Susan wrote:

My grandfather used to recite a short poem related to buying a horse according to how many white feet he had.

The idea (but not the words) were something like:  White on all four, show him the door /  one white foot, take a look / no white feet, can't be beat.  Anyone out there know it?  

We sent this to Susan:

One white foot, try him;
Two white feet, buy him;
Three white feet, put him in the dray;
Four white feet, give him away;
Four white feet and a White nose,
Take off hide and feed him to the crows

which is attributed to that old prolific bard, "anonymous."  We got some responses saying it was an old English or Irish saying.  

Poet Paul Bliss adds: 

The poem ONE WHITE FOOT was' told to me by my Granddad. Back in his time they never shoed their horses much. And when they did it was generally only the front feet. Our horses had to have good hard feet and the ones with solid black feet were the hardest and would hold a nail better and' longer. Horses with white feet were softer and would break up and stone bruise way easy. Ya sure didn't want to have a horse come up lame on the desert. It was long damn walk in when it was good weather. Ya most likely wouldn't make it in bad.

This is how I heard it:

No white feet buy it
One white try it
Two white feet pass it by
Three white feet let it die
Four white feet, with a strip on its nose
Cut off its head and feed it to the crows

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Always more to come....

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