Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Nebraska”

Buffalo Bob

Not counting on television or maybe at a zoo, I saw my first buffalo on Uncle Bob’s ranch in western Nebraska.  I loved going to Bull Canyon Ranch because it was so dang big.  It was traditionally a cattle ranch, but Uncle Bob was a free thinker and he figgered he would branch out.  What he done, you probably guessed from the first sentence, was to add buffaloes to the ranch population.

At this point I better educate the more ignorant amongst us.  The critters are properly called American Bison by scientists and such.  I am not a scientist, so I call them buffalo like Buffalo Bill Cody and Buffalo Bob on Howdy Doody done.  Now this educating can only go so far.  If you don’t know who those fellas are, just quit reading now cuz you are in over your head.

The mascot for the University of Colorado is Ralphie the Buffalo and the athletic teams are the Colorado Golden Buffaloes or Buffs.  I know there are scientists at that school but, apparently, they looked the other way and did not insist on using the word bison.

Bison, aka buffaloes, are more independent creatures than are cows, bigger too.  I have rounded up and herded cows on occasion, many times on twenty mile cattle drives.  It is pretty fun.  I have worked at brandings and the unmentionable collateral process of turning baby bulls into baby steers.  (Are you keepin up or must I explain how bulls become steers?)   I consider myself a cowboy.  But that’s where I draw the line.  I ain’t a buffaloboy or bisonboy.  I don’t herd buffaloes.  I don’t rope buffaloes.  I don’t brand buffaloes.  And I don’t castrate buffaloes.

I’ll tell you why.   Buffaloes are bigger, tougher and meaner than cows.  They require stronger fencing.  They can do what one tried to do to Uncle Bob.

Bull Canyon Ranch has (guess what?) a canyon.  It is what is known as a box canyon, which means there is only one way in and out.  So Uncle Bob fenced across that one opening.  He used tall sturdy fence, which turned out to be a pretty good idea.

I wasn’t there at the time, but Cousin Tom reported to me what happened, which was that after Uncle Bob (well, Tom didn’t call his father Uncle Bob) and his help got that first group of buffaloes into their new home in the box canyon, one of the critters was ungrateful about the free rent arrangement and decided to leave.  The way he went about it was to rush the fence and crash into it while Uncle Bob was looking the other way.  Tom said the buffalo was going after his dad and the fence just happened to be in the way.  As a country lawyer, I sometimes have to deal with legal issues that involve motive.  In this case, I’m not too sure about the charging buffalo’s motive.  I’m just glad Uncle Bob could build a good fence.

These photos were taken by Miss Sugar last summer when our neighbors got a dozen two-year-old buffalo heifers.   Their fences are not as sturdy as Uncle Bob’s.  They could use a nice box canyon.

Note:  This was published previously, but new readers might enjoy it.  I don’t expect folks to look up old posts from the archives, so sometimes I re-publish ones on certain popular themes.

Decades after the Pow Wow

If you look in the archives of this site for my post on August 19th, you will see a blog called Pow Wow.  In it I describe fond memories of playing under the bleachers at the Macy Pow Wow in Nebraska when I was a little boy.

Now I want to tell you the rest of the story.  It is a statistical improbability that of the few people who find my Shootin’ the Breeze blog on the internet, someone who read it was present at the event about which I wrote.  It is not amazing that many people have heard of the Macy Pow Wow and that many have attended.  What is amazing is that of the very few little boys with whom I played there, one would read it and contact me.

Orville posted a comment that he might be one of the kids whom I described as having made friends with me under the bleachers.  He wrote:

“Hi….maybe I was one of your Indian playmates. I am from Macy and spent a lot of time under the bleachers and throwing knives.  It was good to grow up on the Omaha Reservation.  Good post of your memories.”

I think he was one of the boys I met because we followed up by email and are the same age, so we would have been playing there during the same time period.  It would not be surprising if someone wrote that they went to my high school.  But playing under the bleachers and throwing knives in the woods is pretty specific and only involved a small group of little boys.
I am very pleased that Orville wrote.  What are the odds?  Go figure!

Multilingual, Multicultural, and Cool

Air travel and television and the internet and other technological advances have made many more opportunites to communicate with people who do not live in your own area, thus exposing one another to different cultures and languages.

Now let’s talk about me and why I am multilingual and multicultural and, consequently, very cool.

One of my grandmothers could only speak Swedish until she started school because her parents were immigrants and she was the oldest of six children.  She learned English because she had to do so, living in Nebraska, U.S.A.  So I took Swedish as my foreign language in college in order to please Gramma.  Unfortunately, there is not much call for me to speak Swedish in Colorado, nor am I fluent, but, it might make me a little cooler.  For where I live, Spanish would have been a better choice.

My father learned French when he was a young man serving in WWII because he was in France and Belgium from D-Day until the end of the war.  So I took French in junior high in order to please Dad.  Unfortunately, one half hour of class time twice a week in 7th and 8th grade did not make me fluent in French either.   However, I am a better person for having met Mademoiselle Conn, my teacher.

Mademoiselle Conn was young, with wild red hair.  Miss Peterson was old, with well-controlled white hair.  She was my Latin teacher in high school.  I took Latin because I had a premonition that I might go to law school, I suppose, or seminary.  I’m not sorry I had two years of Latin, but I wish Mademoiselle Conn had taught it rather than Miss Peterson.  Again, Spanish would have been more useful as I have had few opportunities to converse with Roman emperors.  But you never know………..  I might get a ticket on a time machine.

You can’t tell by looking at me, but prior to starting law school, I had a “trial year in seminary.”  There I learned a little Hebrew (very little) as part of an Old Testament course, and a little Greek (very little) in a course of a few weeks that was remedial in nature for those who had not taken Greek in college.  Oh, and I took a wonderful course called “Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication” which was mostly for seminarians preparing to be missionaries.

The courses I mentioned above did little to prepare me for my greatest cross-cultural experience:  being married to Miss Sugar.

My wife was raised in Texas, which is, as its tourism ads used to admit, “a whole other country.”  Despite having lived in Colorado for nearly three decades, Sugar still spices up her speech with phrases such as “y’all,” and “fixin’ to,” which I kinda like.

Our marriage has also brought me into another cross-cultural experience, which is joining into an Italian family without being Italian.  It kinda makes me wish I was.

That, y’all readers, is how I became multilingual, multicultural, and, well, just plain cool.  Having a cool pickup and hot trophy wife don’t hurt none neither.

After the PowWow

Previously, I wrote about my introduction to Native American people, aka Indians.  Now I will tell you the rest of the story. 

As a dedicated young cowboy, interested in the American West, I enjoyed family trips  to places like Fort Robinson, where Crazy Horse was assassinated, and the Black Hills, sacred to the Sioux.  The Pine Ridge Reservation is in South Dakota on the border of Nebraska.  We visited Wounded Knee in the Pine Ridge. 

So, when I had to pick an 8th grade history project, I wrote about American Indians and learned a lot in the process.

Later, during my higher education, I signed up for a class called “Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication”  because it included a three week field trip as part of the requirement.  Some of my classmates went to Africa.  I arranged to go to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  In preparation, I read Dee Brown’s book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.  Unfortunately, at the time I was to go there in the spring of 1975, the American Indian Movement folks like Russell Means had a standoff with FBI agents and took some hostages.  So, I was told that it was not a good time to visit.

Instead, I redirected my field trip to New Mexico, where I stayed at Ghost Ranch near Abiqui.  I was there three weeks.  I visited the seven northern Pueblos, including the Taos Pueblo.  I enjoyed the experience, meeting some nice folks and learning a lot.  As it turns out, many years later, I still enjoy northern New Mexico.  My trophy wife, Miss Sugar, and I frequently make trips to Santa Fe, Taos, Abiqui and Ojo Caliente. 

Miss Sugar has made friends with some artisans in that area and gets materials such as turquoise and silver to use in her own jewelry making business.  She likes the SouthWest stuff.  So do I.  Actually, our log house on the ranch is decorated with cowboy decor, including SouthWest items.  Plus, I use guns and antlers in much of my decorating.

Fortunately, Miss Sugar shares, no, improves upon my taste in decor.  Of course, there is a good reason why.  Not only did she grow up in Texas, but she is an Indian princess, no less than 1/16th Shoshone.  Get a load of that.  That first powwow became my destiny.

Pow Wow

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXPqmxVonjs

My Grampa Carlson was a rural mailcarrier in Burt County, Nebraska.  His route included part of a reservation shared by the Omaha and Winnebago tribes.  Macy, Nebraska is a town on the reservation.  I had fun when Grampa took me to the Macy PowWow. 

The dancing and music was supposed to be the draw.  For me, however, I played with other little boys I met under the bleachers.  They were not old enough to be part of the show, I guess, but they were friendly Indians and invited me to play in the woods, away from the event.  There we had our own powwow, called making friends. 

I was envious of their situation because I came from a much more under-privileged background.  The particular privilege of which I was deprived was that my mother did not allow me to throw knives.  Can you believe that?  As a cowboy nearing kindergarten age, I deeply resented my mother’s unreasonable interference with my chosen lifestyle, which obviously required practicing skills with weapons.  So, in the woods, I was delighted that my new friends shared their knives with me and we took turns throwing them into trees. 

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods.   What Mom did not know did not hurt her.

Legend of Rawhide

Me and Miss Sugar made a quick trip to Nebraska and Wyoming this weekend.  It was fun.

On Friday, after work, we drove to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where I lived before coming to Colorado thirty years ago.  We ate at Applebee’s and stayed at the Hampton Inn.  Everything was fine.  I like western Nebraska.  Scottsbluff is so far west that it is only about twenty-five miles to the Wyoming border.

Saturday morning, we headed to Lusk, Wyoming for the performance of The Legend of Rawhide, which we had never seen but heard about from a gal who used to live there before coming to Fort Collins.  She told us to stay with her Aunt Dottie at her bed and breakfast, which we did.

While waiting for the evening performance, we poked around town.  We visited the local museum and the local pub.  At the pub, a bunch of young men in cowboy hats was drinking and playing pool.  They had an odd custom of sharing a jar of pickle juice.  When offered to Miss Sugar and myself, after we remarked about it, we declined.  No regrets about that decision.  The cheeseburger I got with tater tots was pretty good, but I doubt we will be back.  The patrons were too loud for my taste.

Aunt Dottie’s bed and breakfast was lovely.  She has a mansion-like house with a balcony off the second floor rooms.  In the stairway is a stained glass window imported from Italy.  It looks like it belongs in a cathedral. 

The performance was very well done, all by local folks.  Some played mountain men, some Sioux Indians, and some were folks on a wagon train passing through Wyoming on the way to Oregon.  They had fast galloping horses when the Indian warriors circled the wagon train for a battle after one of the pilgrims shot the chief’s daughter, which is a sure way to incur the wrath of them Sioux.  I was impressed by how the Lusk community comes together to put this on.  Well done.  If you visit Lusk next year, you will probably like it too. 

This morning, Aunt Dottie put out a good breakfast, which we shared with a family from California.  Mr. and Mrs. California knew about this weekend because they grew up in the area before migrating on to California.

After breakfast, Miss Sugar and I traveled about eighty miles east again to Fort Robinson, a former cavalry outpost in the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska.  It has a rich history, including the infamous distinction of being where Crazy Horse surrendered.  Sad for him, after surrendering, he was assasinated by a half-breed.  It was not a fair fight.  Now the fort is a state park.  This is another place I recommend that people interested in the West visit.  Not far away is the Pine Ridge Reservation, which has a history of its own, including the site of the Wounded Knee incident that Dee Brown wrote about years ago in his book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

We just got home and were glad that it rained a lot while we were gone.  That surely helped put out the fires.  Thank you, Lord!

Bison Bob

Not counting on television or maybe at a zoo, I saw my first buffalo on Uncle Bob’s ranch in western Nebraska.  I loved going to Bull Canyon Ranch because it was so dang big.  It was traditionally a cattle ranch, but Uncle Bob was a free thinker and he figgered he would branch out.  What he done, you probably guessed from the first sentence, was to add buffaloes to the ranch population.

At this point I better educate the more ignorant amongst us.  The critters are properly called American Bison by scientists and such.  I am not a scientist, so I call them buffalo like Buffalo Bill Cody and Buffalo Bob on Howdy Doody done.  Now this educating can only go so far.  If you don’t know who they are, just quit reading now cuz you are in over your head.

The mascot for the University of Colorado is Ralphie the buffalo and the athletic teams are the Colorado Buffaloes or Buffs.  I know there are scientists at that school but, apparently, they looked the other way and did not call themselves bison.

Bison, aka buffaloes, are more independent creatures than are cows, bigger too.  I have rounded up and herded cows on occasion, many times on twenty mile cattle drives.  It is pretty fun.  I have worked at brandings and the unmentionable collateral process of turning baby bulls into baby steers.  (Are you keepin up or must I explain how bulls become steers?)   I consider myself a cowboy.  But that’s where I draw the line.  I ain’t a buffaloboy or bisonboy.  I don’t herd buffaloes.  I don’t rope buffaloes.  I don’t brand buffaloes.  And I don’t castrate buffaloes.

I’ll tell you why.   Buffaloes are bigger, tougher and meaner than cows.  They require stronger fencing.  They can do what one tried to do to Uncle Bob.

Bull Canyon Ranch has (guess what?) a canyon.  It is what is known as a box canyon, which means there is only one way in and out.  So Uncle Bob fenced across that one opening.  He used tall sturdy fence, which turned out to be a pretty good idea.

I wasn’t there at the time, but Cousin Tom reported to me what happened, which was that after Uncle Bob (well, Tom didn’t call his father Uncle Bob) and his help got that first group of buffaloes into their new home in the box canyon, one of the critters was ungrateful about the free rent arrangement and decided to leave.  The way he went about it was to rush the fence and crash into it while Uncle Bob was looking the other way.  Tom said the buffalo was going after his dad and the fence just happened to be in the way.  As a country lawyer, I sometimes have to deal with legal issues that involve motive.  In this case, I’m not too sure about the charging buffalo’s motive.  I’m just glad Uncle Bob could build a good fence.

These photos were taken by Miss Sugar last summer when our neighbors got a dozen two-year-old buffalo heifers.   Their fences are not as sturdy as Uncle Bob’s.  They could use a nice box canyon.

In Remembrance

Today is my father’s birthday.  He was born in 1924.  In a previous post, Something for Dad, I mentioned that he epitomized The Greatest Generation that Tom Brokaw wrote about.  I also proudly quoted the therapist who told me, “They don’t make guys like that anymore.”  They don’t.

Dad was born at home, in a house by the park in Craig, Nebraska, the youngest of four.  He had one brother and two sisters.  In his family, he was called Johnny.  Craig was a very small town, maybe 300 people.  Johnny’s graduating class was very small, less than 20 as I recall.  He graduated at age 16 because they did not have kindergarten.

He went to college for one year, then worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for a few months until he was old enough to join the Army in WWII.  In 1945, at age 21, he had served in England when it was being bombed, then France after D Day, and Belgium for Battle of the Bulge.  After Germany surrendered that year, he was in California on his way to the Pacific theatre when Japan surrendered, so he got to go home instead.

He went to college at Omaha University on the G.I. Bill.  He graduated in 2  years.  He went to school more than full-time, worked part-time, and even fit in varsity tennis and lettered.  He met my mother at O.U. and they married in March 1948, before he turned 24. 

The yearbook in 1948 included the goals of each senior.  Most wrote about career plans.  Johnny wrote something about being a good husband and father.  He fulfilled both.  Actually, he exceeded his goals.  He was great, not just good.  He was the best.

His first job out of college he stuck with for 35 years.  He worked at a bank, starting as a teller and rising to V.P. and Trust Officer.

He was married to my mother for the rest of his life, from 1948 until 2003.  They got to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Without describing the many events during those many years, I ask you to use your imagination.  What you imagine about a devoted family man is likely true of my Dad.

It was a privilege to be his son.  

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you — always!

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