Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Friday, April 12, 2013

J is for Jackeroo . . .

A cowboy wanna-be 
slouched into work that first morning 
wearing chaps the storekeeper said 
all the cowboys wore.
The hands called him a jackeroo, 
inexperienced, but he won them over 
working early-to-late, just one of the boys, 
teller of tales with a guitar, until
he married the prettiest Swedish girl.

They came from miles for Chivaree. 
Nothing to do but smile and nod 
and pass the home-made brew,
Swedish girl shivering by his side,
staring at those cowboys
on horseback, whooping it up,
prancing 'round and 'round
their little wood house, little more 
than a shack. Somehow those hands
wired cowbells to the bed.
In the morning, that new Model-T
was discovered on the roof.
My grandfather never found out how,
but I grew up hearing tales
of cowboys and jackeroos.
Frank and Sigrid Henry
Elk Mountain, Montana, 1915

Note: I borrowed the word "jackeroo" from Australian history, slang used to describe an inexperienced station hand. A "chivaree" is a noisy, impromptu serenade to honor a newly wed couple; cowboys are notorious for their pranks. These stories came from my grandfather.

Trophy Bear, Elk Mountain, c. 1922
My grandfather taught my grandmother, raised in Stockholm and Chicago, how to shoot snakes with that pistol hanging from her waist. Later, when he was out riding the range, a bear tried to come in their house. By that time, my grandmother had two little girls to defend. When he returned home, he found his little girls playing with the big "doggy."

Any doggy stories to share?

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