Reading The News Makes Me Think About Things And Stuff

Things like the day I tried to ride some of the foolishness out of Bogie, one of Tag Taggert’s horses. Tag “rode the range in a Ford V8,” but he kept horses for fun and let anyone he considered reliable ride them. It kept the horse from forgetting what Tag was feeding it for!

That little favor to Tag made me think I was crippled for life. I haven’t been that sore or that dirty, before or since. I think I mentioned the day Sheila Reid came in the Jackpot skint from one end of the other. She had lost enough hide to resole an elephant, and enough more to half sole a rhinoceros, and Sheila wasn’t that big to start with.

When they asked her why she was wearing a square yard of tape and gauze, Sheila said she’d been riding a real polite horse. Bogie let her go over a fence first! I knew all about that little stunt because Bogie had done it to me.

Yessir, I had my share of soaring without wings, courtesy of my friend the brand inspectors horse. (Bogie was named after the actor. Tag’s wife said he looked like Bogart. Humphrey Bogart did have a sort of a horse face, at that!)

Now, what brought all this reminisce on in the first place was something on the toob. A jugheaded idiot was collecting the Screen Actors Guild minimum, “guesting” on the “News,” supposedly giving a police officers view of things.

You have to understand that Windy Bill has never been a cop, or much of anything else. He joined a police farce, and about halfway through training decided he’s not cut out to write tickets, he’s cut out to be a union organizer. And he didn’t feel like working his way up the ranks so he started his own police union! His “police organization” has just about sixteen hundred members.

Wholly involuntary members, from what I can understand from the several members of his union that I know. And he takes their dues and his $1700.00 per appearance Screen Actors Guild pay with a smile, just as often as he can.

Anyhow, this play cop was on the boob toob, deponing that no law abiding citizen had any reason not to stop when ordered to by a “police officer.” In theory, he’s right. But let me tell you two things. First, these days I want to see the markings on the car – there are too many crimes committed by criminals with blue lights.

Second, there’s plenty of times when a someone with the most innocent of intentions just don’t want to see no po-leece! Period.

One of the several times in my life when I didn’t want to see no po-leece, no shurf, no highway pe-troll, nor nobody else, was when Bogie pitched me over a barb wire fence into French’s pasture. I rolled about twice and fetched up in a puddle covered with stinking green scum.

I climbed back over that fence covered with stinking green slime; feeling my way because I was mostly blinded; thanking God that it was only about three hundred yards to Sand Creek and Tag kept a bar of Octagon Soap in his saddle bags. And a towel! And a bottle of liniment! And I threw in a few extra thanks that Bogie would stay ground tied.

I led that horse to water and he acted like it hurt his feelings to follow me. It hurt my feelings to walk, but I wasn’t about to mess Tag’s saddle up! It took me the better part of an hour to get me and my clothes clean enough to make a trip to my room to take a regular bath tub full of the hottest water Mrs. Baker’s antique “Volcano” could heat. Until I was clean clear through I darn sure didn’t want to see no police! Nor nobody else.

Now, I didn’t blame Bogie. You ride a horse, you are supposed to keep a leg on both sides and your mind in the middle. If I had been doing my part, I would have stayed between cantle and horn, where I was supposed to.

My mind was straying. I don’t remember where but at that age I probably had a gal on my mind. There were several gals around that were well worth looking twice at and thinking about later. But after that I paid attention when I rode that bronc – and I put quite a few miles on him. He was a good horse but any flash, like the sun on a wire, would cause him to try to unload. Some sudden, at that.

But anyway, talking to folks here and yonder I get the idea that everyone has at least once found himself in a fix that would have been a whole lot worse for the presence of an ossifer of the law! And I have had my share.

I stepped out of a Pennsy freight car one dark night and discovered that the nice soft bank I was jumping on was covered with four foot tall blackberry bushes. About forty acres of them, with spines in abundance! I didn’t want any police obstructing my search for my war bag – and I didn’t want to show my over exposed sterrn in public until I could find a spare set of seat covers.

I have locked my keys in my truck twice and had to burgle my own wheels. I liberated a gallon of French’s “Lost Weekend” moonshine one time, too. That would have been real hard to explain because my monthly paycheck was a county voucher, drawn on the Sheriff’s account.

They called French’s tipple “Lost Weekend” because a couple of drinks and you lost the weekend! I don’t know what he put in that stuff besides pears, sugar and yeast, spuds, and wheat, but it was some potent. One drink and your buddies would wonder which was the deepest, biggest, and roundest. Your eyes or a post hole! Two drinks and you either slept a while, or you got up and did wonders!

I saw Billy Christian, the laziest Indian in Oklahoma, set a half mile of fence posts, string the wire, pull it double tight with a come-along, and staple it down. By himself. On one pint of Lost Weekend. And not only not remember, but claim he was too honest to take money for something he didn’t do!

Getting Billy to dig a post hole was a wonder. Getting him to build fence for a day was a miracle. But, you know, Billy wouldn’t take another drink of Lost Weekend! Said it made him too tired when he drank that stuff! He also claimed two drinks of it would raise blisters on your hands.

Of course, some of the folks that took two drinks took the second one at gunpoint, because it was hell for stout. You take a sip of Lost Weekend and it would burn all the way from the tip of your tongue to the end of your – AHEM!

It was so stout that Ol’ Hardman swore to me that he left a glass full of pneumonia cure made with French’s Finest mixed on his porch while he visited the privy, and when he came out he saw a hummingbird taking a sip.

Hardman swore he followed that hummingbird down to Jacobs, where the kids were growing game roosters for a 4H project, and that bird whipped every rooster on the place. Of course, I can’t say here what else he said that hummingbird did – but if Hardman was telling anything like the truth the Jacobs kids should have gotten some real long billed biddies in their next hatch! Biddies that would have been really hard to keep in the coop!

I “liberated” some because a friend of mine was down with lung rot, pneumonia, and what the croaker had available wasn’t doing him no good at all. A water glass full of hot whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar isn’t in the Pharmacopeia, but it seems to do about as well as the drugs that were available. (And to tell the truth, the drugs that are available now!) At least that’s what I poured down him and he was up and feeblin’ around in a couple of days. Chasin’ women in a week – and that’s a sure sign of a cure.

I have drunk whiskey, and rum, and gin. I tried some rice wine that kept me drunk for a week. I drank some arrack, what the Hindu’s claim will make a rabbit whip a tiger. I tell you true, I never drank anything more potent than French’s bootleg whiskey. Or anything that tasted worse. Except the time the doctor gave me a ‘scrip for ox gall. And I’m not sure gall tasted worse than French’s.

At that time, Oklahoma was the wettest dry state in the nation. And the law was well aware that French was distilling his water of life. But before my old boss took office he told French as long as he didn’t sell any of his snakebite cure – and as long as it didn’t cause the law any trouble – he wasn’t interested. So French ran off a gallon every now and again and stayed on the good side of the law.

French figured my old boss would be four years and out. French didn’t take into account how much people appreciated good law enforcement you could depend on to do what’s right. Bill didn’t necessarily act according to the letter of the law, because lawyers run for office so they can make laws to make lawyers money. Bill did what was fair and proper under the circumstances.

Let me tell you – Billy Peet’s legally wedded wife came looking for Big one day. The usual story – a house full of kids and no support. In those days, that was a lot less against the law than it is now. ‘Fact, most law enforcement people then or now wouldn’t have done the first thing about Billy’s wife and children going hungry.

These days the law refers victims of neglect or abuse to welfare. And if your life’s been threatened, there’s no use to tell the police. They will tell you to get a court order. As if a wife beater will obey any court order out of sight of the judge!

If you are on the receiving end you better make sure your burial insurance premiums are paid up and get on the right side of God because the shysters have the police tied up forty ways from Sunday. Either that or find a twelve gauge and learn to use it.

But it wasn’t that way with my old boss. He went looking for Billy. Found him, too! I heard Big picked Billy up by the scruff of the neck and shook him and made him a few promises but I wasn’t there. I do know Billy went to the oil patch and the biggest part of his pay checks came addressed to his wife in care of the sheriffs office.

Billy’s wife quit running into doors and bruising her face all up. His kids lost that lean and hungry look. And when Billy came home – he brought something for the wife besides a hangover, and some more somethings for the kids.

And when he came home Billy’s wife and kids acted glad to see him. Like they were supposed to. And Billy came up to the Courthouse and thanked my old boss publicly for putting his boots on the right trail. That was one thing about my old boss. If it was his business to fix it he fixed it. And if the Legislature said it wasn’t his business he fixed it anyway!

What you did behind your doors pretty much wasn’t any of his business. What you did where other people could see better be strictly on the up and up. If he was told something he kept it quiet and checked it out. He didn’t waste any time, but he didn’t go off half cocked, either. And he believed the punishment should fit the crime.

The most common crime was public drunk and possession of ardent spirits. Ardent spirits was anything over four percent alcohol. Judge Ross started at ninety days and if the cure didn’t take you got a years worth of second chance. The third time and you got thirty months in the state pen in McAlester.

But very few prisoners “went off.” County prisoners loaded gravel trucks with grain scoops six days a week. And if you were not in good physical condition when you went to jail, you were when you got out!

Stranger

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