I think it was in 1928 that I first met Woods Streeper. He had just bought an old engine from the Gundy people and had just come from his home on Streeper’s Flats to get his engine. He was with us there on the ranch for several days getting it ready to move. We had a buzz saw to saw firewood but no power for it, so we made a deal with Woods and got busy hauling poplar. Next morning at the break of day he was away to the North and home. He might easily have been picked up for speeding for by the same night he was really out of sight around the bend two miles away. He had fifty or sixty miles to go. However I guess he made it – I never heard any different.
Another little story I could tell you about Dinty Moore, whom many of you know, was close to disaster kind. Seeing Dinty isn’t here to deny it, and wouldn’t if he were……. He had a homestead across the river, about seven miles from the ranch buildings. He worked for us often, and I do believe he was one of the best horsemen I have ever known. Dinty worked most of one winter for us, as there were several things he needed very badly for his homestead in the spring. It was sometime in June when Dinty finally made his trip to Pouce Coupe with his team and wagon to haul home the needed supplies.
Florence, my wife, and I had taken a load of seed oats and gone to the bridge at Tupper to cross the river as it was in flood and the road we generally used was impassable without swimming. We were camped by the ford, putting in that crop on that side of the river. One evening we were at the ford, and saw wagon tracks going into the river on the other side, but they just never came out on our side.
We spent several hours making trips going down the river trying to find where they’d got out. It was a complete mystery. Six months later we got the answer. Dinty had bought all of his supplies just as he had planned but didn’t know what to do with the few dollars he had left over. I don’t know for sure just what he did do, but by the time he got back to where the crossing of the river was, the water looked a lot safer — it didn’t look half as deep. He decided to save a ten-mile drive and cross the river right there. It would have been a successful idea if he had just remembered to tie his wagon box to the running gear, but he didn’t bother. When he hit swimming water, off floated his wagon box and away went Dinty down stream, with his wagon box his only boat. To complicate matters Dinty couldn’t swim a stroke. After going about half a mile, he did manage to paddle close enough to shore so he could get out on the bank. From here he had a good view of his supplies floating on down stream, ready to sink any minute. And then he watched his team swim by still hooked to the running gear. They came out on the side opposite to him — on the side they had gone in. By walking five miles back to the bridge and five back to the team, he finally caught them. But to our knowledge nobody has ever seen the wagon box or the supplies. Dinty didn’t want any more part of that river. It seems that many things happened to us that were in the near disaster area, but according to our philosophy we all tried to call them amusing incidents and laugh them away.
Bill Lefferson, who was our neighbour although he ranched about fourteen miles away at Fish Creek, seemed to have a little more than his deserved share of these misfortunes. He was the one that suffered most from the misadventure I am going to tell about, but he was the one that thought it the biggest joke. Bill had a real good milk cow. He also had a real pretty daughter and one night the pretty daughter was entertaining a boy friend. The boy friend started home about midnight — there were two bright eyes glaring back at him reflected from the house lights. His first thought was that it was a bear. He flew back into the house hollering, “There’s a bear at the door!”
Bill heard the yells, and grabbing his 30-30 rifle, which was never very far away, dashed for the door. Never did hear if he took time to put his pants on or not! Anyway he opened the door, and sure enough there were the eyes shining back at him. As he was a crack shot he just started shooting. On the sixth shot he heard the dying moo of his prize milk cow, which was supposed to be tied up in the barn. Bill once more proved his ability with a gun as he had hit the mark with all six shots. It was six months before this story got around — probably Bill never would have told it if it hadn’t got around. As drastic as it was it did get a lot of laughs.
And now that I have told stories on good friends, I guess I’d better tell one on myself. It was getting on towards the fall in 1928. We’d bought twenty pigs for the ranch, and I was alone for some reason. Dan Cornock was the forest ranger at that time and he called me away to fight fire. I was gone one whole day and came home at noon on the second day. The cookhouse door was ajar, and as I had left it shut, I slipped up as quiet as I could to see who might be inside. I discovered my twenty pigs had got hungry. They had found a 100 pound sack of flour, a double-sized crate of thirty dozen eggs, and one gallon of corn syrup. These were the main ingredients. They had everything well mixed and scattered all over the floor. I was mad, but closed the door as quiet as I could. I went out and found a good club with all intentions of having a badly bruised diet of pork for a few days. There were four windows in the cookhouse, all about two-foot off the floor. I sneaked back through the door and took a wild swing at the first pig I saw.
I’d swear they had an escape route planned for such an emergency for I’m sure that exactly five pigs went through the four windows. Then I really had a mess, no windows left in a shack that was a mess to start with. There was nothing else to do so I just sat down and had a good laugh. Nothing else would have helped much, I’m sure of that.
There was one story in particular that often comes to mind. I’ve just got to tell it to you, and by the way, anybody interested in inquiring into the authenticity of this story can do so by asking Cora McWha. She was the only eye witness other than Clarence Boulger (Bolger?) and myself and Clarence is departed this world several years ago.
We had a big old white-faced, long-horned Hereford bull that we had bought from Reg Hutton-Potts who lived north and east of Pouce Coupe. For some reason that we couldn’t understand, this bull must have someone he really cared for back at Hutton-Potts. At least he insisted that he was going back there to live, and on this particular attempt he was real determined.
We followed him on saddle horse and caught him at McWha’s who live on top of the Creek Hill about one mile south of Pouce Coupe. He refused to be driven back home. Eventually, I threw a rope on him and tied him to a tree, and rode twelve miles back to the ranch, took an old 1928 two-story Chevy truck we had — new at that time. It had a wooden cab and a grain box on it. I got Clarence Boulger and drove back to get the bull.
All went well until we got backed up, got Geb loaded. Everything was peaceful until we started down the steep grade by McWha’s house. Our passenger didn’t approve of this downhill maneuver and, very ungentlemanly, rammed his head clean through the back of the wooden cab. The first thing Clarence and I knew that everything was not all right, we had this mess of curly hair and long horns between us in the cab, and there just wasn’t
room. He practically had the entire cab on his head and was waving it around like a flag. Clarence opened his door and just dove for the bush — lucky he didn’t kill himself in doing it. We were doing forty miles an hour by that time.
I got out as fast as I could but stayed on the running board, and steered the truck down the hill ‘till it stopped. Well luckily nobody was hurt — we got the bull back in his place and went on home. The only casualty was the truck cab, which was never quite the same again.
I sure hope some of you got some enjoyment out of these yarns. They sure brought me a lot of pleasure in the remembering.