(C) 1995 BEE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
(Written from my dad's idea, Neil H. Evridge)
I made the last big round-up, I believe in Ninteen-two,
I was young with wild hairs and the game of life was new,
I remember all them cowboys and that worn-out old black cook,
I guess I snickered quite a bit to see the way he shook.
But he could turn some bacon and never spoiled them beans,
And I ate so many biscuits, I nearly split my jeans.
They were tall and flaky and lighter than the air,
And eased on down the gullet like your teeth weren't even there.
Why did he make that round-up? I heard the way he coughed.
His eyes were faded marbles, his teeth were going soft.
His knuckles were all gnarled so he couldn't make a fist,
And his back and great wide shoulders had a funny little twist.
But still that man had power, he was way stronger than me,
He could've been a lumberjack and carried off each tree.
I was just a sapling, and my roots weren't spread real good,
But he was a Sequoia with a little rotten wood.
That round-up took forever cuz there were cattle everywhere,
They used all the hiding spots though the plains are pretty bare.
They laid down in the gullies or in a badland draw,
And we would have to shag them out, the baby and the ma.
We drove them all together, 'bout a hundred thousand cows.
Ever' rancher had organized all the cowboys they could rouse,
And then we started cuttin'm into separate little herds,
So every brand was by itself, and the Reps had the final words.
Dust and flies and small black gnats pestered us all day,
And damn those mean mosquitoes and the blood they sucked away!
And half the men got chiggers and some of us got lice,
And that's when I determined that a cowboy's life weren't nice.
EXCEPT of course for eating cuz we were lucky men.
They told tales of other cooks who's hash was purely sin.
So three times daily Moses spread us cowpokes all a feast,
And nothing short of apple pie was missing in the least.
And then Moses Abriel started baking pies at night,
And no one ever said a word that something weren't quite right!
The crust was awful salty, if you could soften it to chew,
And those apples were half-wormy and smelled like doggy do.
No one had the mean heart to say they should be thrown,
But we always saved him out a piece so he'd find out on his own.
Well, he must've never sampled cuz they worsened by and by
And we had to bury every piece, and keep it on the sly.
Then one hot night near round-up's end those pies turned out real fine
And Harvey started teasing that the Lord must not be blind
Cuz Moses surely needed help to make them good to eat--
How that cook'd go to Heaven if Jesus' tooth was sweet.
I don't think Moses heard him, at least I hope it's so;
By then I'd gotten fond of him singing Ol' Black Joe.
And course we took his piece out, so's he could have a taste,
Although it made us drool to think that it would maybe waste.
We smoked there by the firelight, relaxed and feeling good,
Waiting for ol' Moses to clean up the way he should.
At last the Bossman got up. "Where's Moses been so long?"
Ever'body shrugged a bit and hoped there's nothing wrong.
We found him in the wagon, sprawled across his bed,
Holding on to a silver cross and we knew that he was dead.
And Harvey felt real foolish of his wisecracks 'bout the pie,
Cuz Jesus prob'ly DID step in, knowing he would die.
We buried that pie with him, plus a book of Negro Songs,
And knew that all his goodness would get him where he belongs,
And later Doc Hale said he told Moses not to tempt the fates,
That cooking for this round-up would be Aces over Eights!
Moses weren't no splinter, he was a full-grown tree,
And he'd been cutting biscuits since the War year '63.
And Northern troops both black and white would smile and nod a head
When they found Moses Abriel was rolling out his bread.
When I first come to know him there on the grassy plain,
His curley hair had grayed a bit, he always used a cane.
But I count myself lucky, cuz I got to shake his hand--
Yep, Moses was a damned good cook--
But mostly--he was a Man.
My maternal grandmother on the left, Anna Marion Paulson Tidball with my mother, Betty Joe Tidball (Evridge) in appx. 1946.
We think Momma was 16 or 17 and she was born March 4, 1930.
They are enjoying a great joke (which could be the item Gramma is holding) at their Black Horse Creek Ranch at Meadow (Athboy), South Dakota
EMIL'S ON THE LAM
(C) 2002 BLANCHE ELIZABETH EVRIDGE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Emil was a rustler, though not the regular kind,
His plots of ovine thievery were always self-designed.
He grew up like a hermit on the North Dakota plains
But swore before his day was done, he'd break those rural chains.
He saved up every penny and set the wad aside,
Knowing when he had enough, he'd jump the train and ride.
But when you are a ranch hand, money don't come free,
So if you yearn for extras it takes ingenuity.
For one long year and seven months, he stayed away from town,
Where gossipers and spying eyes might turn his shceme around.
He grew his hair real bushy and his hair--just like a Griz!
Then dyed it all dishwater blond and permed it to a frizz.
Next he took his sheepskin vest & turned it outside in
And found his pair of winter chaps with the wooley fur--and then
Late at night he donned those duds according to a list,
And set off in the darkness with a sheep crook in his fist.
Emil wasn't easy on the eye by any means...
In his Normal denim shirt & patched-up jeans!
But dressed up like a ruminant with wool from head to toe,
Made you think of Liberace getting ready for a show.
He'd crawl into a band of sheep and pilfer him a ewe,
Then tie it in the double buck, then start his quest anew.
And when the wagon box was full of bleating chops and yarn,
He took them to the homestead where he chucked them in the barn.
When August came he saddled up and herded them to town,
Still looking incognito in his sheepish duds and crown.
He fetched a pretty penny for the ewes within the band
And smiled to think he'd soon step foot on Californy-land.
Back at home he shaved his head & clipped his whiskers neat,
And buried telltale clothing where the Hollyhocks grew sweet.
Then packed a kerchief with some food & took his loot, of course,
Then wandered to the barnyard to set free his swayback horse.
He sent the horse to freedom with a "Go on! Get Out! Haaa!"
Then cocked an ear toward the barn, could that have been a Baaa?
A little lamb came tumbling out from behind the loose-chinked logs,
So Emil stowed him 'neath his arm--he'd not leave it for the dogs.
He hunkered near the railroad track where it came by each day,
And tucked the lamb inside his shirt, then he was on his way,
Running fast beside the wheels, leaping sticks and rocks,
Aiming for the open door of that vacant railroad box.
His hands touched dusty metal and his feet began to fly,
The door was in the offing; his tongue was swelled and dry,
Suddenly inside his shirt the lanb commenced to lunch--
The skin upon his sweaty chest became a twisted bunch.
He yelled in pain, then missed his step, like a cannonball he flew,
He broke his neck on impact and the lamb turned into stew.
For the folks who never knew him, they don't give a damn--
But those of us who loved him...just say "Emil's on the lam(b)."
(C) 2002 BLANCHE ELIZABETH EVRIDGE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I had to shovel snow today and clean the front steps off
And chop the ice that formed last night in the horse's water trough,
I had to mend the wooden gate that keeps the cattle in,
I had to spend an hour or two--Thinking about Him.
Most the year I manage cuz there's work untold to do,
Newborn calves to vaccinate, then branding till we're blue,
And culling out the older stock, and selling off the lot,
And making sure alfalfa hay is sweet and free of rot.
Cleaning out the haymow and shoveling out the yard
And lying to myself when I know I work too hard.
Then picking in the garden as the light fades from the sky
And canning in the kitchen till the dawn salutes my eye.
Early Spring to Autumn and till the blizzards start,
My busy fingers keep his memory distanced from my heart.
But when I light the fireplace and string the Christmas Tree...
Like tokens on the branches--he comes flying back to me.
His face is on the tinsel, a promise in his eyes,
Waiting till I turn my back so he can change his guise.
He lights upon the candle flame and I am once more drawn
To burn my wings against his warmth before his smile is gone.
I cry myself to sleep each night and stumble through the days,
As Christmas cheer and wishes meld into a twinkling haze.
Mary brings a package by, and Susan pays a call,
Knowing how my broken heart's not beating much at all.
And then the season passes, and the tree is put away,
Ribbons, wrapping, mistletoe--a sliver candy tray.
His shadows on the window...his footsteps on the porch...
And I am free till next year when he lights my Christmas Torch.
CHICKEN SOUP WITHOUT A NOODLE
(C) 1999 BLANCHE ELIZABETH EVRIDGE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Why am I so eager to be entered in that race,
When I realize the "trophy" will leave egg upon my face?
And the odds are not improving; I age with each day done,
So the chance of finding me a man is slim & next to none.
At eighteen, they're all babies, no direction, just desire!
But nearly all will marry to douse that carnal fire.
The next step is the process to cull the "sorry" studs,
So less than 10 years later, over half are kicked-out-duds.
And then they start the second round, cuz the chimney still has smoke,
So some will mend their reckless ways for a lifelong, legal poke.
And some get taken "just because", there's no reason or no rhyme,
Ya, some poor gal likes lonely dogs and working all the time.
Then by the age of 40, when the culling starts again,
There's gonna be a quarter that'll wind up single men.
And that's when things get frantic; a thousand hens--five hundred cocks!
And no one cares they're molting, cuz they've missed the butcher blocks.
So most of them get chosen, just a few slip through the cracks,
Yes, some prefer to roost alone and some are just plain quacks.
And those of us who clucked too late or took our time in choosing,
Find the Empty-Nest Syndrome painfully amusing.
Now this is how it totals, as the statisticians say:
A woman will live longer if no man is in her way.
I should be ecstatic! I should thank the God's Divine!
With no man's abuse to tie me down, I could live to 99.
Then why do I keep searching? Why do I think and plan?
Why do I size up all the culls to see if one's my man?
When most of them are stingy, and the others just aren't free.
And all that's left won't bat an eye at an old "soup hen" like me.
Cuz...somewhere there's my rooster with a spur that's far from new,
He maybe has an eye picked out, or his cock-a won't doodle-do.
Heck, I'd even take a capon--if he's learned to love and share...
Cuz I'd rather die a "younger" chick...than be to damned told to care.