Just for Fun – It’s Spring


The tall stranger bellied up to the counter and watched as the patrons lowered their heads and shuffled away. A wry smile turned the corners of his mouth into his drooping mustache. He dug in his pocket and pulled out a weathered dollar bill, unfolded it and placed it on the counter. He didn’t have to say a word—they all knew and they all watched.

The bar-keep reached slowly, after first making eye contact he couldn’t hold, under the counter and pulled out a clean mug, filled it, and carefully sat the still foaming mug in front of the tall stranger with the big thirst. Then he turned again reaching low, a glint of metal showed in his right hand. His hand came up quickly, but not too fast and placed a large scoop of vanilla ice cream into the glass.

The stranger nodded, pulled the paper end from his straw and shot the barkeep with the paper in the center of his chest. The patrons fell silent and moved farther from the action as the tall stranger took a long cool drink. Man-oh-man how the stranger loved the first Monday of spring—Root Beer floats, only a buck every Monday until June 1st.

Five minutes later it was all over, as fast as it had started. The glass was empty, the stranger smiled and wiped the dripping root beer flavored ice cream from his mustache with the back of his straw paper shooting hand. He stepped back as the other patrons held their breath—what would happen next.

He turned walked three steps, pushed open the glass door and walked once again into the stifling mid-day heat. Inside the patrons let out a collective sigh and ordered floats all around.

Published in: on March 21, 2010 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bad Guy–But It’s Still Kind of Funny

Wyoming bad guy George W. Pike was once accused by a neighbor of stealing a pot of stew cooking on a stove in the wall tent they were temporarily calling home. When the neighbor went to find the town marshal Pike reportedly watched him go then stole the stove the stew had been cooked on. Reportedly there was not enough evidence to convict Pike on either charge. Pike was better known as a horse and cattle thief but was never the less well liked by people in and around Douglas Wyoming. (At least the ones he did not steal from)

   George W. Pike (Born around 1863- died 1906)          

 Grave Stone, Douglas Park Cemetery – Douglas, Wyoming

Underneath this stone in eternal rest
Sleeps the wildest one of the wayward west
He was a gambler and sport and cowboy too
And he led the pace in an outlaw crew
He was sure on the trigger and staid to the end
But he was never known to quit on a friend
In the relations of death all men are alike
But in life there was only one George W. Pike


Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Really Big Wyoming Ranch

Doing research for a short magazine peace I am working on.

Swan Land and Cattle Company in Chugwater Wyoming –  (southeast Wyoming)

Over 3 million acres, 100+ brands and nearly 100,000 cattle (actual count not book count).

 The ranch was owned by investors in Scotland managed by Alexander Swan.

 It was Wyoming’s largest 1880’s ranch. Some of the original buildings still stand.

They knew how to built a real cattle operation back then!

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 3:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Big Nose George and a Pair of Fancy Shoes

Big Nose George Parrott was a petty crook, horse thief and stage coach robber in Wyoming during most of the 1870s. He made a few local headlines but longed for more, both money and fame. Gangs he rode with were not famous like Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch or the James Gang, two groups he rode with many years after his death in dime novels and writers dreams. Now the fame he sought while robbing stage coaches and hardware stores has finally become part of his legend. Today he is famous, at least in Wyoming, but maybe not for what he wanted. There are so many versions of his train or attempted train robbery in Wyoming that it is often hard to believe any of them. So like all writers I choose to put together parts of the many stories and come up with my own. (I may have also thrown in a few of my own ideas.)

Big Nose George and his gang of two, Sim Jan and Frank McKinney had started to tear up a small section of railroad track near Medicine Bow Wyoming. The three were so content on working that they did not see an official of the railroad checking track. Once he and the outlaws spotted each other the official high tailed it back to the office and wired for help. While he ran back east to the office the outlaws ran south and west toward the mountain side hamlet of Elk Mountain.

Railroad official Tip Vincent and Carbon county Deputy Sheriff Robert Widdowfield soon caught up with the outlaws. A good old west shot out ensued with Big Nose and the gang killing both Widdowfield and Vincent. Widdowfield reportedly taking a shotgun blast in the face and Vincent shot in the back tiring to get away.

It took three years but the law finally caught up with up with Big Nose George Parrott in Montana and he was taken back to the city of Rawlins in Carbon County Wyoming for trial. Within days he attempted to escape but he was no better at this than train robbing and he never got outside the jail house building. The people of Rawlins, although a good humor bunch did not find this funny. Within hours he was ripped from the jail by a mob of 200 and lynched.

This should have been the end of the line for Big Nose George but in his unusual case we’re just getting warmed up. The body was given to a local doctor and his apprentice who attempted a crude autopsy sawing off the top of Parrots head in search of some type of outlaw lobe in his brain. Not sure if they found much of anything—see bungled robbery and escape above. But the story still does not end. Will it ever?

Big Nose George was skinned and made into a pair of shoes a small bag and according to some a belt and a wallet. The shoes were worn by a local doctor on many special occasions including his own inaugural ball after being elected governor of Wyoming in 1893.

Big Nose George’s body was pickled in salt brine and kept for a year or more in various business places in and around Rawlins Wyoming. Reportedly a favorite game of locals was to take unsuspecting visitors to see the famous Big Nose George—the big game likely went something like this:

“Hey Pard ya ever heard of Big Nose George the outlaw?”

“Sure everyone’s heard of him.”

“Ya wanna see him.”

“Not likely, he’s been dead for years”

The local comic then reaches over opens the wooden whiskey keg reaches in grabs a few parts of ol’ Big Nose and pulls him out of the barrel and starts laughing hysterically. At this point visitor passes out or throws up.

But a year later all the parts of Big Nose George disappeared—until 1950 when a construction project unearthed his bones—Big Nose George was back.

Historical Note—The skull and shoes can still be viewed in a downtown Rawlins Wyoming museum. There was a bag that appeared to be a medical bag but it has not been seen in more than a century. As for the belt and wallet –they may have existed only in legend; if they were real, like the bag they are lost forever.

Personal Note—My wife and I live within an hour’s drive of the train robbery site, my son and his family live on a hill overlooking the train tracks Big Nose tried to tear up just outside of Medicine Bow Wyoming.

Published in: on February 26, 2010 at 2:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Elmer Kelton

Remembering Elmer Kelton –  Don’t know how I missed it but just found out that Elmer Kelton passed away a few days ago. He wrote many great Texas stories and two of my favorite western novels. My favorite of the ten or so Kelton novels I have read were, The Wolf and the Buffalo and The Day the Cowboys Quit. If you have not read Mr. Kelton it is time, lots of fun and great stories plus you will learn a little Texas history.


Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 2:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Good Guys and Bad Guys


What makes a good read? I am on the final pages of my second western novel and just realized that after two books and a hundred thousand plus words there have been no: draw downs on main street, bar fights, serious injures from getting thrown from a horse, drinking red-eye till they can’t see scenes and no fat rich guys ruling the west like the mob. But they do have good guys and bad guys, romance and card playing, some shooting and second guessing about life and what I believe are really good stories.

Published in: on February 6, 2009 at 3:43 am  Comments (1)  
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No Western Today

Today we have a new president number 44. I watched the inauguration and much of the additional coverage and was highly impressed with everything.  If we could keep that same feeling of patriotism, togetherness and usefulness all year long everyone on earth would think—wow, they really are the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

 Good Luck President Obama and God speed.

Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 3:50 am  Comments (1)  
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Time to Write

Finished reading a good western today. Not sure if I like an ending where nearly everyone I had followed in the story dies. But it was still a good read. Now it’s time to spend some time writing–goal is to put down 2,000 words by Monday evening.

Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sometimes a Weird Western is Good

Finished a new short story today, pretty good for me to complete in one day, it runs about 1,300 words and was a lot of fun to write.

This is my first in a bit of a cross over genre that I will call, western science fiction. Even I think it’s weird for an old guy like me to write anything except straight westerns, humor or notes to myself. If anyone is interested I spent about four hours and may need another half hour after I get some feedback.

Excerpt–“I Should Have Crossed Over”

Runs-With-Fire sat sunning himself high above the North Fork of the Shoshone River and wondered why he was here. Not here in this place but here in 2008. Runs-With-Fire had not died, had not died and passed over to the other side. Here he sat on the same rock he had sat every day, early in the morning, as he had been doing for the past one-hundred and thirty-two years. All those years since he came back to this river from the Greasy Grass and the great victory over the blue coats at the battle the soldiers called, Little Big Horn.

Published in: on January 14, 2009 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Are Western’s Still Alive ?

Well partners—welcome along and I hope we have a great ride. This is post # 1 of someone still writing about the old American west.

I live in the west, Wyoming to be specific, and have written both fiction and nonfiction stories about this great area of our country. From time to time I will be posting some of each. All comments are welcome and I will try to answer every one. I have read so much lately about the dying western.
Not sure it is the western that is dying, just maybe the readers. So how do we go about fixing it? Find new readers.

Right now, I am working on a contemporary young adult western, about 1/2done, 30,000 plus words. I like it, hope someone else does, will finish by the first of April-I hope. In the area of nonfiction I have just completed a short work of early Indians in Wyoming, concentrating on what is was like in the pre-1800s west.

Stay with me for stories of cowboys and Indians, and everything else, from trail dust to cowboy cooking.

See you in a few sunsets.

N. A. Waring

Published in: on January 10, 2009 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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