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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Trip to the Old West as child
vivid as ever

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

Among my cherished memories as a 12-year-old boy is a trip taken with my father, his cattle partner and his grandson, another boy my age, to New Mexico to receive cattle purchased. Just "going with the men" was a special treat, and being treated like a man made the trip special.

I think the New Mexico rancher's name was Billy Brunson and the town where we stayed was Magdelena. But, as that was more than 60 years ago, I can't be sure. Anyway, I was excused from school, making it a long weekend.

We stayed at the town in a wooden two-story hotel right out of "Gunsmoke," with the bathrooms down at the end of the hall. We ate at the local cafe and my first bar, as that was the only food in town. I just knew some outlaw was waiting around every corner.

Out at the ranch the next morning, before daylight, we awaited the roundup of the cull cows destined for wheat pasture near Perryton.

The "gather" was made at a set of railroad pens located in the middle of nowhere. Once loaded on the train, the cows would travel to Canadian to be unloaded and driven up the Canadian River bottom to the Parsell Ranch, where they would be branded and rested before driven to the wheat fields south of Perryton.

The country around the cattle pens was covered in heavy brush and cactus. We waited a bit, then began to hear the cattle and cowboys coming through. It was quite a sight to see the horned Hereford cows burst from the brush and into the pens with the cowboys right behind.

The herd was counted and all business settled before dinnertime. With the cattle cars arriving at 2 p.m., Mr. Brunson took us several miles through the hills to his chuck wagon for lunch. In sight was a water-well-drilling crew working and a cattle-branding crew working at a set of pens. I saw my first herd of sheep there, grazing among the brush and rocks. This was also my first time to see a chuck wagon and a well-drilling crew at work.

Our dinner partners were cowmen, cowboys, sheep-herders and members of the drilling crew.

We served ourselves in tin plates and tin cups filled from Dutch ovens sitting over hot coals on the ground. We had hot coffee, red beans, chicken-fried steak, biscuits and gravy. Dessert was Black-Strap molasses poured over biscuits.

Now, this was about 1945, two 12-year-old flatlander, mostly farm-raised boys dropped into the Old West with all its sights and scenes. It's a wonder we didn't sunburn our eyes and tonsils as we stood with eyes big as silver dollars and mouths wide open. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" October 6, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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