About 5 years ago, I was introduced to an older fellow named Ray. He's a great old guy and he had a cabin out behind his house. Over his lifetime, he'd collected anything and everything, and had put it in his cabin. Of course he loved to show it off to anyone who would come visit.
Never having been there myself, he told me that I had to come over and see it, so one day my folks and I drove over there and he showed it off to us. Let me tell you, it was really something. Ray had just about anything you could think of, from a moose head to one of those velvet pictures of dogs playing poker. Coal oil lamps, pictures from the 20's, 30's, 40's, a wood stove, an oil stove, tools of all kinds, button hooks, thimbles, irons... anything antique you can think of. It was all in there. I was in there for hours and didn't see it all.
Then he started to tell us stories, and took us into his house and showed us his gun collection. It was a very enjoyable evening, and then we had to go.
Now my brother, whom I've mentioned before, was a history major in college, and lives for outings like I'd just had. As soon as he heard about it, he made plans to repeat the evening, if it was allright with Ray. Of course it was, so a couple weeks later, he and I made the return journey.
In his youth, Ray was a cowboy for a large ranch owned by the Utah Construction company. In case you've never heard of them, they were a rather moderate company who concentrated on medium to small construction jobs, like the Panama Canal and such. So anyway...
He got a draft deferment from WWII since he was working for the UC, and they were providing meat for the war effort (They ran about 30,000 cows). Well anyway, one day he had the chance and he caught a mustang. Since he caught it, he claimed it. Because it was on their range, the UC foreman claimed it as well. Ray was incensed, and strongly reiterated the fact that it was his. It seems they were at an impass, but the foreman broke the stalemate. Ray could keep the horse and lose his job, or he could keep the job and give up the horse. Ray had already staked his position, so he kept the horse, and gave up the job. Unfortunately, when he lost his job, he lost the draft deferment as well, and he was sent over to the battle of the bulge.
"Here's a picture of the horse." he said, as he showed us a picture of a buckskin. "Dumbest damn thing I ever did, choosin' that horse. I mean hell, it was only a horse, I could'a got killed over there in Europe. But I was young and stubborn..."
And the stories went on and on, all the way back to his house where he showed the gun collection off to us again. "This one came from here, and this one came from there..." and then there was a long pause while my bro and I were figuring out the next questions we wanted to ask him.
"Did I ever tell you boys that I used to raise fighting cocks?" Ray said rather nonchalontly.
Now I'd heard him tell story after story for several hours on two seperate occasions, and I can't remember them all, but there is one thing I can assure you. That was by far the easiest question I'd ever been asked, for you see, if someone tells you a story about how they raised fighting cocks, that tends to stick in your mind. The look on my brothers face told me he'd had the same reaction. "No... I don't believe you did." I replied.
So he told us the tale, and it was a lot of fun to listen to. I know a lot of you have the same thought that I did. When exactly was this? Back in WWII, or maybe the 50's, or even back at the UC when he was a rough and tumble buckaroo. It was in the early 80's, and his roosters were undefeated. But he kinda chickend out, and gave them all away after a year or so.
It was a most enjoyable evening that passed all to quickly. Not long after that, his blushing bride passed away, and his macular degeneration stopped him from living alone, so he had to move into an assisted living home. The house and cabin were sold with a great many of the belongings. But of all the things that he had, his stories are by far the greatest treasures. He could give those to as many people as he wanted, and now I've given some of them to you...