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7/20/2005

Hot Times At The End Of The Trail

Did ya ever think about what it was really like in an old west cattletown on a hot summer day? Herds of rangy Texas Longhorns turned the surrounding range into a great summer pasture as each herd operated out of a cow camp with the chuckwagon as headquarters.  
 
Cattle on the open range require less attention than the trail herd which gave Cowboys opportunity to take in the nearest town. And boy did they take ‘er in! A feller has ta blow off a little steam now and then. 
 
Speakin’ of steam… With that Hot Kansas sun bearin’ down, the saloons were HOT! The dance halls were HOT! The hotels were HOT! Front and backdoors were opened up ta get as much breeze through as possible. A feller could buy himself a nice herbal bath ta cool off. But, most everything stayed open 24 hours a day during the busy shipping season and the best of business was often done at night.  
 
The major part of shipping was done in the fall, but cattle were constantly sold on the range and herded into town as powder-fine dust choked the air all the way to the stockyards. Noisy trains smoked into and out of town. Cowpokes cursed and shouted as the cattle were loaded onto the cattle cars headed for eastern cities eventually to become a steak on some city dweller’s plate.  
 
“Fancy Ladies” paraded the boardwalks (where allowed) taunting and cajoling young men who had not seen a woman in weeks. In fact, for the most part, they had NEVER seen a woman to compare! Drinks flowed freely and fast-talkin’ card sharks patiently waited for a “Mark” to deposit most his hard-earned trail money into one of the exclusive “Banks” held by the gambling fraternity.  
 
A cattle town, well… smelled like a cattle town. Flies were so thick ya had ta hang onto yer plate to keep ‘em from carryin’ it off! Cattle bawled, pianos jangled, bottles clinked, women teased, dogs barked, and wagons creaked. For one short moment in time, the cattle towns lived life to the limit. It may not come this way again, but we sure can dream… 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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