Excerpt from "Looking Back"

Chapter 23

1945 Robbed of My Pants and My Pickup Truck

barneypu.jpgThat fall while gathering our cattle and trailing them home, we didn't have anybody to do our chores and take care of things at home so every evening we would leave our cattle and put our horses in a corral or hobble them along the road. We would then drive clear home through a lot of bad weather. The roads was real muddy, and when we got home and by the time we got everything done it would be about twelve o'clock at night. We would sleep about three hours and get up and start all over again. We really put in some long hours. It was gettin pretty hard on Syble because she was expecting our second baby in about a month When the time for her to have the baby got closer, I took her down to Grand Junction, CoIorado, to stay with some friends, so she would be near her doctor..

I was staying alone and batching on the ranch. I was riding and gathering my cattle. I was putting them on the winter range on the north side of the White River. About that time, I was sufering from a toothache about every day. I made an appointment with the dentist in Meeker to have all of my upper teeth pulled and for him to order a new upper plate. The dentist told me that he would get me a new upper plate for forty dolars, and he would pull my upper teeth Out..

The dentist's name was Doc Fredericks. I will never forget him. I met him on the street when I was going up to his office, and he was chewing tobacco and smoking a cigarette at the same time. That was the first time I ever seen that in my life..

Before I even left the ranch to get my teeth pulled, I saw a young man who was about eighteen that was trapping coyotes for a neighbor sheep-man. It turned out that he was a drifter from Texas. He said that he wanted to catch a wild-horse and break one to ride. I told him that I was staying alone, because my wife was gone and needed somebody to help me on the ranch. I told him if he would come and help me on the ranch, I would take him out and help him catch a wild-horse. I told him, I would try to rope one for him. He said that would be fine. I said that I was going to Meeker to get some teeth pulled and was going to get a neighbor to do my chores and take care of the ranch for a couple of days. I was going to stay in Meeker for a few days, because I knew I would bleed a little, after getting all my upper teeth pulled.

He wanted to ride up to Meeker with me, and then he was going to catch a ride to Craig and collect some money that a man owed him. After that, he said that he wanted to come back to Meeker and ride back down to the ranch with me and go to work. We went up Meeker and I asked him if he had any money and he said that he didn't. I gave him some so he could buy something to eat. I didn't eat anything because I thought it would be best, especially with me having my teeth pulled.

After I got my teeth pulled, I went to my hotel room and went to bed, because my mouth was hurting and I was bleeding a lot. After dark that fellow came to the hotel looking for me. He said that it was cold and stormy and that he had tried to catch a ride to Craig by standing along side the road until dark, but nobody would stop and give him a ride. He didn't have any supper or any money to buy anything to eat on, so I gave him some money for breakfast. He tried all day again, to catch a tide to Craig. He still couldn't get a ride, so he came back and stayed with me again.

I took some aspirin tablets and I slept real sound that night. When I woke up the next morning, he was gone. My Levis was gone with what little money I had in them, but as luck would have it, I had about one hundred dollars in my pocket-book which I had put under my pillow the night before, just like I always did. My pickup keys was in my Levis, so they was gone too. I didn't have any pants to wear, so I couldn't even go out to tell anybody my troubles or to let anybody know what happened. Finally, I heard somebody walking in one of the other rooms in the hotel. I hollered to them and told them what had happened, and that I needed a pair of pants to wear. A man brought me a pair of pants.

When I got dressed, I went out and saw that my pickup was gone too. I went and reported my troubles to the law. 1 had to catch a ride to get back home down by Rangely. I had to take the stage because was no other way to go home. I kept thinking about that guy, having my pants and all my things that was in the pockets. He took my pickup with all the things in it. That sure hurt me. 1 had a good watch in the watch- pocket of my overalls, that I got from my brother Jim. 1 wouldn't have taken anything for it, because it was awful special to me. He got a good pocket knife and also that pair of Levis that we had such a hard time getting during the war. It really hurt me to think how good I was to that fellow, giving him a place to steep, and money to eat with, I couldn't believe he could treat me that way after all I had done for him.

The law did catch up with him around Steamboat, and I got my pickup back in a couple of days. Both front springs was broke, but other than that, it seemed to be okay. The sheriff called me after they put him in jail and wanted to know if I would give that no-good-rat a second chance and let him go to work for me again. I said, "no, after he did me the way he did, I don't want any thing more to do with him."

The preceeding is from John Rodney Barney's book "Looking Back", My True Memories, from 1908 - 1996.

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