Me and L.D.

Work the Cody Rodeo


In 1973, LD and I wintered in Livingston. Spring came early to Cooke City and we arrived there the first week of May. Within a week or so the business folks began to arrive and get their stores, restaurants and motels ready for the tourist season.

We stopped at the Union 76 for gas. Nick Babiluk had taken a message from Bill Brennen asking if we'd cowboy for two weeks at the Cody Night Rodeo. The pay was good and them tourist gals just "loved the Cowboys". We were on the way in a few hours.

LD loved Cody, but he had a nemesis there named Bud Hooper of the Cody Police Department . Hooper hated LD and never passed up a chance to stop him and write him nuisance tickets like "dirty license plate" "cracked windshield" "defective tail light" and so on. Of course, the feud had something to do with a woman.

Hooper wore big round eyeglasses and resembled a frog cartoon character popular a few years back called Hoppity Hooper. LD only made things worse by calling him "Officer Froggy". I generally get along well with law enforcement , but Froggy began making up more serious charges to cite LD with.

Brennen had a cowboy shortage and put us to work that very night. I did well with the horses, and LD did well with the ladies. The Rodeo generally ended around 9:30pm, but the partying lasted till dawn. Hooper would make a point of finding us at a bar where he would glare at LD. LD would respond by putting on his best smile and saying "Howdy Froggy. good to see you, my friend".

Hooper lost control Friday night at the Irma bar. He came in behind LD and pushed his stool over. As LD hit the floor, Hooper pulled out his night stick and raised it. In an instant, Monty Sheridan, a 6'8", 265 lb cowboy grabbed Hooper's upraised hand. "You can arrest him if you think you have cause", Monty said, "but I am personally holding you responsible for his well being while in your custody". Hooper understood the message, saw he was surrounded by angry looking cowboys, and when Monty released his hand he cautiously backed out of the bar.

LD got up with a smile and bought a round of drinks for the house, but I could tell he was plotting revenge. He knew that Hooper stopped at the Broken Drum Cafe around 4:30am for a break, leaving his patrol car unprotected on the street.

On our last night of employment we left the bar at 4:25am. LD had me let him out on the corner a half block from the Broken Drum. He told me to drive around the block and meet him on the far corner. I did. LD came running down the block with the light bar from Froggy's patrol car, he tossed it in the back of the truck and we headed for Cooke City,

Most folks know that Cooke City doesn't have a full time law enforcement officer. I don't recall whose idea it was, but in the late Seventies, the locals decided to park a decommissioned patrol car at each end of town to slow down the tourists. LD brought the light bar out of hiding and attached it to one of the cars. That really is the same one you see above in the photo.

Losing the light bar on his patrol car was pretty much the last straw for Froggy. He was dismissed as unsuitable for law enforcement work.

We spent a lot of time working the Cody Rodeo after that and have a lot of great memories.


 Copyright 2009 Michael J. Kay
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by an information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author