The preservation of western cultural and the American Cowboy. Sharing the history of the early trail drives, the Chuck Wagon and those who pioneered untamed land. The content is for educational and entertainment purposes. Cowboys and Chuck Wagon Cooking reviews cooking techniques, products and western gear which today is part of western life style. We hope you will enjoy your visit and look forward to comments, recipes and shared heritage. Thank you for your visit. Hope you follow us along the trail of news, stories and the Cowboy way.
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

How I built a Sheepherders Wagon

If you ever were planning on restoring a horse drawn wagon, Robert (Bob) Heavirland's new book, 

"How I built a Sheepsherders Wagon" A Tiny House on Wheels 

is a must read. Although, even if restoration of a wagon is not in your future, the book will excite you with stories from the history of wagons to the days of the authors father, Murray R. Heavirland who at age 16, hired on with a rancher to herd sheep during the Great Depression era.   

Robert (Bob) Heavirland is a retired engineer who has worked with large manufactures during his life including Andersen Windows and FMC Corporation. While researching information on sheepwagons, Bob found you could find plans, but little information that assisted in being helpful. Whether construction a full scale wagon or building a model, readers will understand how a sheepherders wagon was constructed.  In his book, you will see his extreme focus to the attention to detail.  Over 100 color photographs help illustrate readers with the do's and the don'ts that aid in restoring any wagon correctly.  His book is a clear path from the start to finish. 

Bob, not only has fully restored his sheepwagon as a memory of his father, but also restored a 19th century chuck wagon where he along with his wife Vicki and son, Patrick have competed in several food competitions around the United States. Additionally, the wagon team has performed many demonstrations of how cowboys lived who worked the cattle drives of the late 1800's.  Among restoring wagons, Bob and his son Patrick enjoy aviation where father and son are both license pilots. Together, the two have also restored their personal aircraft, Bob's 1948, Aeronca 11CC Super Chief and Patrick's 1946 Aeronca 11AC Chief.  

His book is available through Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop 
or write directly too  

8700 285th Ave NE
North Branch, MN 55056

Beautiful restored wagons sell for thousands of dollars. This one available for
$39,000 through Hansen Wheels and Wagon Shop. 

Bob's finished sheep wagon. Inside, the small quarters provide living accommodations for the herder.    
His wife, Vicki helps paint the lettering on
Bob's wagon completing the final restoration.  


Robert (Bob) Heavirland standing left with son Patrick, standing right

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

"Universal Tool"

Universal Tool  photo credit Rick Smith

Invented by William Henry Thayer of Cleveland, Ohio, he was granted US Patent: 241,893 on May 24, 1881.  The purpose of his Universal Tool was to minimize necessary tools in the kitchen. 
The multi-purpose tool "Universal Tool" could be used as a trivet, stove lid lifter, boiled pot lifter, meat tenderizer, bottle opener, pie crimper and candle holder. As a trivet it could not only allow skillets or cookware to be laid upon it but the old press irons. Some folks have mention it as ``household protector`` or ``lady`s companion`` because it could function like brass knuckles on burglars, intruders and mashers."

Here is the patent:  



SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 241,893, dated May 24, 1881. Application filed December 22, 1880. (No model.)

To all whom it may concern Be it known that I, WILLIAM HENRY THAYER, of Cleveland, in the county of Ouyahoga and State of Ohio, have invented certain improvements in Universal Tools, of which the following is a specification.

My invention relates to implements for handling stove-lids, pots, dishes, and kitchen utensils generally, the device being also adapted for use as a support for flat irons, coffee-pots, 850., and as a meat-tenderer.
The invention consists in a circular bail or handle having parallel flat faces and furnished with various hooks and projections and with finger-holes, as hereinafter described.
In the accompanying drawings, Figure 1 represents a face elevation of my improved device, and the remaining figures represent the same applied to some of its uses.

The object of my invention is to produce a simple, cheap, and efficient implement for kitchen use, by which the various utensils therein employed may be readily lifted,carried, and manipulated as desired, and which shall be otherwise useful. To this end I produce, by casting or otherwise, the device more clearly represented in Fig. 1, consisting of a circular bail or hand-piece, A, provided with a hole or holes, a, to receive one or more fingers of the user, and provided also with hooks and projections, which I will proceed to describe, first calling attention, however, to the fact that owing to the bail form of the implement the weight of any article lifted by it is brought very close to or directly under the hand, where it may be sustained to the greatest advantage, instead of being received at the outer extremity of the hand-piece, as usual.

Referring now to the drawings, A represents the circular bail or handle, provided preferably with two holes,a, into one or the other of which the forefinger is inserted, according to the particular use to which the implement is applied, and further provided with a horn, B, of proper length and form for lifting stove-lids, as in Fig. 3. Above the horn B and inward from the end there of is formed 2. lug or projection, G, which, in connection with the horn B, serves the purpose of lifting pie-plates and similar shallow dishes, the horn being first passed under the plate and the lug G then raised and hooked over its upper edge, as shown in Fig. 2.
To adapt the implement to the carrying of pots, kettles, and similar vessels, a hook, D, is formed on the'under side thereof, midway between the finger-holes a or at such point that the weight shall fall directly beneath the hand in which the bail or handle A is held. Directly above the nose of book D there is formed a projection, E, sufficient space being left between the two to admit the bail or handle of a tea-kettle or like utensil. The bail or handle of said utensil being passed into the space between the hook D and projection E, the boil or handle A, which stands at right angles to that of the kettle, is tipped laterally or in the direction of the length of the kettle bail, thereby cramping the latter and forming a convenient means of tipping the kettle for pouring its contents or for other purposes. For the purpose of tipping pots and similar vessels a hook, F, extends outward from the opposite side of the implement from that at which the horn B is located, and in the reverse direction, and above said hook is formed a shoulder, b. By engaging the hook F over the edge of the vessel, as shown in Fig. 3, and tipping the implement forward, the latter is caused to take hold firmly upon the vessel, which may be tipped thereby as desired. In a similar manner the nose of hook D and the rear side of hook F may be employed for lifting and carrying an ash-pan, while for carrying pudding-dishes and the like a second hook, G, is formed directly beneath hook D to engage over the inner edge of the vessel, while the under side of book F bears against the outside.

H represents a series of teeth or studs formed upon one side of the bail or handle A, and serving the office of a meat-tenderer.

The faces of the implement being flat and parallel, it will be seen that it may be used as a flat-iron stand, as in Fig. 5, or as a support for tea or coffee pots, or for analogous purposes.
By providing the implement with the finger holes a the user is enabled to hold it in any position desired without danger of slipping or turning in the hand.

It is apparent that some of the hooks may be used independently of others, and that the tted if desired. met the device teeth or studs H may be omi It is however preferred to consist lifter having a straight its bail has been tly below the hail 1 am aware that a wooden handle applied to with a hook directly that a spring-wire plate-lifter finger-holes.

1 my device a circular bail is meting any one of the several hooks to be brought finger being passed through - hole to bring such horn sired position. My invention for kitchen use, a circle two or more hooks or kitchen utensils, the up; the implement to hang" naturally and easily in the hand in using each of the several hooks or horns.
2. In a kitchen implement, a circular bail or handle provided with one or more hooks or horns for manipulating kitchen utensils and with one or more finger-holes whereby the bail may be held in any desired position.
3. The herein described implement for kitchen use, consisting of the bail A,having one or more holes, a, and provided with horn B, hooks D F G, projections G E, shoulder b, and. teeth H, as shown.
4. A curved or bail shaped implement for handling kitchen utensils having parallel flat faces, as described, whereby it is adapted for 3 5 use as a stand for flat-irons and other utensils.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wagons for Warrior's


As Old Glory flew proudly throughout the Memorial Day weekend as our nation remembers our fallen hero's, we honor them for their contribution for freedom. Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service and what greater way to honor our WOUNDED WARRIORS than hold an event on MEMORIAL DAY WEEK-END.

Wagon for Warriors, was a dream, a wish, and then a mission. Organizer, Steve Hull is a chuck wagon cook who also is a "Vietnam-era US Navy veteran." After his hitch in the Navy, he was employed with the Department of Defense for 32 years. His wife Cheryl also worked for the Department of Defense for 35
Steve and Cheryl Hull
years before both retired.

"My first chance to help work with the "Wounded Warriors" came when life long friend, Mitch Morgan,(also a Vietnam Veteran) and I were asked to volunteer our chuckwagon cooking in San Antonio, Texas" states Steve. This was to help feed the Wounded Warriors at Fort Sam Houston, through the U. S. Army Medical Command. The program called "Cowboys for Warriors" was set up by Arb Lenamon, who is a member of the (ACWA) American Chuck Wagon Association and also a chuck wagon cook from Victoria, Texas. The western day-long event provided food, cowboy entertainment and music for the many wounded service members of the Armed Forces and their families. What a humbling experience," stated Steve Hull. He further went on to explain, "We can never do enough to support or pay back the debt we owe to our Military personnel who make whole sacrifices defending our freedoms. This is when the idea of holding an event in Missouri came to mind."

Fred Bloch of the Windover Ranch drove his chuck wagon team into Lebanon, Missouri in grand style. In case the natives got restless, his wagon team included outriders bringing up the rear. Fred's chuck wagon joined 12 others at the Kenneth E. Cowan Civic Center Friday afternoon, setting up for the fourth annual Wagons For Warriors event held over the 2014 memorial day weekend.

Thirteen authentic chuck wagons from five different states rolled into Lebanon, Missouri rustling up vittles for a crowd of nearly 2,000 all to benefit Mid Missouri Chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Fort Leonard Wood Wounded Warrior Fund. Last year, Wagons For Warriors was able to donate nearly $10,000 to the fund and the event's main sponsors are the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of the Fort.

Each chuckwagon team prepare special entrees to go along with the traditional cowboy flare of beans, potatoes, bread and cobblers. Wood burning fires filled the air with an aroma of true cowboy cooking as cooks work special dishes cooking of cast iron skillets and dutch ovens. Just before noon, each chuckwagon camp had sizzle up the savoring meals for a hungry crowd. Tickets were sold for the meal at $10 each
through the Chamber of Commerce, Mid Missouri Credit Union, Hairy's Salon, Heritage Bank of the Ozarks, Mid Missouri Bank and, in St. Robert, Jones Investment Group. Proceeds were donated towards the Wounded Warriors Program.

The event was ready to tackle what ever kind of weather was thrown their way including early morning rain. The chuckwagon cooks began preparing the days meal starting at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Entertainment kicked off by 10 a.m., and lunch was served to the hungry crowd starting at 11:30 a.m. Patrons don their cowboy hats and boots as families and military veterans got into the spirit of the event.

On the menu at the various wagons was chuck wagon style dishes, tablitas, fajitas, chicken-fried steak, beef and home-made noodles, smothered steak and even hot dogs for the younger buckaroos who prefer more modern fare. There was also succotash, beef tips and rice.

Randy "Big Boy" Dyer traveled from Clay City, Indiana to be part of the Memorial Day weekend event. He purchased the wagon from the granddaughter of it's original owners. Adding the chuck box, Randy fully restored the Huntingburg wagon converting it into a working chuckwagon. Competing in Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, Tennessee and performing many demonstrations across the nation, Randy stated this is his favorite event, working the annual "wagon for Warriors" benefit. Randy, also is a Vietnam veteran, who understands the importance an appreciates the opportunity to help support those who serve our nation.
Rick Smith, a retired Texas Department of Public Safety Officer and today owner of the Double R Reindeer Ranch in Midlothian, Texas traveled to Lebanon joining chuckwagon partner, Major General Tod Bunting, from Kansas who was the Adjutant General of Kansas retiring in 2011 and currently the CEO at Center for American Values.

Out Yonder Wagon owned by Gary Pool from Weatherford, Texas was sponsored locally by Shadel's Colonial Chapel of Lebanon. Gary was assisted by Vicky Raymond working off the original 1870's Bain manufactured wagon.

Glenn & Jennifer Raef are natives of Lebanon, Missouri operating the Rafter R Chuckwagon. Glenn converted a 1920 era Springfield Manufacture wagon into the chuck wagon where the couple has perform cowboy catering and chuck wagon cooking competitions. They were sponsored by Missouri State Representative Sandy Crawford, R-129th District.

Deep Fork Cattle Company chuck wagon from Chandler, Oklahoma was sponsored by Shianne's Truck Repair. Owners David and Sheryl Roberts restored the late 1800's Newton manufactured wagon and provide Cowboy Christian Ministries when not assisting in events such as the Wagon for Warriors.
Buster and Diane McSparran of the Goode Ranch chuckwagon, from Hamilton, Texas was sponsored locally by Missouri Eagle.

Charlie Ellis standing Left
Traveling from deep south Texas was the ELLIS CATTLE COMPANY, owned by Charlie and Janice Ellis
of Papalote, Texas. Charlie's wagon is a converted turn of the century 1900 John Deere Wagon. His wagon also has a front storage in addition to the the chuck box and boot that folds down for easy access.
Dennis and Donna Williams from Neosho, Missouri own and operate the Circle Double D Chuckwagon which they restored from a 1900 Springfield manufactured farm wagon. They often perform catering creating an authentic cowboy atmosphere with their chuckwagon and have traveled throughout the mid-west, Texas, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois providing traditional cowboy meals while exhibiting the wild west and cow camps of the cattle drive era.

Todd Lowrance and Ed Kapelski, took some time to relax under a shelter at the J.L. Cattle Company's chuck wagon, sponsored by Independent Stave Co. The chuck wagon is owned and operated by Jeff and Liz Jenkins of Lebanon. Jeff purchased the Studebaker wagon last year as it sat as a pile of rubbish. Replacing every rotted board and reusing the hardware, Jeff brought the wagon back to life and in mint
J.L. Cattle Company
condition. His wagon recently won best wagon during a chuckwagon cooking competition held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee last February.

Event planner and host, Steve Hull with Mitch Morgan of the "Still Hangin" chuckwagon team also cooked from their restored wagon built in the late 1800's by (BMC) Brown Manufacturing Corporation. BMC was formed in 1879 constructing plows and other agricultural farm implements in Zanesville, Ohio.

At the end of the exhausting day, wagon teams began cleaning up and packing their gear away. Each proud to say they took part making their contribution by volunteering for the Memorial Day weekend event that raised funds to support many local military members who had been injured in the line of duty. For information about supporting the Wagon for Warriors, contact Steve Hull at or visit his web site at

Chuckwagon Biscuits


Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Centennial Wagon

Centennial Wagon Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show

On the banks of Marine Creek, Fort Worth held their first Stock Show in March 1896. That following October, they conducted a second show to coincide with the National Livestock Exchange Convention meeting. The opening ceremonies kicked off on October 12, 1896 with the first Stock Show Parade. Much has change and grown through the years becoming one of the most respected Stock Show and Rodeo's in the world.  To commemorate the centennial in 1996, W.R. "Bob" Watt, Jr who was President and General Manager of the Stock Show wanted to add something special.  A way to share thanks to the many contributors who have over the years supported the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.

The Stock Show was Bob's life.  A native of Fort Worth, he grew up at the stock show. His father was the President of the Show from 1946 until his death in 1977. After Bob graduated from college receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry from Oklahoma A & M, now known as Oklahoma State University, he began working the show. While his father
W.R. "Bob" Watt, Jr
remained President of the show, the younger Bob became Secretary and General Manager in 1973.  He assumed the office of President and General Manager in 1978 learning everything about operating a successful show from his father as he followed in his dad's foot steps.

To commemorate the centennial celebration, Bob knew he needed something very special. Something that would reflect on all those supporters who through the years help make Fort Worth the Cowtown it is today marketing Rodeo at its best. That's when Bob contacted Kevin Baker of Heritage Woodcarving  with the task.  After some initial ideas, Kevin was commission to carve a special wagon to commemorate the centennial.

Kevin, who founded Heritage Woodcarving, knew this would not be an easy endeavor.  Kevin has produced some of the most phenomenal architectural elements crafting sophisticated mantles, staircases, ornate wall panels and furniture.  Today, with over 39 years of experience, he took the opportunity to study wood design in Rome, Paris and London returning to Texas with the skills of the intricate European art as he mastered complex cuts where Heritage Wood Carving prides itself  on extraordinary designs.

Starting with photos taken from Exchange Street, home to the Fort Worth Stockyards, Kevin began with photographs of the many long time businesses which have sponsored and supported the stock show. As
Kevin Baker
Kevin drafted many s
ketches from the photos, his ideas soon came together as if unlocking the cryptex of the Da Vinci Code.  Soon he had a 3D design of what best represent the centennial, Texas and the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.  

This one item that seem to best display the west, traced towards the horse drawn wagon.  It moved early pioneers across the plains, it carried needed supplies as teamsters moved freight and provided escort to the early soldiers as they protected the new frontier. Even the cowboys driving their herd found the chuck wagon as home on the range.  Like the Stock Show and Rodeo, the wagon truly is an exceptional piece of history.  Deciding a wagon could billboard the many businesses, his next step was to locate a wagon to start with.

Deciding to use the running gear of a Civil War Ammunition Wagon located in an old Fort in Wyoming, Kevin brought the piece to his shop where he began to completely dismantle each piece before restoration. The wheels were sent out to an Amish farm to be fully refurbished.   Using the finest oak and walnut woods, Kevin began crafting his talent carving the side boards. Using his CNC machine to rough cut the designs on the boarding, each piece and area would be finished by hand.  The wagon carriage was built getting new bolsters which would soon house the wagon box.   Hand forging all the iron works to assemble the side boards, flooring, bolsters and box,  the wagon began to take shape. 

After an arduous six months of hand crafting the wagon boards going far from fundamental woodwork, Kevin's master piece of bolection accents and master jointing came to completion. Standing 8 feet tall at the wagon's highest point, 12 feet long and nearly 6 feet wide, the 2,300 pound creation was ready to represent the grand centennial.  

The Centennial Wagon was on exhibit commemorating the 1996 Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show before being donated to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame located at 1720 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas where the wagon is currently displayed. A true master piece, created and built by master woodcarver Kevin Baker of Weatherford, Texas.  Bob Watt Jr retired as President of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in 2010 with over 40 years of dedicated service. 

Centennial Wagon Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Coffee with Fred" A Cowboy's reflection of Pearl Harbor

Fred Arnold
It was a mid-December morning in 1986 when I had my first cup of coffee with Fred.  Over the course of the next decade, sharing a cup of coffee became a routine where I grew to admire the man as I listen to his life stories.

Fred operated a grade "A" dairy named Rainbow Falls which sat west of Chehalis, Washington. His beautiful lush pastures nested along some of the oldest growth trees of the Pacific northwest. 

As I sat at the kitchen table, the heat radiated from the rich brew.  I stirred in some cream and sugar, when Fred question me, "So you don't drink your coffee like a sailor."  Sailors and cowboys both seem to appreciate strong black coffee and Fred had been both, Cowboy and Sailor.   He had served as a Boatswain Mate Petty Officer who survived Pearl Harbor. I too, a Boatswain, was currently serving in the Navy in transit moving from Austin, Texas where I had been on a recruiting assignment. Stopping at Fred Arnold's home before reaching Federal Way, Washington would forever be in my thoughts.
The drive had been long and non stop. Oddly, crossing west Texas, I was hit with snow that I did not expect in the early part of the drive. Although the roads cleared by the time I reached Arizona.  Still having too travel through Mt Shasta, California and over Grants Pass, Oregon before reaching Washington,  I expected more snow. However, the roads remained clear with the exception of early morning fog.

Tired from the long drive with the numerous hours seeing merely white lines as they marked the highway, the fresh coffee was revamping my mind.  Fred was interested in my Navy adventures wanting to know more about all the places I had traveled too when I had been assigned aboard ship. He shared his stories that I enjoyed hearing as we related our Navy experiences. He always said, I seemed to have had better duty assignments. Perhaps so.

Each morning at Fred's started with coffee that had to be specially perked.  No instant or drip coffee was acceptable for Fred. He like his old percolator and I must confess, it did brew a great cup of coffee too.  Each time as I added my cream and sugar, I just knew he thought I was destroying the perfect blend.  Fred didn't take his coffee all sissified and other than his one time comment to me about Navy coffee, he merely watched as I stirred the cream and sugar in circling the spoon. Despite the way I took my coffee, we seemed to enjoy our endless conversations at the kitchen table. Every time, I seem to learned something new, either about Fred's life, the working cowboy managing his dairy operations or just shared "sea stories" as old sailors would call them. Fred was a Pearl Harbor survivor who had fought in 23 battles between World War II and being recalled during the Korean War.  Unlike the cold war of the time, Fred saw a great deal of action and able to come home when the wars came to an end.

Some might have thought of Fred as a hard man.  I found him polite and friendly. Although like most cowboys, he tested a man before placing his full trust in anyone. He had accomplished a great deal through the years and had much to be proud of.  Although, Fred never boasted on his accomplishments, but did share a special pride about each of his children and his lovely wife, Alice.  Perhaps Fred spared me from most of the test of trust as we both share that one common denominator, We both served in the Navy. Although so many years apart, he seem to relive the moments each time we sat together over those many cups of coffee. Each time, I learned something new and over the years, it seemed he knew which stories he had shared and which he had yet to tell, never repeating any of them.

Over the next several years, special holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, I was always invited to come visit. Living the big city life of the Seattle area, it was always a great feeling and blessing to get back to the country. There was no congested traffic like that of the commuters driving the S-turns nor an hour backup between Tacoma and Seattle along interstate 5.  Rainbow Falls Dairy always provided a place of serenity.   It's large pastures along the Chehalis River bordered the southern portion of the property.  The Willapa Hills Trail bordered along the north end of the pastures with Leudinghaus Road cutting through the center.  Fred's home sat on the north side of the road and the barn across the other.  Just down the road, the State of Washington built Rainbow Falls Park amongst the towering evergreens and my visits to Fred's was always a joyful gathering with him and his family. Each filled with more stories shared while having our morning coffee.

Fred, born November 30th, 1923 was three years younger than my dad. His parents, George and Madge Arnold lived in Meeker, Colorado and survived tough times as our nation was in an economic depression. Jobs were hard to come by and young men assisted their families, as much, so did Fred. In 1940, at the age of 17, Fred enlisted into the United States Navy. Unknowing the years to come, he was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS Minneapolis (CA-37) as a seaman.
Fred standing far left

The following year, December 7th, 1941, the USS Minneapolis, assigned for gunnery practice was at sea 20 miles outside Pearl Harbor.  Sunday mornings were normally quiet at sea allowing the sailors holiday routine. At 0600, the boatswain mate of the watch piped down the whistle call, "Attention, All-hands" then announced over the 1MC speakers, "Reveille, Reveille. All hands heave out and trice up. The smoking lamp is lite."  Unaware that the Minesweeper USS Condor believed to have spotted a submarine at 0342 that would be later be sunk by the USS Ward at 0653.  Communications would be slow directing military forces on the attack which would commenced at 0755.

On duty at the command center of Ford Island, Commander Logan C. Ramsey sighted a Japanese aircraft. At first, he believe it was just a reckless pilot until he saw something drop. Upon it's explosion, he realized it was an attack and quickly ran to the radio room ordering the telegraph operators to send out an uncoded message, (AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR  X  THIS IS NOT A DRILL.)

The Japanese forces had hope to catch the US Naval aircraft carriers in port. Like USS Minneapolis, many of the naval forces were deployed at sea for forth coming exercises.  Vice Admiral William Halsey, Jr.'s aircraft carrier task force was at sea dashing to reinforce Wake Island's Marine detachment with additional fighters.  He could not afford to have the slower battle ships escort his fast carriers so all the battle ships remained in port at Pearl Harbor.  The crew aboard Minneapolis had finished eating breakfast before word came of the attack. As general quarters was called, she immediately took up patrol turning towards Pearl Harbor.

A radar operator spotted a large group of unidentified aircraft flying toward the naval port. Part of the United States plan was to build up forces in the Pacific. 12 B-17 Flying Fortresses were in route to the Philippines with a stop in Oahu. Due to their flight schedule, a communications officer assumed what in fact were Japanese fighter aircraft as the B-17 aircraft a failed to sound any alarms. The B-17 aircraft, unaware of the morning attack prepare to land. To save fuel, the planes were unarmed finding their self dodging Japanese fighters and U.S. antiaircraft gunfire as they approached.  Most manage to land intact with one aircraft landing on a golf course.

At 0800, an armor-piercing bomb, dropped by a bomber, penetrates the forward deck of the USS Arizona, setting off more than a million pounds of gunpowder, creating a huge fireball, and killing 1,177 men. Witnesses say the ship came completely out of the water before breaking in two and sinking with in nine minutes.

Several ships would manage to light up their boilers in the engine room which provides as a power plant. Once reaching enough steam, they quickly cast off all mooring lines as they rushed to fight in the open seas.  USS Helm (DD-388) en route to deperming buoys, when Japanese carrier planes attacked the naval base was the only ship under way at the time of the attack.  The destroyer manned her guns and brought down at least one of the attackers while she was strafed and slightly damaged by two bombs close aboard. 
Navigating through the flames and smoke,  Helm spots a Japanese two man mini-sub that had snagged upon the shoreline reefs. The captain of the Helm orders "Right Hard Rudder" turning the ship towards the sub and fires her guns. The sub manages to break away submerging as it tries to escape. Helm fires again, this time sinking the sub as one crew member drowns while the other,  Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki washed ashore. The following day, he was found and taken capture becoming the first Japanese prisoner of war.

The USS Monaghan (DD-354) a Farragut Class Destroyer had opened fire on the enemy aircraft and by  0827 was underway to join Ward when notified of the presence of a Ko-hyoteki class midget submarine in the harbor.  Monaghan headed for the sub ramming it,  then sank it with two depth charges. She headed on out of the harbor to patrol offshore for the next week, joining the Minneapolis and aircraft carrier Lexington  in the attempt to relieve the doomed Wake Island.

The USS Nevada (BB-36) had her full crew aboard with the band playing 'Morning Colors' as the enemy aircraft approached Pearl Harbor. Unlike the other battleships, Nevada was able to release her mooring lines and maneuver the ship channel.  Japanese planes of the second wave bomb her, hoping that by sinking her in the narrow channel she will block the remaining fleet from passing through the channel. Taking several hits and listing over, the Nevada quickly floods another compartment to stabilize. Rather than risk being sunk in the channel, she deliberately grounds herself off Hospital Point.

The first wave of aircraft consisting of 49 high-altitude bombers, 51 dive-bombers, 40 torpedo planes, and 43 fighters completed their mission. The second wave consisting of  35 fighter planes, 78 dive-bombers, and 54 high-altitude bombers meets heavy antiaircraft fire. As bombers attack the navy dry dock yard, the battleship USS Pennsylvania is hit. Another bomber hits the oil tanks between the destoryers USS Cassin and USS Downes. As ammunition store aboard ship explodes, the Cassin rolls off the ship yard blocks falling into Downes. Naval cruiser USS Ralieh, is hit by a different bomber after being hit by a torpedo during the first wave. In order to keep her from capsizing, crew members jettison any gear not bolted down. Another bomber hits the destoryer USS Shaw blowing the complete bow off the ship. Pieces of scrap metal from her bow rain down half a mile away.

In just under two hours, the Japanese had sunk four U.S. battleships (Arizona, California, Oklahoma, and West Virginia). Also damaged were three light cruisers, four destroyers, one minelayer, one target ship, and four auxiliaries. Of the U.S. aircraft, the Japanese managed to destroy 188 and damage an additional 159.
The death toll among Americans was quite high. A total of 2,335 servicemen were killed and 1,143 were wounded. Sixty-eight civilians were also killed and 35 were wounded. Nearly half of the servicemen that were killed were on board the Arizona when it exploded.

Intensive salvage operations continued for another year, a total of some 20,000 man-hours under water. Every ship that was damage or sunk return to service except the Oklahoma, Utah and Arizona. While the Oklahoma was successfully raised, she capsized while in tow to the mainland in 1947. Arizona and the target ship Utah were too heavily damaged for salvage, though much of their armament and equipment was removed and put to use aboard other vessels. Today, the two hulls remain where they were sunk, with Arizona now at rest as a war memorial.

Citizens of the United States, would not know the details for the weeks to come nor all the casualties. Fred's parents and sisters back home state side, would read the newspapers for any reports and listen to the radio.  The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, addressed congress opening his speech: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Fred's wife, Alice kindly poured me another cup of Joe as I listen to his stories and personal experience about that day he survive the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The coffee always took off the chill on those fog covered or light drizzle mornings which today I so miss.  I would learn a great deal about his Navy days, the many friends he made through those years and hear about the port of calls.

While Fred had many stories to tell, he also wanted to hear about my adventures. He always looked straight into my eyes giving me his full attention as if not to miss any details. Our stories became our morning routine as we sip our coffee.

The dairy farm was work every day of the week, weekends or holidays included.  It was non-stop as the cows had to be milked twice each day.  Alice with the help of their daughters always had the morning milking completed long before sunrise followed by the cleaning of all the equipment and barn.  By 6:00 AM the morning chores were completed about the same time Fred and I began to have our coffee. After our morning coffee, I always looked forward to the opportunity of a trail ride. Fred and Alica often stayed home taking care of any other chores from bottle feeding calves, moving hay or other things that had to be done as the girls and I would saddle up.

Fred had three daughters living with him at this time. Amber being the oldest who still lived at home was just becoming a teen, Denise was a year or two younger and Theresa, who her dad always called tweeter was around six years old.  Being so small at that time, she normally stayed home while Denise and Amber would go trail riding with me.   Recalling the first time I went out on a trail ride with the girls, Fred sent Amber to halter a horse in the field for me to ride. I don't believe the horse could have been much more than green broke.  Cinching the latigo tie straps saddling the mare, I knew if she had been broke, that she had not been recently ridden. I mounted the horse and circled the mare several times to the left, then to the right as I was getting comfortable about how she will handle my commands. Fred soon saw that I could handle the horse or at least appeared to know what I was doing and stood back holding a big grin on his face.  The horse was frisky and full of spirit. As we left the barn heading out, the horse tended to take the bit but a lite tug every so often kept her in line. While that ride was a great deal of work, it also was sincerely one of the best trail rides every.

We rode over to Rainbow Falls State Park then over some large hills into logging country.  The trails were shadowed by the towering evergreens as we rode up on one hill, then down another. If was peaceful with only the sounds of nature, the movement of the horses hooves and the occasional horse snort.  Crossing the river splashing through the water, we each lifted our boots from the stir-ups to ensure to not get them wet since it was early winter. Returning, we finally opened our reins as we approached the outer pasture. It felt great for the three of us to be at a run across the open fields. Then entering the pasture, we brought the horses to a walked allowing them to cool down.

Arriving back to the barn we brushed the horses down and I felt pretty good about the mare.  She certainly could use some ground work but truly was a good horse.  Fred came out from the house an asked, "So how was the ride?" I smiled and replied "It was great."  By then, Fred felt much more comfortable about this Texan being more than just a pair of boots and a cowboy hat.

Months would pass before I was able to visit again. Each time we enjoyed our morning coffees and I would listen to Fred's stories and he always asked about my own.  As a dairy farmer, Fred accepted a buy out offer from Dairy Gold, (Darigold) a co-op which each dairyman owned part of the business. Darigold had long been established in 1918 producing quality milk, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese and other dairy products for institutions, the food industry and family dinner tables around the world.  Darigold milk tasted  like milk should because it was flash-pasteurized.  I would learn that this aided in maintaining all the flavor and lasting longer in the refrigerator. It was also free of rBST growth hormones.   The buy out was a way to control over production and provide retirements to the dairy farmers. To do so, Fred had to sell off his herd where they could no longer produce milk in the United States. His choice was either to sell too Canadian Dairymen or be sold for beef in the USA. Fred and Alice opt too sell to Canada.

Staying overnight, the cows were being picked up in the morning. I woke at 6:00 AM and the last truck loading the 450 head had just left. I could not believe I never herd a sound.  Fred and Alice were both  ready for coffee and our stories once more were shared.  They gave more meaning to great Hollywood films about the Pacific War such as the 1970 film "TORA, TORA, TORA" or the 1976 classic "MIDWAY" starring John Wayne, Robert Ryan and Richard Burton.  After Fred's Naval Service ended, he moved to Montana where his uncle and Mother lived.  Like myself feeling land under my sailor feet, Fred truly was recouping from the many battles he served in the Pacific during WWII.

He soon began working as a cowboy learning every facet of the industry.  When not working cattle, he assisted with wheat farming.  He also met his first wife in 1952 and they eventually moved to Bellingham, Washington where his first daughter, Chris was born.  After some time, he took a job in Longview working at the pulp mill for Weyerhaeuser.  He continued to farm and ranch on the side and purchased a small farm.  Over the course of the next 16 years, Fred sold his first farm purchasing another and then decided it was time to sell again for something larger. Land and animals were always Fred's true passion.  In 1967, Fred moved outside of Chehalis where he began building Rainbow Falls Dairy Farm.

Fred did not share all his life stories. Somethings in life is truly personal and no one's business but your own. I would never ask about some things but knew he had divorced after the lost of his two year old son named Ricky. It seemed that Fred had an emptiness that perhaps never healed but his life brighten when he met Alice who would become his second wife in 1975.

Alice truly assisted Fred in every aspect of operating the dairy and building the business.  Many of the local boys would be hired on during the summer as they maintain the dairy.  Alice and Fred also aided a few foster children and had their three daughters when I first met Fred.

Over the course of several more years, I had been transferred to Central America working with a Navy Special Boat Unit. One Christmas Holiday, I took leave to return to Washington state and visited Fred. He sure did not understand how I could be working in the jungles of central and south America and not on a Navy ship like his assignments during the second world war in the pacific, nor was I at liberty to discus everything either. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the coffee and never a moment I did not enjoy trail riding horseback in the Pacific Northwest.

That afternoon, I joined Amber and Denise where we rode along the timberline of a Weyerhaeuser logging lease.  The girls had truly become superb equestrians thinking one day I just might read about them either reining in the nationals or professional barrel racing.  As we rode again through the same hills we often enjoyed before, we heard a rifle shot in a distant direction. My first thought is possible deer hunting since they were in season. I also thought perhaps someone might be poaching since this was private timber lands. Telling the girls it might be best to ride down into the lower areas an off from the the high country, we heard several more shots.  This sounded much more like target practice rather than hunting. As we came down along the trail we soon rode across three illegals who had come into the United States from Mexico looking for work.  They had a 30-30 Winchester and a small camp nested in the woods living out of a car.  "Hola mi amigo. ¿qué estás haciendo?" I asked.  One of the three men replied, "We are working loading timber trucks."  I asked where they were from "¿De dónde eres?" and the same man replied, "Somos de México meridional."  Growing up in Texas I knew how to speak a little Tex-Mex but now serving in central America, I had a better grasp speaking Spanish.  The three men had been target shooting some beer cans. They purchased a rifle because living in the woods was dangerous. They were afraid a bear or wolf might enter their camp.  I asked if I could shot the rifle and the man graciously handed it over to me. It was brand new likely sold to them by who ever they had been employed by.  I aim the rifle at one of several beer cans set out as targets and squeeze off knocking the can immediately over. Quickly working the lever action fired at the next can again hitting targeting and another. The three Mexican men eyes widen and one said, "Muy buen tiro, muy buen tiro"  meaning nice shooting. He then asked where I learn to shoot so well and I replied, "The U.S. Navy."  "Ah, si...Ah si" one said.  As the girls and I began to ride off, we said good bye and be careful not to shot in our direction.

Later that day after arriving back at the dairy, Alice needed some items from the store.  That always meant driving to town and visiting one of the local stores called YARD BIRDS.  It seem to have grown from my previous visit and now had a full shopping mall.  I could window shop for hours looking at everything from western wear to hardware.  The store seem to have everything using a large black crow out front in the parking lot as a store mascot. It became a road side landmark.  Like Fred surviving through the war, the explosive actions of Mount St. Helen which covered his farm in over a foot or two in volcanic ash, Yard Birds was a survivor too.  The store had been completely flooded in 1990 but cleaned up and reopen.

Although while Fred now being retired from Dairy farming, he continue to run beef steers and it would again be a few years before my next visit. This time, we took a family trip to see Fred's sister's, Ellen Stubbs and Nancy Gregory who lived in Medford, Oregon.  We spent the day driving south as we enjoyed the Washington and Oregon scenery on IH-5.  It had been years since Fred ha d seen his sister's and the trip truly a pleasure. His daughters now getting older with boy friends and Amber soon to be getting married. Fred's family was becoming all grown up.

In 2004, Fred decided to sell the farm and move east over the mountain to Moxee, Washington to enjoy the comforts of more sunshine and less rain. Sunny days was another passion that Fred enjoyed and he always told folks he needed to move there because "It never rains in Yakima."

One day sipping coffee as I sat at my computer desk, I decided to look my dear coffee drinking friend up using the internet.  I was quickly sadden to read his obituary seeing he had pass on September 17, 2011 at age 87 years of age.  I quickly reflected our memories how he always loved animals and there always seem that Fred had his special dog.  He was a member of the Washington dairy Association and the Fraternal Order of Eagles for over 25 years. He was also a member of the American Legion for 51 years. Fred had been survived by his wife Alice, four daughters, Chris Hill, Amber Lusk, Denise and Theresa Arnold, six grandchildren, Cyndi, Randy, Ryley, Josey, Jessi and Rainey, four great-grandsons, Levi, Jordon, Garret and Wyatt,

I was pleased to see his daughter's Amber and Denise competing in barrel racing with a few winnings and now raising families of their own. Tweeter had grown to become a white collar professional selling Real estate in Yakima. On cold light drizzle days, I am often reminded of that Washington winter weather where  I enjoyed so many cups of warm coffee with Fred.  Although, never does December 7th pass that I do not think about the unsung hero who survived the Attack of Pearl Harbor.  A date which will live in infamy.  Fred Arnold was a true Cowboy, a dairyman and  Navy hero.  I will forever miss but always cherish, having coffee with Fred.

Denise and Amber

Sunday, September 1, 2013

CHEYENNE "The Daddy of them All"

Roger Edison - Reporting for Cowboys and Chuckwagon Cooking
Wyoming is well known for Cowboys and rich with history.  A mere 90 minutes north of Denver, Colorado is Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming.  It's name brings forth the romantic images of the west; Cowboys, Rodeo, Railroads and majestic plains.  Since 1897, Cheyenne Frontier Days host one of the greatest Rodeo attractions often termed, "The Daddy of the all."   This year, 447 steers walked a three-mile course in unison from Hynds Boulevard into Frontier Park to await the forthcoming events.  Through the years, Cheyenne continues to draw over 200,000 tourist to experience the cowboy life and see the exciting shows.  Their slogan, "Cheyenne - Live the Legend."   
The legend begins long before the cowboys came to the frontier.  The Crow, Shoshone, Cheyenne and Lakota, were but a few of the original inhabitants that Anglo explorers first encountered.  John Colter, a member of the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition, was prohaps the first white American to enter the region in 1807. Colter, born in Virginia grew to become an avid hunter and mountain man.   French-Canadian trappers ventured into the Wyoming state in the late 18th century, leaving French toponyms such as Téton and La Ramie, though it would be  Colter that would map the area and report on what today is known as
John Colter, painting by Gerry Metz
Yellowstone National Park.  Colter as a guide for a newly form business, the Missouri Fur Trading Company  ventured on his own with pack and rifle.  It the spring of 1808, he return to Fort Raymond describing the thermal wonders of Yellowstone, though most were skeptical of his story and Yellowstone would be known as "Colter's Hell." Although while often believed Colter's stories to be myth, two expeditions and decades later, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Act of Dedication law that created Yellowstone as a National Park, the first in the nation and the beginnings of what would later become the National Park Service.
The western frontier was attracting new migration of pioneers.  Earlier on the mountain men who operated fur trade came to the territory. By 1836, settlers and wagon freighters cross the area as an early route of the Oregon Trail.  Mormons began passing through Wyoming on their way to Utah and other pioneers followed seeking new lands, gold, silver and other opportunities. An estimate of 350,000 pioneers crossed the area from 1841 to 1860.  
Clashes between the new pioneers and Native American Indians, the US Government established Forts to protect the emigrants. Fort Laramie originally an outpost to protect fur traders would house 350 soldiers by 1849.  The need for beef to feed the Army and growing populations would motivate early trail drives to the area, though raising cattle locally would become profitable.
Seth Ward, a sutler to Fort Laramie, left cattle out to graze the open range in the winter of 1852-53 along Chugwater Creek north of what is now Cheyenne. He expected to find carcasses in the spring. Yet when he returned he found “the oxen,” as he called them, thriving.  
The region had acquired the name Wyoming by 1865, when Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming". The name Wyoming derives from the Munsee name xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat", but it was also named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell.  

 On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming! 
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall, 
And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring, 
Of what thy gentle people did befall; 
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all 
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore. 
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall, 
And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore, 
Whose beauty was the love of Pennsylvania's shore!
After the Union Pacific Railroad had reached the town of Cheyenne in 1867, the region's population began to grow steadily, and the federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868.  
On December 10, 1869, territorial Governor John Allen Campbell extended the right to vote to women, making Wyoming the first territory and then U.S. state to grant suffrage to women. In addition, Wyoming was also a pioneer in welcoming women into politics. Women first served on juries in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870); Wyoming had the first female court bailiff Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870); and the first female justice of the peace in the country Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Also, in 1924, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in January 1925. In fact, Wyoming and Texas both elected female governors at the same time, but Wyoming's took office sixteen days before Texas's.  Due to its civil-rights history, Wyoming's state nickname is "The Equality State", and the official state motto is "Equal Rights." 
Wyoming was the location of the Johnson County War of 1892, on which the controversial 1980 film Heaven's Gate was based, which erupted between competing groups of cattle ranchers. The passage of the federal Homestead Act led to an influx of small ranchers. A range war broke out when either or both of the groups chose violent conflict over commercial competition in the use of the public land. 
The Daddy of them all - The Cheyenne Frontier Days has received the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year award for the fourteenth time at a National Finals Rodeo award banquet held in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
 The Air Force performs their annual air show where the Thunderbird's share a long history with Cheyenne Frontier Days.  In 1947, while the jet age was still in its infancy, military aviation was hurtled into the future with the creation of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service.  Just six years later, on May 25, 1953, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The unit adopted the name “Thunderbirds,” influenced in part by the strong Native American culture and folklore from the southwestern United States where Luke Air Force Base is located.  That same year, they made the first public appearance at the Cheyenne Frontier Days. 
Air Force Thunderbirds
In 1989, our nation lost a great bullrider on July 30 at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Lane Frost after completing a successful 91-point ride on a Brahma bull named "Taking Care of Business", dismounted and landed in the dirt. The bull turned and hit him in the side with his horn, breaking several of Frost's ribs. Lane initially rose to his feet and yelling at Tuff Hedeman for help. As he was running and signaling for help, Frost fell to the ground causing the broken ribs to puncture his lungs and heart. Lane was rushed to Memorial Hospital where he passed on. 
Free pancake breakfast held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with nearly 40,000 people taking advantage of this every year, volunteers serve over 100,000 pancakes along with 3,000 pounds of ham that is sponsored by the local Kiwanis chapter. 
The rodeo action is powerful in Cheyenne.  Taylor Price won the Bareback Bronc with a scoring ride of 86 points.  Wade Sundell who had a serious injury to his left foot last year scored a 90 point ride on the third go around winning the Saddle Bronc event.  Will Scaffer would be this year Rookie having two great rides.
Dru Melvin with a 5.9 second score on the first go around of Steer Wrestling along with contestants Bray Armes and Matt Mousseau both had great times in the first go around but could not maintain a winning average in the second and third run finding Pampa, Texas born Matt Reeves winning the event.  
Mike Chase lasso over Bobby Harris and Trevor Brazile winning the Steer Roping event while contestants in the Senior Steer Roping found all but one performance having no time allowing Bobby Harris to easily win having three successful scores.  
Teague, Texas cowboy Scott Kormos entered the final round in eighth place and still did not believe he had any chance of a victory win in the Tie-Down Roping Event, even after his 12.4 seconds run in front of a giant crowd at the Frontier Park Arena. But combined with his other two runs, the veteran tie-down roper had a three head average of 39.5 seconds that held up and took first place by four-tenths of a second.   Jade Corkill from Fallon, Nevada partnered with Clay Tryan from Billings, Montana takes first with Team Roping.  
Christy Loflin
"In the sport of barrel racing we have so many variables that affect the outcome of our success. Sometimes things don't go our way and it's easy to lose sight of our dreams. Being positive and able to take the good with the bad has been the key to my success. I don't have any special talents or great barrel racing skills, I just always kept my dream in my heart and never, never, never gave up," states Christy Loflin who took second place last year at the Cheyenne Frontier Day's Rodeo. Her perseverance paid off winning First this year. 
Former Marine and rodeo performer, Wild Bill Williams who today is a football coach remembers a young skinny lad weighing 140 pounds and standing Five feet eight inches getting ready for high school rodeo. The left handed rider would go on to join the CBR, then entered the PBR earning Seven PBR World Finals Qualifications.  Today, that young cowboy is Cody Whitney from Asher, Oklahoma and an inspiration to the sport of Bull Riding winning the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo with a purse of  $10918.93     
However, the best part of the Cheyenne Frontier Days might just rest with the chuckwagon cooks, who like rodeo contestants, come from all across the nation to compete.  One cook, Randy Brown discovered chuck wagon cooking by just tagging along where he became hooked after his weekend there. Before he left, he made arrangements to buy a wagon and took it back to his home in Pennsylvania. Along with the chuckwagon competitions, many youth show off their cooking skills working off the chuck wagons.  All part of living the legend.  
Read  Cheyenne Frontier Days 2013 Chuck Wagon Cook-Off   story by Cassandra Swanson
Cheyenne Frontier Day's Youth Chuck Wagon Cook-Off

Seth Ward, a sutler to Fort Laramie, left cattle out to graze the open range in the winter of 1852-53 along Chugwater Creek north of what is now Cheyenne. He expected to find carcasses in the spring. Yet when he returned he found “the oxen,” as he called them, thriving. - See more at: