|Hmmm . . . maybe we can make it work...|
The Stringam ranch was twenty miles from the nearest bus route.
But it still managed to attract a lot of employment-seekers.
In the earlier days, cowboys would arrive on their horses.
In my day, they arrived by ‘hitch-hike’.
Because they had been pointed in our direction when they got off the bus in Milk River and no one driving that road would ever pass by someone on foot.
So they arrived.
Often hot and sweaty.
But usually ready to work.
There were exceptions.
Oh, they still arrived, hot and sweaty.
It was the ‘work’ thing that they weren’t ready for.
Those didn’t last long.
Case in point:
A young man arrived on the bus from Hawaii.
Okay, yes, I know that’s impossible.
Let’s just say he arrived on the bus.
And that he was from Hawaii.
He told the local bus-terminal operator that he was a cowboy looking for work.
Dutifully, the operator called Dad to see if the Stringam Ranch could use an extra couple of hands.
If they were attached to a large, happy, Stetson-sporting fellow from Hawaii.
Well, this was something new.
Our first Hawaiian cowboy.
Dad drove the twenty miles to bring this curiosity home.
He was a pleasant fellow.
Charming and cheerful.
And he sure loved Mom’s cooking.
So far so good.
Dad gave him an assignment. An easy one, to start. Tear out the fence along the tree-lined drive.
Dad wanted to replace it and he needed the old one removed.
Our newest hand was given tools.
And left on his own.
Some time later, he was discovered, lying in the shade, visiting with my eldest sister while she shelled peas.
He looked at Dad.
“Oh!” he said, jumping to his feet and hurrying back to work.
Dad went on with his day.
Only to stumble across the young man, once more, lying in the shade and visiting with my sister as she snapped beans.
Dad merely raised his eyebrows.
“Guess I’d better get back to work,” the young man said, pushing himself to his feet and sauntering back to his job.
Sometime later, the bell rang, calling everyone to supper.
The young man was first in line.
Smacking his lips over more of Mom’s cooking.
After supper, he remained in his seat and chatted with my sister while she washed the dishes.
For the next two days, he managed to find time to talk to my sister whenever she set foot outside.
He talked as she weeded the garden. Washed the 4-H calves. Hauled hay. And shucked corn.
Are we seeing a pattern forming here?
Progress on his own project was minimal.
On the third day, Dad loaded him into the car after breakfast and gave him a ride back to the bus stop in town.
The job that had taken him three days?
My brothers finished it in three hours.
That was our one and only experience with a Hawaiian cowboy.
I’m sure there are other Hawaiian cowboys.
Who are very hard workers.
They just haven’t made it to Milk River, yet.