by Joe McCarter (In His Father's Voice)

Things were a lot different on Corral Creek after the eleven or so years we'd spent in Montana with most all of the old places changin' hands. While my sister Lal was still on hers and Dave Harness's old homestead, and Joe and Ollie (Hedden) Babington were still up the East Fork from her, most of the other places had new owners. The Carters were all gone, and a feller from Iowa named Ed Lundy had all their land and was leasing 'Butcher' Bill Drenter's old 160. Bill was dead of cancer.

Another newcomer was Harvey Jones who had the old Koontz place and was at the time dickerin' for the Matt Mink place. He was from Utah and a Mormon with a whole mess of kids, of course.

Old Jack Wardrop was on the Hot Springs 160. He'd run the hotel in Soldier for a few years and had farmed around some since the town moved down to Fairfield. He and Adelaide tried to run the Hot Springs as kind of a resort with dances in the little hall there and of course the old plunge and all, but it wasn't workin' out too good for 'em. They only lasted three or four years after we got back.

Jack was a big rawboned ol' feller that looked about as much like a westerner as you could with a big mustache and all. He was tough and had been real tough in his younger days. I'd always got along all right with Jack and kept right on with it since they were our closest neighbors. Ever'thing between us worked out fine. Havin' Jack for a friend was a damned sight better that havin' him as an enemy.

With Harvey and Jack though, it was a different matter. I heard 'im tell Harvey one time, "Harvey, you're just like a goddamn old kickin' cow. Sometimes like the cow that'll give ya a nice full bucket of milk, you'll do somethin' that's pretty good. Then just like the cow, when ya ain't watchin' close, you'll kick and spill it all over."

Dinner Time

As I said, I'd not known Harvey before, but it wasn't too long 'til we got acquainted. He was livin' in the old log house on the Koontz place when we got back and, somehow, I got shenaniganned into helpin' him saw wood that first fall. There was a buzz saw that run with a gas engine on the old place and Harvey knew about it. He come down one day to introduce himself and said he'd help me saw wood if I'd pull the old rig up to his place and help him.

It didn't sound too bad and, sure enough, Harvey showed up on the day we'd picked and worked as hard as a feller can work, and we sawed up a good pile of wood. When I pulled the rig up to his place later on, ever'thing went along about the same until dinner time came and we went in the house.

They had the door of one room in the old log house half boarded up and all the kids behind it. When we got ready to eat, the Missus let 'em out. She'd put some beans and mashed spuds and other things on the table, and them kids made a beeline for it.

Me and Harvey had set down and had some grub on our plates. He had his table knife ready and went to cuttin' and slashin' at the kid's wrists and hands. His wife had set down by now and he kept sayin', "Hit 'em on the knuckles old lady, hit 'em on the knuckles." The kids were pretty quick and shifty, and he never really got in too many good licks, but he kept trying.

It was about the wildest meal I'd ever had. Them kids never bothered to put grub on a plate. They ate what they could get their hands on and, before Harvey and me was finished, them kids got out to the saw rig and found an old monkey wrench some place and twisted ever' adjustin' screw and bolt and nut that they could find. I never was too much of a mechanic and it took me half the afternoon to get ever'thing back in adjustment and runnin'.

Despite ever'thing, Harvey was a good farmer. Bein' from Utah he knew how to irrigate and raised some good crops. He managed to buy the old Matt Mink place the first year we got back.

He was closer than hell with the dollar and anything else that cost money. This held true with kids, wife, hired men, and hay. He was accumulatin' a pretty good sized bunch of cattle, and they were sure neglected. They'd start bawlin' when the first snow flew and never really let up all winter. Made it hard to sleep sometimes. But his hogs all looked good, and he had quite a bunch.

One time I walked over to the Hot Springs to see Jack about somethin' and he was sittin' in the shade of an old log granary with the biggest damn rifle I ever seen cross his knees. It must of been an old buffalo gun of some kind. I believe I could of stuck my thumb down the end of the barrel, and the barrel itself looked like it was four feet long.

"See them damn hogs Billy?" says Jack. Lookin' north, sure enough, I see five or six hogs rootin' around just above Jack and Harvey's fence line which was a good quarter of a mile away.

"The first sonofabitch that sticks his snout under that fence is gonna get it shot off," he says and sizin' things up, I can see he means it. I brought up whatever it was I was wantin' to talk to 'im about and stayed on another hour or so hopin' I'd get to see some shootin', but them hogs was, like most hogs, not out to please anyone. They rooted all around and up to a few feet of the fence, but never under it. Jack, for his part, never took an eye off them the whole time I was there.

Water Rights

The Hot Springs 160 had the oldest water on the crik, but Jack seldom made the best use of it. Once in awhile though, especially when the water got short, he'd decide to do some irrigatin' and this made for some interestin' times. The crik hadn't elected a water master for years and it was sorta ever'body for himself.

Anyway, the second summer after we was back, the water was gettin' short along about the first of July, and Jack suddenly took one of his streaks of wantin' to irrigate and come over.

He says,"Billy it's time we went up the crik and teach them yahoos a little manners about this water." I said okay since our old place had the second right, and we got in my old Ford T and started up the creek. It was fairly early in the morning yet, and we started in with Ed Lundy.

We met him just comin' out of his house and Jack says, "Ed, how much water you got out?" Jack had got right up in his face before he asked, and he could sure look mean.

Ed had a bad stutter anyway, and it took a while for 'im to say that he really didn't have m-m-m-much. But Jack says "Well you turn off what you got, and we'll thank ye to keep your shovel out for a while. Billy and me is gonna irrigate."

We got in the car and went back down to Joe Babington's place. The word seemed to have beat us there, as we can see when we crossed the bridge that Joe's raspberry patch had no water runnin' in the ditch, but some still standin' between the rows. Jack didn't hardly have time to say anything before Joe was explainin' that he'd turned what little he'd had off that very mornin'. Jack says, "Well it don't look like you need any water. Looks like you got it all wet."

He was a little calmer with Lal, being a woman an all, but she'd turned off what she'd had runnin' to her garden.

It was different with Harvey though. He had a big ditch that come out of the crik not far below Lal's barn, and Jack and me walked over to it. Sure enough, there was about half the water in the crik turned down the ditch, and it took us a little while to get it shut off.

We drove on down the road and there was Harvey out in a nice little field of grain shovelin' ditch to beat hell. He had this big head comin' behind ‘im and was makin' good use of it.

Jack says, "Stop the car Billy. We just as well tell this sonofabitch while we're about it." We walked over to where Harvey was. I see 'im look up a little, but he let on like he didn't see us and kept shovelin'. We got clear up to him, and he was still shovelin' away. Jack reaches down and grabs him by the shoulder and straightens 'im up. Harvey's looking a little wild now and Jack says, "We come to tell ya, ya Duroc Jersey sonofabitch, that we turned your water off."

Harvey kinda puffed up like a bullfrog, but words just couldn't make their way out for a minute or two. Finally though, they broke loose a little and he says, "You can't do that Jack. You just can't turn my water off."

Jack says, "The hell I can't turn your water off. I did it just like you turned mine off a couple of weeks ago. You thought I wasn't tendin' it close and wouldn't know, but I see where you'd done it on that piece of mine across the crik."

Harvey says, "I didn't do that Jack. You did that. You turned that water off."

Jack says, "Now, I'd been goddamn likely to turn water off of mine onto yours, wouldn't I?"

There didn't seem to be too much left to say, and Jack and me went on home. I did get some waterin' done and helped what grain I had along a little. Jack turned most of what he kept on a little patch of spuds that had all gone to weeds and never went back to see if it got wet or not.

I see Harvey sometime later and he says, "Jesus, wasn't that a helluva cussin' Jack give me the other day." I more or less agreed with him and he says, "He better watch out. He better watch out." But we both knowed that Jack could cuss out about anybody around if he wanted to, and they'd all do just like Harvey did, take it.

Harvey's 'Borrowin'

Harvey had a habit of thinkin' whatever you had, you wouldn't mind lendin' if he needed it, and he seldom bothered to ask. I remember one spring Janey and me and some of the girls all come down with the mumps. I was pretty sick and was trying to get some grain planted and other things, but finally got so sick I stayed in bed a day or two.

I'd pulled the old grain drill out into the field before I got clear down as the ground was worked and all ready to seed. When I felt like it again, I got the four head of horses harnessed and had 'im hooked up before I notice that two disks and boots was missin' of off one side of the drill.

I knew right off what had happened to 'em. I was still feelin' miserable as hell, and I was about as mad as I could get. I took the horses back to the barn and went in the house and called Harvey up and told 'im if them disks wasn't back on that drill by noon, he was gonna be a lot sicker'n me. I guess he got busy because the drill was back together when I made it back out that afternoon.

Patent Medicine

Harvey and me both had stomach ulcers and one day he brought over an ad he'd seen in a paper for a patent medicine. He said somebody'd give him a dose of it when his stomach was burnin' and it had really helped.

The reason he'd brought the ad over was that a bottle was regular $7.50, but if you'd order a half dozen or more, you could get 'em for $5 each. He was wantin' me to go in with him and we'd order six. I told him to go ahead if he thought it would help, and he ordered some C.O.D. When John May down at the post office called and said it had come, he sent one of his girls down to get it. He called me up and I went over to get mine just as he was openin' the package.

"Jesus Christ, them is just little bottles," Harvey says as he gits one out. The first thing he does is run and get a spoon and a glass and start measurin' out the medicine. "Jesus Christ," he says. "That comes to better'n fifteen cents a dose. Can't take much of that. Can't take much of that."

The stuff was alright, though. I took all of my three bottles and sent off for more. I took it regular, three times a day like the label said, and I know it helped me at least some, as I finally whipped the ulcers after three or four years.

Harvey wouldn't take any unless his ol' stomach was burnin' like hell. I remember one time seein' his Missus walk over in the field where Harvey was plowing with three head on an old sulky plow. She was waiting along the furrow with a bottle of the medicine and a spoon in her hand. Harvey comes plowin' along and never so much as looks at her. He just pops one ol' horse with a line and says, "Giddap" as he plows right by where she's standin'.


Harvey was hell to take on a roundup or beef gatherin' and Orly and the rest of us that run in the Lime Creek country made it so miserable for him that he finally quit and the Forest Service let him transfer over to the Smokeys.

I remember one fall we were all gettin' ready for beef gatherin' up at Camp. There were really three outfits gettin' together besides Harvey, and ever'body brought grub enough for themselves as well as some extra since we all ate together. Not Harvey though, he showed up with two dirty old jars of chokecherry jelly. Orly happened to be there when Harvey showed up with the jelly and he told him, by god, he was sick of feedin' him ever' year and that this time they were gonna butcher sumthin' of his for camp meat. Pete really laid the law down and Harvey says, "Alright, alright I got a half Guernsey heifer up here some place and as quick as we get a hold of her we'll butcher her."

About the second day we find a heifer of Harvey's that looks like what he'd described, and we bring her in with the steers and dry cows we git that day. But when Harvey sees her says, "Oh no, that ain't the one. That's gonna be my milk cow when she has a calf. Christ, I had to buy my start in milk cows." Pete gives in, and we butcher a dry two-year-old heifer of his. She was fat and was really good meat. We'd hung her up in the shade and kept a tarp around her and it was cool enough nights that the meat was keepin' good.

After we were through gatherin', I took a team and wagon and headed back up to get the camp and the rest of the heifer since we'd eat less than half of her. I got the camp stuff and beds all in, and pulled around to where we had the beef hangin' and, guess what, no beef! I got to lookin' and somebody had led a pack horse right in under where it was hangin' and loaded her up. I looked a little closer and seen that the horse tracks looked pretty familiar. I'd helped Harvey shoe an old brown mare that he rode and worked just before gatherin'. It had been kind of a job as there'd been a piece of one front foot broke out and I'd had to put a big bend in the shoe to make it fit right.

I'd of knowed that track in hell, so when I see Harvey the next time, I accused him of gettin' the meat and, of course, he denied knowin' anything about it. I told him I knew damn well he'd got it, and I was gonna tell Orly what I knew.

I did, but Orly never did anything about it, and I never did either. The funny thing about it was that later on that fall Harvey comes down lookin' like he's about ready to bawl. He says, "Bill somethin' has happened to all my turkey toms." I'd heard earlier that Harvey was missin' some turkeys.

About ever'body on the crik kept five or ten turkey hens and a gobbler and raised turkeys to butcher and sell just before Thanksgiving. Sometimes in the late fall, the young toms would start runnin' apart from the hens, and they'd graze up and down the crik kinda like they was wild.

Harvey couldn't been more hurt actin' if he'd been out as many three-year-old steers. I says, "Hell, Harvey that's too damn bad, but what do you think I could do about it." I really had a pretty good idea what had happened to the turkeys. A couple of Jack Wardrop's sons had been there visiting shortly before, and they was the kind that would enjoy relievin' Harvey of a few of his turkeys if it came handy.

But anyway Harvey says, "Well, I thought maybe I'd ask you. I figgered Orly was pretty sore about that beef and all, and I knowed he was over with a wagon not long ago. I thought maybe he had my turkey toms in it when he went back."

I was a little taken back, but I says, "Hell, Harvey, they might of been. Why don't you go get the sheriff and a warrant or something and go take a look." He thought a while and says, "Oh, I don't think I better do that."

I sure wished I could have got him after Orly. It would have been a lot of fun, but he didn't bite. He never did find his turkey toms either.

Harvey and the Holstein Bull

While it was a usual thing for some of Harvey's stock to be botherin' ever'body else, one of the funniest things that I ever seen happened when the tables got turned.

I'd been up at Camp finishin' some odds and ends of ridin' and was comin' home because the thresher was comin' soon, and I had some grain cut and shocked and was anxious to get it in. I'd rode by Harvey's because I knew he'd be sure to know about the thresher. We was gonna help each other as well as some of the other neighbors since threshin' took a big crew.

As I was ridin' down the grade towards Harvey's house, I see his kids come runnin' and screamin' through a break in a line of willows that run down a slough just west of his house. By the time I git there, Harvey had caught his old brown horse and had got on bareback with a pitch fork in hand.

"Ain't got time to talk to you now, Bill. Ed Lundy's milk cows is all over in my shocked oats and the kids were tryin' to run 'em out and that damn Holstein bull chased 'em home." With all this out, Harvey took off with as much speed as ol' Chubby, his horse, could show.

I followed along, but I was 50 or so yards back. Just as I git through the opening in the willows, I see Harvey and Chubby, and the bull all come together. Evidently the kids had got the bull on the fight a little, and he'd not backed off from Harvey and the horse. In fact he hit the ol' horse in the shoulders pretty hard. Harvey had the pitchfork held up over his head ready to poke the bull some and when ol' Chubby got knocked right out from under him, he and the fork both come down right onto the bull's neck.

Yell, Jesus Christ, I never hear anybody yell as loud as Harvey did when that horse went out from under him. It was so loud he scared the bull and it went runnin' back up through the shocked oats with the fork wavin' back and forth still stuck in his neck.

I was laughin' so hard that I didn't want Harvey to see me, so I rode on home and found out the thresher was gonna be there the day after tomorrow. I had to hurry around the next day and get some last minute things ready and, sure enough, they pulled the rig in that evenin' and got setup.

Harvey showed up with a team and wagon bright and early the next mornin' ready to thresh and in a pretty good mood. Him and me was gonna haul grain sacks away from the thresher and put it in the granary. Harvey says we just as well use his team so I wouldn't have to get mine out of the barn. So we did.

Harvey was full of what a helluva time him and Bloom, a big Dutchman he had workin' for him, had gettin' Ed's stock out of his shocked oats. The bull wouldn't let 'em drive the cows out and wouldn't go himself. It had took the most of yesterday to get the bull over to Harvey's barn and corral. The bull had a ring in his nose and finally after several hours of trying and getting chased, and I don't know what all, they was able to get a halter chain in the ring and tame him down some.

Anyway, they'd left the bull tied up to the corral fence all night and had no trouble then gettin' the rest of the Holsteins outta the oats. He'd called up Ed and told him to come down and get the bull and pay some damages. To hear Harvey tell it they'd raised pure hell with the shocked oats, and I bet they did as shocked oats are pretty fragile.

Well, the thresher was hummin' along, and we'd hauled two or three loads and was unloadin' at the granary, when Janey come outta the house and told us that Harvey's wife wanted to talk to him on the phone.

Harvey was back in 'bout a minute with a wild look in his eye. Seems the bull got loose and all the Holsteins was back in the grain. He started right in unhitchin' one horse from the wagon sayin' he didn't have time to talk and jumped on the ol' work horse and, kickin' him in the ribs to beat hell, finally got the ol' horse into a trot with the harness janglin'. I had to unhook the other horse and go get my team to keep on haulin' grain as Harvey never showed up for the rest of the day.

He was back early the next mornin' again. Seems as tho' Ed had sent a brother-in-law that was visitin' down to get the bull and, not being much of a Holstein bull man, the first thing he did was slip up along the fence and reach through and take the chain outta the bull's nose and try to drive him home.

Well, the bull wasn't in too good a mood anyway havin' been tied up all night and wouldn't go at all, so the ol' kid figures maybe he could go get the rest of the Holsteins and bring 'em back to the bull, and then drive 'em all home.

Of course, when the bull got with the bunch again, he wouldn't let the brother-in-law drive any of 'em any place, and the whole bunch all wound up back in Harvey's shocked oats.

Harvey says that with the lessons they'd had the day before, Bloom and him and maybe the brother-in-law too, managed to get the chain in the nose ring and the bull led home by the time it was dark.

I never did hear how much Ed and Harvey finally settled for, but there's not too many things that can still give me as good a laugh as when I think about seein' Harvey and the bull meet.

My Assignment

The depression was startin' to get some pretty good licks in. The 20's was about over and a lotta people were hurtin' bad. Along with all the others, I knew Wardrops was in about the worst shape. So I wasn't too surprised to hear they was gettin' sold out, but just before they left for good Jack came over to visit a little.

I was shoein' a horse when he walked up, and I see he was wantin' to talk, so I sit down and leaned my back against the building and he done the same. We talked about this and that a little and pretty soon he says, "Well Billy, I guess you know we're leavin'. The bank is sellin' us out. I'm too old to do much about it now, and it look's like Jones will get ahold of the Hot Springs."

"Now Bill, there's one job I want to turn over to you. You probably ain't as good at it as you oughtta be, but I've thought about it some and there ain't nobody else on the crik that could do any better."

I says, "What's that Jack?" and he says, "Twice a year you give Harvey Jones a damn good cussin'. Now don't pull any punches, but tell that dirty-necked sonofabitch what for. If somebody don't, nobody else'll be able to live on this damn crik."

Thinkin' back on it I figger Jack probably averaged out better than twice a year doin' this little stunt. He really had it in for Harvey, and usually he had a pretty good reason.

Jack Wardrop was right, Harvey eventually wound up with the Hot Springs place and got to be recognized as kinda a big property owner and all.

Swimmin' Lessons

Of course gettin' the Hot Springs 160 didn't just make Harvey the big landholder on the creek, it also made him owner of the plunge and dance hall. They didn't wait long to leave the old Matt Mink place and move into the house that was at the Hot Springs.

They hadn't been moved down long when they invited Janey and me and the girls all over for a swim. We figured we just as well go on over, although only a few of us got in for very long cause it was pretty wild.

When we got there, Harvey was in the pool in his red underwear doin' his best to keep his seven or so kids' heads above water. When one had gone down enough 'til he was really gaspin', Harvey'd throw 'im out on the edge of the pool and the kid would lay there and gasp for air a little with the water runnin' out of 'im and then right back in he'd go.

Harvey was yellin' at his Missus, "Get in here ol' lady. I can't keep all these damn kids' heads out. Get in here, ya ain't been wet all over at one time since ya was baptized anyway." But his Missus didn't seem too interested and, in fact, Harvey was havin' trouble keepin' the kid's heads up. I see Gene, who was seven or eight years old, go down four times. I just gettin' to 'im myself when he got to the pool side and usin' his toes and fingernails, crawled up the board wall of the pool and out on the bank.

I'd always heard if you went down for the third time you stayed down, but I don't think they made that rule for the Jones. Since it was as wild as it was, we didn't stay too long. I was back over a day or two later and ever' kid was in that pool, and they could all swim like muskrats.

Harvey's Buick

I was over there one day when a young feller sellin' cars come by, and he got to braggin' Harvey up a little tellin' him a man of his standin' in the community shouldn't be satisfied with just any car. Harvey really pricked up his ears at this and he asked the feller what kinda car he thought he should buy. The kid came right back saying that someone in his position should have a Buick.

"Get me one, get me one out here and I'll try it out," says Harvey. Sure enough, the next morning Harry Giesler was out there with a new Buick and Harvey bought it. A little edge of the deal came off the next day when it had a flat tire and Harvey discovered some patches on the tube. He asked me, "Don't it seem odd that a new car would have patches on the tube?" I told him it did seem kinda out of line, but the thrill of the thing kept him from gettin' too excited, and Harvey and his Missus drove the Buick for what turned out to be the rest of their lives.

The big trouble Harvey had with it was that the most gas he would buy at a time was a gallon. I've mentioned before that Harvey was tight, and he was 'specially so when it come to buyin' gas. Course this was in the days before most farmers got to buyin' bulk gas and keepin' it at home. The gallon he'd buy in town would get 'im home and about half way back to town.

There were three or four places along the Base Line road that did keep gas and Harvey would "borrow" enough from one of them to get onto town where he'd put another gallon in. He didn't go to town a lot, and he kinda switched around with the borrowin' so that he was always able to make it back and forth.

He had a feller named Manwell that worked for him a while and after runnin' out of gas goin' to town for somethin' Harvey had sent him for, he told the hardware store that sold gas to fill it up and charge it to Harvey. He said afterward he just wanted to see how it would run with a full tank. He damned near got canned.

The kids would get after it with a wrench ever now and then like they did to my old buzzsaw, so nothin' was too smooth about car ownin' for Harvey.

About once ever two or three months, they'd try to make it to church and the whole family would get cleaned up pretty good and get in the old Buick and start out. It would usually die two or three times before he got to the Base Line and he'd have kids strung out about ever quarter mile, goin' back for tools and parts and such. One kid would be goin' towards home and another comin' back with what he'd been sent for and all-in-all it was quite a sight.

The Bishop

Speakin' of church, Harvey was always way behind on his tithing and once ever' two years or so the local bishop and a helper or two would have to really ear ol' Harvey down.

I happened to be visitin' with Harvey one day where his men were stackin' hay when a car come drivin' out through the field. I didn't begin to know who it could be, but Harvey knew in a second and grabbed a pitchfork and crawled up on a stack and begin to holler for more hay.

When the car pulled up I see it was Zee Pond, the bishop, along with another Mormon. Harvey begin tellin' 'em that he couldn't take time to talk right now as he was so damn busy with the hay and all the while yellin' for the buckrake drivers to get a move on. It didn't appear like the bishop and his helper was in any hurry, and they kept on talkin' to brother Jones like they do, and I rode on off.

Come to find out they'd stayed with Harvey for three days. After they left Harvey come over and the first thing he said was, "Well I paid 'em. Couldn't do nothin' else. I paid 'em $1,300, by god, couldn't do nothin' else. Hell, they moved right in with me." I could see he was takin' it pretty hard, so I just changed the subject.

Gone Too Soon

I was mowin' hay out east of the house early on a nice summer mornin' when I noticed that things were pretty quite over at the Hot Springs for hayin' startin' up and all. Harvey had been dickerin' with Dogie Larsen to buy him out, and I was wonderin' if he could be down at Dogie's place, when I see Mildred and Mrs. Jones leave in the old Buick.

I couldn't see him, but they had Harvey in the back seat. He'd started bleedin’ from his stomach ulcer in the night and had fought 'em off from takin' him to the doctor 'til mornin' and still didn't want to go.

When they got to town and pulled up in front of the drug store, Harvey got out and was sayin', "Get me some medicine. Get me some medicine," when he collapsed. The doctor decided to try an emergency operation as he couldn't get the bleedin' to stop, but it didn't work. Ol' Harvey died on the operatin' table.

If you'd asked Harvey who his best friend there on the crik was, he'd probably would of said me. There were times I coulda killed him, but there was times that he wasn't so bad either. If you was up against it for help, he would help.

He also showed me more about irrigatin' than anybody else ever did, and we more or less neighbored for several years and through some hard up damn times. There was another thing he left me, and that was lots and lots of good laughs and stories.

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