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Old Ranger
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Posted: June 18 2018 at 5:20pm | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

In 1928 my father, Ted, went with his uncle Leo to Helena
Mt. They traveled in Leo's Model A from North of Butte.
Leo was transporting a non-violent prisoner and since he
was wanted for fraud and being a paperhanger
(counterfeiter) Leo's sister-in-law (my grandmother) felt
it was ok for Ted to go with Leo to Helena.

The trip was uneventful and shortly after arrival the
prisoner was released into the custody of the Sheriff's
Office. That left the afternoon for Leo to show his
nephew around town. They saw the sites. Visited a few
saloons too. They had quite a few of the old style long
narrow saloons with batwing doors and sawdust covered
floors. Free sandwiches on the bar. Several had a poker
game going too. They had some in Butte too, but this was
Helena after all. Ted was entranced. They ate lunch at a
restaurant owned and operated by Chinese and Ted loved
Chinese food. Something he did outgrow when posted in
China for almost five years during WW2. But then it was a
novelty to be sure.

Back in another saloon Leo decided to take his chances on
a Punchboard this saloon was operating. A Punchboard was
a game of chance with marked prizes hung up behind the
bar. You would pay 50 cents for a chance to poke a
tightly rolled up slip of paper from this board about 1'x
2' that was filled with holes and rolled up paper. If you
punched one that said "sorry, try again" well ya didn't
with a thing. But if your paper named a prize from the
wall well you got it. Leo bought four chances. Three were
looser, but one was for a .22 rifle on the wall. Leo
ordered another shot of bourbon and handed the winning
paper to my dad saying "Here Ted. Go claim your rifle."
My father was beside himself. A brand spanking new .22
pump Winchester rifle. Yes sir, uncle Leo did good. After
thanking the owner of the saloon the two sauntered off to
locate an emporium or hardware store for ammo.

Leo bought Ted two boxes of everything that the rifle
could chamber and shoot. Now Ted wanted to go shoot his
new rifle but Leo had a few more saloon visits in mind.
They locked Ted's rifle and ammo up in the box on the
Model A and returned to investigating the remaining
saloons yet to visit. Leo had a pocket full of bounty
money from earlier that day and the sun was still a full
two hands high in the west. Plenty of time. Poor Ted was
getting bored watching uncle Leo play poker and drink
whiskey. He wanted to go shoot his rifle. But around
sundown Leo was in no shape to drive. That Kentucky
bourbon had rendered uncle Leo a very intoxicated but
this time, mellow fellow who bought a room for the night
and he and Ted stayed the night in Helena.

Up right after dawn, they had breakfast. Gassed up the
vehicle. And headed out to Butte. Along the way Ted got
to shoot his new rifle and did some amazing shots
according to the accounts of this adventure. And Ted even
got to drive the Model A using cut chunks of pine
strapped to Ted's feet with leather bootlaces to reach
the pedals. [When I saw Brother Where Art Thou, I thought
of my dad]

Being a day late my grandmother was furious at them both.
Especially uncle Leo. She wouldn't let him in the house
and told him not to come back until he didn't smell like
bourbon. Which if he wasn't on the trail of a bad guy or
two or not on duty with the Sheriff's Office, he often
did pull a cork at times. My father said Leo would always
keep a bottle in the box, but would avoid it until after
his visits.

My father killed many rabbits and such with his
"Punchboard Rifle" over the years and gave it to his kid
brother Harold when Ted went into the army 1941. Harold
eventually grew old and the rifle was lost somewhere in a
move from a house or two. I'd like to think some young
boy has it out shooting rabbit for supper on the prairie
somewhere....

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The Old Ranger
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John P.
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Posted: June 18 2018 at 6:41pm | IP Logged Quote John P.

Another great post Wade. You should write a book.
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Rex
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Posted: June 19 2018 at 3:42am | IP Logged Quote Rex

John P. wrote:
Another great post Wade. You should write a book.


I agree!
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RECURVE
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Posted: June 19 2018 at 3:44pm | IP Logged Quote RECURVE

I agree John P
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M700
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Posted: June 21 2018 at 3:09pm | IP Logged Quote M700

Nice!
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beerd
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Posted: June 24 2018 at 5:27pm | IP Logged Quote beerd

Great story.
Butte to Helena in 1928 must have been an interesting road trip.
I'll have to re-read my copy of "Hell, I Was There" and find out when Elmer was in Helena.
..
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Old Ranger
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Posted: June 25 2018 at 6:17am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Leo knew both Elmer Keith and Ed McGivern. Said that Ed
was a true gentleman and was indeed fast as lightening.
His accuracy was beyond compare. A well spoken man that
exhibited skill and self-confidence with a most modest
disposition. Leo said he liked him a lot.

Elmer, on the other hand, was said to be a plagiaristic
fellow that wrote of mostly the accomplishments of others
and made damn sure Elmer got his name printed in there
with 'em. Uncle Leo had little respect for Elmer as he
bragged of his gun handling skills against armed
opponents, but was never in a gunfight. Elmer spoke often
of being with lawmen but never wore a badge. And wrote of
his assisting the army but never served in the military.
Yeah, my uncle was not an Elmer fan.

And I'm sure many of you will raise your pitchforks,
gather in a mob, and bring the tar & feathers out. But I
too have read Elmer's books and indeed he's mostly a
witness than a participant. Elmer came along at a time
when folks read magazines for information. Elmer knew how
to write. And to be honest he was a master of self-
promotion too. Studying closely some of his claims of
creativity, most were actually the work of others. Elmer
had the "hoodspah" to be sure to tack his name on the
project though. His articles and books sold, and he made
very sure to promote them to the fullest.

So overall I find some of Elmer's stories entertaining,
but at the same time I can see where he's laying it on
thick when it comes to his actions or mere presence at
the time. Kinda like P.T. Barnum. He gave us a good show.


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The Old Ranger
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LAH
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Posted: June 26 2018 at 8:35pm | IP Logged Quote LAH

Spent the day in Butte yesterday. That town isn't
vertically challenged.

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