Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Buffalo Bill - American Original

William Frederick Cody was born February 26, 1846 near LeClaire in the Iowa Territory, destined to become one of the most famous men of the American Wild West era. The Cody family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas when William was seven years old. It was there that the tales of adventure about the cowboys of the day captured young William's heart and imagination. At age eleven when William's father, Isaac, died leaving the Cody clan in desperate straits "he took a job with a freight carrier as a "boy extra," riding up and down the length of a wagon train, delivering messages." (Wikipedia). Three years later, Cody was hit with gold fever and decided to set out to strike it rich. Somewhere along the way he met an agent of the famed Pony Express and the gold fever subsided rather quickly when William was hired by the Express. He built several  Pony Express stations along the PE route and was rewarded with a job as a Pony Express Rider. After a stint as US Army Scout, Indian Fighter and buffalo hunter supplying meat to the Army and some other endeavors, Cody, now known as Buffalo  Bill, began producing and performing in Wild West Shows all over the world. Though highly rewarding and popular shows, the performances didn't leave Buffalo Bill exactly a wealthy man as one would expect. Bad investments away from the Wild West Shows left Cody with little money to retire on, and though he was ready to call it a career, he kept on keeping on until his dieing day. In 1917, while visiting his sister in Denver, Buffalo Bill Cody died and was buried, per his last wishes, on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. His burial site is still a major tourist attraction for people passing along I-70, west of Denver. William Frederick Cody, truly an American original.

Maine Minutiae : End of Summer Hoorah!

 One of the nice things about living in Augusta is that there are plenty of amenities to live comfortably. Another cool thing about living here is that it's never too far to drive to get to a less-crowded, remote even, place to escape from the rat race. Danged if I didn't find another such place while just goofin' off this morning. Franklin County. A mere 38 miles from Augusta, Franklin County seems a world away. In the winter time, there's always skiing at Sugarloaf. However, as we put another summer behind us, Franklin County still has much to offer. Like the family-owned (I like family-owned businesses. They seem to work harder to make you happy) resort at Saddleback, which features hiking and ski trails, streams and lakes where Fish.Fear.Me. and so much more. While Sugarloaf and Saddleback are doing business in one way or another year round, I wanted to bring up a specific event that I know readers of all ages and both sexes will find well worth the time and money spent. It's billed as the End of Summer Hoorah! The main attractions include a Car/Bike (motorcycle) Show, Texas Hold "Em Tournament and....wait....for....this....a pig roast! I'd slap my mama away from the supper table to get some fresh roasted pig. They'll also be BBQing some yard bird at this hootnanny. How fast can I get there??!! What a great way to wrap up the vacation season! Rangeley, a recent Maine Minutiae subject is also in Franklin County and would be a terrific place to spend some time during your trip to the festivities. Hoorah!

Texas Tidbits : That Texas Town

If You've Got a Ten to Get Yourself In...*
ZZ Top did a song about it. Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton did a movie about it and Houston news guy Marvin Zindler was instrumental in getting the joint shut down. We are, of course, talking about the infamous Chicken Ranch outside La Grange. Wikipedia continues the story : "The brothel that becam.e the Chicken Ranch opened in La Grange in 1844. Run by a widow known as "Mrs. Swine," the brothel operated out of a hotel near the saloon and featured three young women from New Orleans, Louisiana. The ladies used the hotel lobby for entertaining and rented a room upstairs for conducting their business. The brothel was successful for over a decade, but was forced to close during the Civil War, when Swine and one of her prostitutes were forced to leave town as Yankees and American loyalists. After the war, prostitution was endemic in the local saloons, but no official records were kept." At least the good folks of La Grange had the sense to run the Yankees out of town. :)  Am I the only one that finds humor in the fact that a house of ill repute was run by a lady named Mrs. Swine? During the Great Depression the number of "visitors" to the Chicken Ranch dwindled, so the "lady" who ran the place started charging one live chicken instead of cash for the favors of the working girls. Business as usual went on at the Chicken Ranch until late 1972 when the Texas Department of Public Safety got a tip that the brothel was a front for organized crime. That rumor was quickly proven false, but in 1973 Marvin Zindler, a consumer reporter for KTRK-TV in Houston, began an investigation that involved the Governor of Texas and eventually lead to the closing of the now-world famous Chicken Ranch. An interesting and more in depth history of the Chicken Ranch can be found here.  (Cue ZZ Top) "...if you've got a ten to get yourself in...."

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