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Cowboy Poetry Preserves History

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

A lot of history and flavor of the West, and especially Wyoming, has been preserved by those who lived it. Many a cowboy or sheepherder saved his thoughts with pencil and paper while others snapped pictures of what they experienced. 

One of those cowboy poets was Rusty Fryer, a cowboy, sheepherder, camp cook, bartender, gentlemen and local character who came to town to get a drink or two, raise hell and have a good time. He was born in Saratoga on July 26, 1897 and grew up on a ranch west of town.  

Rusty quit school when he was 14 years old and went to herding sheep. It was during this time he found time to pen his poetry. 

With all the celebrations this summer, and the upcoming Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering in Encampment the weekend of July 16-18, this poem seems appropriate. 

When Charlie Hit ‘Togy 

By Charles E. “Rusty” Fryer 

I hit the town of ’Togy 

On th’ mornin’ of th’ fair, 

An’ entered in the’ buckin’ 

More in fun than on th’ square. 

Then I knocked around all morning’ 

As I had nothin’ else t’ do, 

An’ when I felt my nerve a-slippin’, 

I would go an’ hoist a few. 

Soon I heard th’ band a-playin’ 

As they headed for th’ track, 

So I went an’ throw’d muh saddle 

On th’ ol’ nag’s back. 

An’ we started for th’ fair grounds 

A happy lot of boys, 

I saw a couple o’ races 

An’ heard a’ lot o’ noise. 

When th’ judges says, “You punchers, 

Line up for th’ draw,” 

I got an ol’ gray mare 

‘Bout as handsome as a squaw. 

But when I steps upon her 

Th’ crowd growed mighty still, 

An’ I saw th’ punchers grinnin’ 

Guess they know I’s goin’ t’ spill. 

So I waved my hat an’ hollered 

An’ I slapped her in th’ flank, 

I grabbed her in th’ shoulders 

With silver mounted shank. 

She left th’ chute a bawlin’ 

An’ made one jump plumb grand, 

I reached down for th’ safety 

An’ hit a-clawin’ sand. 

Th’ crowd than hollered “Rotten! 

Yohr ridin’s pretty cheap 

So I beat it t’ th’ mountains 

An’ went t’ herdin’ sheep. 

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