Cowboy Poetry Preserves History
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.