Thursday, March 15, 2012
The Hangin' on Pine Street
It was a hot summer day back in 1962 when the hangin' occurred. It was on the dusty road that would eventually be named Pine Street. But, let me go back a few years to explain why there was a hangin' in the first place.
It was a much simpler time way back in the 50s. We bought our first TV in '52 or '53 when we lived across the street from Donald Poe, just a block or so from the Waldron school. I remember the impatience any six-year-old would have waiting for the TV antenna to be erected and having the TV adjusted to be sure to get the very best picture. Finally, Dad backed away from the TV and the vast world of Channel 5 from Fort Smith poured into our living room.
I was amazed at the mostly snowy picture that took me to a world of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Commando Cody, John Chandler, and the magnetic hot and cold fronts he slid around on the weather board, Pat Porta and his news broadcasts, and so many more.
I was instantly enraptured by Roy Rogers and Trigger. Roy quickly replaced Stan Musual as my hero. I watched episode after episode. I watched every Western I could because that would surely be the lifestyle I would choose when I grew up.
I noticed that the only way to handle rustlers was to hang 'em. Now, this was way before Clint Eastwood and his Hang 'Em High movie. My brother Arthur and I played cowboy almost every day. We could only wing the shoulder or gun hand because that's how Roy did it. Occasionally, we would hang some make-believe rustlers we had rounded up while riding our stick horses.
Time marched on and we outgrew the stick horses and Cowboy and Indian wars. Our family moved to Carlsbad, New Mexico in 1958 because of my dad's breathing problem. He passed away in May of 1961 and we moved back to Waldron. My mother had a small white house built across the street from the Yates family and right beside the Bobbitt family.
It is now a hot summer day in 1962 on that dusty street that would later be named Pine Street. JW and Donald Bobbitt and I were playing a more grown up version of cowboy and rustlers that day. By this time we were all teenagers.
For some reason, JW and I were the "good guys" and Donald was the rustler. Needless to say, we caught up with Donald and the herd he had rustled and he knew there would be vigilante justice for sure.
JW and I dragged our prisoner to the front yard where a rather large tree stood. Every cowboy knew you needed a tall tree to hang 'em high. We found a rope and even had enough sense to at least not put it around Donald's neck. JW and I came up with a plan. He would hold Donald up off the ground and I would tie the rope around his stomach up around the bottom of the ribs. What a plan! JW lifted, I tied, and we let him hang and swing.
Things were going as planned until we noticed that Donald looked sorta funny. His face was real red and he didn't appear to be breathing so good. He hung parallel to the ground and kept swinging his arms with this wild-eyed, excited look while mumbling something we couldn't quite make out. It finally dawned on us that he was going to die if we didn't do something. We came up with a plan. What a plan! JW lifted him up and I untied the rope. JW laid Donald on the ground and we watched as he gasped for air while mumbling something we still couldn't quite make out.
It all tuned out well. In spite of some serious rope burn, Donald made a full recovery. I think he now lives in Wichita, Kansas. I figure he's afraid to come back to Waldron lest there be a hangin' party waiting on him.
It sure is fun playing cowboy and rustler.
That is, if you ain't the rustler.