Thunder Butte

March 15, 2009

Stark Raving Beauty

A Boy Rides a White Stallion
(photo from the film, "White Mane," 1952)

This is the story of the most beautiful horse that ever lived. Well, the most beautiful ever seen around Thunder Butte at least.

There is no record of where Peanuts came from, beautiful horses just roamed the range when I was a child and this one, Peanuts, just came to me as my right and privilege for having been born around the butte.

One day when I was about 12 or 13 years of age, I went out to the corral to find this prancing, white stallion. He would run up to the corral fence, as if to jump it, then with a mighty snort, turn and trot back to the other side. Temptation was too much, this giant Arabian was the horse I had dreamed of since learning to ride.

Loosing a loop in my catch'n rope, I hopped over the corral fence and settled the loop over Peanuts head.

Yep ! He was Peanuts at first sight.

Snow white with a golden mane and tail, pink nostrils that dilated with a fluttering sound.

When the loop settled over his head, Peanuts trotted up to me, blowing with that fluttering sound, as much as to say----- " We're buddies, stick with me and we will float across this land".

The first day of school that fall was one of the proudest days of my life. Peanuts and I rode up to the school-house, took a turn or two around the school, slid off, ground-hitching Peanuts at the same time, I sauntered in to the school room like the Cowboy that I thought I was, number one, with the number one Arabian horse in all of Thunder Butte country.

From time to time my brothers, who probably owned Peanuts, would tell me: you can't have that horse. But, somehow I always managed to ignore their comments and Peanuts and I just continued to ride the range.

Stallions are notoriously hard to manage. They seem to always have a mind of their own and they have been know to be dangerous. More than one person around Thunder Butte has had a piece of his head, bitten off by a stallion. Peanuts, although big and tough, was always gentle as a lamb, prancing around the corral, blowing, letting the world know that he was boss stud in this country. He would settle down under bridle and saddle and though he always danced with the grace of an acrobat, he had the nature of a good friend.

Sitting here, lost in memories of "the good old days," I just had to talk about Peanuts, the object of my nostalgia.

Actually, there is little point to my story other than Peanuts was----- the most beautiful, spirited Arabian who ever floated o'er the cactus patches of Western South Dakota and we belonged.

We belonged to that fraternity who ruled the plains, from the days of Kit Carson, Wild Bill and Deadwood Dick. Ol'e Peanuts had that magic quality of being able to transport a kid into the wild blue yonder,where dwelt the Cowboys from another time.

Some cowboy came along to the ranch one day, carrying his saddle, pick'n cactus out of his boots and my folks loaned Peanuts to him.

I never saw Peanuts again, but you know, when you think of the wind blowing free across the plains and rain clouds shaping up along the horizon, it don't take much imagination to see Ol'e Peanuts, snorting those pink nostrils, mane and tail flowing in the wind.

--John Crowley
Mike Crowley Sunday, March 15, 2009 | (0) comments |

March 02, 2009

Kirk Hall

Boyd Hall was an old Texan who had fallen out of the trail drives between Texas and Montana. He founded a spread of a few thousand acres in the Chance area of Rabbit Creek and raised a family.

The only one of the Hall family that I ever knew was Kirk. Maybe he was the only child, I never knew.

I used to see the father, Boyd on the street in Faith and in Lemmon from time to time, typical old Texas cowboy---ten gallon hat, boots and spurs, and a walk that you knew was never more than a few feet from some cranky bronco.

My brother Joe, as you know by this time was a rough, tough cow puncher, bulldogger, and bronc rider. Joe's life long best buddy was Kirk Hall.

Kirk was a big, lanky, cowboy with the slow way of talking that made you think of campfires and bronc busting on the Texas trail drives. I guess Kirk just inherited the Southwest from his father. He and Joe were thick as thieves for many years.

Well, when I got on the old train, in Faith, on the way to Omaha to be inducted in to the Navy, the other inductee on the train was Kirk Hall. Although I was much younger, we became good friends and Kirk brought his wife, the former Alice Jones, to Alameda, California to be near my folks.

Kirk and I went through the same boot camp company #174. Although Kirk probably thought I was nuts for the stuff I became involved in, he never wavered in his friendship. He was out on the grid-iron exercising to the commands of the old movie star, George Montgomery, just like the rest of us.

Kirk's wife, Alice became a beautician and I believe this took place while Kirk was overseas.

When we got to San Diego, "boot camp," and processed through, Kirk and I were the only two men from that company to get schools. Everyone else was shipped directly out to ships, the Marines, or to some other over-seas station. Kirk was assigned to Electrician's school and I was assigned
to Hospital Corps school.

Several times during the war , Kirk and I would arrive in Alameda at the same time . He and Alice would come to visit at our place or we to their's. We were such good friends that several times during the war when I would land back in Alameda, I would take Alice to a movie, as Kirk had wanted.

After the war Kirk got a job at the Mare Island Navy base, working as an electrician. I became a pharmaceutical salesman, calling on drug stores and detailing doctors and hospitals.

Kirk never changed. He remained the loyal cowpuncher type who never missed a day of work, never complained and spoke slowly and very little.

After a couple of years, Kirk could no longer stomach the stress and nonsense of life in the city. He bought a war surplus Jeep, loaded Alice and their suitcases in the jeep, and drove back to South Dakota.

I never saw them again, but I have gathered (learned) over the years, from newspapers and Faith area mutual friends, that Kirk became a prosperous rancher in the Rabbit Creek area, raised a family and died of cancer quite a few years ago.

Kirk Hall's son now operates the family ranch and is well known and respected in the area as his father and grandfather were before him.

Kirk's is a great American family, a great solid evolution of the best of America from the days of the Pioneers.

--John Crowley

Editor's Noteā€”From what I can gather from the February 1996 edition of the Angus Journal, Boyd Hall, Kirk's dad, started a ranch near Meadow, South Dakota, in 1933. Kirk must have returned from California to take over the ranch from his dad. Kirk's son, Bruce, and daughter-in-law, Lynn, partnered with him in 1976 and then took over the ranch when Kirk died in 1987.
Mike Crowley Monday, March 02, 2009 | (0) comments |