CHRISTMAS COOKIE DAY
By Steve Moreland – December 12, 2016
Today was the annual Christmas Cookie Day at our local Security First Bank in Merriman. Loretta Fish went all out in making some magnificent chicken noodle soup and many delightful-tasting decorated cookies. My son, Brock, and I took advantage of this great opportunity as a perfect day to renew our notes and lines of credit with our loan officer, Brian Kirk.
We met with Brian first and got the hard part out of the way before taking part in the culinary crafts. Loretta had a table set up for diners to use, so after dishing up a bowl full of soup and procuring a few cookies, I sat down to enjoy the delicacies. An unfamiliar cowboy and a lady were sitting at the table, so we struck up a conversation. They were on their way from Surprise, Arizona to Faith, South Dakota to take on a ranch management job. Today was a pretty chilly day, with the temperature reaching a high of 23 degrees at about 11 a.m. and moving slightly in a downward direction as the day progressed. Unfortunately for this couple, the heater in their car was not working properly. They looked like the durable type, though, and they did have a blanket with them.
While visiting, I mentioned that I hoped their experience didn’t turn out like one deal did many years ago. A young couple driving a pickup pulling a trailer had pulled in to the old Standard Station, which used to be on the north side of Highway 20 in Merriman. They had a couple horses and all of their worldly possessions with them. They also had a couple of small children. At the gas station, they asked the proprietor how to get to the Sandoz Ranch. He told them it was a mile north and a mile west, and easy to find. They said they were going to work there. The proprietor was puzzled about this, so asked a few questions. It seems that they had met a local Merrimanite at a restaurant about a month previous. This man, Harry (not his real name) told them he had the Sandoz Ranch leased and needed some help to run it. He told them he had 400 first-calf heifers to calve out, and was convincing enough that these folks had given notice at their current job and moved to Merriman to take on the new responsibilities. The ranch was already leased out to Rich Cobb, as it had been for years, and Harry was just blowing smoke. He didn’t own a single cow, and had never even pretended to be a rancher before in his life. He did have a firm reputation for being quite careless with the truth.
As I was telling this story to the couple at the table, a local lady overheard the conversation. She asked if I remembered the truck deal on the Pine Ridge Reservation that “Harry” had also been involved with. I did, but until today didn’t realize that Harry was the culprit who caused the calamity. Back in the mid to late 1970’s, there was a picture on the front page of either the Gordon Journal or the Bennett County Booster of Martin, SD. In the photograph were semi cattle trucks lined up on a highway as far as you could see. There were at least 25-30 trucks involved, and they had all pulled up to a given destination to load cattle. Some were from several hundred miles away. It was kind of a case of them being all dressed up but having no place to go. There were no corrals and no cattle at this location. In fact the whole deal was a hoax, and someone had orchestrated this whole fiasco for a purpose known only to themselves. The local lady set the record straight that it was Harry who caused the havoc. This was news to me, and it is nice to finally know the “rest of the story.”
Back when I was in a high school science class, our instructor told us that females have two X chromosomes, and normally males have one X and one Y chromosome. Occasionally a male can have one X and two Y chromosomes. The teacher said that a male with this condition can sometimes be either a genius or abnormally dumb, and they sometimes have criminal inclinations. Since “Harry” seemed to display both genius and criminal tendencies, maybe there was an extra Y chromosome in his make-up.
It may have just been genetic. Harry had an uncle, Jud (not his real name), who was in grade school in Merriman during the same years that my dad was a student. “Jud” had trouble in school, and had to take at least a couple grades over again. Consequently, he was quite a little older than the other kids in his class. One time the teacher was discussing different occupations. She asked, “Jud, what are you going to be when you get out of school?” He answered quite truthfully, “A old man.” Jud went on to have a checkered career, and spent time in different hoosegows through the years.
Hopefully the Arizona cowboy and his bride arrived at their destination safe and sound, without biting their tongues with chattering teeth.