The Humor of A Mountain Cowboy



Here are a few stories that pretty well reflect the Mountain Cowboy sense of humor that many early Payson Pioneers were known for. A little Cowboy Humor on this Wild West Wednesday.


My father Floyd Pyle liked to tell this story about a couple of the Booth boys, Ambrose and Dave, who grew up wild in Gisela, too wild to sleep in a house. A cattle drive to Globe presented itself and thus, the opportunity to see the sights of the big city. Awed at first, the boys managed to hold their own until they decided to look in at the Malt Shop.


"What will you have boys?" the waitress asked.


"Reckon we'll have a malt, ma'am." declared Ambrose, the older of the two.


"What flavor?"


Now, you shouldn't ask a couple of ranahans a question like that without you give them a little time to meditate.


They kicked the floor, looked down, shuffled their feet, and looked at each other, each hoping in vain to see a light of wisdom in the eyes of the other. Finally, Ambrose blurted out,

"onion!"


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Orin Childers was my great uncle (another brother of Grandmother Verda) and during the 1950s drove the school bus out to the R Bar C Ranch under Christopher Mountain, which was the end of the route. He cowboyed in the Payson country for much of his life, and worked as a guide at the Grand Canyon for a while. Orin was noted for having a great, if sometimes outrageous, sense of humor and I recall that he had to take a civil service exam to qualify for his job at the Canyon.


One of the questions on the exam was, "How far from the earth is the moon?"


Orin's answer, "I don't know, but it sure isn't close enough to interfere with my being a

guide at the Grand Canyon!" He got the job.


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Another time he had a nasty-looking cut on his chin and was asked how he got it. "I bit

myself." was his reply.


"You couldn't bite yourself there!"


"Well," he admitted, "I was standing on a stool..."


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No one in the country was safe from Orin's practical jokes, but in my mind, he saved the best for last. He had been in and out of the Payson Hospital for about a year and was there again, very sick with emphysema. The following event took place about six months before Orin crossed the Great Divide.


I was living at the Myrtle Ranch with my folks, where we had a wonderful orchard. It was late October and we were harvesting fruit, making apple cider, jelly, crab apple ketchup,

and whatnot. Knowing Orin's love for fermenting cider, I kept him well supplied, and he always had a gallon jug of it under his hospital bed.


Most folks know that if left to its own vocation, fresh apple cider will turn to vinegar. Well, it does a considerable amount of gurgling and bubbling along the way, keeping any sediment riled up in the cider and giving the drink the look of muddy water and some amount of

carbonation.


One day, a pretty young candy striper came in, and the conversation went something like this:


"Mr. Childers, we need a urine sample please," she said, handing him a container.


"Surest thing you know, honey." Orin replies, and the nurse makes an exit. You

guessed it!


Orin filled the beaker to the brim with apple cider!


Our candy striper returned after an appropriate amount of time and taking the beaker from Orin held it up to the light, swirled it around, and admonished: "Oh my, Mr. Childers, this is

awfully cloudy, isn't it?"


"Let me see that." Orin directed.


"You're right, let's just run it through again!"


So, having taken the beaker back, Orin tips it up and drains the contents like it was

87 apple cider!

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My mom told me that in the spring of 1930 when she was about ten years old, she and my Grandmother Belle were driving by Wilhelmina Pieper's house in Payson. Duke and Birdie Hale were up from Gisela selling peaches, so Belle stopped to buy a crate. Mrs. Pieper was an old German lady with a heavy accent. Uncle Duke was selling the peaches for a dollar-fifty a crate.


Mrs. Pieper was known to be quite a trader. She had even been known to try and get the stores in town to drop their prices on marked items. Thus, she was attempting to use her bargaining powers to get the best possible price on the peaches. She counted the peaches in a crate and then asked what the price would amount to for each peach. Uncle Duke did a little figuring and told her that it would be about three and a third cents a peach. Mrs. Pieper did some fast calculating on her own then told Duke, "Vell, den, I take six peaches. If you

knock dat terd off!.

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Stories taken from “Mountain Cowboys” written by Jinx and Jayne Peace Pyle.


Want more Gila County history?


Visit www.discovergilacounty.com/history


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