December 13, 2003: The Christmas Symphony
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December 23-27, 2003
My Sister Judy
Visits Dallas for Christmas



Christmas Day at My House

My sister has come to Dallas to visit with her daughter, Jeffie, and our Mom for Christmas. She arrived two days before Christmas, and will be staying until the 27th.

Today, we have brought Mom down to my house from the Treemont, the rehabilitation facility where she has been recovering from hip replacement surgery. Fred is also here, as is his usual, and Jeffie has also come to spend the day with us.

When we got Mom in the house and seated in the kitchen with a cup of tea, we took a few pictures of all of us- including my cat, Chip. You can see the best of these here. In the living room, the Christmas tree was all set up, and we left it guarded by Chip while we prepared the traditional Christmas ham.

We were all in the kitchen chatting with each other, and Mom and Judy got a chance to visit for quite a bit. Eventually, we got everything ready and I carved the ham as Fred captured the action with his camera. We had a really good meal, with Judy helping Mom throughout.

After dinner, we adjourned to the living room and exchanged gifts. I've put thumbnails below for some pictures Fred took while we were doing that, and you can see the full-size pictures by clicking on those thumbnails:

It was a really pleasant day. Late in the afternoon, we took Mom back up to the Treemont, and then went back to the house to sit and visit.


Chip Gets a Haircut

On the day after Christmas, I took Chip in to the groomer at the vet, who had recommended the last time I was there with him that he get a close trim of his hair. Cats with long hair often have difficulty keeping it clean, and Chip has had a number of problems with hairballs lately, so the vet thought that what she called a "lion cut" would eliminate any current matting problems and give Chip a chance to "start over" and keep his fur clean as it grew out again.

So, that's what I did. The result was a bit comical (and I think that Chip knew that, too). No one likes to have his picture taken after a bad haircut, but this was so unusual that I wanted to record it. First, you can use the player at left to look at a movie of Chip with his haircut as I coax him over to eat some of the cat food that I've given him as a reward for enduring his haircut so well. You can also see a still picture of Chip eating if you wish.


An Evening at Fred's House

Fred's friends Frank Roberts and Joe Wells had also been in the Dallas area for Christmas- over in Fort Worth visiting Frank's family. On the day after Christmas, Fred did something he almost never does- he invited someone other than myself to come to his house for dinner. He invited Frank and Joe, who would stay over with him, and Judy and myself. Fred fixed a spaghetti dinner, which was quite good, and, after dinner, we all prevailed on Frank and Joe to reprise their cowboy songs and cowboy poetry. Judy had never heard them and so this would be a treat for all of us.

Before I show you some movies of their recitations and songs, I want to show you the still pictures that Fred and I took during the evening. I've put some labels below the thumbnails in case you need them, but to view the full-size images just click on those thumbnails:

Frank and Fred Fred and Joe Frank Roberts Joe Wells
Judy and Fred Frank and Joe Joe and Frank Myself and Joe


Frank Roberts Begins the Performance

Frank Roberts and "Boy from the Country"

I was not quite quick enough to figure out that I wanted to take a series of movies, as fast as possible, of the various performances, so I missed most of Frank's first selection. Fred, however, caught Frank doing the last part of that song, "Boy From the Country," and you can watch it with the player at left.

I was ready and doing my filming when Frank talked about what "cowboy poetry" was and when he introduced Joe Wells. You can watch these two movies with the players below:

Frank Talking About Cowboy Poetry

Frank Introduces Joe Wells


Joe Wells Recites "Purt Near" by S. Omar Barker

I wish my little camera took unlimited-length movies, for I would like to capture some entire songs and poems done by these two. The best I could do tonight to record one of my favorite poems recited by Joe Wells was to record it in 30-second snippets. By the time the camera had stored the movie and was ready for the next one, I'd always lost a phrase or two. So what I've done is to find the text for the poem, and I am going to put the text here when my movie did not capture it, but let Joe do the rest of it for you in the movies. As you read through the text of the poem, when you get to a "movie" link, just click on it and Joe will take over. When the movie finishes, go back to reading the text until the next movie link comes up.

"Purt Near" (Clip 1)

The lyrics continue with:

"...a trailboss and accordin' to his claim,
He'd purtnear shot Bill Hickock which had purtnear won his fame.
He'd purtnear rode the broncs upon which no one else had stuck,
In fact he was the cowboy who had purtnear drowned the duck."

You can go on to the next clip now.

"Purt Near" (Clip 2)

The lyrics continue with:

"In fact right now I'll tell you, that no two words I hear,
Sounds quite so plain damn useless as that little pair purt near."

You can go on to the next clip now.

"Purt Near" (Clip 3)

The lyrics continue with:

" ride.
Them nesters hated cowboys and they told him that he lied.
They cussed him for a horse theif, claimed they'd caught him with the goods
And set right out to hang him in anear by patch of woods."

You can go on to the next clip now.

"Purt Near" (Clip 4)

The lyrics continue with:

"Looks like I purt near got here just in time." old purt near Perkins said,"

You can now finish with the last clip.

"Purt Near" (Clip 5)


Frank Roberts Recites the Story of Cynthia Ann Parker

In Frank's introduction to this bit of cowboy poetry/lore (you can watch part of his introduction with the movie player at left), he tells us of Captain Sul Ross and how a woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been abducted by Indians over 25 years previously, was recaptured and returned to her family of origin. The return did not go well, as you can gather from Frank's recitation.

Again, there are gaps in the story as my camera stores and resets, but maybe you can get the gist of it by using the three players below to watch the three sections I was able to film:

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3


Annie Laurie Out on Guard

While Frank is an excellent cowboy song singer, and Joe does extremely well at his cowboy poetry, I think that they really shine when they work together, and no performance is so demonstrative of this fact as when Frank sings the old Scots ballad "Annie Laurie," while Joe recites "A Bad Half Hour." The way they intersperse the song and the poetry brings out the imagery of both the cowboy on the cattle drive and the Scottish lad and his expressions of love. Here, again, I wished my little camera could have captured the entire performance from start to finish, for my five 30-second snippets don't do it justice.

I have been renovating portions of my online photo album recently, and happened to come across this page. In the years since we were at Fred's house this evening, I have had the pleasure of watching Frank and Joe perform numerous times, most recently right in Garner State Park where Frank works as a Park Ranger. Fred and I have also watched them numerous times at the Fort Worth Stock Show and at other venues.

Technology has also advanced in the last seven years, and the camera I use now allows unlimited film recording- subject only to the capacity of the camera's memory card and the charge in the battery. What this all means is that I have actually been able to capture the entire performance of "Annie Laurie Out on Guard" at least twice. So, rather than do what I did above and piece together snippets of their performance, I'm going to cheat and instead include one of my films of the entire performance.

On January 26, 2011, Frank and Joe performed at the Fort Worth Stock Show, and Fred and I went to see them. At that show, they performed "Annie Laurie Out On Guard." You can watch the entire performance without interruption by using the movie player below:


An Unknown Cowboy Song

Another of Frank's performances was a song I wasn't familiar with, although the tune seemed as if I had heard it before. So I have no lyrics or anything for you, just four clips of this one of Frank's songs. Watch the clips, if you wish, using the four players below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Joe Recites "Bruin Wooin'" by S. Omar Barker

The last performance I filmed was Joe's recitation of a cowboy poem by S. Omar Barker entitled "Bruin Wooin'". This was a long one, and I was amazed that Joe could remember it all. It's a fun poem and I think you'll like it. As I have done before, I have supplied the full set of lines for you, and I have separated out the lines I actually caught on film:

Clip "Bruin Wooin'" Lines
The track of the bear that had killed Carson's pig,
It wasn't so small and it wasn't so big
But what when this cowboy come ridin' a-past,
He claimed he'd go git him--an' go git him fast.

"The dogs took his trail," the nester gal said.
"But Pa couldn't make it--he's down, sick abed.
We'd be mighty glad if you'd foller the dogs
And shoot that ol' bear 'fore he gits all our hogs!

"Well, ma'am," says the cowboy, a gleam in his eye,
"To please a fair maid, there ain't much I won't try,
For I'm Bill Maginnis, a buckaroo which
Kills panthers bare handed and bears with a switch!
So if this pig-killer ain't handy to shoot,
I'll grab me a tail holt and pop off his snoot!"

And so, spizzered up by the nester gal's smile,
Bill rode up the canyon not more than a mile,
And there found the nester's dogs bellerin' brave,

A-bayin' that bear in a little ol' cave.
To git to this openin' up there in the rocks,
Bill had to shuck boots and climb in his socks.

The ledge was plumb narrow, the cave mouth was small.
Bill stopped to peek in and saw nothin' at all,
For to this here hunter of bears with a switch,
All inside the cavern was darker than pitch.
The nester's two mongrels kept raisin' a din

Around the cave's mouth, but they wouldn't go in.

Ol' Bill tried to "sic 'em," but them dogs was wise.
They wouldn't go in--and the look in their eyes
Was purt near reproachful, up there on the shelf,
As much as to say: "Whyn't you try it yourself?
We holed up your bear--that's all we can do!

If you want him UNholed, mister, that's up to you!"

Bill knowed by the smell he was in there all right.
He struck him a match and peered in by its light.
Two little red eyes in the glow was reflected--
And then somethin' happened Bill hadn't expected:
A sweet maiden's voice drifted up from the crick:

"Could you poke the bear out if I hand you a stick?"

The nester's fair daughter had follered to view
A bear gittin' switched by her bold buckaroo.

The sight of this maiden shore give Bill a sweat,
Recallin' some braggin' he'd like to forget.
But you take a cowboy, and what he won't try
To dazzle a damsel's admirin' blue eye!

"I'll crawl in an' git him!" Bill's voice was plumb bold
In spite of the blood in his veins runnin' cold.
"I'll grab a tail-holt and I'll show you the art
Of whip-snappin' bears till they plumb fly apart!"
But when he stooped down--with his hand on his gun

'Twas bruin his ownself that started the fun.

With a growl and a squall and big whoosh of wind

He came out of there like a cat bein' skinned.
Bill riz up plumb sudden, his legs spraddled wide,
To find hisself straddlin' a hairy black hide.
The bear give a beller, Bill's gun give a boom,
They both give a lurch, and the dogs give 'em room.

Bill wrastled the bear and the bear wrastled him.
Bill grabbed for the tail-holt--and fell off the rim!
And who was on top as they rolled down the hill?
Sometimes it was the bear and sometimes it was Bill!

Then just when pore Bill thought his last blood was shed,
The gal grabbed his pistol and shot the bear dead!
Bill lived to git married--a right happy hitch--
His wife, she won't let him hunt bears with a switch.
Now this story's moral, if a moral you crave,
Points straight at you hombres that talk up too brave.
It's a plenty good rule, Mister Big-Braggin' Male:
When wrastlin' a bear, never reach for his tail!
Though reasons for this are both mighty and many,
It's mainly because he ain't got hardly any!

Frank and Joe were kind to entertain us with their songs and poetry; Fred and I always enjoy them, but I think the biggest effect was on my sister, who commented later that it was one of the most enjoyable evenings she's ever spent (and still says so to this day). It was a fitting last night to cap her visit to Dallas.

December 13, 2003: The Christmas Symphony
Return to Index for 2003