Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tate Buckthorn - King of the Knitting Cowboys: Cadets Ain't G-Men

Tate Buckthorn Knits '. . .you have a problem with that? Let's hear it on your hind legs, barkside out, Pard.'

Some cowboys sing, some play the Guit-box, some others toss the lasso, but Tate Buckthorn's knits.  He knits sweaters, throw rugs, baby socks and when perturbed his bushy eyebrows.  Many a dry-gulching, back shooter learned that the purl'n and stich'n irons in the thick calloused hands of Tate Buckthorn can be as deadly as the shoot'n irons on his hips and  tied to his thighs.

Back in '38, when the Amerikadeutscher Volksbund was grabbing all of the best tables in Chicago's beer-gardens, Tate Buckthorn drovered a herd from the louvered rail-cars on the tracks above Canaryville's Root Street and into the Union Stockyards of Chicago.  He was tall on the saddle and knitting away like a widow woman with an eye for the Sears Catalog boys in swimming trunks, but her mind on the gospel messages. Yep, he was busy on the saddle, but with an eye on the 94% of beeves that survived the rail passage to the slaughter pens.

A group of boys from Morgan Park Military Academy were on field trip to the stockyards that day and noted the tall, bronzed figure standing on the ornate Charro saddle hugging the back and belly of  his14.2 hand bucksin stallion, Purl. Tate was doing what the Mex charros call a suerte - showing off.

The teenage boys were wowed by the cowboy's balance and command.

One big, red-headed lunk with jug-ears and buck teeth under his garrison cap halloed, " Hey Lady! Better take a chair and tend to your knitting!"

Tate slowed the pace of Purl some and went as bright-eyed as that school marm back in Fort Smith went,when Tate presented her with a hand knitted sampler containing a pornographic two-dimensional  suggestion for a mutual  day off and answered, " Pard, let me tend to your knitting."  With that, he sprung from the back of Purl and landed square in front of the cadet.

" Well, Red, ain't you the curly wolf, just!   I knit to keep focused and focus is the difference between keepin' a whole skin and taking a steer's antlers in the ribs, Pard.  Some Pokes sing, some twirl the lasso and I knit."

Tate leaped back into the saddle, " Follow me, Red and drag along all them army loafer Pards of your'n and we'll all get familiar with some Sasparilla."  They repaired to a corner store at Wentoworth and Root streets with a blue and white painted  coffin- like ice cooler packed with bottles of root beer next to the store's front steps and entrance to the shop.

Tate Buckthorn treated each of the score of boys ( that's twenty Bufflao Head, brethren) in caps and green uniforms to a bottle of Old Dutch a piece while he squatted on his haunches and knit. The boys petted and cooed over the great horse caparisoned in silver latigos and saddle strings. The door swung open with great noise and violence.  A man emerged wearing  very tight fitting black top-coat.  Under his black bowler hat set the pair meanest grey eyes this side of the Old Man.  He had a muscular thick neck that challenged the collar of his tan shirt and bulged the knot of bow tie out into the public.

" Move on away from my door so people can traffic into my shop  You have ( he said Half) your Pop now go!.  This is private, now!"

" No reason to put the bulge on, Pard. Me and these h'yar saddled-chaps and my old Cayuse, Purl, don't mean to obstruct the trail none."

" Well, take your knitting elsewhere."

It got quiet. . ..two quiet.

Tate stood full to the flush, but let the insult pass.

" Hombres, lets move across the street to that other corner." Indicating the sign above the grocery and notions shop hung sign bearing the name of the owner.

" I take it you are Mr. Hintern-Schnüffeln."

" I have that honor. Why?"

"Some handle.  I see you do not sell beer to Indians.  Get a crowd of Comanch are these parts?"

The Bowler'd square head went blood red,  " There are many tribes of Indian."

Tate Buckthorn sized up the warning sign as well as the owner proprieter.

" I'appears to me, that you lay claim to a wide field."

"  Soon, we will not need such signs, nor require an explanation to the likes of you and all Untermenschen."

" Well, Juniper, I'd wager my next six packets of hard money that you arfe one of them Papier-Aufhänger Liebhaber Wer hasst Juden, Schwarze, Katholiken, Zigeuner und Fuller Brush Männer.

" I do not hate Fuller Brush Men!  You . . . Sie sprechen sehr gut Deutsch für eine Satteltramp.

" Do you sabe un culo kansas antaño patadas?"

The store owner pulled a Ruger MK III .22 automatic from his coat pocket and threatened Tate, but more so the twenty cadets.

Alle von euch Ratten, weg von meiner Tür bzw. diesen Cowboy, der der Jude Krankenhaus auf 29th Street senden!"

The threat of violence and race-baiting rhetorical flourishes by the bowler wearing Bunds had taken the rag of the bush and Tate's wrists rolled yarn by the yard from the twin needles yet clutched in his gnarled hands.  The Bowler'd bully boy's Nazi heater clattered to the cement and the big buck-toothed red-headed cadet from Morgan Park Military Academy kicked the gat far way from the two combatants and into the Canaryville gutter,

With the Teutonic trouble-making desparado ensnarled in butternut wool, Tate tightened the yarn on the Heinie Hyena until the coppers arrived.

The man was charged with threatening boys with and unlicensed hand gun and taken to hoosegowl on 35th Street.  He was booked.

Tate was surrounded by the boys who had had an adventure in the stockyards.  The big redhead thumbed back the brim of his garrison cap and offered, " Mr. Buckthorn I learned a great lesson today."

Tate smiled high wide and handsome, " Tend to your knitting Red! Tend to your knitting and visit the gospel mill every Sunday!  . . .and drink Old Dutch Root Beer!."

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