Dave Simpson: Guns, A Coonskin Cap, And Yodeling

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Plenty of bad news on the global front, so let’s touch some more local bases.

(It’s a prettier picture.)

– I have no problem with Wyoming folks who “open carry” firearms, Or, for that matter, the concealed carry people, either.

No. Problem. At. All.

I was in the self-checkout area of the newer Walmart in Cheyenne Sunday when I noticed a nice looking lady, maybe in her mid 40s, in jeans, a winter coat, and what looked like a 9 mm pistol on her belt. In full view. It’s not unusual.

Far from disturbing me, I figured nobody’s going to try any funny business with ladies like that around.

That same Sunday, I saw an old cowboy in the produce department, packing what looked like a well-used .44 revolver. His holster was slung low on a classic western gun belt. At the bottom of the holster was a leather cinch, tied around his thigh, for quick draws.

At Walmart.

His gun belt had ammo loops lining the belt, and every loop held a .44 caliber bullet – dozens of them. He was ready for anything. Right there amid the heads of lettuce and the bunches of asparagus. If trouble broke out in the dairy section, or over in sporting goods, that guy was prepared.

You can’t help notice that here in Wyoming, where we’re probably the least likely to see trouble break out, we’re among the best prepared to defend ourselves if trouble DOES break out.

There’s a lesson there, but I don’t expect the folks who most need to learn it will ever come within a country mile of seeing it.

– Meanwhile, Navy SEALs have been barred from cold water training in coastal parks in Washington State, because, well, some poor dear might get the vapors at the sight of Navy SEALs with guns.

(Are you sure we’re on the same planet?)

– Sometimes the best Christmas gifts don’t cost much at all.

I was at a sporting goods store in Gillette right before Christmas and couldn’t resist getting a fur Davy Crockett coonskin cap, complete with bushy tail, for my grand daughters. Cost me $17. It was a hit on Christmas morning. I’ve got pictures to prove it.

Another hit, a stocking stuffer, was a box of bandages with pictures of bugs on them. Flies. Lady Bugs. Bumble Bees. The kids love them. Cost a couple bucks.

One time back in my newspaper publisher days in Illinois, a bookkeeper came to visit from the home office in California. We had him over for dinner, and our kids happened to have a bunch of fake tattoos that you put in water then applied to your skin. So we all put tattoos on our arms – the kids, my wife, me, and the auditor from California. Plenty of laughs.

The auditor – a great guy who didn’t find any problems at that paper– went back to Oceanside with a tattoo on his forearm.

– Also at Christmas, my three-year-old grand daughter surprised us by her ability to yodel.

“Yodel A He-Hoo!” she sang.

She’s been spending time with cousins who rodeo up in Gillette, so that might be where the yodeling came from. Or from TV. For a guy who grew up outside Chicago, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy having a grand daughter who loves horses, likes the rodeo…

And yodels.

The yodeling took me back to my years at the Casper Star-Tribune, and a local bar called Frosty’s (it still exists) that had Eddy Arnold singing “Cattle Call” on the jukebox. Frosty’s was a favorite bar for newspaper types (a friend and I planned my cabin there, over Saturday night cheeseburger baskets and pitchers of Coors), and we just about wore out “Cattle Call” on that jukebox.

There’s yodeling in that song, and half the bar would cry out “YIP!” at exactly the right moments.

One time we played that song, and an old cowboy at the bar – dressed in boots, jeans, western shirt, vest and cowboy hat – stood up, took off his hat, and held it over his heart.

Funny what you remember, and how a three-year-old can take you back 40 years.

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