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CHARLETTE SAUSE
Monmouth County, New Jersey
About Charlette Sause

 

 

 

Trails

Like beads on a string,
Fat red Hereford cows--
White-faced calves at their heels--
Follow one another through the worn gate,
Move out of the corral past the salt blocks,
Each moist, pink, nose following
Close behind a switching tail down to the creek
Where clear, cold water quenches their thirst.
Countless hooves have plowed through this mud,
Climbed up this steep bank,
And ducked under these willows--scratching with delight
On trunks smoothly polished by past bovine hides.
Relishing the shade.
Calves suckle at teats on udders filled with rich milk.
Satisfied, they slumber under watchful eyes,
Sheltered from the sun and the flies by ancient cottonwoods.
Rested, the herd trails out into the pasture,
Grazing on sweet grass in the afternoon sun--
Little bluestem, timothy, clover.
Slowly nosing along the fence row, crossing the brow of the hill,
Lengthening shadows stir up little dust clouds in the deep trail
Worn into the prairie by the passage of many feet
Winding their way to the old windmill
Creaking softly in the gentle breeze.
Lingering round the stock tank,
Silhouettes before a crimson sky
Watch the sun slide behind western hills.
Then, softly lowing for her calf to follow,
One old cow heads back toward the corral,
As, one by one, her sisters fall in line behind her.

1998,  Charlette Sause
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

The Scent of Rain

Burning sun
Scorching heat,
Thirsty cattle
Withered wheat,
Parched, cracked earth beneath aching feet.

Hat in hand
Under cruel blue skies,
Furrowed white forehead,
Red, weathered eyes
Scan the west as clouds arise.

Heart in his throat,
He watches the birth
Of huge thunder heads
Towering over the earth,
Roiling, rumbling, increasing their girth.

The first scent of rain
Caresses his nose,
He closes his eyes,
And curls up his toes
As the wind picks up and rustles his clothes.

Memories of bumper crops
Stir a fire in his heart.
Lifting his head he wonders
Will these clouds too depart.
And then the raindrops start.

1998,  Charlette Sause
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Charlette told us in early 2003, when we posted this poem:

I've been reading about the drought out in western Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming in my hometown newspaper. I've also been watching coverage of it on TV.

I remember hearing stories about the dust storms in brought on by a terrible drought in Wyoming and Nebraska before I was born.

I feel for the farmers and ranchers. The land and livestock is their life and their livelihood.

I have friends and relatives in Wyoming and western Nebraska that are really going through hard times right now. My heart goes out to them.

This poem is a tribute to all those affected by the current drought who will welcome the day when "the raindrops start."

 

The Trap

"A raccoon's been raid'n the granary!
That dang thing's been eat'n my corn!"
Gramps' big blue eyes were a twinkl'n;
But his weathered face looked quite forlorn.

Young Will's eyes lit up like candles.
"I'll trap him for you," he said,
As he jumped up and rushed out the backdoor,
Heading straight for a weathered old shed.

The granary and tool shed had once been
Two separate homesteader shacks.
Now one side was cluttered with rusty old tools...
And the other with dusty feed sacks.

In no time Will found what he needed,
As he searched through the dimly lit clutter.
First he spied an old wooden crate
That was clearly stamped butter.

Then a long, dusty, frayed rope...
A hammer, binder-twine...
Two eyehooks, and some pliers...
Thinking these will do fine.

Will screwed one eyehook to a ceiling beam
And the other on the top of the crate.
Then he threaded the rope through the eyehooks...
Now he needed something for bait.

He pulled one end of the box up into the air...
Propping it up with a two-by-four scrap.
Then he gently released the rope from his hand
And scattered some hard corn inside of the trap.

Gramps was watching TV when Will came back inside
Saying," Got 'er all set...that coon's good as dead!"
"We'll check in the morning,"
Was all that Gramps said.

Early next morning Will jumped out of bed
But breakfast was not on his mind.
The smell of fresh bacon and pancakes weren't tempting...
He was wondering what he would find.

Will threw on his clothes and dashed outside.
Slowly, quietly, he opened the door.
His heart began racing...his trap had been tripped...
And there it lay, flat on the floor!

It was then Will discovered he was in quite a fix.
His trap had been tripped; but now he couldn't see...
What was inside it because of the slats.
Frustrated, disgusted, he dropped to his knees.

Right about then Gramps came walking in.
"I see you caught somethin," he said with a smile.
Will looked up, "But I can't see what I caught
Till I raise up the box, and that may take a while."

"I've got me an idea," Gramps said with a grin.
"Git me that ole plywood scrap by the wall
And the two-by-four lean'n agin it.
We'll find out what's in there in no time at all!"

Will fetched the wood and was back in a flash.
"Now," Gramps whispered, "Tilt the box up a hair...
While I slide the two-by-four under this side.
Then we'll take a look-see at what's under there."

They could hear something scrambling around...
But couldn't see what kind of critter they had.
It could be a raccoon; but they weren't sure.
Whatever it was, it was certainly mad!

Gramps said, "The only way to see what you got...
Is to let that critter go free.
Pick up the rope and prop the door open,
Then come in the granary and hide there with me."

Will grabbed the rope and they hid in the granary,
Two heads peeking out through a crack.
As Will pulled on the rope, and the box slowly rose,
Grandma's cat raced out bounding; hair raised on his back.

"We better not tell Grandma," Gramps chuckled.
'She was fretting about that cat all night...
Worried some varmint had killed him,
Or that he'd got hurt in a fight."

Grandma sure was happy to see them...
Walk in through the kitchen door.
"I was so worried! Look who's back!" she said,
As the cat licked his plate and meowed for some more.

2003,  Charlette M. Sause
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Charlette writes: This poem is a true story. Will is an alias for the name of the young man who built the trap. As you can imagine, he was extremely frustrated about not being able to see what was inside the old wooden cratae after it was tripped.

Gramps was a born teacher. He knew what was going to happen when the trap tripped; yet he never said a word. Will learned more about trapping varmints from building that trap than he could have ever learned from a book.

A couple of days later Gramps told Grandma about the trap. She was not at all pleased to find out that her cat had spent the night in Will's trap; but since her cat was not harmed she laughed along with the rest of us.

Recently my husband and I smelled a skunk around our place. My husband set a wire Have-a-Heart trap and baited it. A few days later I heard our dog barking and when I went out to investigate I discovered that the skunk was in the trap. The skunk sprayed our one hundred pound Newfoundland / Australian Shepherd dog real good. I had quite a time getting the smell off of him.

That experience reminded me of the wooden trap and grandma's cat.



Running On Instinct

A small herd of antelope
Grazes peacefully on sweet grass,
As a lone sentinel
Scans the pasture for danger.

Contented tails gently flicking,
Expose white rump patches
That can flash danger and trigger
Powerful legs capable of sixty mph.

Downwind...
A young man holding his breath
Belly-crawls closer and closer...
Unaware that he is being outmaneuvered.

Running on instinct...
His half-grown black and white collie
Silently, stealthily, stalks the herd
To the left and behind her master.

The young man stops,
Slowly positions his rifle,
Scans the herd with his scope...
And settles it on a good-looking buck.

Now within striking distance,
The dog selects her target
And springs into action.
It's roundup time and the chase is on!

The young man jumps up...
Shouting in frustration...
Watching the antelope duck under a fence
And head for the hills.

He hollers for the dog,
Who comes bounding back with her
Tail wagging...tongue lolling...
And oh, so, full of herself!

2003,  Charlette M. Sause
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Charlette told us: The dog in this poem was named Tuffy. She was a black and white standard collie, born on a neighboring ranch. Tuffy was a natural-born herder. When she was young this sometimes got her in trouble; but since she instinctively knew what to do to help move cattle, as she matured, her assistance was greatly appreciated.



Tuffy at about about a year old.

 



"Tuffy and Gramps' dog--a miniature collie--playing together at the ranch. Tuffy was about three years old when this picture was taken. I like this one the best because Tuffy always was happiest when she was running free on the ranch."

 

Sandhills Robin Hood

Just as dawn brightened in the eastern sky
Roy opened his eyes to a brilliant sunrise.
He threw back the covers, ignoring the chill,
Today was the day he would go for supplies.

No longer would he sit along-side his Pa
Learning how to handle the team.
Now he'd be the one controlling the horses
Fulfilling a fifteen-year-old's dream.

The smell of fresh bacon, pancakes and coffee
Whetted his young appetite.
He hurriedly dressed and headed downstairs
Ma's breakfast would hold him till he made camp tonight.

Pa smiled as Roy pulled his chair up to the table
"You'd better eat hearty," he said.
"Ma's worried about you going alone.
I told her you'd make it as long as you're fed."

"Now Joseph," Ma chided, "I know he'll be careful.
He already knows more than a top hired hand.
But Lord only knows what he might meet up with.
Bad weather, breakdowns, bandits, quicksand!"

"Don't worry Ma. I'll keep a lookout," Roy said,
As he loaded his plate, he gave Ma a big grin.
Ma put on her best smile as she filled up his cup,
"I know you will Son; but can't help worry 'in."

Soon as breakfast was over Roy hitched up the team
While Ma brought out the rest of the vittles he'd need.
Coffee, bacon, beans, dried fruit and bread.
Just then Pa came over toting a sack of horse feed.

"Pull on over there by the well," he said.
"Then we can hoist up that old water keg."
Once it was loaded and tied into place,
Roy climbed up and freed the brake with his leg.

The horses were eager to get a move on.
They trotted, heads bobbing, at a good pace.
Roy pulled back on the reins, slowing them to a walk.
"What's the hurry?" he chuckled, "This ain't a race."

The wagon wheels creaked as he drove along and
Drank in the smell of sage wet with dew.
Puffy white clouds floated in an azure sky
And he watched as an eagle soared into view.

The morning flew by as he drank it all in.
Roy could tell that the horses needed a break.
He hollered, "Whoa," and slowly they stopped.
Turning their heads as they gave a good shake.

He watered the horses and then checked their feet.
Searching for signs of cuts, bruises or pains.
Roy ate dried apple slices and a piece of Ma's bread,
Then climbed back on the wagon and picked up the reins.

As the sun settled down low in a red western sky,
Roy spied a good spot to stop for the night.
First he fed the horses and tethered them.
Then he set up camp in the evening twilight.

At dawn Roy awoke to an overcast sky.
He was anxious to get underway.
It didn't take long to hitch up the team.
With cool weather he should make good time today.

By midmorning, Roy was deep in the Sandhills.
Rolling dunes sprouting a tissue of grassy sod
Surrounded him as far as his eyes could see.
Leaving a faint trail where others had trod.

He followed the trail, as best he could,
But soon realized that he'd lost his way.
Roy decided to stop since it was close to noon
And the horses deserved rest and water midday.

He studied the gray clouds that covered the sky.
Searching for the sun to guide him northeast.
One hill looked like another, far as his eyes could see
And there was no indication of man or of beast.

The team became restless as he checked their feet.
Ears perked up, they were snorting and tossing their manes.
"Whoa boys. What's got you so riled up?" Roy soothed.
Then he climbed in the wagon and pushed on to the plains.

Roy decided to let the team follow their noses,
Could be they smelled the Niobrara River ahead.
Then he'd follow 'long side it to reach Valentine.
As he crested the next dune his heart filled with dread.

He saw an old ranch house with lots of corrals,
And a rusty old windmill creaking in the breeze.
Then a man with a rifle walking towards him.
With a look in his eyes that made Roy's blood freeze.

The man stopped and waited till Roy pulled alongside him.
Then said, "What're you doing way out here today?"
"I'm headed to Valentine for supplies," Roy replied.
"Somehow I got turned around and lost my way."

The man lowered his rifle, "Most folks call me Doc.
Drive down by the corral and I'll saddle my horse.
I'll show you the trail that leads to Valentine."
"Thank you Sir, my name's Roy. "I'll repay you of course."

In no time at all Roy was back on the trail.
Unaware he'd met up with a wily outlaw.
He picked up the supplies and when he got home.
Roy learned who Doc was from his Ma and his Pa.

Doc Middleton was an outlaw who was fast on the draw.
Folks called him Doc because he "doctored" brands
On the livestock he rustled with his Hoodoo Gang.
Doc made a good living by using his hands.

Homesteaders liked Doc because he'd help them out.
This was quite a bargain for those in need.
Hide him from the law and he'd give them livestock.
Times were rough with no money and a family to feed.

2004,  Charlette M. Sause
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Charlette told us: My grandfather, Robert Le Roy Newberry was my inspiration for writing "Sandhills Robin Hood." My mother, my three sisters and I lived with my grandfather. He was a great story-teller. I loved to hear him tell me about the "olden days" when he was growing up. This piece is based one of the stories he told me.

In 1888, Joseph Hamilton, Macy Rocella Newberry and their son Robert, my grandfather, came to Dawes County Nebraska and took a homestead north of the hogback on Chadron Creek. Joseph built a dugout. The hogback road was the road north from the Table land, down to the head of Chadron Creek, following one of the hogback ridges.

In 1891, a bad drought caused them to leave and go to Iowa to escape it. In 1896 the Newberry's returned and traded two covered wagons and a team and harness for homestead rights just below the hogback from Louis and Eva Frick. Louis Frick had built a rather large one story log house there. The house (with some additions to it) is still there. It is located just south of Chadron State Park in Dawes County, Nebraska.

Here are the three photos of my Granddad. In one photo he is dressed for church. In the next photo he is wearing his work clothes--this is the way I remember him best. In the last photo he is standing beside my mother Edith Newberry Beers and the little girl in the photo is me.

 

 





Sources:

Doc Middleton's real name was James M. Riley. He was born in 1851, in Bastrop, Texas. He grew up during the Civil War and served in the Mexican/American War. He started stealing horses in Texas. He left Texas to go on a cattle drive; but some say he left because he murdered three people
there.

He changed his name to David Middleton. His nickname was Doc because of the way he "doctored" brands on the horses he stole. When he came to Nebraska he got a job as a teamster in Sidney and then got in a fight over a woman and killed a man. Doc escaped and joined outlaws Jack Nolan and Joe Smith. Doc became the leader of a group called the Hoodoo Gang.

Homesteader's liked Doc because he presented them a decent bargain--he'd give them livestock if they would hide him from the law.

In 1886 Doc became a Deputy Sheriff in Sheridan County, Nebraska. He lived on a ranch there for some time and then moved to Ardmore, South Dakota. Doc participated in "The Great Thousand Mile Horse Race from Chadron to Chicago for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. He finished in the top ten.

Doc died on December 27, 1913 and was buried in Douglas, Wyoming.

Here are a few links for Doc Middleton:

"DOC" Middleton Road Agent and Bandit
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wyoming/middleton_m.htm

http://www.leadersandlegends.com/docmiddleton/lifestory.html

Attacked by Doc Middleton!
http://www.olden-times.com/OldtimeNebraska/n-bzuerlein/johnmonk.html

Doc Middleton of the Niobrara
http://www.olden-times.com/OldtimeNebraska/n-dtaylor/docmid.html



About Charlette Sause:

Charlette told us: I was born and raised in Chadron, a small western Nebraska panhandle town. My grandfather's parents were homesteaders and so he had many stories about the old days to tell me. I loved listening to those stories. In one of them he got lost driving a team across the Nebraska Sand Hills to Valentine, came upon a homestead and it was Doc Middleton who gave him the directions he needed.

My mother's family had many relatives and friends who lived on farms and ranches in the area. I loved to visit the Mann family because they had a daughter my age. We roamed all over the fields and pastures, swam in Chadron Creek and I loved to help with the chores. They had both dairy and beef cattle.

My father raised Herefords on his place in Oregon. I visited him often and helped him with the farming and with his cattle.

I also spent many happy summers on a ranch that was homesteaded by Floyd McLain, near Lusk, Wyoming. I enjoyed helping with feeding, calving, branding, and castrating.

Trails is a description of my observations of the daily routine of the Herefords on Floyd McLain's ranch in Wyoming.

 

And here's her more official biography:

I was born and raised in Chadron, Nebraska.  My maternal grandfather, Roy Newberry, was four years old when his parents moved from a farm near Defiance, IA, in March of 1888, to settle on a homestead three miles south of Chadron State Park, in northwestern Dawes County, NE.  My paternal great-grandfather, William Orin Patterson, was a blacksmith. He married Nancy Ragland and they homesteaded near Harrison, in Sioux County, NE, where he served terms as a sheriff and as a judge.

When I was a toddler, I spent many, many hours curled up on my granddad Newberry's lap looking at the Sears Roebuck catalogue. My family says that is how I learned to talk.  As I grew older, I was mesmerized when Granddad told of his adventures as a youth, growing up on a homestead in western Nebraska.  I can't remember a time when he wasn't surrounded by books and papers.  His favorite author was Zane Grey, so it's easy to explain why I love words.

I started out as a Music Major and Dramatics minor at Chadron State College in 1963.  I dropped out of college to marry and moved to New York City. When I went back to college, it was as an Elementary Ed. Major and English minor.  I graduated in 1972, with a B.S. in Education, and started teaching. I completed my Master's in Reading in 1977.

In June of 1979, I decided to try something different.  I got a job as an executive secretary in the Public Finance Department of E. F. Hutton, in NYC.  It was exciting, but I missed teaching.  In September of 1981, I returned, as a principal.  That was really a challenge, and I loved it.

In April of 1982, my husband and I moved to Millstone Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey.  Shortly after we moved here, I learned that both my father's and my mother's ancestors once lived in this county in New Jersey. In fact, my g-g-g-g-great-grandfather William Newberry was killed in June of 1777, in a skirmish with the British about ten miles from where we now live.

My first teaching experience in New Jersey was in a K-5 elementary school with open classrooms, no interior walls.  Next I taught sixth, seventh and eighth grade English in Millstone for several years.  I really enjoyed that, especially teaching writing.  I also sponsored the school newspaper, The Millstone Eagle.

My last year there, the art teacher and I worked together on a yearlong project.  We guided our students as they wrote, illustrated and bound their own book.  We arranged for our students to go into the elementary classrooms and read their books to each class.  We put all of the books on display for parents and students at the end of the year.  It was the most exciting and wonderful project I was ever involved in.  My last two positions were administrative at two other districts. I was Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction and then Supervisor of Instruction.

Currently, I write poetry, fiction and nonfiction and also substitute in local school districts.  I am a member of Western Writers of America, Wyoming Writers, WYOPoets, Writer's Ink and the Monmouth County Library Poetry Association.  My husband Richard is my best friend.  His patience and understanding are amazing, especially when I develop writer's block.  I also love to read, draw, sing, and take long walks with our dog Bear.

 

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