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GRIFF CRAWFORD

 

 
 

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 We were ridin' after dogies
   On the Cross-Bar Lazy B,
When the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
   Lit the pipe and said to me:

Yeah, I wouldn't say as wimmen
   Mayn't be the proper dope

But me, I'm more contented
   With my broncho and a rope.
....

                      "Cupid and Catcus" by Griff Crawford

 

Below:

About Griff Crawford

Poems

Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B, 1928


Amarillo Globe, June 26, 1931

Griff Crawford, Santa Fe train dispatcher, Wellington, Kan. is visiting his daughter Mrs. Olho Thompson, 104 Crestway. Mr. Crawford is a poet, feature writer and humorist of established reputation throughout an extensive area. While he dispatches Santa Fe trains, his time of duty is used in contributing to the columns of the Kansas City Star, Rail Road Man's Magazine, Saturday Evening Post and other publications. As a successful Santa Fe train dispatcher he has served in Amarillo, Clovis and Wellington, and was located in Amarillo 8 or 10 (?) years. He will be in Amarillo about one week.

 


Oliver Griffith "Griff" Crawford
1876-1953

 

Griff Crawford's humorous tales about "Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B" are included in his 1928 book with that title. Several of the poems below come from that book.

Crawford was born Oliver Griffith Crawford in 1876. Crawford worked as a train scheduler for the Santa Fe Railroad for many years, stationed around the country, with stays in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, where he died in 1953.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Crawford wrote stories, poems, and fillers, including short rhymes that appeared in various newspapers. His obituary notes, "Mr. Crawford, who became known nationally as a poet and author, was a native of Ohio, born at New Lisbon in 1876. But though he wrote many short stories and poems, writing was his hobby and railroading his 'First Love.'"

We've uncovered some of his poems that were included in various newspapers, and some of those are are included below.

Crawford has been the subject of Who Knows? questions, including a mystery about Fred Lambert, who included what appear to be some of Crawford's poems under his own name in his books (see the Who Knows? entry here).

We welcome additional information about Griff Crawford. Email us.

Griff Crawford's obituary appeared in the Amarillo Globe (Texas) for Tuesday June 25, 1935:

O. G. Crawford
Service Today

Veteran Santa Fe man is dead
after residency many years here.

Tribute in memory of O. G. "Griff" Crawford, 59, veteran Santa Fe dispatcher and for many years a resident of Amarillo, was to be paid in funeral services at 2:30 o'clock, this afternoon in Wellington, Kan.

Mr. Crawford, the father of Mrs. Olho Thompson of Amarillo, was claimed by death Sunday at the Santa De hospital in Topeka, Kan.

Mrs. Thompson left here for Wellington on receipt of the death message, and Olho Thompson left this morning to attend the rites. Other survivors of Mr. Crawford are his widow and eight other children. They are Mrs. A.C. Martin of Los Angeles, Mrs. Art. C. Town of Kansas City, Oliver Crawford and Misses Eunice, Robyn, and Betty Crawford, all of Wellington, Curtis C. Crawford of Lubbock, and Harold Crawford of Kansas City.

Mr. Crawford, who became known nationally as a poet and author, was a native of Ohio, born at New Lisbon in 1876. But though he wrote many short stories and poems, writing was his hobby and railroading his "First Love." He stayed steadily with the Santa Fe, and as a dispatcher he was stationed at Clovis, Amarillo, Waynoka, Okla. and Wellington, Kan., his home in recent years.

Although eligible to retire, he remained in service until his last illness, which was comparatively brief.

He was in the Santa Fe's Topeka hospital only a short time.

In addition to his railroad affiliations, Mr. Crawford held membership in the American League of Authors, the Authors' Exchange, the Kansas Authors' Club, and the Missouri Authors' Guild.


Poems

Cupid and Cactus

Cyclones and Dogies

The Passing of Brimstone

Bars in the Key of B

Out Where the West Begins

Night Trails
 


 

Cupid and Cactus

We were ridin' after dogies
   On the Cross-Bar Lazy B,
When the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
   Lit the pipe and said to me:

Yeah, I wouldn't say as wimmen
   Mayn't be the proper dope

But me, I'm more contented
   With my broncho and a rope.

I ain't a-knockin', pardner,
   On the species none, y'see,
But that one dad-blamed adventoor
   Was a plenty, pard, fer me.

She was teaching school at Dobe
   And I'm statin' far and wide
That a better lookin' critter
   Never crossed the Great Divide.

So I'm losin' all my senses,
   And go trailin' her until
When I axes her to have me
   Why, she answers that she will.

Then she hands her head a-blushin'
   Till she manages to say
That she has no clothes befittin'
   Fer a happy weddin' day;

So I gets a hundred buckos
   From the boss, because I knows
That a woman may be lovin'
   But she's also hell for clothes.

So I hands her out the lucre
   And she makes me plumb agree
Out engagement  must be sekret
   Till he school's out
—y'see.

And we has it all considered
   We're to meet in Santa Fe
At the court house to be married
  On the twentyfirst of May.

Yeah, I showed up fer the weddin',
   Right on schedule and I'll say
That there's never been so many
   Punchers seen in Santa Fe.

They were hangin' round the court hourse
   So I figgers they is wise
To my nupshuls, and are aimin'
   Fer to give us a surprise.

So I kept a waitin', waitin',
   Fer to claim my blushin' bride

When the sheriff waves a message
   And he calls us all inside.

It was jest a little message
   From a town in Illynois—
Readin'— "On my way to Boston—
   Say good-bye to all the boys."

And then the plot develops
   Fer that schemin' little bait—
Is engaged to every puncher
   She could locate in the state.

And they all had paid her money
   Each a hundred buckos cool,
Just to learn a woman's tricky
   And a puncher is a fool.

So we ambled home in sadness
   And I'm saying' plain to you,
That I'm plumb caught up on wimmen,
   Which is meanin' I am through.


"Well, the most of them are noble,
   Good and true," I weakly said,
But the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
   Neither spoke or turned his head.

by Griff Crawford, from Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B (1928)
 


Cyclones and Dogies

It was raining nice and gentle
   At the Cross-Bar Lazy-B,
When the foreman, Wild Hoss Charley
   Lit his pipe and said to me:

"Ever see a cyclone, pardner?
   Well, there's nicer things I know,
And I happens to remember
   One in Texas years ago.

It is mighty hot and dusty
   And I'm headin' down a draw,
Huntin' for a cussed dogie
   That has recent lost its ma.

When I hears a funny roarin',
   And I'm lookin' up to see

When here comes a cyclone, pardner,
   Like a herd hell-bent for me.

And it lifts me pard, it lifts me,
   Horse and all, and here we go,
Like the devil beatin' tan-bark,
  Up across New Mexico.

I ain't sayin' jest exactly
   What we're makin', but its fast,
And I'm plum excited pronto,
   Wonderin' if I'm gonta last.

But I'm free to say fer certain
   That I plum enjoys it, son,
Settin' on my bronc, Apache,
   That fer onct ain't buckin' none.

So we keeps a glidin' easy
   For an hour, or mebbe two;
When we turns back into Texa
s—
   Which I'm glad to see it do.

And it mebbe sounds presumpshus,
   But I kinda got the swing,
How, by leanin' back and forward,
   I could guide the pesky thing.

And I gets it back, I'm sayin',
   To a mile or so from town;
Then the thing gets tired or somethin'
   And it quits and lets us down.

And I'm standin' sorta shaky
   But I sudden has to laff
Fer right there beside Apache
   Is that cussed dogie calf.

We had picked him up and fetched him
   Right along from where he's his
So you might say that the cyclone
   Sorta helped me out
—it did.

"But I'm worried fer Apache
   Acts as though he's mebbe sick
When I sudden gets back on him,
  But he satisfied me quick

That he's plumb O.K. and ready
   Fer he gives a squeal and pitch,
And he lands me neat and certain
   On some cactus in a ditch.

So I pats him pard, I pats him
   With a stroke that's good and stanch;

Then I ropes the dogie gentle
   And we heads it fer the ranch."


I suppose that such a cyclone
   Killed or wounded quite a lot?
But the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
  Only murmured "I've forgot."

by Griff Crawford, from Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B (1928)
 

See a fragment of another "cyclone poem" thought to be written by Crawford, here, in Who Knows?


 

The Passing of Brimstone

We were sitting in the bunk house
   Of the Cross-Bar Lazy-B,
When the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
   Told this simple tale to me.


Yeah, I've rode the range from Reno
   To the Gulf of Mexico,
And 'twas in the month of August
   Twenty seven years ago.

That I happened into Brimstone—
   Jest an ornery dobe spot—
With my cayuse lank and sweatin'
   Fer the desert sun was hot.

And of all the cussed places,
   From the Gulf to Danta Fe,
Or from Dodge out to the cactus
   Where the Gila monsters play.

There was not another like it,
   In the mountains or the sage,
With its ceme-tree a bulgin'
   Like a town ten times its age.

It was mean, no use in talkin'—
   It was mean and devlish rough—
Even water there was harder
   And the beef-steak acted tough.

And I'll venture there was never
   Such a bunch of forty-fives
in a town before—and pardner,
   I ain't limitin' the size.

There was not an hombre workin',
   But the game run night and day,
Where they got their coin to gamble
   Didn't intrust me someway.

Fer I've seen too many fellers
   That were curious be sent
Where the whang-a-doodle mourneth
   And you don't pay any rent.

Mebbe there was places, pardner,
   That was jest as bad, or worse,
But I'm tellin' you them piutes
   Hired a feller with a hearse,

And they run him on a schedule
   Makin' six round trips a day—
And he never travelled empty
   To the ceme-tree, they say.

There's no tellin' what the endin'
   Would have been y'understand,
If it hadn't been fer nachoor
   Steppin' in to take a hand.

Fer it sudent started snowin'
   Yes sir! snowin' one hot night—
But the flakes were big as dollars
   And were all pure dyanmite.

And it kept a snowin', snowin'
   Till a foot or more had fell,
Then—lightnin' struck it, pardner,
   And it blowed the town to hell.


It was silent in the bunk house
   Of the Cross-Bar Lazy-B,
When the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
   Told this simple tale to me.

by Griff Crawford, from Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B (1928)
 


 

Bars in the Key of B
 

We were playing penny ante
   At the Cross-Bar Lazy-B,
When the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
   Dealt a pair of Kings to me.


I was riding after dogies,
   When I noticed, down the trail,
There was somethin' comin' toward me
   With the swiftness of a snail.

And a funny combinashun
   Was this antikated joke

Lookin' like a human bein'
   With a pipe too big to smoke.

Well I axes him some questshuns,
   And he tells a lot of stuff,
In a mess of broken English
   I opine is plumb enough,

Fer it seems he's sort of loco
   And a rangin' all alone;
Heine Weidel from Hoboken,
   And his trusty saxophone.

So I brings him to the bunk house
   And the punchers, straight away
Messes up the whole contrapshun
   When they axes him to play;

Fer I'm free to state presumpshus,
   Never in the temp'rate zone
Has there been a noise to equal
   That dod-gasted saxophone.

I have heerd the steers by thousands
   Bawlin' like their hearts would break;
I have heed the coyote chorus
   And the lobo at a wake.

I have heers a dogie sighin'
   And its mother's lonesome tone

They is nothing as comparin'
   To that cussed saxophone.

So—we hung him in the canyon
   Jest as gentle as we could—
And we hewd him out a coffin
   From a log of cottonwood;

And we buried him at midnight
   And we painted on a stone

"Heinie Weidel, from Hoboken,
   And his trusty saxophone."

And there's certain nights, I'm sayin'
   When the stars grow kinder dim

That a mist commences hangin'
   Jest above the canyon rim;

And the steers they start stampedin'
   And the horses mill about

And the coyotes and the lobos
   Come a hell-rip-rearin' out—

And the sounds come up the canyon
   Like the fiends are on a tear

Till they fill the range and mesa
   And the coulees everywhere.

And I'm knowin' it for certain,
   Though I kinder hate to own

It's the ghost of Heinie Weidel
   And his derned old saxophone


It was silent in the bunk house
   Not a muscle moved a speck,

As the foreman, Wild Horse Charley,
   Stole three aces from the deck.

by Griff Crawford, from Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B (1928)
 


 

Out Where the West Begins

Dobe Sam came ridin' from the range one summer day,
Whoopin' and a shootin' down the streets of Sante Fe;
Thirty minues later he was silent as the rocks
Ridin' calm and peaceful in a little wooden box.

***

Alkali Ike laid down on the sane
And a rattle-snake bit him smack-dab on the hand,
The bite would have killed him (I honestly think),
But a passing cow-puncher gave Ike a big drink
That at first was refreshingly pleasant and cool,
Then bit like an adder and kicked like a mule,
It cured him, alright, of the rattle-snake bite—
But he died from the liquor the very same night.

by Griff Crawford, The Bridgeport Telegram, (Connecticut) July 15, 1924

 

 


 

Night Trails

You never have seen, nor you never will see—
The stars at their best and the moon hanging free—
And you never will know what night ought to be—
'Til you are out on the trail, all alone—
With the call of the West ringing out like a shout—
With the wide, spreading plains all around and about—
And the smell of the sage where the trail's running out—
And the breeze with a tang of its own.

You never have known and you never will know—
The silence that speaks 'til your soul is aglow—
With, maybe it's God, and you're whispering low—
To your bronc, which is proper and right—
For broncs understand, they're a part of the place—
With stars and the moon and far open space—
And the soft desert wind sort of kissing your face—
The spell of the plains in the night.

You never have found, nor you never will find—
The rest to a heart or the peace to a mind—
Where men can forget and the world is behind—
'Til you've stood on the trail that is dim—
The breeze dies away and the dome of the sky—
Hangs lower and lower 'til stars are close by—
And earth fades away and the heavens are nigh—
On the plains—in the night—just with Him.

Griff Crawford, June 30, 1931, Amarillo Globe

 

 

Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B


Cover:

Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B

First Published In
The Kansas City Star
And Republished By
Permission

Copyright
1928
By
Griff Crawford

Wellington, Kansas

$1.00



Inside, before the poems:

On the plains was a certain man—a man who could rope well, ride hard, shoot straight, fabricate delightfully and swear without blasphemy. A man who never forgot an enemy nor took advantage of one. A man who could—and did—share his last dime with a friend. A man who knew the joys the living and the sting of disloyalty. A man who died as he lived, facing the inevitable without fear, smiling as he departed down the trail to an unknown corral to await the final round-up.

To the memory of him this volume of Wild Horse Charley, of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B, is dedicated.

                                                           The Author.

 

Contents:

The Passing of the Brimstone
Bars in the Key of B
Pea-Green
From Yokel Row
A Bunk House Tale
Sculduggery
Horse Sense
Cyclones and Dogies
Cupid and Cactus
Ruminations of a 'Buster'
The Last Shall be First
Love, Honor, and Away

 

 

Thanks to Stan Tixier for providing a copy of Wild Horse Charley of the Cross-Bar-Lazy-B.
Stan has a poem here written in the style of Crawford.

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