About Lee Earl
With sadness, we learned from Charlie and Kathy Camden that poet Lee Earl died August 13, 2004. Lee was one of the original group who organized the Palouse Country Cowboy Poets Association in Moscow, Idaho, who held their first gathering in 1996. He also was among the organizers of the Charley Russell Western Heritage Association who sponsored the first Annual Cowboy Poetry, Music and Western Arts Festival in Lewiston, Idaho in 1999 and was a regular performer and MC of the Friday night show at that popular event.
Kathy Camden adds "...He was active in Palouse County poets, and Cowboy Poets of Idaho, helped make the Lewiston Event successful, and was the founder of the Joseph Trail Ride, and acted as trail boss. His greatest accomplishment was the school program at Asotin School in Asotin, Washington."
An obituary is posted here on our page of Respects.
See reports and photos about the:
First Annual Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering here.
Second Annual Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering here.
Third Annual Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering here.
Fourth Annual Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering here.
The Fifth Annual Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place
March 5-8, 2009
Read the event announcement here.
Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 88
Asotin, WA 99402
The Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Fund recently awarded two scholarships to local area students. The recipients were Natalie Brulotte from Lewiston, Idaho and Christina Browne from Asotin, Washington.
Natalie Brulotte is the daughter of George and Jonette Brulotte of Lewiston. Natalie graduated from Lewiston High School in 2005 and is majoring in Music Education at Brigham Young University in Rexburg, Idaho. Brulotte graduated high school with a 3.98 grade point average.
Christina Browne is the daughter of Mary and Rex Browne of Asotin. Christina graduated from Asotin High School in 2005 and is majoring in English at Lewis Clark State College in Lewiston. Browne graduated High School with a 3.96 grade point average.
The funds for the scholarships were raised at the 1st Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Cowboy Gathering in April, 2005. The organizers of the event will present the 2nd Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Gathering at the Lewiston Elks Temple on February 10 -12, 2006, and will award two additional scholarships in the summer of 2006 to graduating seniors who will major in English or music.
Two of Lee Earl's grandsons, Chad Peer and Bandy Earl, wrote the following poem in memory of their grandfather. Lee Earl's daughter Donna Earl Peer read the poem at the Seventh Annual Lewis and Clark Cowboy Poetry Entertainment & Western Arts Festival in Lewiston, Idaho, in February, 2005.
When you ponder on the times of old, or look back to yesteryear,
You recall how much you love someone, and long for them still to be here.
In life we've all had someone, who's helped us along the way,
Showed the ropes through right and wrong, that got us here today.
The man that we are speaking of was a jack of many trades.
Whatever hand life dealt him, he always held the jack of spades.
He always loved to be outside; whether it was horses, hunting or makin' wood;
He would call us to lend a hand...to refuse would not end up so good.
Forced into work, we'd dread the call, when it came in the early morn',
Get out of bed, we're burning daylight, the old man would always scorn.
I have to admit I have skipped out at least a time or two,
But if you were to say that you wouldn't have, I'd call "horse sh**" on you.
He has been known as a rowdy Cowboy, and Cowboys step outa line.
Of course, you would too, if you were drinkin' whiskey while others were sippin' wine.
I'm sorry if the story seems blunt, but we were sworn to "The Old Green oath"
What happens between us stays with us...or I swear I'll kill ya both.
Through all the years and countless faces there is not one he has forgot,
And in his heart for everyone he'll always hold a spot.
Now we know that some of your may be worried about when it comes to be your time,
But you can be damn sure he'll have your ticket, forget about standin' in line.
A childhood hero to the both of us, a real life superman with nair a flaw,
You all know him as Lee Earl, but to us he'll always be Grandpa
© 2005, Chad Peer and Bandy Earl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.
CPT David L. Kenney shared the following letter that he sent originally to Charlie Camden:
I only recently learned of Lee Earl's passing.
Please express my deepest condolences to Virginia, the Earl Family and the Cowboy Poetry Community. I consider Lee a friend, mentor and role-model. I first met Lee in 1996 through the PCCPA. His vigor, enthusiasm and smile were contagious, even for a young college guy. But Lee saw something in this skinny 18 year-old kid and encouraged my writing and performing in a competitive, fatherly way that hadn't been done before. He always upped the ante, expecting more and relishing my successes as his own. You just wanted to do things to make the man smile. Lee was one of the strongest influences in my fledgling poetry career, persuading me to explore my own reserves of feeling, emotion and experience, then helping me share that with our audiences. When the Association asked me to become President and put together the Second Gathering in Pullman, Lee coached and advised me to success.
The little things he taught me about administration, people, life and myself are with me today, as a Captain in the U.S. Army, leading soldiers on the ground in Iraq. Looking back, I think the key thing I'll take from my short time with Lee was the man's innate distinction between maturity and growing old. He had more energy and passion and pure love for life than I did at a third his age. He had fun with life! He loved Virginia, he loved his life and he cared about those around him. Young and old alike.
I sit here, thousands of miles away from home, in the weird dichotomy between intensity and boredom seeking intensity and think back to jam sessions in my tiny red house on the Palouse. Or the Asotin County Fair. Or dinner with Lee and Baxter in Pullman. I find I have never really left that part of me behind. More, I've brought part of it with me. I hope that part makes me just a tiny bit better at this.
I still write from time to time, though I haven't performed in years. Now my words are an outlet for the emotional trials of combat leadership. I fear I did not learn nearly enough from my friend, but I pray I can live up to half of what he faithfully expected.
Sincerely with condolence,
Shot from the Hip
Lee Earl was able to complete a CD of his poetry before his death in 2004.
Copies are available for $16.50 postpaid from PO Box 88, Asotin, WA 99402.
The CD includes:
The Barnyard Tom
The Go Round
A Flash in the Sand
Hockey at Any Price
Repeat After Me
The Soda Saloon
Stewards of the Land
North of Your Borders
A Flash in the Sand
No body dared to call him out
He's tougher than the average hand
But god almighty was he ugly
From his mismatched spurs to his greasy ole' hat band
That hat he wore had a hole plumb through
Just above his one good eye
Some said from an arrow
But nobody ever asked twice
His eyebrows had growed plumb together
His sideburns moustache and beard all in one
Plug cut tobacco stained a solitary tooth and
He smelled a little like buffalo dung
He wore long red handled under wear
Sewed shut from the bellybutton up
That what keeps out the cold will keep out the heat
His answer to all those young pups
The leathers he wore ,pants and all
Were laced up with porcupine quills
Their stuffed down in some ol' stovepipe boots
Pure mule hide and flashin' no frills
Three fingers missin from his trigger hand
When a bad load had blowed out the side
Of a hog leg longer that that rawhide quirt
He swung every step of the ride
That holster for that big iron
Made from a pair of old chaps
They still sported the brand and one concho
Belonged an hombre to slow at the leather he slapped
He ate alone hummin' sometimes
He had his own private plate and tools
He preferred ridin' night herd alone
He had his own routine and rules
I can remember just one time
He was late and didn"t show
One time he wasn't first saddled up
With his cow savvy showin' us which way to go
Well they claimed he's met a lady
On a business trip to town
He came back a grinnin', hummin' a brand new tune
Not a wearin' his usual frown
Surprised as hell we watched in awe
When he headed down to that ice cold stream
He started tearin' his clothes off as the sun went down
The he dove in with a blood curdlin' scream
Now we thought about sendin a spy down
Just to see what he's gonna do
Was he really gonna take a bath
Was he really changed buckaroo
But instead we let our evil minds roam and
We shared each others thought
Was he a scrubbin' all over or
Just a washin up spots
Was she tall and skinny a tender young thing
This lady that changed his ways
Maybe the kind where you just go shade up
All cinched up with a corset and staves
About that time all hell broke loose and
Somebody hollered stampede
The scramble was on for gear and mounts
You could hear them comin' their chargin' full speed
Up from the river they came
They were two and four and six abreast
Eyes wide open horizon in mind and
Their damn sure spooked to death
Most of that night was spent gatherin
We were circlin' and countin heads
Wonderin' what in the world had caused that wreck
It's a wonder nobody ended up dead
"Boys, we're one man short"
"Ya better scatter and look for ole' Black Jack"
"Remember we saw him down yonder n"
"I dont' believe he ever came back"
Well, they found ole' Black Jack a standin' mid stream
Up to his boot tops in sand
It seems he'd ducked under to wash his parts
Wearin nothin but that hat with that greasy ole' band
Now the herd , in order to quench their thirst and
Using the moon and stars as light
Entered the river right where he went under
It just as well been a Halloween night
Imagine if you will as from their midst
Floundering and blowing arose from the deep
This snow white hide with a redneck tan
T'was creature only the devil would reap
Now he never did apologize and
No one ever dared a grin
Course lest' we was alone or with someone
Was it ever mentioned again
But the thing recalled by most that night
Was not how they was scattered and stirred
It was the look in their bulgin' stampedin' eyes
The night ole' Black Jack flashed the herd
© 2002, Lee E Earl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.
The Jelly Roll
He'd spent most of his life lookin at an ole cows behind
Eatin their trail dust til he near went blind
He'd fed em hay of every description
Bundled, baled, loose and put up with all that damn itchin
He'd fed em with a wagon, a sled and a team
Drug hay to em with his rope and fed em in his dreams
He'd tried balin his own just to save a few bucks
But keepin all that machinery tuned, he didn't have much luck
He left bales and bunches scattered all over hell
Some too loose and some too tight how do ya tell
Doubt if they'd make it one more round
Like him it's all wore out and they're always broke down
Damn truckers won't haul a bale a man can lift
But ya know he's heard those round bales is just like a gift
Maybe he should buy some out and have it put in the stack
They say ya just move it once then and save your ole back
Well he'd have ta travel some to check things out
Cause ya need some special gear ta move those round bales about
Ya need a big tractor with a big gouge on the front
Course learnin ta drive that could be quite a stunt
Well he found what he needed or so he thought
They said they'd get er serviced and fix a few things if he bought
Then they told all the virtues of the round bale
How it would be a whole lot less work and that made the sale
Then they gave him the name of a broker with some hay
You could tell by the look on their face that he'd made their day
Hell they said they'd even deliver as long as he paid
Then a quick lesson with the levers and he's on his way
Boy, those new round bales sure look purty in the stack
He ain't gonna have ta listen to those ole bones pop and crack
Looks like it might storm he'll be a feedin no doubt
Then sure nuff it snows and the cattle trail out
He loads those new round bale feeds on his ole wagon flat bed
Then hooked to that new tractor she's full speed ahead
But ya see just as quick as it came the cold disappears
Then it pours down rain and she's mud to yer ears
But those new round bale feeders, they're all in place
So he heads fer that stack with a big grin on his face
He drives that ole gouge home and jerks the levers in gear
Course now that sinks the front end in the mud and raises the rear
But an ole rock wall provides the ballast it takes
Ta bring the rear end back down and give him some brakes
The rest of that trip goes fair with the move purtinear right
But ya see now he's left the gate open and there ain't a cow in sight
But now they told him those round bales could be fed
Right out on the ridge right out of the shed
Course these round bales don't set good on his ole hay rack
So he cinches one down with a diamond and heads down the track
Now don't ya know it's kind a sidlin up there
Those rocks and brush and stumps will set yer neck hair
Beside that this new tractor ain't holdin up to all their braggin
He thinks he'll just go back and hook the team to the wagon
Well it is kinda sidlin up there where they're found
They're up on the ridge at the ole bed ground
But he eases the team on up there and set the brake
Then he roughlocks er up with an ole fence stake
Now they told him if ya do it right
These round bales can be fed with out any fight
So he easy like unties the diamond and then it dawns on him
He shoulda cut the strings first but she's to late then
With one hand he's a holdin her back but things aint goin just right
He can't get his jacknife out his Levi's is too tight
But with one mighty effort his Ole Timer knife comes free
His pocket turns wrong side out and the knife lands at his feet
With the toe of one boot he drags er up within reach
But now he can't get er open with the damn new false teeth
Oh the canyons fairly echoed that day with the words that were said
Then he near gets an ironin as he dives under the flat bed
Then with jackknife in hand the race is on
Cuttin and slashin but the round bale she's gone
The cattle stampede as it near blows their mind
Then bawlin and bellerin they fall in behind
They reach the bottom with a weakin stride
But he loses the race as it starts up the far side
The strings start unwindin and she's turnin around
Now she's gainin on him and he's a losin ground
Over his shoulder he sees an ole Badger go high in the air
Then there's a Cayote trap still holdin some hair
There's a Prince Albert can and a ball of ole wire
Some chunks of a Rock Jack and a Model A tire
There's some roses gone wild and a piece of burned Sage
Then some things he don't recall from history's page
There's ole wagon seat from God only knows where
Then some Sheepherders boots and some ole underwear
Well falls but he's saved as it jumps a short rim
But now he hooks a spur in a string and it's a dragin him
His boot comes off as it jumps dry crick
But what he sees next near makes him sick
She's a comin agin with no strings attached
She's a scatterin hay and on the attack
Unwindin she is like a big Jelly Roll
Leavin nothin to imagin and takin er toll
She's a scatterin hay so bad it would put a Chukar to test
To find enough makins ta build er a nest
Well things finally settle with the cattle movin back in
He puts on his boot..,finds his jackknife and Stetson again
He's worried now bout the horses and gear
They're up there wide eyed an blowin and twichin their ears
He'll play hell gettin um up on this ridge again
This new hayin operation's got their nerves kinda thin
Well he eases on back up there to the wagon and team
Coilin up his Diamond Hitch hopin he ain't been seen
He climbs aboard easy and swings em round tight
Ole girls if ya wanna be fed ya best be down at those round bale feeders
© 2002, Lee E Earl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.
Read Lee Earl's A Helping Hand, posted with other 2002 Holiday poems.
About Lee Earl:
I was born in Lewiston, Idaho and now reside in Asotin, Washington.
Number 6 of 8 kids, I was the son of fun loving, hard working parents who gardened, farmed and raised livestock . Dad spent 43 years working for the railroad while mom ran the cafe for the Lewiston Livestock yard and they ran the Grange hall dances in their spare time all to provide for their 4 boys and 4 girls.
We grew up with homespun stories, pinochle and music and always a house full of friends.
Two brothers-in-law dragged me thought their school of hard knocks with farming, ranching and construction providing a lot of material for many of my poems and music.
These experiences plus those of my own raising and showing horses, railroading, the feed and fertilizer business, western retailing, rodeo and construction are the basis for much of my work.
I have been performing throughout the Northwest and was one of the original group who organized the Palouse Country Cowboy Poets Association in Moscow, Idaho holding our first gathering in 1996.
I was one of the original group who organized the Charley Russell Western Heritage Association sponsoring the first Annual Cowboy Poetry, Music and Western Arts Festival in Lewiston, Idaho in 1999 and am a regular performer and MC of the Friday night show.
I love good old fashioned jam sessions and enjoy singing the great old country standards and playing the guitar.
I have been instrumental getting the local elementary schools involved writing cowboy poetry, music and presenting art work based on their western heritage with 175 entries in 2002.
One of my most treasured experiences was doing a live interview and reciting one of my poems on Japanese radio.
My wife Virginia and I have 3 children and 7 grandchildren and have been married 44 years.
I write and recite only my own material with 2 cassettes available and presently am working on CDs and a book.
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