South Texas Cowboys in Paris



by Robert Shuford
Pete Wilson lives over by Asherton, grew up there as a matter of fact. Pete is about two or three years older than me. They lived down the road a few miles from us and when my family moved there in 1968, we became neighbors in the manner that you do in the country. Even though we were closer to Asherton, due to school board rules, both of us had to go to Carrizo Springs schools so we rode the same bus. Later on, Daddy moved us to Carrizo, and Pete got his driver’s licenses, so the school bus rides were over, but we stayed friends. Pete and his dad, Charles Wilson, ranched all over and during the 70’s when it got so dry, they sent a bunch of their Brahman Cows to Paris, Texas — way up north.

About 1978 or so, Pete got ahold of me and said, “Let’s go to Paris and receive some cows.”
I didn’t think to ask which one. As usual, I was at leisure to go and we loaded up the next morning, stopped and got a couple days worth of carne quisada tacos (as we weren’t sure we’d see a tortilla for a while) and headed north, or east. Back then, anything past the Nueces River was foreign country to me. 
All we were supposed to do was meet those Brahman Cows at the sale barn, work them, then help run them through the ring on sale day, so we didn’t take any horses or our saddles and leggin’s.  This turned out to be a mistake of course as our three or four day trip turned out to be a month. 
Pete and Charles had some partnership cattle with some boys up there named Paul and Mike Darnell who also owned one of the two sale barns at Paris and the sale barn at Greenville. For those of you who were like me at the time, Greenville is east of Dallas and Paris is on up by the Oklahoma border. Pete’d been there before but I think he was like me– there was a heck of a lot more people than we were used to. We got to Paris all right and the cattle rolled in next day as planned. The main reason we went, I believe, was to handle those South Texas Brahman cows. By themselves, they were fine, but by the time they got to the sale barn they were starting to get riled up.
The sale barn was an old wood horse and mule barn from years back. It served perfectly well for them East Texas cattle, but Pete’s cows were a little rough on it. Part of the problem was, those sale barn hands wouldn’t stick with the cows. Mainly because they were on the fence most of the time. Those old sisters would go when hey saw a little daylight and when one went, they all went. That’s all well and good if you set sale and get a gate closed at the other end. But those boys would watch’em go and when they saw the cattle coming back full speed, they would throw a gate at’em and climb the fence again. Well, you combine a full speed, full grown South Texas white bremmer cow and an old wooden gate and it tallies up to a trip to the lumber yard. 
We got’em bled and penned and run finally. Pete and I handled the cattle and Mike and Paul’s boys did the carpentrying. But I’ll tell you, there sure was a lots of shiny new lumber after we got through. 
Then Paul and Mike decided while Pete and I were there, we might as well stay and help work the other cattle. As I said, we didn’t have our personal gear so they had to outfit us. 
What we ended up with was, Pete riding a runaway and me on a green broke colt. And brand new Billy Cook saddles. I don’t know if they still make them, but in the 70’s Billy Cook saddles were like the Cadillacs of the horse world. These saddles were brand new with no scratches on them. That would soon be remedied. 
We were at a little place the Darnells had leased, and were going to vacate it, somewhere out of Paris. What it was, was a little bunch of little 5 to 20 acre places thrown together into one, except they forgot to take the old wire down in spots. Ten acres might be wide open and 20 or so would be thick woods, and I mean real trees you couldn’t look over the top of, like back home. And when you hubbed a tree with your knee on one of those, you knew you’d hubbed a tree. 
We were going into the pens with the cattle and just about had them all in when one ol’ cow wheeled around and took out for the woods. Pete hated the idea of digging her out of those danged woods as bad as I did, evidently, because he wheeled around himself and went to cut her off or catch her. Being as how I was the only other one with a loop built, as soon as it was safe to go, I peeled out after them. This is when it got funny, to me anyway. I don’t think Pete was nearly as amused as me. There was a creek out there maybe 100 yards away with an opening on the bank between a line of trees. If she got to there, she was gone. That cow started from the right side of the herd and Pete was over on the left, so they both were at an angle with Pete on the wrong side when they got to the creek. I thought he’d decided to cut her off instead of rope her. What I didn’t realize was that danged horse had cold-jawed on him and Pete couldn’t turn him. And nobody realized that the creek had cut under and there was about a 3 foot drop. Pete and his horse and that cow come together right at the creek bank and there was a heck of a train wreck. They just disappeared in a cloud of dust in the bottom of that creek. I was the first one there by a good ways and when I peered through the dust there was Pete half under his horse with that cow on top of them. I said, “Dang, Pete, you all right ?”  
“Yeah, get a rope on that cow before she gets up.”  
Well, that cutbank’s pretty level now so I rode down, put my rope on her and stretched her over so Pete could see if he’s hung up or not. 
We were still figuring things out when the boys rode up. They see me with my rope on the cow and Pete still under his hope and one of them says.
“Dadgum, why didn’t you try to help Pete first?”   
They hadn’t been close enough to hear us so I said,  “To hell with him” he should have roped her himself. I didn’t want her to get away.”
They just shook their heads.
Well, there’s enough people now to help if Pete’s in a bind, so I pulled that cow off of him and let her up. Pete let his horse up and, luckily, he wasn’t hung and double lucky nothing broke. 
We drug that old sister to the pens all right and turned her loose. One of those guys could not get over me supposedly not helping Pete. Of course they hadn’t heard us talking so I kept telling them. 
“To hell with Pete, he should have roped her.”  
We left there with them thinking I was the meanest guy from South Texas they ever saw and Pete was the toughest for living through a wreck like that and not getting barked up. 
They couldn’t say the same about that Billy Cook saddle. It had lost a lot of its market value after Pete’s wreck.
——-
I would like to welcome into the world Grace Lynn Triplitt, daughter of Slade and Amanda Triplitt; sister to Jasper 

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