Cowboy Howard and Old Bing

The following is another of my grandfather’s poems written on the homestead near Goldstone, Montana. William (Bill) Yeats was published in the highline newspapers in the 1930s. This is one of my favorites because it shows how people relied on their horses.

Now if you will listen,
A tale to you I’ll bring.
A story of a cowboy
And his horse named Bing.

Way out in old Montana,
Where the muddy Milk River flows,
Where the sun is always shining,
And where the wind fore ever blows.

This cowboy’s name was Howard.
He was lanky, tall and fair,
And when it came to taming broncs,
You can bet that boy was there.

And Bing was sure a beauty.
Dark sorrel with black mane,
Like a gorgeous flaming color
He would streak across the plains.

He was as nearly human
As a horse could ever be.
He understood each word you said
And minded perfectly.

When it came to roping steers,
Old Bing would never fail
To flop a husky four-year old.
And stand him on his tail.

At halter breaking ornery colts
Is where old Bing would shine.
He’d yank them off their pins
And drag them down the line.

One day old Carl Lee, the mailman,
Who drove a Model A,
Slipped down into a mud hole,
And there he had to stay.

Till Bing and Howard came along
A looking for some fun.
Says Howard, “I’ll pull you out.”
Carl says, “It can’t be done.”

With his rope wrapped around the
Saddle horn and tied back on the car,
Howard says, “Now, Bing. Let’s take
Her out and show him who we are.

Then Bing began to haul and pull.
He did his best, by heck.
But the saddle chinch busted
And darn near broke Bing’s neck.

They fixed the chinch, and Bing did try.
Oh, the saddle squeaked and
The old Ford creaked,
But he took it out on high.

It was along in February
In nineteen thirty-eight,
When Howard jumped on Bing’s back
And went to Bill Yeats.

He knew he would be welcome
For Bill lived alone,
And thought it a treat
His friend to greet in his humble home.

But Bill’s place was no paradise
As old Bing quickly found.
For on the old feed grinder.
They had him go round and round.

They kept the poor chap busy
Indeed he earned his keep.
For he also packed mail and cream cans
Thru snow drifts belly deep.

Then one day a blizzard came
A sweeping ‘ore the plains,
Which filled Bill’s heart with worry
And drove him near insane.

For the barn was full of cattle
And the mow was full of air,
Without a spear of hay or straw
Upon the floor boards bare.

“We’ve got to have some straw.
At least a little bit.
But how to get it to the barn
Is a problem I’ll admit.

“I think my old tarpaulin
Will work about the best.
We’ll pile a bunch of straw on that.
And Old Bing will do the rest.”

So once more Bing saved the day
And also saved the cattle too.
For he kept the mangers full
Till the skies were once more blue.

You will hear his praises sung
Wherever cowboys meet.
For every day and in every way
“Old Bing’ just can’t be beat.

And when at last we gather
In that heavenly land so fair,
I’m sure we’ll like it better
If we find that Bing is there.


Marie F Martin


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