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WILD IRISH – JACK CONLAN 

                    FORT BIDWELL HIGHLIGHTS – January 9, 1935 – SURPRISE VALLEY RECORD
                    Jack Conlan, a sophomore of the Fort Bidwell High School, has quit
                    school to twist broncos on his father’s ranch.

I.
I wish I never heard
that Fort Bidwell buckaroo
lifted on the rein as the bronco fired
down the length of Main Street.
Chin tucked, he weathered
every shoulder drift or drop,
every fade, or suck-back dirty trick,
part pitch, part jump, tore down
clotheslines, hammered boardwalks all to hell,
and behind him flew thirty foot of buck rein
rip-cord poppin’, whippin’ kite tail
so’s if he bucked off,
he wouldn’t have to hoof it home.

I wish I never heard
a dozen times a day
up the ranch lane he came ridin’
on a nasty desert bucker
whose bog-head bellars set window panes rattlin’ ,
scattered freight teams, buckboards, surreys,
— one broomtail leaped a perambulator
left outside a store.
He’d empty bars, stop card games cold –
them gawkers all a’yellin’
“getouttahereyougaldurnedkid!”

That fall – Jack Conlan won the Bronc Riding
at the San Francisco Cow Palace –
– green, sixteen, wild and Irish buckaroo.
I wish I never knew.

                    FORT BIDWELL HIGHLIGHTS – October 17, 1940 — SURPRISE VALLEY RECORD
                    JACK CONLAN WEDS FT. KLAMATH GIRL
                    Jack Conlan of Fort Bidwell, and Nora McAullife of Fort Klamath
                    were united in marriage at a beautiful ceremony Wednesday,
                    October 17, at 9 a.m. in Sacred Heart Church, Klamath Falls, Oregon,
                    by Father Ahearne.



                    The bride wore a formal white satin grown with sweetheart neck
                    and fitted sleeves and long train. Her veil was finger-tip length.
                    Her corsage was orchids and lilies of the valley.
                    The maid of honor, Mary Claire Coile, was dressed in blue net
                    and carried a large corsage of yellow button chrysanthemums.
                    The tiny flower girl, Geneva McAullife, niece of the bride,
                    work pink net and a long pink net veil.
                    Jack McAullife, well known cattleman, gave his daughter in marriage,
                    and Joseph McAullife, her brother, was best man,
                    while a second brother, Pat McAullife, was usher.
                    The church was decorated with lighted candles and fall flowers.



                    After the ceremony
                    there was a wedding breakfast of creamed turkey and biscuits
                    served the intimate friends of both families.
                    At three o’clock

                    a reception was held at the Pelican Café banquet room,
                    during which the
                    
three-tiered wedding cake was cut.

                    The bride and groom
                    will make their home in Ft. Bidwell
                    where Mr. Conlan is engaged in stock raising.




II.
I wish I‘d never heard it
long years later
on a day nearin’ winter –
a gray-haired grandpop, ear flaps flappin’,
leads a buckskin, old and bony to a stump.
Bridle’s granny knots, twine and wire
— riggin wedged between dorsal fin and tail.
Up the old man clambers,
house shoes stuffed in oxbows
and Buck never even humps
though a storm blowin’ off ol’ Baldy
makes a crow hop the natural to do.

The cattle see us coming and bust
running, bucking ‘cross the valley.
When riders break to head them
Jack bellers, “Let ‘em go!”
And then he says to Buck,
“I wish I felt that good….”

We gathered those slick meadows,
rodeared against the lake
– it reflectin’ mountain and sky
so’s I can’t say which one is real.

I want Jack sixteen, riding tough
and town folks jumpy,
necks craned down Conlan’s lane
not this grandpa, old and broken
ridin’ nothing but a nag.

But while we watch
they part pairs from heavies,
soft as mist, right as rain.
Cows and Buck – Jack’s only family
now the kids are grown
and lovely Nora’s too long gone.

A person’s life is not our business
— no matter if we’re at the start
or come in at the end.

There’s still old-timers up in Bidwell
who ran for cover
when they heard some bronc grunt
an’ bawl
and sittin’ tight as pine pitch,
Wild Irish riding handy
with thirty foot
of bronc rein
snappin’
silky
out
be-
hind.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Jun 29 2011

    I would love to know who wrote this. What an amazing description of Grandpa Jack. Please email me at E55tech@yahoo.com John Felts(Son of Jack’s oldest daughter Joan)

    Reply

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