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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Saddle up the time machine

I’ve been reading about life on the Chisholm Trail and the brief heyday of the 19th century cattle drives.

As often happens when I think about the Old West, I can’t help but wonder. How would we, the residents of the modern West, have fared during those rough and tumble times?

With that in mind, I have drafted a short Fitness for the Old West Quiz. Simply answer these five questions and you should come up with a fair idea of how you would have endured.

1. How are you at avoiding quicksand?

2. Would you have whined so much that everyone else in the wagon train would have voted to send you back to St. Louis?

3. If you had been assigned to transport nitro to the mine, would you have blown yourself up?

4. Would you have been calm in the face of a stampede or lack of central air and hot showers?

5. Unlike women in 1960s TV Westerns, can you run 10 steps without twisting your ankle?

Remember, be honest.

Oh, and here’s one more. How would you have stood up to “hornkongs”?

Several years before I was born, my family was driving somewhere in the West. I think it must have been in or near Texas.

My older brother started going on about “hornkongs.” As family lore has it, our parents had no idea what he was talking about.

But there was such a grim fatalism about what he was saying, they just couldn’t ignore him. I mean, he was a preschooler.

“They’ll kill ya,” he declared with stern certainty.

Who will? “Hornkongs,” he said.

Eventually, it was determined he was talking about longhorns.

His vision of the Lone Star State was of an untamed place overrun with belligerent cattle ready to put your eye out at the drop of a 4-year-old’s cowboy hat.

Or maybe even kill ya.

As far as my brother was concerned, the West was still pretty wild even at the dawn of the Space Age.

Today’s Slice question: A friend was telling me about his young son being in that phase where he remembers and sings TV commercial jingles. The thing is, the boy often gets the words wrong.

Does that remind you of any fun family stories?

Of course, such tales don’t always involve kids. There was a fresh-faced Spokane TV news reporter years ago who once referred, on air, to the local building materials store, as “Ziggy’s Yeah Ziggy’s.”

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Happy Bennington Battle Day.

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