National Geographic : 1971 Aug
Max and Jean Ann breed and train regis tered quarter horses and run about 500 cows. They hope for an annual calf crop of about 90 percent; most calves, said Max ruefully, seem to be delivered in freezing weather at midnight, with snow on the ground. After the calves are weaned and have grown to some 450 pounds, they are sold. Eventually they arrive at a feedlot, fatten, and go to market. The Blues raise quarter horses for love and calves for profit. I asked if they had any trouble with rustlers. Max jumped as if he'd heard a rattlesnake. "There's rustlin' goin' on, you bet! We're short four head right now in that pasture across the road. One feller, he even used his private plane to spot bunches of cows. If no people were in sight, he'd radio his waiting trucks. They finally caught him." "Shed Not for Her the Bitter Tear" Oklahoma tallies a long and bloody ac count with badmen. Back in territorial times, dozens of U. S. deputy marshals were gunned down here by desperadoes. I have seen their lairs. Just a six-gun shot from the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, outlaws skulked in a pecan grove called Rascal Flat. Atop a rocky robbers' roost in the Panhandle, bandits kept vigil over the Santa Fe Trail's Cimarron Cutoff, and galloped out to prey on passing wagon trains. Yes, and the vengeful Daltons rode through the land of the red man, and the train- and bank-robbing Doolin gang, the vicious Buck gang, the Starrs. I know where pistol-packing Belle Starr rests in eerie loneliness, though her epitaph adjures one not to weep. She died with her boots on, this formidable horse thief and con sort of renegades, friend of the James broth ers; someone shot her in the back. They buried her on her own land, not far from Porum in eastern Oklahoma. The grave lies past a plum thicket, beyond an alfalfa patch, through a grassy field fringed with sycamores, to a forgotten and scrub-tangled knoll above the Canadian River. I could find no trace of the old log cabin, though it had stood within feet of her tomb. Ah, Belle, I thought, lying amid weeds and wild flowers, do you know? Do you know the words they buried you with? Shed not for her the bitter tear. Nor give the heart to vain regret. Tis but the casket that lies here, The gem that filled it sparkles yet. Bluegrass ballads drift across the hills of "Little Dixie" in southeastern Okla homa. Each August, devotees of old-time country music converge at Hugo for a festival where small groups entertain around the clock for several days. Hugo lies in a humid, wooded region whose climate, topography, and philoso phy of life contrast sharply with those of the western plains. Choctaws settled in the section after being exiled from their Mississippi homes around 1830. Prairie piper, a young flutist contributes her impromptu bit to Oklahoma's first big rock festival, which took place last autumn near Stillwater. Authorities had previously banned rock shows, but re lented for Stillwater's open-air concert, which proceeded without incident.