National Geographic : 1981 Jul
you suppose? My show, of course. Buffalo Bill's Wild West.'" Harry sent for the contract. "It had about 50 clauses. Every one concerned the party of the second part. You promised not to ogle girls, get drunk, swear, or miss a perfor mance. Why, if I got killed, I'd have to pay for my own funeral." The contract resembled the agreement Cody at age 15 had sworn to uphold when he became a rider for the Pony Express. * Harry and a friend got brave and signed up-and they never regretted it. They opened at Madison Square Garden in New York City and embarked on a show train for a killing cross-country circuit of one-night stands. Cody's bark proved worse than his bite, Harry learned. "He was always fair and never asked more of us than of himself. He never missed a show. Once I broke an ankle vaulting onto a galloping horse. The colonel kept me on the payroll while it healed. The cowboys and cowgirls really loved him." Cody earned millions of dollars with the show, only to lose it as expenses mounted and investments turned sour. In 1909 he joined with Pawnee Bill's Historic Far West and Great Far East, trying to recoup and re tire. But four years later Harry Tammen, a publisher of the Denver Post, would trigger the impoundment and auction of the show to settle a $60,000 debt. W HILE COWBOYS were a great drawing card, the Indians made the show. One former trouper, an Oglala Sioux, still lives on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where Cody agents usually recruited. Louis Whirl wind Horse was a small boy when he accom panied his father on a two-season circuit. The frail, kindly 76-year-old recalled details that could serve as narration for films of the Wild West that Thomas Edison made. After the grand entrance, the Indians reentered the arena, riding bareback, pull ing travois. With a graceful forefinger, Louis traced their route on the tabletop. "The squaws set up tepees; the chiefs con fer. The young braves dance. Then all the people go inside. All is still. *Rowe Findley retraced the grit-and-glory days of the Pony Express in the July 1980 GEOGRAPHIC.