Around Kansas – The Single Spur

(Frank) Good morning! This is Around Kansas and I’m Frank Chaffin. Some 15 years ago I had the privilege of meeting a famous Kansan named Randy Sparks. Now Randy is from Leavenworth, Kansas, and he started a folk group called the New Christy Minstrels back in the 60’s. Believe it or not, Randy and the New Christy Minstrels are still on the road today, in fact they had concerts in California just in the past few days. Now Randy is a Cowboy Poet of sorts, and in 2000 he put out a book called “FEE FIE FOE FUM, I Smell a Cowboy”. So I’m going to share some thoughts that Randy had about the state of Kansas in a poem called “Single Spur”. but first, here’s what he said about it. I don’t know very many folks who consider Kansas cowboy country. Western movies are made in New Mexico and Arizona and California. The old classic songs don’t mention Kansas. They say things like you know that Wyoming will be your new home and bound for Montana to throw the hoolihan. We seem to have forgotten that Kansas was where the cattle trails led. It was indeed a cowboy capitol of sorts in the late 1800’s. This was on his mind as he walked into junk store, antiques, in Oberlin in the northwest corner of the state. He found a rusty single spur and he wrote about here, and the story happily flowed from his imagination as he drove along the rural highway. Here it is, Single Spur. The hinges are rusty on the old cabin door. They sing heir mournful song with every breeze. The cowboy who lived here doesn’t live here anymore. And all he left behind were memories. The morning glory climbs where roses once were along the path form the porch to the gate. On an ancient square nail hang and old Single Spur I wonder what became of its mate. There are rivets in the patch where the wishbone was broke. That must have been one hell of a ride! Can’t you hear the smithy’s hammer? There was joy in every stroke. And when the job was finished there was pride. Now it once again was useful, this time-worn telegraph. The rider’s every wish was its command. But there’s chaos and confusion, without the other half. A Single Spur a horse don’t understand. There’s a message in the horseshoe that’s tacked above the door. Old Lady Luck has seen her better days. That cowboy and his horse, like the shoe that it once wore, by now, no doubt, have gone their separate ways. The smell of morning coffee somehow lingers on the air thought the pot is leaking daylight at the seams. There’s a place at the table, there’s a dusty, empty chair. Sit down and have your fill of broken dreams. And I feel like that Old Single Spur that some thoughtless, careless cowboy cast aside. The good times are gone, the rodeo’s moved on and no one wants to go for a ride. Randy Sparks, cowboy poet, musician and Kansan. I’ll see you somewhere Around Kansas.

 

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