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Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering by Peggy Malone Photos by Bob Kisken

1-Fred Ellis     2-Terry Nash       3-Slim McWilliams

     GRAND JUNCTION, CO-There’s a saying “You don’t have to be big to be appreciated”   Our Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering is a very intimate Gathering.   We aren’t one of the big flashy events…and that’s what makes ours all the more endearing.   It’s as close a feeling of ‘Sitting around a Campfire’ with friends that you can get..even though it is an inside event.

   When you walk through the doors , you are met with a warm rush of friendship and camaraderie.  That’s why folks come back, year after year. It truly feels like a family get together, topped off with real fine Cowboy Poetry and Music.
    This year, the stage was gifted with a great lineup of Poets and Western Singers.
    PAT MARTIN, Grand junction, C0. Her emotional poem about giving her ol’ saddle away, choked us all up, and her included.  She brings the reality of what happens as we get older and the changes that have to be made, like selling or giving away your saddle.  This true story/poem confirmed that the saddle lives on with a new bunch of kids to ride it and tenderly care for it.  You end up feeling comforted, knowing the saddle will continue helping the youngsters learn to ride and take care of it.  TLC and neatsfoot oil… will do the trick.
     ROSS KNOX, Yosemite, California.  Ross and Ronna Lee and Tom Sharpe go back years and years. There was some gentle teasing, back and forth, about old times!  We were so glad that he was invited back this year.  He has quite a bunch of mules that keep him pretty busy at Yosemite Park.  For many years he worked at the Grand Canyon, taking tourists down the narrow trail to the bottom..He would also deliver supplies to the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon.  His mules have served him well, and you can tell, that he lives the poems he writes.  That’s what makes each poet unique.   Their own experiences come through in the stories they write.   It all makes for very entertaining shows.
     We had a very nice surprise addition to the ‘Open Mic’ session.   SUSIE KNIGHT of Evergreen, Co. was on her way back from Heber City Gathering, and she graced the stage with her great poem that she wrote for the Durango Gathering.  Thanks Susie for stopping by!!!!
     Also, JP GORHAM from Prescott, Az. drove all that way, just to check out our Gathering, and be part of the Open Mic segment.   He was kind enough to help me with a tender phone call to 94 yr. old Frances Wheeler/Cowgirl Poet,  that is now in the local Nursing Home. This is the first Gathering she could not attend because of failing health.  We missed her so, and wanted her to know she was thought of.. We all shouted a big ol’ Howdy Frances!!! To her…and JP recited a poem that I wrote last week, after visiting her.   It was a very special moment for us all.

1-Susie Knight      2-Tim Krebs       3-Peggy Malone and Al Albrethsen

     FRED ELLIS… Recently moved from Meeker, Co. to Penrose, Co. We were sure glad to have him return and be part of our Nov. 2 and 3rd Gathering.  His poem “Just 5 Acres”, really made us all stop and think about what progress has done to gobbling up our history and productive land.  It’s one of his best poems, but we all anticipated his ‘Cowboy Rap’ whichdidn’t disappoint us!  He always brings the house to a roar of laughter!
     SLIM FARNSWORTH…Cedaredge Co. This young man…who is about to become a daddy for the first time in March, really did a great job reciting some Classics..with superb animation.  He does a lot of fast paced verses..that you feel you have to breath for him!  His “Ronda-Cilla” poem, which is a twisted take on ‘Cinderella’ had us rolling in the aisles!  Ed Carpenter use to do this one too, and it’s nice to hear this poem kept alive and kickin’.
    TIM KREBS, Dove Creek, Co.   This was the first time I had the pleasure of hearing Tim Krebs sing, and sing he did with elegance and charm.  He has a tenderness in his voice that wins you over immediately.  His guitar adds just enough to compliment his voice.  It’s evident that he has strong Western morals, as it shows in the selection of his songs.  A true country gentleman.  We all look forward to hearing more from him.

1-Jerry Brooks       2-Tom Sharpe       3-Ray Lashley

    AL ABRETHSEN, Grand Junction, Co.   Al is a long time performer of our Gathering.  He truly amazes everyone with his spunk…at the tender age of ‘almost’ 91 yrs. old.  A WWII Vet, who can still belt out a mean song on the Mouth Harp.  His poems are mostly true… As a matter of fact, he has a new book out called “FROM TRUE TO COULDA BEEN” The proceeds for the sale of this book, during this event, went to the Museum of Western Colorado.
    JERRY BROOKS ‘BROOKSIE’ of Sevier, Utah is such a treat to listen to.  Her phrasing of the Classic poems, truly makes you feel like you are there, and part of the poem. You end up hanging on each word, for the emotion she portrays is unmatched.  She’s one hard working gal, who finds time to do what she loves.  She had just been at the Heber City Gathering the day before. We reminisced about our buddy Jack DeWerff/Cowboy Poet, who is having health problems.  We ended up surprising and calling him before the show started,to let him know we were thinking of him. It was just a very special conversation across the miles to Arizona.  
    RAY LASHLEY Grand Junction, Co.  When I say Ray Lashley, a flood of good times throughout the years, surround my memory.  First met him, when I was singing on the ‘Chief Joseph Trail Ride’ sponsored by the Appaloosa Horse Club, out of Moscow, Idaho.  He would recite his poems and the Classics, while I would take a break, during the night show.  When he’d do that Sunny Hancock’s poem about the ‘The Horse Trade’, I was hooked on his style and had to hear more.  Ray is also a WWII veteran.  He’s always a nice addition to the Gathering here in the Grand Valley.

1-Don Wynkoop       2-Deb Bukala       3-Ross Knox

     TOM SHARPE, Loma,Co.  When Tom isn’t reciting poetry, he’s in the saddle most of the day.  He’s a well known trainer of Ranch Horses in the Grand Valley.  His love of horses shows in the way he delivers the lines of the poems he recites.   One of his favorites is “Where The Ponies Come To Drink” by Henry Herbert Knibbs.  The picture that this classic poem creates is pure magic.   His lovely wife Ronna Lee and himself put many hours into lining up the participants in this show.  We appreciate their commitment to making this event an annual good old fashioned good time get together. 

     TERRY NASH, Loma, Co.   Here’s another feller that just continues to blow us away with his sincerity and love for the Western Way of Life.   Every chance he has free, he’ll be looking at the world as seen from between his horse’s ears, ‘Ol’ Sherm’.  It seems, whenever you want to reach him, he’s off working cattle of his own, or helping neighboring ranches work theirs.   The very next day, after our Gathering, he was off in the high country ..moving 500 head and sorting them.   Everyone is known by a ‘certain signature poem’…I think his is ‘The Hiccup One!!’..  It’s especially popular with the young poets. Becky Sue, 11 yrs. old,  and Joey Martin, 9 yrs. old.
    BECKY SUE, JOEY MARTIN of Grand Junction, Co.  It is totally refreshing to see and hear these youngsters writing their own poems and reciting them.  They are truly our future, in the Grand Junction Cowboy Gathering.   Their Grandpa Curly Dunnagan was their inspiration, and they have been  passed the ‘torch’.   I have never witnessed this age group sitting day and night for two days straight, hanging on every word spoken.   They truly love Cowboy Poetry, and it’s fun watching them grow and perform.   Becky Sue came up to me, during the show, and said…”Can I please stand near you for a while? My horse fell on me the other day when he spooked..and my leg got twisted, and I need to stand a while”  She already has the battle scars of a true Cowgirl!   Little  Joey Martin did a fine job imitating a Rooster during one of Slim Farnsworth’s poems.   They are real buds..those two guys..
     AMI MARTIN, of Grand Junction, Co. is the proud MaMa of Becky Sue, and Joey.   She is no bigger than a whisper, and also joined in and did a poem or two.   You can just see Curly smiling down at his grandkids carrying on the Cowboy  Poetry tradition!!

1-Nona Carver       2-Slim Farnsworth       3-Peggy Malone

     DEB BUKALA Glade Park, Co.  Deb lives way up on God’s high prairie town of Glade Park, where she lovingly takes care of quite a few of retired ol’ horses. Along with her 5 rescued dogs, she is kept busy.  Her husband Chris is a double Vet.  He’s a Veteran and a Veterinarian.  Her experiences with animals and life, make for very interesting stories through her music.  She sings for her Hospice patients and brings them great joy.  We have welcomed her to our Gathering, and has added a nice new spark with her enthusiasm.  I must mention, that her husband Chris treats our service dogs from the war zones of Afghanistan.  We are very proud of his service to our Country, the great U. S. A.
    NONA KELLY CARVER, Mesa, Co.   Nona’s style is very unique.   The humor she weaves into her poems is just delightful.  Her more serious poems are equally entertaining.   But, I must say, one of my favorites is “Tic Tac Toe”   That ornery little, sneaky field mouse…that got loose at the Grange Hall… Snuck up the ol’ gals leg and petticoat.. Well, You just have to request it, next time you run into Nona.   She always captivates the audience with her heartfelt poetry.  We are lucky to say …she lives nearby!!!

Vess Quinlan

     DONNIE WYNKOOP of Fruita, Co.    My goodness, this guy just continues to amaze us all with his sense of humor.   One of his very favorite poems is, how he explains that he has this problem about ‘not bidding’ when at a Cattle Auction.  His arm just wants to strike the ‘up’ position…and buy buy buy… I forget the exact name of his poem…but..I do remember it kinda rhymes with ‘Alcoholic’ ‘Cow-co-holic?’  You get the ‘gist of it’  If it weren’t for his ‘daytime’ Manager of our Fruita City Market, you’d be hearing more of him. Let’s hope we do!!!
   VESS QUINLAN, San Luis Valley, Co.  A very popular returning poet to our Gathering.  He has a gentle way about his delivery of his poems that truly touch the heart.   He even read a poem that his daughter wrote, and it really grabbed you.  It was about how she wished to be big enough to join her dad and the crew..and operate a baler.  You could see, in his expression, that this poem brought back good memories of ‘Father and Daughter’ times… Vess has been a big influence in Cowboy Poetry and a strong presence at the Elko Nevada Gathering.. The Daddy of them all..  Always a treat to see and hear Vess!!
     SLIM MC WILLIAMS, Lewis, C0.   Last, but not least…. This fellow blew us away with his rich baritone voice.  The clarity and richness that his voice added to his songs and really vibrated your rib-cage.    It was pure joy to hear his part of the show.  Between his guitar playing and his vocals, the audience was treated superbly.  We all hope to see him more often in the Grand Valley.  He graciously added a nice harmony when Deb Bukala sang “Night Rider’s Lament.
As for myself, I totally enjoyed working the P.A. both days, and adjusting the sound for each performer’s style and voice.  It was pure pleasure being part of the Friday Night Show. My ol’ 1957 Epiphone guitar and I have shared many a good time together.  If guitars have feelings…my Guild F50 would say, “Hey..don’t forget me!!!” I do love my guitars!“. 
The whole Gathering was special, and we look forward to next year’s.  It’s always the first part of November.  We’d love to have you all join us next time. Come sit around our imaginary Campfire, and relax, and enjoy our Welcoming Grand Valley area.  See you then, Happy Singin’ Trails, 

      Pickin’ Peggy Malone, Fruita, Colorado


 (OCT. 31, 2012)

by Peggy Malone

last verse by JP Gorham…

        I came to see her, at the ol’ nursing home

A smile crossed her face, as we sat there alone

We shared many stories..some old and some new

Of struggles and sunshine to mention a few.

        I noticed a picture, all yellowed with age

5 kids on a pony..the barn was its stage

She proudly admitted, she had quite a crew

And had 9 in all, by the time she was through! 

        She told of the night when bright stars shown above

She’d finished her milken..and checked on her love

For he had been sick, but the chores couldn’t wait

He passed on that night, through God’s heavenly gate.

        I sat there and listened like I had not a’care

Words paint a picture, and I felt I was there

Her eyes, how they danced, though she barely could see

This time was a treasure, just her and just me.

        But, I had to leave, though I hated to go

“What can I get you? so, just please let me know!!”

“Oh Yes”..she replied..”I love Louie L’Amour,

Go fetch his cd on the shelf by the floor”.

        I popped in his story of days long ago

Her pleasure was showing, she had a new glow

She listened a while..her eyes wanting to close

So I kissed her sweet cheek…and said…Adios.

        I stood in the hallway and thought for a bit

The life she has lived, her heart and her grit

I wiped off a tear, but a smile shone through

I might walk away, but she came with me, too.





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