Life In The Old West Part 3 Of 4

     Life in the "old west" was , in some ways very different from life now.   There are some areas where society has changed a great deal.  A good example is gambling. 

     Gambling was looked at as a man's recreation and there was little notice taken of it.  That is, unless there was cheating involved by a card shark.  When you hear the stories about "tar and feather him and ride him out of town on a rail", they were referring to crooked gamblers. 

      This practice goes something like this.  When a gambler was caught cheating but wasn't killed outright, he was often taken to a place away from prying eyes and ********.  They would then have a liberal coating of tar spread on their body, not hot enough to kill or injure them, but hot enough to be very sticky.  Then they would be covered with chicken feathers and tied to a rail, meaning fence post.  Then they would be publicly escorted out of town and sent happily on their way with good wishes from all. 

     If a gambler came to town and was not proved to be a cheat, He was tolerated and left alone.  My grandfather told me about one poker game where a farmer lost almost 300 dollars to a gambler, but decided he would not pay.  The professional gambler didn't like that idea and told the farmer that if he tried to leave the saloon without paying off on the game, The gambler would kill him.  The farmer asked his friends to help him rid himself of the gambler and the obligation, but they said he was on his own.  He talked to everyone who he came into contact with without leaving the saloon, and no one would help.  It was his debt and his problem.  Finally, just before closing time, the farmer paid the gambler.  He went home broke, but alive.

     The thing was, the frontier people were very close and would help each other, but if they did something stupid, they were expected to take care of their own mistakes. 


mewold mewold
66-70, M
7 Responses Apr 4, 2010

I don't see it when I look at my experiences.

I have started writting stories about what I believe is going on in this country. I am very, very worried.

You could well be right mewold

Today, I believe we are suffering from a lack of inner strength that we so sorely need in these times.

Yes they had strength and courage ... it seems to me that in these hard times people need to remember that their ancestors went through far worse and survived!

Thanks for the comment, womaninbliss, I think these settlers were who made our country a good place to live.

Great story mewold thank you for sharing. I was watching an old Gary Cooper movie this afternoon and it really made me think about the spirit of people who went to live in the new world (from Ireland in particular). They would have lived according to a pretty strict code and would have had to have been tough to survive of course. It's wonderful to be able to pass on these tales, it's important not to let them die.