Preston and Joe Painter Take Cattle to Nebraska – 1936

This is shared by Dick Painter.

One of my favorite stories about my Dad and I won’t bore you with all of the details is how they took the cattle to Nebraska in 1936 to survive the drought.

It was so dry and the vegetation was so sparse that when the cows would get to an ant hill, as they were trailing them, they would browse around.  Uncle Joe Painter used to say he could still picture the cows licking their mouths and watching the ants running around on their muzzles and tongues.
Anyhow when they got to Belle Fourche to load the cattle on the train, Preston went into the train depot to order the cattle cars. (If Bob was telling this he could tell you, like you did In your book, Bess, the names of the train line.) The clerk behind the counter said, “What the hell are you doing in here?”  My Dad, of course, lost his temper and started yelling at the poor clerk, saying I’m here to order 16 cattle cars to ship cattle to Nebraska, that’s what the hell I’m doing!” At this point the poor clerk,  he got scared and ran into a back room. He was so afraid to come out that they had to send someone else out to help write up the shipping order.
There were so many bums on the railroads those days that the clerk thought Preston and Joe were a couple of railroad bums.  They had been trailing the cattle for a week, hadn’t shaved or bathed and were dusty and dirty.
I thought this would be a good basis for a story for some characters in your book, if you didn’t want to assign it to Preston. Incidentally, when they brought their cattle back the next year according to Bob, some other rancher, Joe, and Preston were the only three ranchers that didn’t sell out their cattle herds to survive the drought at that time in Harding County.

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