Remains of a party (from the archives of Baxter’s former life)
Baxter Black, DVM
We all have great memories of “the best party.”
I had a party. It lasted 48 hours. I lost my socks, my dignity, two days of my life, six ping-pong balls and 4 pounds. I broke my G-string, achieved a new “personal best” and learned to dog paddle in a bathtub full of beer.
The occasion for this all-out, climb the walls, cowboy shindig was in celebration of my new book. The party honored the world’s best cowboy cartoonists who contributed cartoons for the book. We gathered under one roof some of the most unique individuals in the world of Western philosophy and art. Every one of them is a crossbred maverick of the finest kind.
Jerry Palen from Cheyenne showed up and spent Friday night tryin’ to sell everybody a Shetland pony, sight unseen. The price went up Saturday after a phone call from his vet: it looked like the pony was gonna live.
In certain circles I am considered a pretty fair guitar picker (places like the 5th Amendment Bar and the Society for the Tone Deaf). But I was relegated to playin’ second fiddle by my brothers, Steve and Bob, Jim Schafer, and my new wife.
Under the right circumstances I can be coerced into singin’ a few ditties (as Champ Gross would say, “He’ll sing to anyone who’ll listen”). “First,” I said modestly, “Let Herb Mignery sing one.” He wound up singin’ all night to the delight of the crowd. Finally Herb said, “Let ol’ Bax sing one!” I did and everybody went to the bathroom.
I thought I could hold my own in story tellin’. But then Dick Spencer started tellin’ about adobe submarines and his Indian relative, Running Bare. Pretty soon Ace Reid was spinnin’ yarns about Lady Bird, Slim Pickins, Hondo Crouch and his old daddy who claimed to be the best cattle thief in Texas. Todd, Tink and Andy each had more wild cow tales to fill in the empty spaces. All in all, it was windier than a sack full of whistlin’ lips.
The only event left that I felt qualified in was drinkin’. But two Idaho renegades, Don Gill and Garry Penny were already walkin’ on the window ledges and abusing the potted plants so I conceded.
They came from all over, Don from Idaho, Radonna from Texas, and Jack from Greenly, Champ from Wyoming, Mike from Longmont and my mother from New Mexico.
Bein’ amongst these kind of people was a blue ribbon treat. We did our best to make your own cowboy cartoonist feel special. But it’s hard ‘cause they’re all just plain common decent folks like most of us and won’t let you treat’em different. Besides, I have to pay for the carpet in Don Gill’s hotel room. Dick Spencer’s check bounced, Herb Mignery’s wife has a warrant out for my arrest, my brother Bob is changing his name, Jay Dusard is sending me his chiropractor’s bill, the pony I bought from Jerry Palen didn’t make it, and the ring Ace Reid sold me is turnin’ my finger green. ❖