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Bart & Burt…And the Fly Trap

Story ID:8267
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
Person:Bart & Burt
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Bart & Burt…And the Fly Trap
By Chuck Dishno

My hometown, Bly, Oregon was in the heart of the Sprague River Valley. This was cattle country and had several large cattle ranches. These ranches, of course had their share of cowboys. The ranch workers had to do many different jobs and for the most part they were younger men but some had been around the ranching business for many years.

This story is about two of the old timers, Bart Shelly and Burt Skelley. I don’t know how old they were but to me they looked ancient. They were the Walter Brennan type but much older and wizen up. They were always seen together and it was rare that one would come into town without the other. They loved to come into town to attend Bly School functions such as basketball games and the annual school carnival.

Both were bent over from many years of hard work and riding horses. They were so bow-legged, that my Pop always said two pigs could run between their legs, side by side and never touch an ankle. It looked like they had broken their jaws several times from being kicked by a horse. I don’t mean to sound like I am picking on them as they were both great old timers and were always willing to sit and talk. I just wanted you to get a mental picture of these two fellows.

One day a friend and I stopped by the ranch where they were working. Both were sitting outside the bunkhouse enjoying a smoke and chewing tobacco. As we talked, one of them, Bart, sat there with his mouth hanging open. Apparently he didn’t have much control or feeling in his jaw, when a fly landed on his chin. We watched in fascination as that fly walked around and after a few minutes right into his mouth. I don’t think Bart felt a thing and we sat staring at him waiting for that fly to emerge. It never did. It probably slid down his throat with a wad of tobacco juice.

When I left Bly in 1954, Bart and Burt had retired and were living on the ranch. I never did know what happened to them after I left but have always wondered if eating flies contributed to their longevity.

Just another memory from my youth, growing up in this unique time and era.

I have many more stories to tell so keep looking.