Scotty Thompson was an honest horse trader. I knew him in the 60's when I was shoeing horses for the Kansas Stated Vet school,shoeing around the state and playing fiddle for dances at Grange Halls and community centers.
Nobody knew how old he was. In 1967 he looked like he was eighty. Even the old folks said they couldn't remember him looking any other way. His bald head had more ridges in it than a topographical map. His eyes were squinted so shut that you couldn't see his eyeballs,but they always seemed to be smiling. His very being was a smile... Winter or Summer Scotty always wore a big wool tweed overcoat,those old style wool pinstriped pants,and lace up brogans. Through those squinted eyes he could see EVERYTHING on a horse. I remember bringing him a really gentle young but pretty well broke horse to sell for me. He began with his usual "well young fellow I know you probably know more about horses than I do",but I was just wondering if we should do something about that near side upper molar there?". I looked and looked and looked but couldn't see a thing. He walked up the horse,quietly worked a hand into his jaw,and yanked out a really rotten tooth!!.....
I would bring a horse to Scotty,tell him how much I had into it and he would sell it somewhere and split the profit with me. When I got married to my first wife in 1969 we were getting ready to take off and adventure around the West and work our way up to the Calgary Stampede. My friend Glen Riggs,who is now a veterinarian around Ark City area, caught up with me and told me of a couple of horses he could buy cheap if he had another $60. We had $120 saved to leave town on. I gave Glen $60 dollars,told him to bring the horses to Scotty and have him send me my share of the profit General Delivery,Calgary, Canada. I then went home and told my blushing bride that we had $60 instead of $120 to travel on! Since we were newlyweds,she still had faith in me but did express a little doubt about the wisdom of my decision. We took off,shoeing at fair grounds,playing a little fiddle and guitar when shoeing was slow, and worked our way up through Jackson's Hole and on to the Stampede. I checked General Delivery delivery when we arrived to no avail and got one of those "I told you so" looks. Third day I checked THERE IT WAS, a check from Scotty for over a hundred dollars!!!
When we got back to Kansas I drove over to Alma to tell Scotty HI and thanks him. He,an old bachelor,live with his sister in an ancient run down farm house just outside of Alma. After we talked a bit ( you folks not from rural Kansas need to know that "talking a bit"HAS to come before talking Business!) Scotty said "I hear you're a pretty fair fiddler". We talked about fiddling and my playing at Alma dances for a while before he went in a brought out one of those old,round sided Russian Rigat Rubus fiddles that were never worth much even on a good day. He wanted me to do with the fiddle the same thing he did with me on horses: sell it and send him his fair share. I couldn't say no.
I carried that fiddle around for 42 years. I still have it. Needs: the side seam between the side bout and lower bout on the chin rest side glued,pegs,bridge,strings.... Probably more than it is worth,but if anybody in that area would fix it,I'll send it to them and pay what is fair. The fiddle would then be sold and the proceeds donated to the animal shelter nearest Alma in the memory of " Scotty Thompson-Honest Horse Trader."
Eric Sprado, Deadwood, Oregon. 541 964 3224...4 comments
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Playing Since: 1953
Experience Level: Purty Good
I have a year old fiddle made by Warren Chism of Albany, Oregon, that I love.
Backup fiddle is a well played old Steiner copy. Still have Juzeck my Dad bought me for $36 when I was Eight. Many moons ago. JUst added a Charles Horner,thanks to Twelvefret. It is the sweetest thing you ever heard. Not a jam session bullhorn like my Chism,but incredibly Sweet. It is my play at home fiddle
Texas PLayboys,Stuff Smith, Jim Widner, Johnny Gimble.
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Fiddler,Horseshoer,Cowboy,Auctioneer,Realtor, Teller of tall tales,Survivor of thousands of Grange Hall Dances for which I have played in umpteen states.
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