Page 4 - MWC 2-3-2022s
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The Midwest Cattleman · February 3, 2022 · P4

                                         didn’t know a single soul  tle. If there was ever a rea-
                                         in the whole state of Mon- son for trouble between our
                                         tana.  Most people in that  families, it was my dad’s
                                         small  community  probably  Angus bull.  Somehow that
                                         thought, and rightly so, that  never became a problem –
                                         those ‘new kids’ who moved  my dad offered to buy any
                                         down into the ‘breaks’, onto  ‘black-baldy’ heifer.   Years
                                         the ‘Heller place’, in the mid- later, after we used some
                                         dle of December, during one  imported Simmental  bulls,
                                         of the coldest winters on  some Tuss Simmental cross
                                         record,  probably wouldn’t  cattle started getting a ‘lazy’
                                         make  it through  that first  T X bar brand as well.  Some
         There's a popular steak-        winter  –  let alone  through  of those are probably still
      house that has western             the first year.  But they  there today.
      décor throughout.                  did make it.  They made it           But growing up in Mon-
         There are ropes, spurs,         through ten winters.  Part- tana was not all work.  It was
      saddles, chaps, and old boots.     ly because of their tenacity,  Joe Tuss who taught me how
      Most of it looks authentic…        there was no ‘quit’ in them,  to hold an ‘open-face’ fishing
      like right out of an old work-     and partly because some  rod and reel.  Joe always
      ing ranch tack room.  Among        neighbors  ‘adopted’ them -  loved to fish.   Whether on
      those items, somewhere on a        befriended them and treated  the  banks  of  Stafford  Lake,            Of course,  Arthur Chap-
      wall, is often found a quote       them like their own family.  I  or down on the banks of the          man never met Joe Tuss, but
      from Arthur Chapman:               will never forget that – I will  Missouri, Joe was the one           he sure said it right.
                                                                                                                 Hand clasps and smiles
                                         never forget them.                 who took the time to show a       can make or break you –
         “Out where the hand                We shared meals, brand- young boy how it should be
      clasp's a little stronger,         ings, hunting, trapping, fish- done.  I seldom hold a pole           they can save you!
         Out where the smile             ing, working, playing… we  in hand that I do not think                  They are sure not the same
      dwells a little longer,            shared it all.  It was a hard  of him. I bet right now he’s          everywhere.  I hope you get
           That's where the West         country – it still is. The ter- watching a line beside a             to live ‘out west’ every day.
      begins.”                           rain, the temperatures, even  beautiful lake or stream.              KwC
                                         the rattlesnakes are all out
         I pass by that quote often      to shorten your ‘stay’.   The
      and every time I do, the           Tuss  family  was  from  Yu-
      memory of a man's smile            goslavia.  Joe and Johnny’s
      and his calloused handclasp        parents came here from the
      always come to mind.   His         ‘old country’.  In their youth,
      name was Joe Tuss.                 they had mined coal from
                                         a hole on their ranch and
         Why do I remember his           hauled it to town in a wagon
      smile?  From the time I was        to help feed their family and
      five until I was fourteen, Joe     keep other people warm.
      and his wife Jean were the            Joe and Johnny Tuss were
      closest I had to grandpar-         twins, but they couldn’t have
      ents. My other grandparents        been more different.  Johnny
      were special people, but they      also had an unforgettable
      lived 1500 miles away and I        smile, but his was a little or-
      only got to see them a couple      nerier and a little crooked...
      times a year.                      usually holding a Swisher
         Joe and his twin brother        Sweet cigar.  His hand clasp
      Johnny lived a quarter of          was different too... his fin-
      a mile apart… on the road          gers were crooked as could
      that went to our house.  We        be  because  his  sister  had
      called them our ‘neighbors’,       carried him out in the cold
      but the  Tusses were more          when he was a baby and his
      like family to all of us than      fingers had been frostbitten.
      real family.  Maybe that is        When he wasn’t smoking a
      the reason why, for over sixty     cigar, he was holding one be-
      years, that the word ‘neigh-       tween those crooked fingers
      bors’ has always meant a           - sometimes with reins, as he
      great deal to me.                  rode his  American Saddler
         In 1964, my parents at 28       old ‘Drifter’, or with a hand
      and 22 years old had their         of pinochle.
      own children, and when                In those days, the  Tuss
      they moved 1500 miles              family had some amazing
      north, they were not only          straight-bred Hereford cat-
      the ‘new kids’ in town – they
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