Story Time . . .
The Talking Bucket
Duke "Smoke Talker” Paulsen
<We borrowed a wooden bucket from the Parsons' Family for the College Rendezvous '96. Made by (then) Journeyman Cooper Marley Parsons, the bucket made of cedar, steel bands and a rope handle would sit by the Paulsen's campfire. This bucket would lend it's personality and ambiance as we shared our adventures and shinin' times around the campfire.
If it were possible for the bucket to "talk," in diary form, this is the story it would tell . . .>
SATURDAY, AUG 3 I'm sitting on the floor by the tailgate as the three Paulsen's are riding in the cab, nice and comfy along with Missy the cat and Feathers the chicken. We stopped in Bailey on the way to Rendezvous for snacks and drinks. I get a little water to keep my wood wet and joints tight.
We have a (mentally) sick chicken. She's buddying up with Missy and makes little noises at her. Feathers rides on the seat back and eats beef and bean burritos with Jinny. Then she cleans her beak on Jinny's sleeping bag.
We arrive at the Rendezvous site about noon. Now raining lightly, we locate our campsite in a cul-de-sac clearing where the Harris' camped in '94. As we pull in, we notice a couple of families with pop-up "tin tipis." They parked themselves kinda close to a large "white man" fire that's going real good. Not very smart we think.
As we're unloading, the light rain turns heavy quick. They all get back into the truck while I get a long, cool drink. Aah !
Later, the sun comes back out and warms up. The Paulsen's finish getting their tent set up. After that, Mr. Paulsen goes to where Trader's Row will be set up to find the Hooter Truck and arrange for a hooter to be placed near our camp. After he comes back, Mr. Paulsen picks me up and moves me to where the fire pit will be and digs the pit.
Later we hear a familiar motor. It's the Hooter Truck ! The two men riding with the truck had dropped off 2 personal hooters(porta potties), bless their souls !
The Paulsen's leave me by the cold, unused fire pit to ride around the site to see where others are camping. They met up with two nice men, "Buffalo Breath" and "Man who doesn't Sing Much." They also met up with the Camp Segundo (Little Booshway) who told them the city folk in the tin-tipis to skedaddle on Sunday.
Before going to bed, the three Paulsen's take a short walk in the cool night. Noting the night sky, the stars seem to have a pristine sparkle. The band of the Milky Way runs from Southwest to Northeast and they see a few shooting stars from the Perseid Meteor shower making it's annual visit.
SUNDAY, AUG 4 The city folk packed up their tin-tipis and left Camp about mid-morning. Peace and quiet at last !
Pretty breezy today. The wind rustling the aspens seem to have a soothing effect. Linda having just finished the Danish flag she's been making, found a nice lodgepole about 10 feet long. When a good breeze comes along, the red and white of the flag contrasts with the blue sky right nice.
Even at 9600 feet, the Marley (fire starter) cakes make it easy to start a campfire. Linda says they're wonderful.
Breeze is picking up tonight.
MONDAY, AUG 5 All kinds of new neighbors moving in today. Some Scottish Highlanders moved in on the East side of the trees from our camp. On the South side of the road from them moved in "Animal," "Mrs. Animal," and their 2 kids.
Not as windy today. Very bright and hot sun and no clouds until this afternoon. Found out last night some strong wind came through Camp. The wind blew down 2 hooters but all canvas stayed up. Modern contraptions fall again.
Town(trader's row) is going up rapidly. Dr. J is mostly set up but isn't selling until he runs back to Denver to get his secret ingredient -- Dry Ice. Then he'll come back and brew his elixir. Bent St. Vrain tent is set up. We also met a Scotsman named "Magpie."
Worse chicken. Every time she sees someone come by, she makes a low short clucking sound. Then she stretches out her neck looking for food. Chicken is smart, she even recognizes the truck when it returns to camp.
We just got back from town and seeing how it's progressing. Guess what's the talk at the Medic Tent and other places before it's all set up?? Jinny and her chicken, "Feathers." There are about two hundred chicken recipes being discussed and the entertainment will include hypnotizing the chicken.
Even (mentally) sicker chicken, insane cat. Both were cold tonight as Jinny lifted them onto her bed under her blanket. Missy laid down, then the bird laid down beside her and stretched out her neck over the cat. Missy starts to purr.
TUESDAY, 6 AUG Mr. Paulsen is kind to me. Before the family heads off to Trader's Row, Mr. P. always makes sure I'm at least half-full of water. Keeps my wood soaked and joints tight. Especially since it was hot.
After breakfast, the Paulsen family goes to "Town". Looking at the Class Schedule board, several classes are already posted including some by Vistas'. These classes were, "19th Century Hats & Fashion Show" - Molly Burlew, "Bibles, Buckskins & Beavers" - Rodger Burcher, "Kid's Games of the 19th Century" - Leon Burlew, and "Log Hewing" Rex Rideout.
A Trader Lady named Ewing plays the dulcimer and sings "Amazing Grace" in the Cherokee language. Ewing also shows Linda patterns for her dress with Indian designs and gave her a Cherokee Alphabet paper.
This year, Mr. Paulsen can't shoot his 1851 Colt Navy revolver on the Range. They said only weapons of 1840 design or earlier are allowed.
By now, we've figured out everyone we've talked to wants chicken stew. We'll sell chances to draw straws for the bird, $5.00 a chance.
The wind is picking up again and clouds are heading this way, this time we can hear the thunder. Mr. P. has gone up the hill to unhook the antenna and battery from the 2-meter rig in case the lightning gets too close. After he came back, he said he saw 2 different storm cells, one South and one West of Camp that may come together over us. Fortunately, they never did.
WEDNESDAY, 7 AUG It was refreshing to wake up to a heavy morning dew that covered me and the ground. I don’t think any water inside of my wooden self evaporated since the air was really damp.
The Paulsen’s after they went through their morning wake-up, took great pleasure cooking pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Especially with the sun behind the clouds.
The Family met up with “Woman Who’s Tongue Sticks Out.” She got the name because she rolls her tongue along her lips as takes aim with her tomahawk. Dr. J’s Medicine Show and Sasparella bar opened today. Most people have said he opened for business none too soon and had people lined up for most of the day.
Linda went to Trader’s Row and found a trader that had furs and found a nice muskrat for $5. She also found another couple who had bolts of canvas & ticking, all kinds of period materials and their catalog has NIV Bible verses on most every page.
At night, a friend named Jack came by the campfire with some friends. A family of 4, Coyote Woman and her husband 2 Hats and their two children. Coyote Woman is 1/4 Blackfoot and told stories about the animals and foolishness of the Coyote. The Paulsen’s also share generous cups of hot chocolate during the evening.
THURSDAY, 8 AUG Back to being hot during the day with a small breeze. The Paulsen’s went to Jack Stone’s class on Basic Interpretation. Jack’s class had about 30 people show up and told the folks the basic points of building and researching a character persona.
Later in the morning, the Paulsen’s met up with Pappy Den who officially names people at the Council Fire on the last night of Rendezvous. Pappy mentioned that this would be his last Council Fire that he would host and invited the chicken to come along as well.
Pathetic chicken -- it will pull whole chunks or the whole fry bread off your plate while sitting on the girl’s shoulder. Everyone comes to see the chicken, it’s become a ritual at the fry bread vendor.
A little after supper, “Night Owl” came by for a short visit. He invited us to his tent to help celebrate his 50th birthday and his 25th wedding anniversary.
Later, Jack and “Crow Man” come by for some shinin’ times around the campfire. Crow Man is funny ! ! He recites ballads and taught us a new song. Instead of, “Do your ears hang low,” it’s “Does your tongue hang low,” . I can only think that it was well into the night before Jack and Crow Man went home. Mr. P was very disappointed that before going to bed, it was a shame to douse the generous bed of coals if Mrs. P wanted to bake biscuits. Mrs. P then picked me up and dumped all my water onto the bed of coals.
FRIDAY, 9 AUG It’s cloudy this morning and kinda cool ‘cause Mr. P. can see his breath. Lots of dew on the ground too keeping my wood damp. But when the sun comes out, you bet it’ll be hot !
A pretty lodge has been set up across from the Animal camp. It has a yellow top and bottom with a black bear and bear tracks going all around it.
The Paulsen’s went to Town for a Class or two. Not many Instructors showing up to teach the Class they are supposed to teach.
Today they did find a few of the Class Instructors, Mr. Burcher, then they found Leon and Mollie Burlew. They didn’t teach today ‘cause they just arrived in Camp and getting settled in.
Mrs. P went back to Ewing’s trade tent and got herself a nice Cherokee language book for $3.50.
Disturbed cat. Mrs. P. was sitting on her bed and Missy was eating from her dish by the stove. A hummingbird flew into the tent by the stove pipe then back out. Missy looks up in time to see the hummingbird and goes into mortified shock.
Mr. Burcher, the Methodist Preacher, had stopped by on the way to Night Owl’s. The Paulsen’s and Feathers the Chicken left right after Supper. Once there, Night Owl had asked Mr. Burcher to help them renew their vows since the Indian Priestess hadn’t shown up yet. After the ceremony, there were a bunch of stories and singing Happy Birthday 7 different ways. The next camp over topped off the fun by firing a cannon.
Dinghy Chicken had her fun too. Mr. Burcher’s stool made a nice target for her to roost on. Then 2 kids, thinking the chicken was getting cold, brought out a shawl and a coat to put over the buzzard.
The sunset was orange and pink on the wispy clouds.
SATURDAY, 10 AUG The sun came up very bright this morning and very warm. Mr. P. makes sure that I had some extra water, over half-full today. He must think it’s gonna be really warm today.
Mrs. P takes in her first class this morning on Spinning. The Instructor had a drop spindle and an Ashford Wheel. She spun wool right off the sheep to make her garment. Then she washes the garment when it’s finished.
At 11 o’clock, there was a beaver skinning demonstration. The man teaching said the beaver weighed 43 pounds and was caught last night. Also the beaver kept giving a local farmer trouble and was relocated several times and paid his last visit last night. Mrs. P. got a hind foot, Jack got the tail, castor gland and the other hind foot. The plew sold for $10 and the meat was put into ziploc bags for people to take home and eat. Mrs. P. talked to Registration asking for thumbtacks to dry out Harvey’s foot on a board.
There are a lot of teenagers here this year. Jinny Lee hangs out with a group of 15 or so at the ‘Hawk throwing target.
Most of the afternoon a Candy Cannon was shot throwing hard candy a hundred foot into the air and twice that away. Kids got pelted with the candy but didn’t seem to mind. None left on the ground afterwards.
The time for Council Fire came. The sun was setting over the hills as the Booshway and Segundo thanked those who came to the Rendezvous. As the fire was made, awards and prizes for the several contests held the past week were given out. Then as the last sun rays died out and the flames of the Council Fire lept higher, it came time for the naming ceremony.
Pappy Den did his last Naming ceremony with “Barkiller,” a 29-1/2 inch blade with an elk bone handle. He “knights” you with Barkiller as you receive your new Camp Name. Mr. P. is officially “Smoke Talker.” Mrs. P. receives “Irish Lace,” The chicken also got a Name. Jinny Lee holds the chicken out for Pappy Den. He then places Barkiller on the chicken’s neck and asks “Do you accept the name ‘Little Red?’” Chicken nods her head, then Pappy Den says, “I take that as a yes! If you didn’t, it would be KFC!” Jinny Lee then receives her camp name, “Clucker Keeper.” You never heard so many chicken noises and laughing!
Joe played the ‘Pipes and Dr. J talked up his elixir with his little organ. Dr. J says, “I’m the only man who can play with his organ in the street and not get arrested.” Or “what I tell you about my product will fertilize 40 acres of corn or tobacco.”
It’s about 10:30 at night, everywhere is the sounds of happy people. A loud voice yells, “are we having fun yet?” It’s loudly answered, “rendezvous!” They’re having one last party, the whole camp. Will anyone sleep tonight?
SUNDAY, 11 AUG “Smoke Talker” checks my water again this morning before the family goes to Town for Church Service.
Church is held in an open tent near the Bell. Most people sat on the ground. Some brought chairs. Most were in period clothing, a few brought their dogs who behaved themselves. 73 souls showed up to worship the Lord with singing, gladness, preaching and prayer.
The family makes one last stop at the Fry Bread tent. “Little Red” loves being the center of attention and eating fry bread. Everyone said “bye” to the chicken.
So sad to go home to the “real” world.
EPILOG In October 1996, Missy the cat died being old and full of days. She was 15-1/2 years old.
On 17 April 98, “Little Red” the chicken died of natural causes. She was 7 years old. We’ll miss her.
In July of 2000, Dennis “Pappy Den” Slade passed away. He was remembered with great respect at the Council Fire and most who were there, including my wife, daughter and myself, received our Camp Names from Pappy Den.