Twenty Years ago from 1915
Posted by Stan Wheeler (+1194) 9 years ago
Here are some verses that I found titled twenty years ago by Harry Wilson at the dedication of the Elks home in January 1915. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


I’ve wandered ‘round Miles City, Tom,
I’ve traveled up and down;
And many changes I observe,
Have come upon the town;
And things are not the same, dearTom,
As doubtless well you know;
As when we struck the old Cowtown,
Some twenty years ago.

‘Twas then an obscure village, Tom,
And practically unknown,
A little hamlet nestling here,
Upon the Yellowstone;
It’s buildings mostly were of logs,
It’s main street but a trail,
The day’s events consisted of
The coming of the mail.

The roulette wheel and faro bank,
The stacks of blues and whites,
The Gray Mule and its sister dumps
Made something doing nights;
With soldiers thick upon the streets,
And cowboys everywhere,
Believe me, Tom, the village then,
Had some real western flair.

But now I look around me, Tom,
And note a wondrous change,
The bloomin’ taxicab has chased
The cayuse from the range;
The log abodes have been removed,
The shacks are all torn down,
Y. M. C. A.’sand churches now
Are strung all over town.

The herds of cattle on the range have long since ceased to roam;
A bunch of Elks have drifted in
And built themselves a home;
A reg-lar city palace, Tom,
A wonderful retreat,
With stalls for elks both wild and tame,
And mess-outfit complete.

Why even our old trusty friend,
The placid flowing Tongue,
Upon whose bosom you and I
Have skated, swum and sung,
Was found a few years back to
So badly in the way
Of things more modern, that they went
And moved the stream away.

The children used to roam at will,
And so did peoples’ stock,
But now the kids go chasing home
Each night at nine o’clock;
And when the cow breaks through the fence,
And starts to nose around,
An officer in uniform,
Escorts her to the pound.

And Calamity Jane and Whiskey Dick,
And some of like renown,
Are now but gilded memories in this modern town;
I miss the old McQueen House, Tom,
The brewery ‘cross the track;
‘Twould seem more natural to me
If Nigger Ben were back.

Why, everything is changed about,
Until you do not know
A thing about the things you knew,
Here twenty years ago;
The march of progress has removed
Most every sacred spot,
And when you look for things that were
You find that they art not.

The burg is very different, Tom,
From what it used to be;
They pull no more this Wild West stuff
We always used to see;
They’ve all reformed and cut it out,
The pledge they’ve had to sign;
There’s sanctity on every hand
That makes old-timers pine.

And with the new conditions, Tom,
The people too have changed,
Since o’er the hills the sage-bush flats
Some few years back they ranged,
The high-top boots are thrown away,
No Texas spurs they use,
And ladies, now,instead of men,
Wear high heels on their shoes.

They used to dance the Virginia Reels,
The schottische and quadrille,
The polka and the minuet,
They tore off with a will;
It’s now the hesitation, tom,
And maxixe that they do,
The tango and the turkey trot,
And Texas Tommy, too.

You know Steve Forseth used to be
A raw-boned, rough neck Swede,
He’s grown into a human, Tom,
And shows a lot of speed;
From painting picket fences, Tom,
To keep the wolf away,
He’s turned into a landlord, Tom,
And eats three squares a day.

His partner, Al, you used to know,
A petted pampered brat,
Whose head for years appeared to be
A chunk of solid fat,
Has come alive and gone to work,
And finally settled down,
Until today he runs at large,
Like other folks in town.

And Austin Middleton, you know,
Was once a common plug,
Encased in overalls and boots,
A week’s beard on his mug;
But being the high sheriff, Tom,
With badge upon his breast,
Has given him that stately look,
That fullness of the chest.

Now Randolph Diebel used to be
A plain old democrat,
Content to lead the simple life,
And let it go at that;
But now he’s joined the antlered herd,
And bought himself a tie,
And says “I’m going to be a sport
Awhile before I die.”

And Kent McLean-- he used to be
A quiet sort of duck,
Who let the old world wag along,
And trusted to his luck;
But now they call him “Senator,”
He’s all swelled up because
He went to Helena once to help
Distort Montana’s laws.

George Ulmer used to take it straight,
A shot of plain old rye,
But now he says, “A highball, please,”
Or else “Martini dry;”
And recently I noticed, Tom,
As he blew down the pike,
He wore upon his manly form a boquet and a spike.

But what seems strange to me is this:
That after they begin
To run the hoodlums out of town,
They left Bill Bailey in.
I ‘most forgot to tell you, tom,
Kid Brown is back again,
The pride of all the ladies here, the envy of all the men.

“Doc” Whitney still is on the job,
Still steady on his pegs;
And still pursues the same old graft of pulling teeth and legs,
Ed Campbell, too, is still on deck,
I guess he’s here to stay,
And will be ‘till ‘most all the stiffs
Are safely tucked away.

And Colonel Gordon still survives,
And plies his fountain pen;
He’s just as keen and able, Tom,
These days as he was then;
He’s just as hale as ever, Tom,
His step is just as firm,
His only ailment seems to be
The fatal Bull Moose germ.

I saw George Miles upon the street,
He hasn’t changed a bit,
He makes some money now and then,
But keeps no part of it;
He simply throws it right and left,
Just like he always did,
The same old reckless spendthrift, Tom,
The money spending kid.

They hand no high society
‘Way back in ‘94
No opera hats or finger bowls,
Or wax upon the floor;
They wore soft shirts without a tie,
Their trousers knew no crease,
They put no hair-oil on their scalps,
Just plain old greasy grease.

But now Joe Conway’s drifted in,
And introduced some frills,
The people now have started out,
To go the pace that kills;
He brought a white vest into town,
And scared folks most to death,
He carried perfume for his clothes,
And sen-sen for his breath.

And so when he blew gaily in,
The girls said, “What a dear,”
The people sat straight up and said,
“Well, now, just look who’s here;”
They’ve watched his easy graceful pose,
His dizzy raven hair,
Until the town has now assumed
The real Four Hundred air.

And so, dear Tom, the good old days
Are faded, fled and flown;
Into a busy bustling burg
The village now has grown;
And yet we’re glad to note the change,
And see the Cow-Town grow

Believe me, Tom, they’ve shown some speed,
Since twenty years ago.
Posted by ike eichler (+1224) 9 years ago
Thanks for posting this. I sure enjoyed it.
Posted by skoh (+325) 9 years ago
Quite a poet! Wonderful!!
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18634) 9 years ago
I enjoyed it too.
Posted by Jeri Dalbec (+3270) 9 years ago
Just wonderful. Thanks for posting.
Posted by Stan Wheeler (+1194) 9 years ago
the original poem has been passed on to a member of the elks.