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The speaker is a 76-year-old White man with a grade school education from Roswell, New Mexico; he was recorded in 1966.



County: Chaves
State: NM

Commentary:
Roswell was founded in 1869 by professional gambler Van C. Smith, who named the town after his father, Roswell Smith. Its proximity to more than one of the routes along which longhorn cattle were driven from Texas to the railhead in Abilene, Kansas, ensured that many cattle herds and cowboys passed through the area. In this segment the speaker, who once worked driving cattle, talks about cowboy etiquette at mealtime.
Inf: And you are never supposed to eat on the chuck box lid. We have a lid, a box where the cook keeps all of his dishes and his, uh, cooking utensils [cough], with a fire about ten feet behind that wagon. The chuck box???s lid down, and you are never supposed to walk between that chuck box and that fire, because that part of the ground belongs to the cook. And you???re never supposed to eat on a, a chuck box lid.

The beds are thrown off at noontime for the boys to sit on and rest on. And they sit down on the ground and put their plate right on the ground. When we???re through eating, there???s two big washtubs right close to the fire. Ever??? man is supposed to clean out his plate, throw it away, and take it and put it over in the tub. That???s what we call racking ???em, rack the dishes. Sometimes they???ll stand twenty feet and try and see if they can rack, rack ???em, but that, that???s a, that???s an unwritten law that belongs to the wagon. And you are never supposed to ride up to the wagon from the side the wind???s coming from, because your horse and the dust and the hairs off your horse will fly into your cooking uten-, you???re supposed to ride facing the wind, come the wagon and never get too close.

FW: Do they have any other unwritten laws like that?

Inf: There???s a lot of unwritten laws that they have and it???d just take too lo-, too, too long to tell ???em, and some of ???em are a little funny. It???ll [Laughter], might run into something that wouldn???t be pleasing for the ladies. We had the ladies come and go to the, uh, coffeepot or to the pot rack. And they would ask the cook, ???Cook, how do you get the coffee out of the pot???? Cook???d say, ???Oh, just like these boys do. Wrap your tail around the rack and dive in.??? [Laughter]

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