Another day, another nickle #4: Horse Thief Moon

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Blog entry by Thos. Angle posted 11-25-2007 06:27 PM 1991 reads 1 time favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Cattle Drive Part 4 of Another day, another nickle series Part 5: Merry Christmas »

Out here in the ION country, life tends to revolve around two things, school and church. It has always been that way in the remote regions of the country. Here in the hinter lands of Malhuer County, Oregon, we have three schools and another in Idaho. The one at Rock Creek is the smallest with only 2 students but more are on the way, in a couple years we will be back up to about 4. Rock Creek is 38 miles from town. The school here in Jordan Valley is a 12 grade school with over 50 students in the 12 grades. Over in Idaho(the state line is 4 miles east of town ) is the Pleasant Valley School which this year had 6 students. Pleasant Valley is only 10 miles out. Pleasant Valley kids go to Jordan Valley for high school. 30 miles west is Arock. If you ranch west of Arock, the kids go to Crane which is a state run boarding school about 100 miles northwest.

Our daughter and son-in-law live in Arock. Bob manages the Jordan Valley Irrigation District and our two grand-daughters attend Arock School. Attendance is hovering around 22 this year. Needless to say, everyone goes to all school events from ball games to Christmas programs. For many years school house dances were an event never to be missed. But then came satelite TV and computers. Last night Carleen and I went to a real school house dance again.

Arock, is nothing more than the school, the district shops, a post office that is about 12 feet square and 8 or 9 houses. Everyone in the area ranches for a living. Two young mothers, Robin Eiguren and Diane Fillmore decided it was time to have a genuine dance again. They went out on a limb and hired a really good band from about 300 miles away and cleaned out the old school house which is now like a community hall. they put the word out about a month in advance and made sure everyone knew about the event. The men brought in all their junk wood and old trees for a bonfire. Word went out and all the ladies made pies and deserts. There was a big barbeque wagon with chorizos and beef if you wanted more to eat.

They lit off the bonfire at 7 and everyone started to show up. We all kicked in $10 a head to cover expenses. There was a big table of desserts and the band was getting set up. Kids of all ages were swarming as only kids can. All the teenagers gathered up on the east side of the fire and sat on a wagon discussing how none of the boys knew how to dance while hoping the girls would drag them in to the music. These are kids that work as hard as their parents when they are not in school. The men stood around drinking beer and talking about cows, horses, ropings, horses, rodeo and the rain we were recently blessed with. There must have been over a 100 showed up. The Horse Thief Moon was shinning huge in the sky.

After a while the kids wound down, the fire died out some and most headed in to dance. Turned out those hairy legged boys could dance after all. As the little ones crashed they were laid out in one corner with blankets and tended by grandmas. The girls had brought in bales of meadow hay for everone to sit on. A couple bales were arranged to keep the babies from rolling out of the nest. The moms and pops got to dancing and laughing and having a good time. Every once in a while a moma would come over to check on her babies and be shued away by the grandmas.

The school kids were involved and the 8th graders had arranged to auction off pies to pay for their 8th grade sneak. Next year they will be going to the big school and in the spring they do a sneak day for some fun on graduating from the 8th grade. I was asked to auction off the pies and we raised over $200 for the kids fun day.

Miss Vicky, one of the local school marms, showed up in a dress. Now not many women wear dresses very often. She was having a great time dancing with her husband and teaching the kids some new tricks. I almost forgot for a moment that she grew up on one of the local ranches and ropes and rides as good as anyone else here. The young guys were trying to forget the last time she beat them at a roping. We had every kind of dancing going on that you could imagine and the visiting was non-stop. Many of the famiies showed up with 4 generations in tow. Grandpas teaching grand-daughters to dance and daddies swinging their little girls around and having fun. The Mackenzie boys drove 68 miles from Rock Creek to vist and have a good time.
Everyone knew everyone and we were a real community, sorta like here on LumberJocks.

” And we’ll gallop from afar, guided by the stars to dance the polka, ‘neath the Horse Thief Moon. By tomorrow night, she’ll be shining big and bright, gold and shiney like a Spanish Doubloon, Horse Thief Moon.”
“Horse Thief Moon” by Ian Tyson.

I wish we could all meet at the school house for a dance. It would sure be a fun time.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

36 comments so far

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 4010 days

#1 posted 11-25-2007 06:38 PM

OMG, I have not heard Ian Tyson in a long time. Nor have I sat a bale of hay at dance in many moons either. Your making me homesick Tom!

View Harold's profile


310 posts in 3870 days

#2 posted 11-25-2007 07:10 PM

I’m little homesick too. But you are right lumberjocks is a community, like that little coffee shop where everybody met in the morning, hopefully that never changes.

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 3911 days

#3 posted 11-25-2007 07:36 PM


Your telling of the gathering at the school and the genuine sense of community is something many of us feel we have much less today. The gathering is an honest reflection of community we all seek. LJ is a place I can find some of that magic.


View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4183 days

#4 posted 11-25-2007 07:42 PM

Oh how wonderful.
I’ve been to one barn dance in my life (before I was even in school and neighbour built a new barn) and a couple backyard hoedowns. Such a wonderful time.

I loved reading your story of the event. Now THAT is living!!
Well done.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4337 days

#5 posted 11-25-2007 07:47 PM

My wife is always telling me about the barn dances out at Three creek (pronunced crick) from when she was a little one.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4005 days

#6 posted 11-25-2007 07:52 PM

very well written story. a great read worthy of publication.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4028 days

#7 posted 11-25-2007 08:15 PM

Loved your story Thos!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Grumpy's profile


23997 posts in 3873 days

#8 posted 11-25-2007 08:17 PM

Thanks for the insight Thos.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4086 days

#9 posted 11-25-2007 09:02 PM

Thank you, Thomas. Beautifully written (I especially liked the part about the hay bail keeping the babies “from rolling out of the nest”). With the majority of us surrounded by the beeps and flashing lights of what passes for modern day “civilization” it’s a joy to share a slice of life in ION country.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4423 days

#10 posted 11-25-2007 09:41 PM

Thomas should be an article for Reminisce Magazine even though most of the articles are about the older better days, I believe that this would fit in.

A great read, thanks for writing it up for us all.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3961 days

#11 posted 11-25-2007 10:21 PM

There is an attractiveness about simplicity that just makes you want to stop and take a deep breath. Great story.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3985 days

#12 posted 11-25-2007 11:13 PM

Dennis, I remember the school programs and get togethers at the Three Creek school. We had a good time there as well. Tell your wife we share that memory.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4005 days

#13 posted 11-25-2007 11:25 PM

my highschool had a class of 42. thought that was small.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Paul's profile


660 posts in 4115 days

#14 posted 11-26-2007 12:07 AM

thanks for sharing Thos.

-- Paul, Texas

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3903 days

#15 posted 11-26-2007 12:35 AM

wow ! that was such a great story ! think im inspired to tell one about where i live ! lets see we got concrete,traffic lights everywhere exaust fumes high rise everwhere …...... on second thought ill read thos story again !

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