In 1979, Dad participated in a Fund Raiser for the Kiwanis Club, THE MR. GLENSDORA CONTEST! It was all very tongue and cheek. Dad did the entire thing as a cowboy, not much of a stretch! For the bathing suit contest he came out in his long johns! For talent, he memorized Robert Service's THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGREW. Until the day before he died, the last day he was mostly conscious, he loved to have me read that poem to him. I would start the line, he would finish it! He and I must have done that poem several hundred of times over the past 10 years. It always brought laughter, and distraction from pain. He would do the last few words of each line with zest and gusto!
The Shooting of Dan McGrew
A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck, was his light-o'-love, the lady that's known as Lou.
When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger's face, though we searched ourselves f'or a clue; But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.
There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a f'ace most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he'd do,
And I turned my head-and there watching him was the lady that's known as Lou.
His eyes went rubbering round the room, an he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dilt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands-my God! but that man could play.
The music almost died away . . . then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay," and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill . . . then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
And "Boys," says he, "you don't know me, and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I'll bet my poke they're true,
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan McGrew."
Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark,
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stif'f and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped filll of Iead, was Dangerous Dall McGIew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that's known as Lou.
These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with "hooch," and I'm not denying it's so.
I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two-
The woman that kissed him and-pinched his poke-was the lady that's known as Lou.
- ROBERT W. SERVICE