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Early Amarillo, Texas: saloons and various entertainment

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Like most Texas towns, early Amarillo was a wild place and it was up to the inhabitants to make their own fun:


"When the roundup was over we went back to our routine work, but before getting down to routine duties, the waddies always took a little spell in Amarillo to shake off the roundup fever.

Amarillo was a pure cow-town those days [pre-1900] and run by stage. There were just a few womenfolks in the town, and they were at a premium. Most of the waddies would make the town after the roundup, and some of the boys would stay until all their money was gone. Some of the boys played the gambling joints, some just soaked themselves in the "pizen," and some went sally-hooting in the sally joints. Any kind of joint that a fellow wanted was in the town to satisfy the waddies' wants.

I was just a kid, but the older waddies took charge of me so I wouldn't get taken in, or get in wrong, and the boys held me down to earth, but I watched and saw the op'ra.

I saw some shootings and many bear fights. Nearly all the saloons in Amarillo, at that time, had bull-pens at the rear of the joints. The purpose for which the bull-pens were built was to have a place to shunt the fellows who became overloaded where they could sleep off the load of "pizen"; also to prevent interference from the law or meddling gentry who were looking for a chance to swipe a roll of money. The bull-pen was also used for a battle ground. When a couple of fellows got riled at each other they were shunted into the bull-pen to cool off. The saloon bouncers would take the guns away from the riled men and push them into the bull-pen to settle the argument, bear-fight fashion. That method saved a lot of shooting but could not always be worked in all cases, and there was an occasional shooting."


---- ancient trail cowboy Richard Murphy, as quoted in "Texas Cowboy," edited by Jim and Judy Lanning, 1984

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

Posted : 27th December 2019 11:43 am