Hello everybody. It’s so great to be here. And thanks to Steve and Natasha for having me on The Big Cowboy Round Up Show. In line with tonight’s theme I have a personal story of the wild west to tell. It’s a story that took place sixty years ago when I was a gunslinger.
When I was a kid, every summer I got packed up and sent off to spend my summer vacation with my grandparents. And boy, those were very different times.
Grandparents back in the 1960’s were a very different breed, a different breed to modern day grandparents. My neighbor Suzie is a grandmother. And Suzie is grandmother to three grandchildren and she runs marathons. She’s a grandmother and an athlete! She wears a one piece skin-tight spandex track suit with a headband and just did a personal best in the NYC marathon.
My grandmother wore a house dress called a moo moo that was draped over her like a tent and she had rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis. You don’t hear much about this these days. It must have gone out of fashion just like my grandmother’s moo moo. Back then in 1961, all grandmothers seemed just…old!
As a 6 year old boy, summer holidays with my grandmother were very boring. It was as boring as being at Willie Nelson’s Annual Texas Roadhouse BBQ Festival… when you’re a vegan.
And it was so frustrating. It was as frustrating as watching the NY Jets on a cold wet Monday night in December as they got beat...again!
On these holidays with my grandparents there was never a dull moment. They were all dull moments. It would have been impossible to define the dullest moment.
Except, in 1961, when I was 6 years old we stayed in a bungalow colony in the Catskills Mountains in Monticello, NY.
And bungalow is a word that comes from India and roughly translated, judging from my own experience, means shitty wooden cabins.
These SWC’s…shitty wooden cabins had nothing more than a bedroom, bathroom and a kitchen. These places were terrible. In some of them the bathroom and the kitchen were the same room. Imagine being a 6 year old and having to share a bedroom with your grandmother… who snores. Every night it was like Call of the Wild. I’m not saying this cabin was small but the front door and the back door were the same door.
And there were 2 swimming pools. One of the pools was always empty. That was it’s best feature and that was a blessing in disguise because the other pool was full of disgusting slimy green water.
And I remember (you may remember as a kid) when I was a kid being told: “never drink pool water, you’ll get sick.” This pool water was really really slimy. If you were to drink it you’d have to chew it first.
We just didn’t care…we swam in this muck anyway.
Of course that wasn’t the highlight of this place. We also had skunks, mosquitoes and poison ivy.
One summer we stayed at a bungalow colony that bordered a place called Cimarron City. And Cimarron City was not just any western theme park. This was the biggest Western theme park on the East coast.
But these cowboys and Indians weren’t wearing 10-gallon hats and headdresses. They were sporting NY Yankees baseball caps. Yeah, Yankees caps… and eating chewing on Nathan’s hot dogs.
And all that separated me as a six year old boy was a barbed wire fence.
Within the first few days I made friends with the other kids. And everyday, we’d swim in that green muck and we’d hear gun shots coming from Cimarron City. It sounded like East New York on a Saturday night.
And one of the boys found a brochure. It said that Cimarron City had a rifle range, what they described as a thrilling rodeo and an Indian Village. I was just a kid, but I remember hearing those Indian guys talk and I was sure that they had an Italian/Brooklyn accent. Maybe they were from the Canarsie or Bensonhurst tribe.
My grandmother thought that me and my new friends were playing but most of the time we just stood staring through that fence and wondering what was going on in Cimarron City.
One day one of the kids found a hole in the barbed wire fence just big enough for some us boys to squeeze through.
Cimarron City was laid out like a full western town. There were cowboys and Indians and even a sheriff. All of the people were dressed as western characters.
I saw a stagecoach ride by: There was a bank robbery and a gun fight. Even saw a guy get shot and fall off a roof. But I noticed he landed on a mattress. But This 6-year-old kid didn’t care because I felt that I was back in the old west.
Luckily, we all came dressed for the occasion. All of us were there in our waist coats, gun belts and six shooters. We were ready for a shootout with some bad hombres.
We were all joining in with the fun and
I was having a great time shooting it out with the bad guys.
And then one of my friends said Bruce, Bruce: lookout:
There’s someone behind you…
I said I’m not afraid.
I’m the fastest draw in the west.
I pulled out my six shooter
And spun around
It was my grandmother.
And She pulled me out of Cimarron City by my ears
And back to the bungalow colony.
Back to reality… where I was grounded for 3 days.
I went from being Billy the Kid straight back to being Brucie the Kid!.
*First performed live 4-17-21