When I was a kid my parents brought me to a waxworks museum in Baker City Oregon which highlighted the struggles of the pioneers who settled America. At the time I found something mythical in the tales of these brave pioneers. But now that I know the true story of these pioneers I find them to be more human than mythical.
Back in the days of the wild west saloons were always the first business to set up shop. Unsurprisingly, when you mix alcohol and people who have been poorly socialized for months or years things can get a little rowdy. Besides, there was always the rancher who felt like his neighbor had moved the stump which marked the boundary between ranches, or the miner who felt like he had been cheated out of a claim.
If you’ve seen any westerns you’ll know that when somebody got insulted in the wild west the first they would do was go for their six shooter. Johnny says he should have six more feet of land towards the mountain? Six shooters up. Joe says Milt stole his mining claim? Six shooters.
This was was all good fun for the ranchers and miners, but for the saloon keepers it got old really fast. Every morning they would have to show up super early to clean up dead bodies and scrub blood off the floors. While shooting people is fun, scrubbing floors is actually pretty boring. So the saloon guys got together and decided to do something. Many draconian measures were suggested, but in the end it was decided that the best solution was to offer an alternative that would be more fun than shooting people.
“Hey, I know,” piped up Jack, who had a swinging saloon over by Deadwood, “Let’s get a bunch of pies that we can put in the saloons, so that when things are about to get nasty the guys can throw pies at each other instead of killing each other.”
The other saloon keepers were like “eh, I don’t know, isn’t it still gonna make a mess.”
But Jack pointed out that it was way better than cleaning up dead bodies, and they had to agree.
So saloons started stocking pies for angry ranchers and miners to throw at each other.
But something funny happened with these pies. Back in the six shooter days the guys had no problem shooing each others brains out when they got drunk, but for some reason it’s hard to throw a pie straight when you have a blood alcohol level of .82. The frontier men men just couldn’t throw the pies straight. Aim as they might for the faces of their adversaries the pies always seemed to land on the sides of people’s heads.
Most often the pies landed on their ears. Pretty soon nobody would accept you as a real frontier man unless you had pie on your ears. The pie became so ubiquitous with frontier life that anyone who lived on the frontier was referred to as a pie on ear.
If I ever get back to Baker City I will see the frontiersmen in a whole new light. Because honestly it’s much better to eat pie than to have pie on ears.
A side note: apparently over 100 people on the internet are now crazy enough to follow this blog. Ya’ll are nuts, and I love it. I love seeing the comments you leave and reading your blogs.
Seriously, I appreciate you folks so much.
Try not to get pie on your ears.
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