Lavendar chaps lead to love |

Lavendar chaps lead to love

Shirley Welch
Vail, CO Colorado
Shirley Welch/Special to the DailyFrank Doll on the Deep Creek land where his family drove cattle.

So our story picks up with Frank Jr., who inherited from his dad the Doll Ranch holdings.

By this time, the Doll Ranch had expanded to include property over on the Colorado River, from Coffee Pot and the range north of Deep Creek, and the Doll Ranch owned more than 6,800 acres.

Besides the privately owned property, the Doll Ranch had grazing rights on even more property. Thousands of cattle grazed the high summer pastures and gave birth to their young on the lush meadows by the river.

Alfalfa and grass hay, small grains, and potatoes were grown and harvested for many, many years.

The ranch continued its quiet journey into the future with no highways to mar its existence, and only the familiar cries of a bird of prey, bawling cow, or the yip of a coyote to interrupt the silence. Into this environment, Frank Doll, Jr. grew up.

As all cowboys do, Frank enjoyed his horse and with fellow cowboys rode into town from time to town, wearing regular cowboy garb: a broad-brimmed hat with silver hat band, short-waisted jacket and “woolies” ” chaps made of long curly-haired Angora sheep hide, sturdy leather boots with silver-mounted spurs 3 inches in diameter.

On this particular day in late October 1919, Frank and his friends clip-clopped into town, and there on Main Street, just up the street from the train depot, was the hotel.

As they paraded past the hotel, all wearing their full cowboy regalia and with Frank standing out from the others because his angora chaps had been dyed lavender, several school teachers were sitting in the open window of the second story of the hotel and saw the cowboys.

One of the young ladies, Helen Herres, became enchanted with those lavender chaps and later for the cowboy who was wearing them. Frank and Helen were married a year later.

The first offspring born to Frank and Helen was a son they called Frank. Yet another Frank Doll.

This is the Frank Doll upon which this story is centered. He was born on April 6, 1921 in Denver, since Helen’s mother believed having a baby born in the rough and tumble town of Gypsum was not the correct thing to do.

Two years later, brother Morton was born on April 3. So the two boys began their lives on the Doll Ranch down in that pretty valley, surrounded by good horseflesh and plenty of cows.

In that first decade of married life, Frank and Helen and the boys lived in various tenant houses on the ranch. They moved perhaps three or four times. Frank senior was a smoker and more times than not a cigarette dangled from the corner of his mouth.

To light his cigarettes, he carried a supply of matches in his shirt pocket, and it was customary for him to pull one out and strike it on the back of his Levis and then put it to his cigarette.

This certainly did entertain young Frank, in fact he thought it was magic the way a flame burned so bright and pretty when struck. When he was 4 years old, they were living in a home that had an outhouse.

Being the curious child that he was, Frank disappeared into the outhouse one afternoon with a handful of his dad’s matches. In the dim light of the outhouse, sure that he would not be found, he had great fun lighting the matches and staring at the blaze of fire, that is until he got a little carried away and set the entire outhouse on fire. After the leaping flames settled, the little wooden building burned to the ground. Frank senior never spanked his sons.

Instead he devised other means of making sure they knew the consequences of their actions. For this offense, Frank senior lighted a match and placed it between young Frank’s fingers. He let it burn until his son realized the seriousness of burning matches, with Frank jumping up and down and hollering, his father holding him still, and his mother watching while she wrung her hands.

A few years after the outhouse spectacle, the Dolls moved again and now young Frank found himself living about a half mile east of Gypsum Creek Road, with his grandparents house about a half mile in the other direction. For Frank, the trek to meet the bus was a daily ritual. This day the wind howled and snow blew hard.

After a hearty breakfast and having wrapped himself in a warm jacket, young Frank started out the door, headed for the bus, but one of their particularly mean and cantankerous cows stood in the way of Frank’s progress. Stopping, breath coming his lips in a frosty cloud, Frank stopped to stare at the cow. He yelled at it. It didn’t move.

Frank felt snow melting inside his boots. Frank again yelled at the cow. With feet planted, the cow remained staring at young Frank with big brown eyes tipped with long black eyelashes. Frank stepped left and so did the cow. Frank moved right and so did the cow.

Now he headed straight and the cow didn’t budge. Frank yelled at the cow but it only batted long lashes at him. Frank moved to his right and again the cow blocked his way. That dang cow just wouldn’t budge and Frank couldn’t get around it. It was a stand off.

His grandfather glanced out the window as it was his custom to see that Frank made it to the bus. He saw his grandson moving left and right and that old cow doing the same as if cow and child were in a dance. Quickly, he grabbed his hat and coat.

In the distance young Frank saw the yellow school bus coming down the road and he was still a long ways away. Then he heard his grandfather yelling at the cow. With a lot of arm swinging and kicking up a storm of snow, grandfather Doll ran through the snow, waving his hat at the cow while shouting a list of profanities.

With a bat of its lashes, the cow ambled off and Frank ran through the snow and caught the bus just before it pulled away from the stop. Frank looked out the window to see his grandfather bent over, gasping for breath, the cow standing a few feet away gazing at his grandfather.

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