The Pride of Vinegar Flats


Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

(c) Bill Kostelec
Storyteller II, 2007

The Pride of Vinegar Flats leaned on the blue recycling can
Prophesying Wildly like some old time politician
His eyes were focused clearly though there was no one there to see
I was sitting in my car and he took no note of me
There’s little that remains along the banks of Hangman’s Creek
A sandy grassy slab where the vinegar plant used to be
And some stories of a swimming hole that now seems so hard to find
A Wintry wind blows through my coat but sometimes I don’t mind

The ravine is almost hidden beneath the truckloads of debris
Concrete and brick and rebar where the horse trail used to be
Paving stones and steel rail bridges filling up the ground
Where the horses pulled up wagons when the farmers came to town

An old man once told me a story and it happened long ago
The grandson of Spokan Garry and we were driving up the road
On the way to the reservation he looked up in the hills
“There’s a cave up there the women used to keep their food to chill”
But that’s not the story that stuck with me all these years
The old man talked a quiet talk and his breath it smelled of beer
“The boy was maybe kind of slow, there was something wasn’t right.
But the people thought him special, had a gift, spirit like.

He never talked, couldn’t talk but he whistled all the time
And the animals they talked back to him the boy had a spirit mind
The wife of Colonel Wright was out riding her horse alone one day
She heard somebody whistling and saw that Indian boy at play

She went home and told her husband “some Indian whistled at me”
So the Colonel sent out his lieutenant and they hanged him from a tree”
They hanged that poor whistling boy and the wife felt justified
That her noble soldier husband had seen she kept her pride.

It was some other story that gave Hangman’s Creek its name
Horse butcher Colonel Wright got a fort and road named after him
A cold wind blows through that valley where the little creek still runs
And above the Latah Valley stormy Winter clouds enshroud the sun.

I was walking on the trail one day in the Winter above the creek
Came across a lone coyote where the ridge gets pretty steep
Desperate for a long lost meal, looking hungry, dirty rough
Like the old men living on the street when the Winter’s getting tough

Whistler’s and warriors and hangmen and Trees
Old men tell stories and live on the street
Coyotes hunt housecats but they’ll never get fat
And Today it is snowing in Vinegar Flats
And Today it is snowing in Vinegar Flats

Share This: