Day 244: Tit For Tat

Before Laetitia and her group headed southeast to Pratt, they visited the Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village. After visiting the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Museum in Pratt, Laetitia asked her group if they were interested in making the 30-mile journey to visit the Carrie Nation Home Museum. The group expressed little interest in visiting a memorial to someone whose claim to fame was wrecking bars and attacking nude statues with a hatchet.

The group was staying at a local bed and breakfast. About an hour after they arrived, Laetitia stopped by a local tavern for a drink before joining the group for dinner. Neither Pratt nor the tavern was especially engaging, but a story by the bartender about one night when the bar was livelier than usual gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

When Peg went to a tavern in Pratt
Wearing nothing but shoes and a hat
She found men overjoyed
But their wives so annoyed
That they stood up and gave tit for tat.

Day 243: Studley Dudley

Traveling northwest, Laetitia and her group went to Studley, Kansas, named for Studley Royal, a park developed around the ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey in England. The Abbey was in operation for 400 years until Henry VIII suppressed the monasteries. There is a connection between the Yorkshire Abbey and the Kansas town. A Yorkshireman named John Fenton Pratt built the Cottonwood Ranch near Studley and raised sheep. The ranch, with its English-style buildings, is now a Museum, and Laetitia and her group went there. When they arrived in Studley late that afternoon, there wasn’t much about it that suggested a limerick, so Laetitia simply made one up.

“I’m Dudley from Studley,” said Dudley
To a streetwalker he met in Studley
Who said, “Which are you, Bud,
A dud or a stud?”
“I’m Dudley, from Studley, the cuddly.”

Day 242: Peek Pique

After leaving Dodge City, Laetitia and her group went northeast through Kansas, stopping at the Santa Fe Trail Center and the Pawnee Rock State Historic Site. They passed through Great Bend, and went to the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area for some bird viewing. The name “Cheyenne Bottoms” reminded Laetitia of an account she had read in Charles C. Mann’s 1491, mostly about pre-Columbian America. Giovanni da Verrazzano, a sixteenth-century Italian explorer sailing under the French flag, attempted to trade with a group of Abenaki Indians in Maine who simply turned, showed their buttocks, and laughed. Apparently the duplicity of certain European explorers had reached the Abenakis, and they responded accordingly. This was possibly the first recorded instance in the Americas of “mooning.” Back in Great Bend that evening, Laetitia and her group did a walkabout and overheard a conversation between two teenage boys that gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

The gossip today in Great Bend
Is the tattoo on Sue Smith’s rear end
That every boy teen
Has bragged that he’s seen,
In order to pique her boyfriend.

Day 241: Dodge Hodge Podge

Laetitia decided to head north with her group across the prairie land to Kansas. Their destination was Dodge City in southwest Kansas. On the way they stopped at Cimarron National Grassland, where they enjoyed seeing buffalo herds and ochre cliffs. This is dry country, and from one overlook they could see circles of green crops resulting from rotating irrigation systems.

Several members in Laetitia’s group had been fans of the Gunsmoke series on television, which was set in Dodge City, and they wanted to see the city for themselves. Despite its wild and colorful past, Dodge is now a relatively tame city with a population of around 25,000. The past is preserved to some extent in Dodge’s Boot Hill Museum and recreated Front Street, where there is a replica of the Long Branch Saloon. There re-enactors occasionally stage gunfights or pose as some of the town’s more notorious characters such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, and Big Nose Kate.

Those who join Laetitia’s groups are often people who have led interesting lives. An older man on her tour who in his youth had sought an acting career had tried out for the Gunsmoke TV series when it launched in 1955. He didn’t get a part, so he went to Chicago, where he became a Shakespearean actor. Laetitia thought this sounded like good limerick material. After visiting the Boot Hill Museum and Front Street and viewing a staged gunfight, Laetitia and the group had dinner at a Dodge City restaurant, and Laetitia presented the limerick of the day.

A man who aspired to killin’
Bad hombres like Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon
Was cast in Chicago
As Shakespeare’s Iago
Although he abhorred playing villain.