Laetitia and her group came east toward Cope, stopping at the Brown Palace in Denver for lunch and visiting the Comanche Crossing Museum on the way. Cope is an unincorporated town on the high plains of eastern Colorado. When they arrived and did a walkabout, Laetitia asked for recommendations for a hotel and restaurant, and was reminded of the scene in Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, when Professor Harold Hill meets a River City resident and says “Excuse me, friend. Where can I find a good hotel?” and the resident responds, “Try the Palmer House in Chicago.” She and her group were sent up to Yuma, 30 miles away.
At happy hour, the bartender told Laetitia that he had several regular customers from Cope. He pointed out Stella, who was sitting at the bar, and Riley who was at a booth across the room. He said, “There’s a story about them. Stella always sits at the bar. Sometimes someone she likes sits next to her, and after they talk and have a few drinks, she may leave with him, but she doesn’t like Riley. It used to be, if there were a seat next to her at the bar, Riley would sit there. That irked her for two reasons. For one, it meant that someone she liked couldn’t sit next to her. The other thing was, Riley’s hand always seemed to find its way over onto her lap. One day she’d had enough, so she slipped a mousetrap into her purse, and when she sat at the bar, set it, and put it on her lap. When Riley came in and did his usual thing, he got his fingers in the trap and that cured him.” Laetitia thought, “They have a curious way of having fun around here,” but she had her limerick of the day.
When young Riley from over at Cope
Took the bar stool and reached out to grope
Stella had a mousetrap
Sitting right on her lap
For she was well prepared for the dope.