Rocky Mountain Mammaries

Flunking real estate test lead to life of crime for Butch Cassidy
The 1880s in San Miguel County offered few employment options. One could work the mines, teach school or engage in some level of ranching. All were low paying, backbreaking endeavors. It’s not like that around here any more since residents can now work in the ski industry, hump tables or drive tourist buses around in circles. Opportunity and the lack of it has always forced people to look elsewhere for their living…geographically and by jumping into new careers for survival.
Back in those days, when people like Butch Cassidy roamed the badlands and prowled the streets, there was an immediacy resting on one’s shoulder and a thin line between right and wrong. A feeling that if a person did not succeed today his chances may dwindle, even vanish. One had to strike when the iron was hot or make hay while the sun shone.
Such was the reality. Frustrated by the economics of boom and bust and prices dictated by the powers back east, Cassidy, going by the name of Pull Newman, had studied day and night for the real estate exam. He had digested the terminology, the math, the code of ethics and, despite the fact that he read at a fourth grade level, he and other members of the Wild Bunch were sure he’s get his license and could terminate his fledgling life of crime.
“Butch would have been a welcome addition to the emerging real estate community,” said Kid Curry, once the proprietor of Calcutta’s Beef and Jigger, a popular Indian spot near Dallas Divide. “He followed a strict, if tweaked, sense of morality and never faltered from it or backed down from a fight.”
Another associate of the would-be outlaw, The Sundrenched Kid agreed.
“We planned to list the Hole in the Wall over in Utah with Butch as soon as he passed the test,” he explained. “It made sense to jack the price about 40% with all the traffic from the east. Besides, the existing realtors could not even find the place with a map. How would they ever show it?”
As the big day came Butch, who had been a serious student for the past two months showed up with his #2 pencils and lunch. The food was the high point of the day. Halfway through an eggplant sandwich he realized his goose was cooked. The exam got away from him like a greasy breakfast after a night in the bottle. Butch just sat there afraid to be the first one finished. He didn’t know any of the answers. What good had all the studying done when they asked the wrong questions? He scored as well as a a wounded jackrabbit playing blind man’s bluff with a pack of hungry coyotes. He went to the bar.
He whined to the bartender and anyone else in ear shot. He drank shots.
“Butch was not the type to talk about his problems which made me worry about him,” said Curry who had wandered into the same bar that afternoon. “He was normally so upbeat. He always had a plan.”
The two shared a few more drinks and then Curry voiced his current dilemma: He was losing his shorts at the Calcutta with all of the new entrepreneurs coming to town. The pie was sliced in too many pieces for anyone to profit and Curry did not have pockets deep enough to wait out this recent economic quagmire.
“Butch, have you ever thought about robbing a bank?” he asked Cassidy as the second bottle of whiskey arrived.
“No, but it can’t be that difficult,” he smiled.
It was then that the two gunmen started to talk about banking and gold and silver. When they stumbled out of the bar the gas lights of the Telluride Bank still burned. It was then that the plot was hatched.
“We’ll need a little more help and we can pull this off,” said Butch. “And to think I was going to go straight and play the puppet to all the rich who have no more right to the bank deposits than I do.”
After consulting with several colleagues the pair put the plan in motion. They would hit the bank early the next day then split up and meet at their prearranged hideout in Utah where they would divide the cash.
“If Butch would have just passed his damn real estate we would have saved a lot of misery and loss around here,” said Nora Pancake, the daughter of one of the bank tellers wounded during the crime spree.
“He might have been someone to admire instead of a cold-blooded outlaw and a bad example for others to follow.” – Ella Benedictine Rockefeller

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