Licks and Slicks

navajo_cowboy-blogAn Old West quiz: if you were a cowboy and had “licks” and “slicks,” what were you doing? You were on a cattle roundup. Thanks to the Federal Writer’s Project that sought stories of oldtimers, an unnamed ranch cook gives us a wonderful array of nicknames that have mostly been lost to history. He says “lick” was the syrup served in place of butter for the morning biscuits; a “slick” was a calf that had slipped through the round-up. Furthermore, he says coffee was called “Jamoka.” (Tea was never served on the range.) A cow puncher carried his tobacco, cartridges and odds and ends in a “war bag” that served as his pillow. The cowboys assigned to watch over cows or ponies at night were called “night-hawks,” and if they were working without pay, it’s said they were “sweating.”

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