There are many things a father experiences throughout the way or raising a child. Some experiences are hard while others are just plain tuff. Well, I’d say this one was pretty tuff because I had to watch my son go through his first heartbreak over a girl.
The stage pulled into North Fork one day with a visitor for Milly. She was really happy to see her niece, Sally all the way from Denver. Sally had a heavy bag. It was that heavy bag that would be the start of Mark’s latest problem.
Milly saw Mark walking over by the store and immediately called him over. Of course, Mark was always glad to help Milly and came to her rescue. “Hello Miss Mil-“
Mark suddenly stopped. He had just seen the prettiest girl he ever saw! He stared at Sally Walker – couldn’t take his eyes off of her! She smiled back. Milly asked mark to carry her bag, but Mark didn’t hear her. Milly suddenly realized he was staring at Sally and quickly introduced them. Milly had written Sally about us so she knew Mark was a nice young man. She extended her hand out for Mark to grasp. “Hello,” Mark said as he continued staring at her.
Boy, but that boy was smitten! He took a big swallow as he took her hand. Milly told Mark to help with the heavier bag. But Mark continued to stare at Sally. He was unaware of anything being said or done around him. “Mark!” Milly called. “Mark!” Milly called again. “The bag!”
Mark suddenly gasped and took his hat off. After all, he was in the presence of a beautiful young woman! He turned, the whole time keeping his eyes glued to Sally. He stepped backwards to get the suitcase. In the process, he bumped into Milly. “Mark!” Milly gasped. Mark finally removed his eyes from Sally to see why Milly was yelling at him. Then Milly and Sally laughed and hurried into the store.
Mark just picked up the bag and stared straight ahead with a silly grin on his face. That’s when I come in. I saw Mark standing by the stagecoach holding onto a bag. I couldn’t help but wonder what Mark was doing in town since he was supposed to be at home. “Mark? What are you doing in town?”
He was in a daze – didn’t’ even turn to look at me. "Carrying a bag," he answered. I couldn’t help but to wonder about the way he was acting. Something was going on.
I followed him to Milly’s store. Milly saw me come in and told me I was just in time to meet Sally. Ah, so that’s what’s wrong with Mark!
Milly asked Mark to introduce Sally to me. "Pa.....this is Sally," he said softly.
I gave her a friendly smile. "Hello Sally, welcome to North Fork. I hope you enjoy your visit." She thanked me.
"She'll enjoy herself much more once she's had a chance to change into something comfortable and had a good rest!" Milly declared. She then thanked Mark for carrying in Sally's bag.
I told Milly I’d see her at six tonight at the ranch. “Where?” Mark suddenly asked.
“At your house. For dinner,” Milly reminded him. I reminded Mark we’d invited them to our house for supper a week ago.
"Oh yeah, that's right. You can even come a little bit early if you like," said Mark.
Milly thanked him. “Come on, son.” He didn’t move. “Come on.” Mark turned to go. He’d forgotten about the suitcase that was sitting at his feet. He tripped over it. Thankfully, I was there to catch him and steady him.
That boy! “Excuse me,” Mark said bashfully. I sighed and looked at my boy.
Sally spoke up then. "Mr. McCain, do you go by the Willow Ranch by any chance?"
“Well, it’s a few miles out of the way, Sally. Why?” I asked.
She explained she had a letter to be delivered. My boy bolted forward. “Oh, I’ll take it!” he declared with a great big grin on his face. She asked him if he would if it wasn’t too much trouble. “My pleasure.”
I couldn’t help staring at my boy! This was my Mark??? She gave him the letter. "This is his name...Bruce Henry," said Sally. Sally asked Mark if he knew Bruce. He said he had seen him around. "He's an old friend of mine from Denver," said Sally.
Mark assured her he'd take the letter there now. Mark put his hat on and backed up to the door. "Come on Pa, let’s go." Out the door Mark went.
I said nothing, but followed close behind Mark as he walked down the boardwalk. When we got to Micah’s office, I couldn’t stand it anymore. My boy was acting too peculiar…even for Mark! I grabbed him by the back of the neck to stop him. “Hey young man!” Mark stopped and turned as we leaned over the hitching post. “How come you’re willing to ride five miles out of your way to deliver that letter?”
Mark studied the letter. “I don’t mind,” he stated with a grin.
“Five miles out of your way and you don’t mind.”
But Mark was still off in la la land! "Sally! Isn't that a nice sounding name?"
"What were you doin' in town, you were suppose to be checking cattle."
It took Mark a moment to realize I had asked a question. "Oh my stirrup leather broke; I had to get Nils to fix it."
"Did he?" I asked.
All of a sudden Mark was in a hurry. He finally came to. "Say Pa.....we better get goin'! Why I gotta deliver this, we got the house to clean up and dinner to
fix!" He hurried off. I laughed. Boy, he sure was gone!
Mark rode out to the Willow Ranch. Bruce Henry was in the corral whipping one of the horses. Mark watched in disgust. He took a look at Sally's letter. He was having second thoughts about delivering Sally's letter after seeing that. Bruce walked over to Mark. "Somethin' you want?"
"Your Bruce Henry aren't ya'?"
"So who are you?"
"I'm Mark McCain. I live over there and-"
Bruce rudely interrupted him. "Yeah, yeah. I know where you live. What do you want?"
"What are you doin' to him?"
"I'm teachin' him a lesson. I was breakin' him and he threw me."
"They...uh...let you use a whip around here." Mark was surprised.
"I use anything I please. You don't like it?"
He didn’t, that that was none of his business. Mark decided to get to his business. He gave him the letter. Bruce ripped it open and read it. “My my,” he laughed. “Well, if that don’t beat all!” He laughed again. “I said that gal was loco. Imagine that, a girl like that…she was chasing me all the time when I was in Denver.”
His words bothered Mark. He didn’t want to hear about it. Especially when he mentioned that she came all the way to North Fork looking for him. "She came to visit Miss Milly at the store!"
"That's fine as long I don't have to put up with her." He tossed her note away. He asked Mark if he wanted anything else. Then he eyeballed Mark to leave.
We had a really nice dinner. Milly and I stayed inside and had our coffee and Mark and Sally went out onto the porch. Mark took his guitar along. He wanted to sing for Sally. He was having some trouble getting started. I'd say he was somewhat nervous. He started singing, but had to stop to clear his throat. Then he started the song again. He sang "Something Special” to her as she smiled. Mark certainly was working hard to impress her!
When he finished, he politely asked her if there was something else he could sing for her. But Sally was preoccupied. She told him she didn't care. He should pick something. Mark asked her if there was something wrong. She hesitated, then asked Mark if he was sure that Bruce Henry didn't say anything more when he gave him her letter. “Well, he thought it was kind of funny.”
That upset her. “He did, did he? Well!”
“It seemed like sort of a peculiar way for a friend to act.”
"He's no friend of mine!" Sally declared.
Mark suddenly needed to know something. "Sally...I'm your friend, aren't I?"
"Of course you are. A very nice friend." She walked over to him and put her hand on his. From the look on Mark’s face, he sure did like that - it made him very happy; not really realizing that's all he meant to her was a 'friend'.
We all had a nice time and now it was time for them to leave. We watched them leave. Mark was off in la la land again. “Well, that sally is a nice girl,’ I commented.
“She sure is.”
I turned and looked at my boy. He was still watching them after they rode off. I wondered just how gone he was. "I think I'll go jump off the barn roof.”
"Alright," said Mark.
Boy, he was that far gone! "Do you wanna go with me?" I asked.
"Huh? Go where?" Asked Mark.
"To bed, come on." I turned to walk inside.
"Pa?” I stopped and turned around as I stood in the doorway. Mark was still looking in the direction the buggy had gone off in. “When you met Ma...I mean at first. How did you know she was the one?"
“Hm…Well that’s kind of hard to explain, son. It’s just a feeling you get…you just know…You understand?” He thought he did, but he kept staring down the road. Boy, he had it bad!
The next day, Bruce Henry rode up to the General Store while Sally was sweeping the porch. He started into the General Store acting all cool, but then turned and looked at her. “Ain’t I seen you some place else?”
Sally smiled. “Well, that’s possible. Like Denver maybe?”
“Denver…Yeah, that’s it!” Bruce declared with a smile.
He told her he was in town to do some shopping for the ranch. She told him that she had wrote him a letter. Bruce started to tell Sally about Mark never telling him she was in town, but Milly walked out, suddenly interrupting them. He wondered if she was going to be around as he walked into the General Store. Milly studied Sally for a moment and told her not to sweep a hole in the floor. Sally just smiled.
When I said Mark had it bad, I didn’t know how bad! But I was about to find out. Mark came in one evening while I was doing paperwork. “Where have you been?” Mark surprised me when he told me he was over on the West range. I asked him what he was doing over there. “Oh…like you said, checking on cattle.”
I told him that was two hours and the cattle were on the south pasture. Mark didn’t really have anything to say about that. "What were you doin' on the west range Mark?"
He didn’t answer. He bent leaned over the desk. "Say Pa...are you still figurin' on maybe selling' that land? I mean you said it wasn't much good! Didn't have any water and it wasn't any good for grazin' or crops." I told him I might sell it if I got the right price. "Would you sell it to
I was surprised. “What?”
"I'd pay ya a fair price! I'd go shares and then I could start building a house and gettin' it all fenced in..."
Okay he lost me! I had to put the breaks on! "Wait a minute! Just wait a minute! One thing at a time. What do you want with that land?" I asked a bit impatiently.
"I wanna live on it! It would pay Pa, you know that spring north of here that runs underground...well it comes up over there. I could sink a well and I'd have all the wa-"
Okay, the boy lost me again. "You wanna live on it?” Boy, but I was confused! “Mark...what's wrong with this place?" I asked.
"You live here." Mark sort of laughed. "Pa, we all couldn't all live together." He sure was acting strange!
"We! Who's we!" I asked, totally confused at this point.
He was all smiles. "Sally and me. After we get.....married!" I was surprised!!!!! "I'd turn that into the best piece of grazin' land in the whole territory. Why when Sally saw it she'd....." By this time I had my hand over my head. Mark asked me what was the matter. I told him I thought I was out in the sun too long. He told me I better take it easy and to think about what he had said. He headed out to do his chores.
Boy, I think I was gone now! I was trying to figure out how a 13 year old boy suddenly decided he was going to get married. I watched him walk out the door, then I thought more on the strange conversation I’d just had. “Married??”
I just had to head into town. I wanted to tell Milly about this and see if she knew anything about how Sally felt. Milly found it funny. "Oh Lucas.....you can't be serious."
"I am and so is he!"
She stuttered around for the right words. "You know perfectly well it must be some kind of faze he must be going thru," she finally managed to say.
"Sure.....but I'd like to know what Sally has to say about it! She must know how old he is! She doesn't strike me as the type of girl that would lead Mark on."
Milly got all defensive on me then. "Now just a minute Lucas!” She stood right in front of me as she spoke. “I'm sure Sally has had nothing to do with
Just then Sally came out. She told Milly she was leaving now. Sally was going on a picnic with Bruce Henry at Miller's Pond. Sally then asked me how Mark was. She said she hadn't seen him since the church social and she'd like him to play his guitar for her again real soon. She then left. "Does that answer your question," Milly asked.
“Bruce Henry, huh?”
Milly nodded as we watched her leave. “Nearly every day. I can’t say that I exactly approve, but he is more her age. Besides, she’s going home day after tomorrow.”
So, it was one-sided. I knew Mark would never take my word for it – I had to show him she wasn’t interested without actually telling him myself. I had to show him. It was the only way. So I took him by Miller’s pond. He was so smitten he couldn’t think on anything else. He sang “Something Special” as we walked. Then he stopped. He saw Sally and Bruce picnic by the pond. She was feeding him and they were laughing. It was obviously more then a friendly picnic! I watched the hurt creep over his face. I allowed him to watch only for a moment as reality sunk in. "Come on son, we better go. I think we're intruding."
I knew he was hurt, but it was the only way. I allowed my boy to deal with it in his own way. We didn’t talk about it until that night.
That night, I was sitting out on the porch smoking my cigar. Mark came to stand in the doorway. "I guess you think I'm kinda silly, huh?" He sat down next to me.
"Why should I think that?" I asked.
"Well...all that talk I was makin'."
"You mean about settlin' on the land? Maybe gettin' married. No Mark...my only thought was maybe you were a little too young." We looked at each other. "You know son, I saw a colt once who got himself into a lot of trouble. He ran away from his mother to try and get at some green grass on the other side of a fence. He got his head stuck." He asked what happened to him. "Oh she got him out alright once she caught up to him. You know a funny thing I think she got it across to him that if he'd wait a while, 'till he was full grown, he'd be able to jump that fence and get all the grass he wanted."
Mark knew what I was saying. "You knew they were down there, didn't ya'?"
"Yes son, I knew. You angry with me?"
"I was for a while but...but now I guess I'm kinda angry with Sally."
"Why? You figure she lead you on?"
"Course not! It's just that…well…she should know better!" I asked him how. "Kissin' Bruce Henry!"
I stopped him right there. "Now wait a minute Mark! They were not kissing!"
"Well maybe they weren't and maybe I'm not the right one for her! Maybe I'm too young and all that! But golly Pa...Bruce Henry! He's not good for a girl like Sally! He's got a mean streak in him a yard wide! She should know about it...before she gets hurt." I told him he was right. "Pa...you've had more experience then I have...how do you tell a girl a thing like that?"
"You'll find a way son. You know Milly and I are having dinner tomorrow night. Why don't you come along? Sally's leaving the day after tomorrow and if she's not busy I'm sure she’ll join us. She did tell me she'd like you to play your guitar for her again."
He was pleased. "She did?" I shook my head at him.
Mark had asked Sally to dinner, but she already had made plans. Mark told her he wasn't that hungry anyway. He thought he'd sing for her until whoever she was waiting for came. He again sang “Something Special” for her as he looked at her and smiled. Just as he was finishing up the song Bruce Henry rode up. Mark started to sing another chorus.
"Something Special.” He decided to show her the truth about Bruce Henry the only way he knew how.
(* Please be patient while these wavs download. They are well worth the wait!)
Bruce wasn’t too happy about his singing to her. He climbed off his buggy and walked up to them. "What's this?" Bruce asked.
Mark suddenly stood up and faced him. "What do you think your doin' any how? Can't you see I'm trying to romance my girl?"
"Mark!" Sally exclaimed.
"What's he talkin' about?" Bruce asked then.
"Well I'll tell you what I'm talkin' about” Mark shouted as he went face-to-face with Bruce. “I…I don’t like trail bums like you pushin' in when I'm busy! Now beat it!"
Mark’s plan was working. Bruce was getting angry. “You better watch what you’re saying, kid!”
Mark folded his arms. “Well, look who’s talking!”
“Mark, please!” Sally begged.
But Mark ignored her. He put down his guitar and put up his fists. “Well, ya…Yaw anta make something of it?”
Bruce gave a laugh and pushed Mark down. “I can’t be bothered!” Then he took Sally’s arm as they started down the boardwalk. But Mark bolted out of the chair and Mark gave Bruce a shove.
Bruce turned and punched Mark hard. That sent Mark flying off the porch down onto the ground. Sally begged him to stop. Bruce thought he needed a lesson. Sally told Bruce that Mark was just a boy. “So what?” Bruce declared.
Mark came up out of the dirt and came toward Bruce. Bruce punched him again, and again Mark fell into the dirt. Bruce then grabbed Sally and told her to come with him. Mark jumped up again and reared toward Bruce. Bruce again punched him. This time, Mark just laid in the dirt. He’d had enough.
So had Sally. She was mortified! Bruce ordered her to go with him as she bent down to check on Mark. “Come with you after doing this? You’re horrible! Just horrible!” Bruce told her that Mark had started it, but she told him he had no right. “Look at you! You’re a beast!”
“Now you listen here. Anybody that treats me like that and starts shoving me around get the same thing.” He was yelling at her. “I don’t take nothing from nobody!”
Sally turned. “Including me, I suppose!” He agreed that she was included in that. She never wanted to see him again. She told him to leave, and he did.
Then she turned her attention back to Mark. Mark was going to soak up as much attention as he could, and that was for sure! He grinned as she turned back to him, giving him her undivided attention.
Milly, Mark, and I saw Sally to the stage the next day. She hugged Milly and shook my hand. Then she turned to Mark. "I'll be a year older next year!" Mark announced.
Sally smiled at his persistence. "So will I."
"Oh...I didn't think about that!" Mark stated bashfully as he turned and glanced at me. Then she kissed Mark on the cheek and thanked him for everything. He thought she would be mad, but she wasn't. He did her a favor. She kissed him again. Sally said goodbye. Mark helped her up into the stage and closed the door. Then the stage left.
The silly dazed look was back! "She kissed me," said Mark. Then his eyes widened. "Twice!"
piddlin' stuff.....Cheryl Holdridge played Sally Walker. Sally was Mark's first love.
She appeared in "Leave it to Beaver" as Gloria Cusick in 1959-1960 and Julie Foster from 1960-1963. She also appeared in "My Three Sons" ~ "Bachelor Father" and "The Donna Reed Show." Her last appearance was in 2000 in "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas."
Cheryl, like Johnny, was a Mouseketeer too. What other Mouseketeers appeared on "The Rifleman?"
*This is Mark's first real crush!
Richard Evans played Bruce Henry. He was the older boy and the one Sally had a crush on. He also appeared in "Peyton Place" as Paul Hanley for the 1965 season. Richard played Shep Coleman in 'Sins of the Father.' He's the young puck who pushed Andy Moon into killing him. He played a arrogant young puck. He sure did a good job in both of these parts.
He appeared with Chuck in "Synanon" in 1965. His most current role was in 2002 in "The Gathering". He had appeared in many of the 50's, 60's & 70's TV shows.
Joan Taylor played Milly Scott. Milly bought The General Store from Hattie Denton. Hattie had to leave to go and help her sister in Denver. Joan Taylor appeared in 18 episodes as Milly Scott and was introduced to "The Rifleman" in 'Miss Milly.'
Joe E. Benson appeared in "The Rifleman" many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In 'Dark Day at North Fork' he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen & the bartender.
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the house which was later called the den. (One of the several tree house pictures)
Tom Kennedy as one of the townsmen. You will see Tom in "The Rifleman" many of times, probably more times then listed. He always went unaccredited, but not here at the ranch.
Once a boxer, this brawny character actor began his film career early in the silent movie era. He frequently played big, dumb, likable, working-class types as in "The Case of the Stuttering Bishop" (1937). He also worked with W.C. Fields, The Marx Brothers, and Laurel and Hardy in a career that lasted until his death at the age of 80.
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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Man from Salinas
around The McCain Ranch