The Rifleman
"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"

Episode 39

I’ve always considered myself a good father, and in such, it may cause me to be a bit bossy with other people’s children.  And perhaps The Rifleman - Boomerang - Episode 39I enjoy taking those less fortunate then us under my wing to get them started on the right foot.  It was no different this time.

You see, there was this man named Sam Elder who was in the bank talking to John Hamilton about his loan.  The conversation wasn’t going well.  John had already extended his loan twice in the last year and he was still six months behind.  Elder promised he’d make it up which, I’m sure, wasn’t the first time he had made that promise.

John did not understand how he would make it up.  “How?  By spending all your time in the saloon instead of behind a plow?  By throwing all your money away on liquor instead of buying seed and farm tools?  Look at you!  You’re drunk right now!”  John didn’t mind helping a person out when they were in trouble, but this man wouldn’t even try making a decent living.  John’s words made Elder mad and he told him what he did was none of his business.

"It is where the banks money's concerned," said John.

Elder was getting mad.  John told him there was no reason to continue the conversation.  Suddenly Sam Elder’s son walked into the bank.  He wanted to know when they were going home, but Elder wasn’t done with his business.  John didn’t agree with this.

“Our business is finished, Sam.  Your boy might as well know it,” he stated firmly.  “I’m asking you to vacate your ranch.  Foreclosure procedures will start immediately!”  Elder was still upset.  John tried to calm him down.  “Sam, listen to me.  Perhaps if you stopped your drinking and tried to get a job.  Then later on you could get your ranch back.”

Well, I guess Elder was getting really upset, because he suddenly stated, “If your bank people come around, I’ll buy a gun and blow their heads off!”

John stayed quiet.  He didn’t have anything more to say.  Elder barged out the door.

Mark and I were coming into the bank while he was leaving.  I walked into the bank in time to see Elder screaming at John.  The man was drunk and wasn’t paying attention to where he was going.  He ran into Mark.  Protectively, I grabbed Mark by the arm and pulled him inside the bank and out of danger of this madman!  “What was that all about?” I wondered.

I could tell John was having a bad day.  "Lucas, you’re lucky your a rancher instead of a banker like me. Taking a man's place from him is the last thing in the world I want to do," said John. He was really upset by the conversation, but finally was ready to get down to business.

Somehow he knew that Mark was the customer.  Mark had a dollar he wanted to put in his savings.

As we started over to the teller window, we heard a man yell, “Someone call the doctor!”  We all rushed out onto the street to see what was going on.

Sam Elder was laying in the middle of the street.  His son, Tim, was bending over him frightened and begging him to get out of the middle of the street.  My nurturing aspect kicked in and I ran over to see what could be done for Sam.  “Pa, wake up.  You can sleep when you get home!” Tim was crying.

I checked his pulse.  Just as I suspected.  As softly as I could, I broke the news to Tim.  “Tim, Tim…” I started gently.  “He’s dead son,” I said bluntly.  He was very upset already, and I wanted him to understand how final it was.

But Tim was in denial.  “No, what are you talking about?  He’s all right!” he insisted.  “Wake up, pa,” he cried.

I laid my hand on Tim’s arm.  “Tim, boy,” I started.  “Look son,” I made him look into my eyes.  “It’s no use.”

I watched him as he finally accepted this news.  “Dead?” he said as he allowed the news to sink in.The Rifleman - Boomerang - Episode 39  Like any normal human being, he didn’t understand why.  “But, he just had a few drinks.  And then he went to the bank.”  Suddenly a look of anger crossed his face.  His sobbing stopped, and he turned to look at John Hamilton.  "You hear that bankin' man, my Pa's dead on account a you!" Tim suddenly yelled.

Mark and I went with Tim to bury his father.  We watched solemnly as he put the last pile of dirt on his grave and smoothed it out.  His heart was broken and it would take him some time to heal.  Mark, always concerned for other people, reminded me that I was talking about hiring on an extra hand for branding season.  I remembered that and had just been thinking about that.

Tim walked over to us.  He was still in mourning and very bitter. That’s why I let his words pass without comment.  Perhaps it would have been better if I had spoken up then.  "Well, I hope he gets, his money," Tim stated about John Hamilton.

Tim suddenly started to walk away but I stopped him, asking him if he had any plans.  He didn’t.   I offered him that job Mark mentioned.  I think he was relieved, and he accepted without hesitation.

“And Tim, how old are you?” I asked.


“Well, that’s old enough,” I declared.  “You’re a man now.  You call me Lucas, huh?”

I was happy to see what a hard worker Tim was.  He seemed to really have a lot of potential!  One hot day after working hard, I invited him to go into town with me.  I needed to check to see if a new bolt came in for my rifle, then we’d meet Mark at the school.

I invited Tim to go to the bank with me, but he didn’t want to.  “You know, seeing as how you got paid yesterday, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you put your money into a savings account like Mark and I do,” I suggested kindly.  “That is if you haven’t got something else you want to do with it.”  Tim simply stated he’d think on it.  I couldn’t push him into doing something he didn’t want to do, so I left it alone.

I sent him over to Hattie’s to check on that new bolt while I went to talk to John.  Hattie was busy when he first went in so he had to wait.  She told him that a new catalogue had just come in though. While he waited, Tim went to look at it.  He was very interested in the picture of the rifle that was on the front of it.

I went into the bank to talk to John about holding off with the auction on the Elder Ranch for awhile.  John was obviously upset by my request.  I asked him how much the ranch was worth.  He guessed about $500.  “Come on, John!” I argued.  “You couldn’t get $200 for it.  And the way auctions go sometimes, you might not even get that much!  Hold off with the auction, John.  Tim Elder’s doing a good job for me.  He’s earned his money.  I think in time he’ll be able to buy it himself.”  I reminded John that Tim's father is buried on that land.  I felt Tim should have the land.

John was concerned about what would happen if things didn't work out.  I told him I had $200 in my savings account that says Tim would work out.   “Oh no, I’ll not have you risking your own money, Lucas!” John argued.  “It’s a fine thought but- I’ll do it myself and I’ll take the risk!  Maybe it’ll make me feel better about the whole thing,” he finally decided.

That was good news to me.  I stood up and thanked him with a smile on my face.  But he didn’t want to hear it.  "Go on," he said.  “Get out of here!"  He was too modest.

We were about to head over to the school.  Tim was cheerful as he talked.  But he suddenly saw John talking to someone outside the bank.  I didn’t know what was going on at the time or I definitely would have made sure the conversation went a bit differently.  But Tim suddenly said, “My pa never taught me how to shoot a gun.  I was wondering if you’d teach me.”

At first I was thrown off guard.  I guess my fatherly instincts kicked in as I asked, “What for?”

“Well, I oughta know how to protect myself!”

“You expecting some kind of trouble?” Again, my father mode was running overtime.

“No, of course I ain’t!  But I oughta know how,” he argued.  “Say I was out on the trail someday.  I’d have to kill my food, wouldn’t I?”

I had to lecture him, to let him know exactly what he was getting himself into.  “You learn how to use a gun, you’re taking on a big responsibility for yourself and everybody around you.”  He said he knew what I meant.  “I don’t own a handgun,” I told him.  But he wanted to learn on The Rifleman - Boomerang - Episode 39a rifle like mine.  I finally agreed, then told him we needed to hurry so we didn’t miss Mark.

The lessons started that very afternoon.  I started out showing him how well I could shoot.  He wanted to know how long it took me to learn how to shoot like that.  “A long time, Tim,” I stated as I reloaded my rifle.  “A real long time and with lots of practice.”  He was a bit impatient and stated that’s the way he wanted to learn.  “No, not yet.  You’re gonna start single shot first.”

The next lesson was to see how his aim was.  Tim held the rifle at a really bad angle.  It was obvious he hadn’t ever used a gun before.  “You hold a gun like that and squeeze the trigger, and you’ll land right flat on your back,” I warned him.  I adjusted his arms to show him how to correctly hold the rifle.

Finally it was time for him to shoot.  It took him a lot of practice just to hit the target for the first time.  He was getting better, but I told him he wasn’t taking enough time.  Tim, who like many younger people thought he knew so much more than me, suddenly turned to me and asked, “Let me ask you somethin’.  Someday if I’m shooting at a rattler, you want me to take my time then?  I mean, while I’m squeezing, he could be doing me a lot of damage.”

His reasoning for rushing it didn’t make sense to me and I told him straight out.  “Maybe so, but if you missed your first shot he could be doing you a lot more damage!” From the look on his face, I could tell he knew I was right.

My words worked.  He suddenly took his time and began hitting the targets.  Mark and I praised him for his hard work.  He wanted to set the cans up again, but I reminded him that we still had a ranch to run.  “Oh yea,” he stated as he ran to put my rifle up.

That night as we got ready for supper, I asked Mark about Tim.  They had been talking a lot the last few days.  “His spirits seem any better?” I asked as I put the stew on the table.

Mark was setting the table.  “I think so,” he answered.

“You know Mark, Sam Elder had a few faults but nobody’s supposed to avoid his father.  It’s gonna be rough on Tim for awhile.”

Mark was glad he was working with us.  So was I.  I could see that he was really making progress!  Tim came in then stating he was hungry.  I told him to sit down and dig right in.  Well, obviously that boy of mine was hungry too!  As I sat down, I saw Mark reach to dip out some stew.  I immediately picked up the bowl to hand it to Tim, our guest.  “Mind your manners, boy,” I stated as I gave Mark a disapproving look.  I handed the stew to Tim, then turned and gave Mark another dirty look.  I think he got the message because he frowned at me.

We worked hard on his target practice.  He was getting better and better.  I gave him pointers every now and then which he gladly welcomed.  I was very proud of the progress he was making!  But then one day everything I had taught him came back to haunt me and I suddenly felt so used and so stupid that I hadn’t seen it.

One night as we were eating supper, I noticed that Tim was eating rather quickly.  I told him he was eating like he had someplace to go.  He reminded him that this was the last  Saturday night of the month.  I winked at Mark and pretended to wonder why the last Saturday of the month was special.  Tim got this worried expression on his face, so I finally gave in.  Snapping my fingers, I said “Oh that’s right! I forgot.  It’s payday!” I stated.

Of course Mark and I laughed.  Tim, finally realizing I was pulling his leg, joined in laughing.  Then I got serious with Tim.  There was something I’d been wanting to talk to him about and now was as good as any time.  “You know, Tim, I asked you before what you were going to do with your money.  I know a man’s affairs are his private business, so I’m just going to say I hope your saving it,” I stated.

He stated he had it all, then I kindly suggested that he put it in the bank where it would be safe.  He was dead set against that idea.  Mark even mentioned that he puts his money in there for safe keeping, but Tim didn’t want to have anything to do with the bank.  I questioned him about this.  That’s when everything started to blow up in my face.  “You want me to give them my money after what they did to my pa?” he shouted angrily at us.

I told him he couldn’t blame the bank for that.  “You know as well as I do that man in there…that John Hamilton…he just well have gotten a gun and shot my pa in the back!” I could tell Tim was full of anger.

His words against my friend who is doing so much for Tim angered me.  “Now wait a minute, boy!” I stated harshly.  Then I calmed my voice down, realizing that it would be hard for a young man to loose his father so suddenly.  “Listen to me, Tim.  John Hamilton was just doing his job.  What happened to your father wasn’t his fault.  Look son, if it’s bothering you that much, why don’t you go in and see John? Have a talk with him.  Clear the air.” I suggested.

The next words that left Tim’s mouth hit me like a knife!  "No, I'm not going near John Hamilton, at least not yet, and when I do it’s not gonna be to have a talk.  It’s gonna be with a gun!” He slammed his fist on the table.  Then he got up to leave.

I couldn’t believe what I just heard!  Everything I had taught him was for this purpose!  After all I had done for him…I jumped up from the table and rushed after him.  I was right on his tail.  ”You do that boy, and you’ll wind up flat on your back!” I warned him angrily.

“Well, we’ll see,” he shot back.  “Don’t forget I’m getting pretty good with that gun of yours.  After all, you taught me and your the best!"  I stared at him as he went out the door, slamming it. Then I stood and stared at the door.  Words cannot describe the way his words made me feel.  I felt so used.  I was a part of this evil plan he was trying to plot.

The house was silent.  The Rifleman - Boomerang - Episode 39Both Mark and I left each other to our own thoughts.  I picked up the coffee pot and poured myself a cup of coffee, the sound of the coffee echoed though the silent room.  Suddenly, Mark had to voice his thoughts.  “You think he meant that about Mr. Hamilton?”

“Well if he did son, he’s in for a surprise,” I answered.  “And we’ve just been wasting our time!”

Mark was afraid I was going to let him go.  But I assured him I wasn’t.  “He needs us more then ever now,” I stated.  Even through all this, there was still a place in my heart that yearned to help him.  I knew he was just a wayward kid, and I had to do whatever it took to convert him to our side.  I gave a nervous laugh.  “I guess I’m just beginning to realize it.”

I needed a cigar.  I told Mark to clean up the dishes while I went out to smoke and get some fresh air.  As I stepped out onto the porch, I remained deep in though about our latest problem.  I bit off the end of my cigar, lit it, and took a deep puff off of it.  Then I looked toward the barn.  I couldn’t leave things like this.  I had to try to make him understand where we stood with each other.  And I had to convince him that a gunfight was never the answer to a problem!

I threw my cigar down on the ground as I walked toward the barn.  I found Tim lying on his bed.  He was upset; but so was I, and with good reason.  I walked over to talk to Tim.  Leaning against the post, I softly spoke his name.

He didn’t turn around, but spoke with a sad, sorrowful voice.  “If you’ve come to pay me off, I’ll understand,” he answered.

“I didn’t come for that,” I assured him.  “There still a lot of work around here, and I’ll still need you.”  Then I got down to the heart of the matter.  “I came to tell you there’ll be no more shooting lessons.  You know enough now to protect yourself, but that’s all you know,” I warned him.  “Someday, Tim, when you get your own gun, I hope you use it wisely.  I hate to think I taught you any other way or for any other purpose.”

“Sure,” Tim answered, not really listening to me.

“You’re not as good as you think you are!” I tried to explain again.  I tried to tell him something about John Hamilton, but he suddenly interrupted me in a sudden rage.

“In there at the table you told me that a man’s private affairs are his own business!” he yelled.

I was suddenly angry at this kid’s stubbornness! I walked over and sat on the cot “That’s right, I did.  But you’re going to hear me out anyway!”  I started to say something, but I can’t stand talking to a person’s back!  I grabbed his arm and ordered him to turn around and look at me.  “Monday I’ll be out with the cattle all morning.  In the afternoon I’m going in to see John and you’re coming with me!  There’s something you oughta know boy!”  He asked me what I wanted him to know.  “Monday you’ll find out. And when you do, I hope it’ll change your mind!”

He said nothing would do that.  “Like you said, we’ll see!”

Monday morning I was with the herd.  Tim was back at the ranch doing some work in the yard when Hattie pulled up.  She called out for me, then was startled when Tim all of a sudden appeared there.  Suddenly, Tim had moved away to help her down, but she couldn’t stay.  She had come to see him.  She had the receipt for the two rifles he ordered.  She had brought the rifles with her.  Tim went to get them out.  “What are you doing with them things?”  Hattie wanted to know.  “You going hunting?”

Tim had a very satisfied look on his face as he lifted the rifles out of the buggy.  “Yeah, I’m going huntin’!” he answered happily.

"Well don't blow your head off!” Hattie exclaimed before leaving.

When I got back from caring for the herd, there was no sign of Tim.  I found the pitchfork lying in the yard and picked it up.  Going to the barn, I saw some boxes that had been opened, their contents lifted out.  I went over and looked at the lid.  My heart jumped when I read the words.  I hastily threw the lid down and rushed out the door.  I knew where Tim was and what he was planning on doing.  I had to stop him before he made the biggest mistake of his life!!!

He had quite a lead on me.  When he got into town, he carried his two rifles and stood out in the street in front of the bank.  Then he yelled.  “Hamilton!  John Hamilton come out here!”

Of course John was confused as to what was going on.  He slowly stood up from his desk and made his way to the door.  He wasn’t fast enough for Tim and Tim yelled out again, “Hamilton!”

John went out to stand on the sidewalk.  “I’m gonna kill you!” Tim stated.  John was confused.  He didn’t understand this sudden vengeance after all this time.  “Right here on the street just like you did my pa!”

John tried to explain to Tim that he wasn’t responsible for his father’s death, but Tim didn’t want to hear reasoning.  He was to hurt and angry.  He thought that killing John would make him feel better.  John told Tim he didn’t carry a gun.  Tim had an answer for that.  “Well I bought one for ya!” The Rifleman - Boomerang - Episode 39he stated as he threw John a rifle.  “Know how to use it?”

John didn’t even have to think about it.  He wasn’t going to fight Tim.  He set the rifle down and started back into the bank.  “Wait!” Tim stopped him.  “I’m going to back up into the middle of the street.  And them I’m gonna shoot! So you just better be ready.” There was a demented hatred in his voice.

That’s when I arrived.  I rode right in between him and John, who had his back turned away from Tim.  I told Tim to wait.  “Lucas, try to talk some sense in this boy’s head!” John shouted.

“Stay out of this!  This is my affair!” Tim shouted.

I wouldn’t listen to his nonsense.  “Drop your rifle, Tim!” I said sternly.

“This is not your business,” he whined like a child.

I cocked my rifle as a warning before I started shooting.  “Drop it, I said!” I shouted again.

But he wouldn’t do it.  So I shot the rifle out of his hand.  He looked at me, then reached to pick it up.  I shot the rifle on the ground.  He reached for it a third time and a fourth time.  Each time I shot it, I became angrier with this boy.  After the fourth, I rushed up to him and grabbed him by his jacket.  “I said you were a man, but I was wrong!” I sneered at him.  “You’re nothing but a stupid boy!  You’re too blinded by hate to see any of the good around ya!  If you would’ve killed him, you would’ve killed the best friend you ever had.”  I didn’t let Tim get a word in edgewise.  I was going to talk until he understood.  I asked John if he wanted to tell Tim what he was doing for him, but John didn’t want to.  Instead, I decided to teach Tim another lesson.  “Now you listen to me, son!  You can’t go around using people like this!  I want you to see something!” I ordered John to come over to us.  “Now, you watch this, boy and you mark it well!”

I shoved Tim over and took off his hat.  I gave John my rifle, which he cocked.  Then I threw Tim’s hat up in the air.  John fired two shots and hit the hat both times.

Tim was shot and wanted to know where he learned to shoot like that.  I had taught him after the bank opened a year ago.

It was John’s turn to talk.  “Let me tell The Rifleman - Boomerang - Episode 39you something, son.  When you got business with a man, rather it’s banking business or killing, you best know something about the man before you stick your neck out!”

Tim had nothing to say.  But we didn’t need words, we saw it all over his face.  He had suddenly realized where he was and that he no longer wanted to be there.  He walked away so he could come to terms with what he had learned.

Sometime later, Tim went to see his father’s grave again.  Mark, John and I all were there.  I told Tim to get in the wagon, but he walked up to it and looked at us.  "Lucas, I know I was wrong all along, I'm sorry."

"Well Tim it takes a man to admit his mistakes." I was proud of him. I knew he was finally on the right road.

He thanked me and John.  Now that he got the ranch back he was going to pay John back every cent. I reminded him he hasn't gotten the ranch back yet, he'd be working for John until he was twenty-one.  Then it would be his.

“Well, the way I look at it, it’s as good as mine right now!” Tim said confidently.  I believed him too.

Tim was taking too long getting in the wagon.  As I began driving off, he jumped in as we started for home.

piddlin' stuff.....Lee Kinsolving played Tim Elder, the son of Sam Elder and the cowboy who wanted John Hamilton dead.

 Dabbs Greer is one of your most well known character actors.  He has been in the business for over five decades.  He has appeared in The Rifleman eight times ― Outlaw's Inheritance as Marcus Trimble, the lawyer from Santa Fe ― Boomerang as Sam Elder, the elderly gentleman who was about to loose his ranch ― Panic as Brett, the towns trouble maker ― The Jailbird as Farley Weaver, the man just released from prison ― The Promoter as Jack Scully, the man who was taking bets on  Reuben MilesThe Wyoming Story (1 & 2) as Finny and The Stand-In as Taylor, one of the prison guards.The Rifleman - Boomerang - Episode 39

Harlan Warde appeared in eighteen episodes as John Maysfield Hamilton, President of the North Fork Bank.  He was first introduced in The Safe Guard. In this episode North Fork's Bank was first established and John Hamilton was new to North Fork. 

Hope Summers appeared in sixteen episodes as Hattie Denton, owner of The General Store.  Hattie was first introduced to The Rifleman in Eight Hours to Die.  

 Whitey Hughes was a well known and respected stuntman, he appeared in twenty-seven episodes of The Rifleman and still counting.  Whitey had over a 50-year career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator, he has been praised as one of the top stuntman in Hollywood.  Whitey was the best of the best!

Leonard P. "Lenny" Geer appeared in four episodes ― The Indian as Todd Ullman, he was the man Lucas threw his rifle to and told him to put a hole threw Micah The Mind Reader as Townsmen in the audience Boomerang as the cowboy on horse The Woman as a Barfly.

Archie Butler — Stuntman — Stunt coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them.  ~Arnold Laven 
Remember him in The Sharpshooter?  Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces?  Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas.
Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
*Love the way Lucas said to Tim  "You watch this boy & you mark it well!"

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