"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
It was always nice to see people from my past – back before my wife
had died. I never tire of seeing
them. They are small reminders of those days before I suffered that
great loss. This time was no different.
I welcomed him with open eyes!
Well, let me tell you how I realized he was in town. You see, I was
in the bank making a deposit while Mark was relaxing in the wagon
enjoying his candy. Sweeny came by just then and asked him if he’d
seen the Marshal. Mark told him he hadn’t. So then Sweeny comes on
into the bank to get some change. “Five hundred dollar bill?” John
I was a bit surprises too! “What are you charging for beer these
days, Sweeny?” I asked.
Sweeny announced that Colonel Craig was back in town. “He’s fleecin’
everybody from here to Sunday!” I wondered why he didn’t throw him
out. Sweeny said he had to catch him at it. "If you see Micah, would
you send him over quick?
"I've got a feeling this lambs gonna fight back,” Sweeny fretted.
"Oh, who is he?" John asked.
"A stranger who rode in this morning. He calls himself Lariat
Jones." Sweeny hurried out.
I turned and stared at Sweeny’s retreating figure. “Lariat Jones?” I
suddenly declared with a surprised smile. John asked me if he was a
friend of mine. “You might say that John!” I hurried outside. I
stepped outside and looked down the street. I was so excited that my
old friend was here! “I’m going over to Sweeny’s, son. I’ll be right
back,” I told Mark as I started down the street. Mark sure did look
As I walked through the doors, I saw Lariat strike a match on his
boot and light his cigar. Then he laughed. I smiled as I came
inside. It certainly was my friend! The steaks were pretty high! The
colonel suddenly said, “These Yankee cigars just don’t stay lit!”
Lariat watched him very closely as he pulled a match from his
pocket. Inside his jacket pocked was the Ace of Spades.
I walked further inside as I smiled, watching my old friend, Lariat,
play poker. He took a drink and bit into a lemon, then he said,
“Colonel, I’m gonna do you a favor. Now, you can’t beat this hand,
so if I were you I wouldn’t try.” But the Colonel didn’t take the
hint. The stakes had gone from $50.00 to Lariat’s $200 to the
Colonel’s $300.00. Now, this was one serious game! There were
several men sitting around watching with much interest. We all
wondered how this game would turn out. Lariat called.
The Colonel laid down his hand and spread out the cards. He had a
royal flush in spades. “I don’t think you can beat that, son.”
But Lariat smiled slyly as he laid down his hand with confidence. He
laid down three aces, then he paused for a second before laying down
the fourth card – The ace of spades! “You’re wrong, Colonel,” Lariat
"Well sir, it appears that one of us is a cheater," the Colonel
stated with challenge in his voice.
“That’s the way it appears,” Lariat replied with a smile. He reached
over and picked up the Colonel’s Ace. Then he tossed it up in the
air, drew his gun, and fired a shot – right through the middle! As
it floated down Lariat grabbed it and looked at it. Then he went
back to the table, put his foot up in the chair, and showed the card
to the Colonel. "Which one of us Colonel?" He held his gun on the
Colonel. A friend of the Colonel backed up and started to draw on
Lariat. I kicked his arm and knocked his gun out of his hand. I then
pushed him aside.
Lariat suddenly turned to see who had come to his defense. He sure
was surprised to see me! "Well Luke!” He walked towards me, still
holding his gun on the Colonel. “Well, how ya' been, Luke?" He
smiled at me.
“Pretty good, Lariat.”
“How’s Mark?” He crossed his arms, no longer paying attention to the
“Oh, he’s growin’,” I
answered. The Colonel and his friend started to edge towards the
door. I flipped my rifle to show them I meant business. “What do you
wanna do with these two, Lariat?” I asked.
He didn’t stop looking at me bus said, “Oh whatever you think.”
I aimed my rifle at them. “Now wait, wait, wait,” the Colonel
"We shoot card sharks in this part of the country mister." I
informed him. He told us he was just getting ready to leave if he
could just get his hat. He grabbed his hat and said good day. We
“You’re a sight for sore eyes!” I declared as I slapped Lariat on
the back. Lariat wanted to know what I was doing around here. “Well,
I live here.”
“In North Fork?”
“Well you’re kidding! This is too good to be true!” We certainly
were glad to see each other! I told him Mark and I were going to
take him back to the ranch for supper. “You look like you could use
some bachelor cookin’.”
Lariat groaned. “Luke, that’s what’s wrong with me – ten years of
bachelor cookin’!” Lariat declared.
As we were leaving, a man named Matt Wymerman stopped Lariat. Lariat
introduced us and told Wymerman that he’d meet him a little later at
the hotel. I was curious to know who his friend was, but he told me
he’d tell me about it later.
I guess Mark was getting tired of waiting because as we came out of
the saloon Mark pulled up in the rig. I introduced him the Lariat,
assuming he remembered him. I had my arm around my friend and was
grinning from ear to ear.
“Lariat?” Mark tried to think.
"You were knee high to a spotted colt. That was a long time ago,”
"Well how do you do?" Mark smiled and shook his hand.
"He's the image of her Luke."
“I know,” I stated. I hear that a lot.
I told Mark we were taking
Lariat to the ranch for dinner. “Meet ya' there!” Lariat exclaimed
as he jumped on his horse and raced out of town.
Mark stared at him. “But Pa, he doesn’t even know the way!”
I climbed up on the seat. “Well, that makes no different to Lariat,
son. Let’s go!” Mark hurried the horses.
I didn’t know it, but Wymerman was certainly interested in me! “So
that’s Lucas McCain, the town’s leading citizen,” he stated as he
watched us leave town. “Couldn’t be better, could it Doyle?”
After supper, Lariat was showing Mark some of his famous card
tricks. He shuffled the cards then spread them out in a straight
line on the table. ‘Now, we’re gonna play a little game, boy. I want
you to take a card, any card at all.” I smiled as I watched. Mark
picked up a card and held it in his hand. “That card is the four of
Mark was a bit leery and very shocked that he could name the card.
He looked at me and we both laughed at the boy’s wonderment. Lariat
had him pick up another card and he named that one too. Mark didn’t
see how it was possible. “Is that a trick deck or somethin’?”
Lariat assured him it wasn’t. “You know why I play cards, Mark?
Because I enjoy it. I never use a trick deck or a marked deck! Why
that’s cheating! It’s much more fun to play cards for skill. Much
more fun to win fair. And it’s, uh, better all the way around.”
That was a pretty good lecture! I don’t think I could have done
better myself. I came to sit down at the table, informing Mark he
needed to get the dishes done. To my surprise he gave me no
“He’s a fine boy, Luke.” Lariat just couldn’t get over how well Mark
“I know,” I stated proudly. Lariat got up and started putting his
holster and hat on. He was fixing to go back to town. I asked him
how long he was planning on staying. He said it depended on his
meeting. “Don’t tell me you’re getting ready to settle down!” I
exclaimed. That would be great! “What made you choose North Fork?”
Lariat turned and looked at Mark. He suddenly had that look in his
eye as he started an elaborate story for Mark’s benefit. “Well Luke,
you won’t believe this, but I was just ridin’ along. Over here was
North Fork. Over here was Banick. And in back of me shootin’ like
blazes was a reservation full of Apache Indians!”
“No!” I exclaimed in mock astonishment.
“Yeah!” Lariat answered in mock assurance. You know, they took my
horse. The next thing I knew they
had me hung from by my heels from a Chickasaw tree.”
Mark was totally taken in by what Lariat was saying. “What’d you do
then?” He asked in excitement.
“Well, I took out my deck of cards, son. And I said Jacks are
better, fellas. Had ‘em beat within half an hour, took to North Fork
and here I am!” He suddenly pulled a card out of his sleeve. “Fate.”
Lariat and I laughed. Mark was so surprised that he dropped the pan
he was drying. “Sorry, Pa!” he suddenly exclaimed. I told him to
wash it again. Then I turned back to Lariat and told him I hoped
“Well maybe I will, Luke. Ten years of wondering is a long time.
Well, I better get back to town.” He had a meeting. "This may or may
not be a witches brew."
Mark, of course, wanted to know what he meant by a witches' brew.
“Oh, that was a kind of warning signal we used to have, Mark.”
Mark looked toward the door again. “Do you like him?” he asked.
“Oh yes I do!” I put my arm around Mark’s shoulder. “He’s wild and
he’s footloose, but I guess he’s the closest friend I ever had. You
see, he was in love with your mother too, and when she picked me,
things never went right for him.”
Mark studied on my words for a second. Then in a surprised voice, he
said, “You mean,
he could have been my Pa.”
I smiled "Could have been," I answered. But I was certainly glad I
was his Pa!
Lariat met with Wymerman that night. “I’ve been following your
career closely, Lariat. You’ve been running some of the most
successful gambling houses in the southwest, but you’ll never have a
opportunity like this. North Fork is ripe! There’s more cattle money
coming to this town in the next six months than any other city in
Lariat was aware of all that. “And I’ll stay, but only on my terms.”
He wanted an equal partnership. They shook on it. "Now remember,
this house is going to be run straight, nothing fancy," said Lariat.
Wymerman agreed. “I wouldn’t want to offend your friend, McCain.”
“Forget my friend McCain, Matt. Just don’t do anything to offend
me!” Lariat said as he walked out the door.
The name of the saloon was to be called “Silver Dice Saloon.” I was
in Micah’s office talking to him one day. I asked him if he knew
about this partnership and gambling house that was opening. He
didn’t. All he knew was that Wymerman was planning on opening a
saloon. “They moved in like real professions, Lucas Boy. There’s not
much we can do about it.” Micah was pretty upset – he felt the men
had been really sneaky about it.
I turned and sat down. “Look
Micah, Lariat’s a friend of mine. If you want me to vouch for him, I
will.” He asked me about Wymerman, and I told him I didn’t know him.
“Well, I did a little checking up. It seems Mr. Wymerman was run out
of Abilene last year for running a crooked gambling house…among
I didn’t want to believe this
was the man my good, trustworthy friend had partnered up with, so I
asked Micah if he was sure it was the same man. “It’s kind of an
unusual name, Lucas boy.”
I hurried over to talk to my friend. “Your…uh…partner, Wymerman, how
long have you known him?” He said long enough. I just said it
straight. “We don’t want a crooked game in North Fork.”
For the first time, Lariat wasn’t smiling. He suddenly became
defensive. “Well, thanks for your confidence, Luke.” He was
offended. He turned to walk away.
But I didn’t want any hard feelings between us. “Now look. Look,
it’s just that…well this town means a lot to me, Lariat.”
"Well this place means a lot to me, Luke." He then walked away from
It was night time and I was standing outside enjoying my cigar.
Micah declared that everything seemed to be going good, perhaps
Wymerman had changed his spots – those were Micah’s words, not mine.
I went into the saloon. Standing just inside the door, I scanned the
room looking from one side all
the way around to the other. It sure did seem like a happy place to
be! When Lariat saw me, he came over and invited me over for a
drink. “All I wanted to say is, uh, I wish you luck.” We drank to
Suddenly, he started talking about a fight we had with two cowhands,
a Shivaree we had thrown, and Sam, an old friend of ours. I knew he
was trying to make things right with us, but the truth was, we were
a lot different now. I had lost track of a lot of our old pals. “You
know how it is when you have a boy,” I stated. “I mean…uh…things
Lariat frowned. “Yeah, I guess they do.”
“People change to,” I commented lightly. It was kind of a sad thing
– us loosing our closeness because we took different roads in life.
We just looked at each other. He knew exactly what I was saying. I
started to leave but he stopped me.
“Luke? Luke, you haven’t finished your beer.”
I asked him about Wymerman. “You must know his background.”
“Luke, I give ya' my word. Luke, I give you my word. This house is
run straight.” I smiled as I started drinking my beer again.
Suddenly, Wymerman was there stating how pleased he was to see me. I
had nothing to say. It was time for me to leave. But as I started to
leave, a disturbance erupted. A man was insinuating that they were
playing with a marked deck. I felt that trouble could quickly erupt
over something like that. I had to say something to Wymerman – to
let him know just where I stood. I walked back up to him. “I’ve been
assured this is a straight house. If we find it’s crooked, we’ll
close you down. Fast. Remember that.”
“Get out of here, Luke,” Lariat muttered angrily.
As I left, Lariat asked Wymerman if he was getting fancy. He said he
As soon as I got to my horse, I heard a gunshot from inside the new
saloon. I grabbed my rifle and ran over there. I broke through the
crowd and kneeled beside a dead man. “What happened?” I asked
“He tried to draw,” Wymerman stated.
I pushed back the coat to reveal the dead man hadn’t been carrying a
gun. “With what?”
Micah, Sweeney, John and I gathered at Micah's office to discuss
what had just happened. As far as we could see the deck was not
marked. Witnesses said it looked like Fred was going to draw his
gun. “Well, you all know how he was. He would accuse his own mother
of cheating him.” Micah stated.
“Ay, but he didn’t have to die for it, Micah!” John declared.
“John is right!” Sweeny stated. “If it hadn’t been Fred it would’ve
been somebody else sooner or later.”
I suddenly saw myself turning against Sweeny to defend my friend.
“I’ve seen a share of killings in your place too Sweeny!” I yelled.
Micah started to get on to me but Sweeny stopped him stating he
naturally wanted to see them closed down. He felt that he didn’t
have a voice here.
"We all have a voice here," said Micah. "Now listen to me Lucas. We
all know Lariat's your friend. Sometimes a man's friend is like a
reflection of himself and he wants it to be good. He's ashamed if he
isn't." He spoke these words harshly to me.
“Well what do you want me to do?” I suddenly asked. I was so
frustrated that I may have to turn on my old friend.
“Not a thing, Lucas Boy. I just want you to understand. Because if
they are running a crooked game
they’ll cut their own throats, and your friend Lariat will be right
in the middle.” I knew he was right, but it was rough having to
admit something like that. “As a matter of fact, I’d say Saturday
oughta give us the answer. It’s the end of the month and that’s when
Marody and the Bar-Q boys’ll be in with $5,000 in cattle money. I
wouldn’t want to tangle with ‘em, not with a rigged game.”
It was Saturday night. Lariat was loosing bad. Wymerman was quite
unhappy about it too. He wanted to talk to Lariat in his office
right away. "A few more pots like this and we'll be out of
business," Wymerman complained. He felt they could have a killing
with all that bar Q money out there. He wanted to know what was
wrong with him. Lariat told him he was having a bad night.
“We can’t have bad nights like this!” Wymerman exclaimed. “Thos
cowpokes…loose with $10,000.00.”
Wymerman tried to hand Lariat a Mark deck but Lariat wanted no part
in it. “Don’t suddenly get moral with me. That’s my money out there
on that table, and you’re gonna get it back!” Wymerman suddenly
nodded to Doyle who held a gun on Lariat. He took Lariat’s gun. “Or
else we dissolve this partnership the hard way!”
Lariat knew he didn’t have much choice. He took the cold deck and
headed back to his poker table.
The two men watched him. He knew he had no choice. As he looked
around, he realized that one false move would mean his death. He was
beginning to realize just how bad of a deal he had made.
When I got into town that night, Micah commented that he hadn’t seen
me at the hotel. You see, Mark and I usually ate at the hotel on
Saturday nights, but my boy had gone fishing, so we had fish for
supper instead. I was anxious to know how things were going inside.
Micah told me that Marody was about to clean out the house. “You
mean the game’s on the level?” I must admit that I was pretty
“Looks that way, Lucas.”
I went inside and walked up to Lariat’s table. He wasn’t looking too
good. I must admit that I felt sorry for him. He looked up at me
with a desperate expression. “Luke,” he acknowledged me.
I gave him a friendly smile. “How’s it going?” I asked.
“Like a witch’s brew,” he answered.
I suddenly frowned and looked around. I understood his signal and
started sizing up the situation. I saw Wymerman and Doyle standing
on each side of the table, watching carefully. Something was about
to happen, and I was immediately on guard to assist with that
"You’re right Morody, you just put us out of business." Morody and
his men started laughing because they were sure they had won. But
then Lariat threw down his hand. “Full house.” He laid down 2 8’s
and 3 Kings.
“That don’t make any sense,” Morody stated. Doyle started to draw
but I grabbed him and pushed him back against the bar.
Lariat suddenly stood up. Wymerman came forward. “He cheated you,
with a cold deck!” he declared. “If you don’t kill him, I will.”
I quickly threw Doyle’s gun to Lariat. Lariat grabbed it, turned
around and fired. He killed Wymerman. I felt bad for Lariat. He
looked so defeated. We had changed! I laid my hand on his shoulder,
letting him know there were no hard feelings. I felt bad for him
having to kill a man.
The day came when Lariat had to leave. I tried to talk him into
staying since the cattle business was booming. “Oh, cattle raising
ain’t for me, Luke!” I told him that there were a lot of other
opportunities here. “I hear that Bannock is just down the road,”
I knew he had to leave. We couldn’t live in the past. I smiled.
“Bannock’s a fine town too,” I stated.
“Ten to one I make it ‘fore sunset!” he declared.
“Ten to one you do!” I stated as I watched him ride off.
Lariat was getting ready to leave town. I tried to talk him into
staying. He wasn't interested. He bet me he could make Bannock
before sunset. I bet him he could.
That evening I was finishing up the dishes while Mark sat at the
table playing with a deck of cards. He thought he was ready to show
me the card trick. "Pick a card, any card," he said. I did and hid
it from his view. He thought really hard, then he guessed the ten of
“Sorry, son. The eight of clubs.” I threw the card down.
Mark was frustrated. He thought he had done everything Lariat had
taught him to do. I sat down to talk to him. “Tell me something,
Mark. How long have you been practicing that trick?” He told me
about a week. “About a week, huh? And how long do you think Lariat
practiced before he got
it down pat? I can tell you, a lot more then a week. It takes a lot
of studying and a lot of practice to learn even a card trick right.
Just like it does to, well, to break a horse or even to handle a
plow smooth. So I think you better put your time into something
worthwhile like studying your schoolbooks, especially practicing
these arithmetic lessons!" I picked up his math book and smacked it
down in front of him.
"I guess your right," said Mark. “But ya' know, I bet that trick of
pulling a card out of the air, I bet that took a lot of Lariat’s
"You’re right. You can bet when I was your age I didn't spend a lot
of time reaching out like this to…make a card appear." Suddenly a
card appeared in my hand.
You should have seen the look on his face. He grabbed my hand and
pleaded with me, "Pa, will you show me?"
"First you do those lessons. You get every problem right, I'll show
"Yes sir!" He grabbed his book and started on his homework.
Anderson appeared in six episodes ―
One Went to Denver as Tom Birch an old friend of Lucas' ― Lariat
as Lariat Jones, an old friend of Lucas', he too was in love with Margaret
as Duke Jennings, the cowboy that Miss Bertie had a wanted poster on ―
Flowers by the Door
Jason Gowdy, the lady killer ―
as Harry Chase, the man who claimed he was with Millie's Brother when he
― The Bullet
as Griff, the owner of The Lucky Chance Casino in Los Cruces.
The Rife in which Lucas threw at Tom Birch at the end of the episode
was a 'rubber rifle'. Chuck took it home and left his kids play with it.
appeared in two episode ―
Hours to Die as Judge Zephaniah Burton who was out for
revenge ― Lariat as
Matt Wymerman who was the owner of the crooked gambling
Steve Conte played Doyle Black. He was Wymerman's partner.
appeared in two episode of ―
Lariat as Colonel Craig, he
was the cheater in the beginning of the episode playing cards with
Lariat Jones ― Illustrator as
Jake Shaw, Hanna's father.
James Flavin played Morody the
cowpoke at the end of the story who broke the bank.
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.
Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon.
Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Marshal.
Beverly Ann Englander as Miss
Carlisle the dance-hall girl.
Garry Walberg as a card player/a
friend of the Colonel.
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!
appeared in six episodes — New Orleans Menace as
Tiffauges Rider ― Legacy as the preacher — Lariat
as the card dealer — Baranca and on of
Angels ― The Vaqueros as one of the townsmen and
Quiet Night, Deadly Night as one of the townsmen.
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
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
Snub Pollard appeared in two episodes
― Lariat as a card player ―
Sins of the Father as the Drunk in the
Saloon who witnessed the of killing Shep Coleman.
Dick Rich appeared in two
The Young Englishman as the Line Boss,
he was the one who Waggoner told to watch the road & the first
one to get shot — Lariat as Fred the disgruntled
Nick Borgani appeared in three
episodes ― The Spoiler
as a townsmen ― Lariat as the card dealer ―
a poker game spectator.
Fred Coby appeared as a Card
Dealer in Lariat.
John Breen appeared in
six episodes ― The Safe Guard
as a Townsmen ― The Lariat as
a Waiter as a townsmen ― The Clarence Bibs
Story as a townsmen ― The Jailbird as a townsmen ― The
Indian as a townsmen ― The Martinet as a townsmen.
Frank Baker as one of the
Rod McGaughy was an
actor and a stuntman who has
appeared in nine episodes ―
The Dead-eye Kid
as one of the cowboys looking for Mahoney ―
The Wrong Man
as one of the townsmen
at the carnival ―
as Old Man Healey's Henchman
Gun as one of the townsmen ―
A Matter of
as a cowboy in the crowd ―
The Spiked Rifle
as Henchman in the Bar ―
as Card Player
The Baby Sitter
as a Barfly
Short Rope for a Tall Man
as One of Crown's Henchmen/Mob Member.
Jack Clinton as the Bartender.
Custer appeared seven times ― None So Blind as a
Townsman ― Woman from
Hog Ridge as a Townsman ― The
Lariat as a Gambler ― The Vision
as a Cowhand ― Panic as a
Townsman ― The Jailbird as a
Townsman ― A Case of
Identity as a
appeared in three episodes ―
Eight Hours to Die as the sheriff from Claypool
as one of the gang from town who came out to Lucas' ranch to help
burn it down ― Lariat as a gambler.
Les Raymaster has
appeared in seven episodes
— Duel of Honor
as a Barfly ― The Coward as a townsman
― Honest Abe as a townsman
as a townsman
A Case of Identity as a townsman
The Lariat as a gambler ― Dead Cold Cash as a
How many cowboy's other then Lucas also cared for Margaret?
There was Reef Jackson — episode #162 ― End of the Hunt, Tom Birch —
episode #25 One Went to Denver and Lariat Jones — episode #67
Be sure & check out the Ladies of the Night
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that guy?
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