"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Clarence Bibs Story
I can’t help but to laugh as I think on this story! You’ll see why soon enough.
Imagine a grown man in the back of Milly's store, okay? Now…imagine him standing in front of a display. He’s looking all rough and tough – but he isn’t! “Now Billy,” he says in a really tough voice. “I sure hate to do this. I believe in giving folks a chance. But you leave me no alterna-tive less you apologize to my lovely bride-“ By the way, he’s talking to a jacket display!
Suddenly Milly calls his name, wondering if he was still back there. Clarence then walks up to the display with his gun drawn. “I accept your apology, Billy.” He holsters his gun.
He’s Clarence, the mop boy. He agreed to mop to store floor before leaving for the day, but stated that he should put fresh water in the bucket. But as he bends over the bucket, Milly suddenly notices Clarence has a gun strapped on. “Don’t tell me you’re starting to wear a gun!” She suddenly declared.
“Shucks, no Milly,” Clarence reassured her. “I get 25 cents for cleaning them, and I just wear them until folks pick ‘em up.” Milly was mighty glad to hear that. She figured it would be silly for Clarence Bibs to start carrying a gun. “Should would be silly,” Clarence stated, his feelings a little hurt. “Imagine that…a mop boy wearing a gun.”
Okay, now imagine a man…a gunfighter…all dressed in black named Pretty Man Longden riding into town on a beautiful white horse. He’s all neat and clean and fancied off. He’s a notorious gunfighter. Now, imagine Clarence the mop boy coming out to throw the dirty mop water out onto the street.
But, he didn’t look to see where he was throwing it. He threw it right into the path of Longden the famous gunfighter who, by the way, has a short fuse.
Can you just picture the look on Clarence Bib’s face when he saw the mean, dirty look on the soak and wet, all-dressed-in-black gunfighter who had a reputation for a quick draw? Longden WAS angry and started to back up into the street. Clarence saw the angry look on Longden’s face.
A look of fright crossed Clarence’s face. “I-I didn’t mean it, mister,” Clarence stated as he swallows the sudden lump in his throat. “I sure didn’t mean to throw that water on ya'!”
Longden slowly moved his hand toward his gun as the people clear off the street. “Well mister, I wouldn’t do that,” Clarence stated in his frightful voice. Clarence suddenly backs up to run back into the store, but stumbled and fell. Suddenly, the gun he was wearing suddenly went off.
Longden falls dead in the street.
I heard the shot from Micah’s office and run out onto the street to investigate. As I examine the dead man, one of the men from the saloon declared, “Clarence the mop boy killing Pretty Man Longden.”
I look up at Wicks and Reade shocked. “Clarence?” I couldn’t believe it! I walked over to Clarence who was standing by Milly just outside her store. “Clarence, how did all this get started?”
Clarence immediately began explaining it to me. When he took out the gun used to shoot Longden, he pointed it at me. I immediately grabbed it and pushed it away. I certainly didn’t want to be his next victim! Clarence didn’t want the gun anymore and gave it to Milly. Clarence looked over by Longden. “He’s shot.”
“He’s shot and then some!” I declared.
Wicks stated that George Tanner would be here when he heard about the killing. He turned to his friend, Reade. "You know, it's too bad that Clarence doesn't wear a gun. We'd have ourselves a show today.”
"With the Marshal out of town maybe we can get ourselves a show.” Reade had an idea and walked over to us. "I seen the whole thing Mr. McCain. Clarence just beat him to the trigger pull. About the fastest holster snapshot I've ever seen." Clarence tried to disagree with him, but Reade didn’t give him a chance. "It seems to me Clarence here has been doin' some practicing on the side with those guns he's been cleaning, hey Clarence?"
I knew he was up to something. “Reade, what are you trying to pull?”
He said something about wanting to give credit where it was due. Reade turned and told Wicks to give him Longden’s gun. Then he turned back to me. He told Clarence that a gunfight winner had certain rights. “Clarence here’s got rights to the fancy gun of Longden, huh?” I stared at him. Reade assured me it was up to me since I was taking the marshal’s place today. “Does Clarence got a right to Longden’s gun or don’t he?”
I’d had enough of Reade’s mouth. “Alright, Reade. I’ve never heard you open your mouth except to bum a drink or use somebody’s misfortune. Now why don’t you just keep out of this?” I warned him.
Reade stated he was protecting the rights of the fastest gun hand North Fork had ever seen. That made Clarence kind of proud, of course. Before I can say or do anything else, Wicks put the gun in Clarence’s holster. They knew exactly what they were doing. “Clarence, you don’t know anything about guns,” I stated. “Why don’t you take it off?”
Clarence didn’t want to take them off. Furthermore, he told me he’d been practicing his fast draw with the guns he’d been cleaning. I grew even more suspicious as I watched Wicks and Reade take Clarence across the street to the saloon. Milly walked up to me. She was worried. “He shouldn’t be wearing that gun,” I declared. “But he looked so proud, I didn’t have the heart to take it from him!” Milly wondered what those two loafers were up to.
"Well...I'm trying to decide whether they're leading Clarence along for the drinks he can buy them or if they're settin' him up for George Tanner." I told Milly he was Longden’s partner over at Sloan Creek. I didn’t think he’d come gunning for Clarence. He’d be pretty stupid to come looking for trouble. I looked down into Milly’s eyes and smiled. “I’m sure Clarence doesn’t want any.”
They loaded Longden’s body up into the wagon just as Mark rode into town. He saw them hauling his body away. You know my boy…I saw Mark riding in from school. “Hello, won,” I greeted him as he sat in the saddle. I put my hand on the saddle horn as I looked up at him. “How was school today?”
You know Mark and his remarks! “Oh, same as usual. Waitin’ to get out.” That boy! Mark sure was curious about what he had missed this afternoon. “Something happen in town?”
I nodded. “An accidental shooting. Man named Longden.”
“George Tanner’s partner?” Mark asked suddenly.
“Well, from the last grade you brought home on current events, I would have never guessed you were so well informed!”
“Everybody in school was talking about George Tanner being so nearby!” Mark told me. “Over in Slide Creek. You know, he used to ride with Billy the Kid?” He informed me as he grew excited. “Saved Wyatt Earp’s life! And in one day, he killed four outlaws that were trying to-“
I didn’t like his excitement over such matters, so I quickly stopped him from bragging on the killings. “Mark, Micah sent word that he was going to be late. So I guess that tonight you’re gonna be bunk mates with Bobby Hamilton.”
That made Mark happy. “Well, that’s great! Bobby’s good in arithmetic!”
I figured my boy would say something like that! “But you’re not,” I reminded him. “So you’ll do your homework alone in Micah’s office,” I informed my fast-thinking son.
But…Mark tried to argue with me. "Oh, now Pa...who said Bobby was gonna help me with my homework?”
"You did." Mark gave me a strange look, wondering how I had read his mind. I gave him a short laugh. “I was your age once, son.”
"You'd never know it," Mark declared, disappointed he’d been found out.
I slapped his horse. “Oh.”
Wicks and Reade had Clarence in the saloon. They were giving him drinks, something he wasn’t used to, and talking about Clarence gunning George Tanner when he came into town. They Told Clarence that the town would think highly of him for gunning George Tanner after he had just gunned Longden. “Well, I guess it’s gonna be him or me, huh boys?” Clarence suddenly declared. I peaked into the saloon and saw that Clarence was buying them drinks.
I didn’t say a word – just headed back over to Micah’s office to see how Mark was coming along on his studies. Mark sure wasn’t studying too hard! Micah’s swivel chair was turned toward the wall. I came and sat on the desk as I swung the chair around to lecture my son on the importance of studying. That’s when I saw that Mark had pinned on the deputy’s star. “Well, rushing things a bit, aren’t ya', son?” I asked as I propped myself up on my elbow on top of Micah’s desk.
“By the time I grow up, everything will be all over,” Mark commented. “Outlaws…Renegade Indians…They’ll be nothing exciting left to do!”
I couldn’t help but to laugh at that! That’s the way I had felt at his age too. “The past seems more exciting. But when you’re a full grown man, you’ll see there’s still lots of things to do. Railroads to be built…cities…bridges…” Those were just a few ideas for him to think on.
But my boy had a one-track mind! “I’d rather hunt buffalo!”
“Well, some things to pass,” I assured him…and hoped…Then I picked up his math book. “Including Mark McCain,” I stated as I removed his hat from his head. “If he studies his homework.” I said this with a firm voice as I looked straight into his eyes. Mark knew he had no choice and obeyed me.
Only after Mark was finished with his homework did I allow him to leave my supervision in Micah's office. I sent him over to Bobby Hamilton’s, and told him I’d be over for supper if Micah showed up on time.
But as Mark was leaving, George Tanner walked in. “Sorry to disturb you,” Tanner stated. “I’m looking for some information. Name’s Tanner. George Tanner.”
Mark stared at him, his eyes growing wide. “The gunfighter!”
Tanner turned and looked at Mark. “Well, it’s mostly gun toting, son. And mostly I’m hired by folks who need law where there isn’t any real law,” he explained firmly. “It’s a dying profession.”
“Oh…like buffalo hunting.”
“Yeah,” he answered my boy. “Like buffalo hunting.” On that note, Mark left.
Tanner wasted no time asking about the shooting. I chose to set him straight. “Mr. Tanner, that shooting was completely accidental.”
“That’s good enough for me.”
I must say that even though I didn’t expect any trouble, I was still surprised the matter was solved so easily! “Well, you just took a load off my mind!” He assured me that if the law was satisfied it wasn’t murder, then he was satisfied!
I explained what had happened. That’s how it was. “You never know who…or when,” Tanner declared, closing the matter for good. “Is there such a thing as cold beer in North Fork?” He asked then. I told him the saloon was across the street and I'd like to buy him a beer.
I hesitated though. “Uh…Mr. Tanner, this Clarence Bibs…he’s a harmless fellow. As a matter of fact, he’d give ya' the shirt off his back. But right now he’s…well, he’s kinda enjoying the lime light.” I declared him as a saloon hero.
“Clarence’s basking in the lime light doesn’t bother me one bit. What does bother me is…going without that cold beer because somebody in that saloon might ruffle my feathers.” He smiled. I would be happy to have a beer with him!
Clarence was busy embellishing his story about the “gun fight” from earlier. The boys were watching for Tanner to come in. Reade sure was happy when he saw us walking toward the saloon. He commented that maybe Clarence would like to tell Tanner all about it when he got here. As we walked in, Clarence was still bragging it up. “I’m not saying I don’t feel a might sorry for Mr. Tanner. Longden might have been a good friend of his…” We sat down at a table as Clarence kept going on!
Reade commented that Tanner walked in and acted like he didn’t even see Clarence. “Who don’t see me?” Clarence asked.
“That’s him…Tanner,” Reade stated. “Sizing you up.” Then Wicks said he’d do something fast if anyone looked at him that way.
Clarence turned and looked at us sitting at the table drinking our beers. “Don’t look much to me!” He declared loudly. “Not much at all!” He walked up to us. “I take it your name is George Tanner.”
“And I have the pleasure of talking to Clarence Bibs,” Tanner answered.
“You heard about me?”
“From Mr. McCain.”
“I even let Longden draw first,” Clarence declared.
It didn’t rile him at all. Tanner calmly stated that men like Longden were destined for a short life. “If it hadn’t been you, it would have been someone else.”
Suddenly, Clarence surprised me. "Mr. Tanner...there ain't enough room in this town for the both of us.”
I couldn’t believe this! “Clarence!”
Tanner stopped me and turned his attention back to Clarence. “Just what was the point you were gonna make?” he asked.
“I mean I’m telling ya' to get out of town…right now!”
“And if I don’t get out of town…now?” Tanner asked.
“Well, I reckon we got some more grave room along side Longden!”
“Would you…uh…be courteous enough to let me finish my beer?”
“I want you to get out of town now. Right now!”
Tanner slowly stood up and stared at Clarence. He gulped down his whole glass of beer then slowly and deliberately walked out of the saloon. I stared at Clarence myself. I couldn’t believe him! "Clarence...count your blessing!" I told him. Then I stood and walked out.
Wicks and Reade started in on Clarence again, but Clarence didn’t really hear them. “Chase him out!” Clarence declared proudly. “Cased him right out!”
Reade went to look outside. He saw me and Tanner talking by his horse. Reade saw another opportunity. “He’s out there jawing with McCain. And after you told him to get right out of town!” They started telling Clarence that me and Tanner were insulting him by treating him like a mop boy.
I said good bye to Tanner. Shoot, I even invited him out to my ranch for some bachelor cooking! We shook hands as Tanner declared he was glad he had stopped by to see me before going into the saloon. Then he mounted his horse and started riding down the street.
Suddenly, Clarence came busting out of the saloon. He stood out on the street. "Tanner!" he yelled. Tanner stopped and turned his horse around to face Clarence. "If my friend would have been gunned down, I wouldn't turn tail and run out of town.
Tanner began slowly riding his horse towards Clarence. He stared at him the whole time. Tanner stopped his horse right in front of Tanner. Then in a cool, calm voice, he gave Clarence some advice. "Mr. Bibs...a word of advice. Sell that gun for what it will bring and go back to your mop. You'll lead a far happier life...and a fuller one." Tanner then turned and rode back down the street
Clarence started to draw. “Clarence!” I suddenly shouted. I started across the street.
Wicks and Reade started laughing at Clarence, telling him he could get a dozen mops for that fancy gun. I came to stand in front of Clarence. “What you tell him about me, Mr. McCain?”
“The truth,” I answered. “That Longden’s death was accidental.”
“That I was only a mop boy!” I told him he had never fired a gun in his life. "Who asked you to interfere?"
"Well...if I hadn't...you would be facing Tanner's gun,” I pointed out. "Now wake up Clarence. He could have emptied his gun into you before you cleared your holster. I think it's time that you came down to earth. Time that you stop wearing that gun," I advised him gently.
“Time to be a mop boy again! Time to laugh at people joking me! Time to laugh out loud, cause if I don’t, I’ll bust out crying!” I had nothing to say. I felt it was over and started back toward Micah’s office. “Mr. McCain,” Clarence suddenly yelled. I stopped and turned around. “I’m drawing on you!” He had his hand by his gun, acting as if he was going to shoot me next.
“I wouldn’t advise that, Clarence,” I warned him.
“I’m not asking for advise! I’m telling you I’m drawing on you and I expect you to be ready!” I couldn’t believe this! I didn’t really have a choice! “Are you ready Mr. McCain?”
“Don’t do it, Clarence,” I warned in a stern voice.
“Are you ready Mr. McCain?” Clarence yelled.
Bang! I shot his gun still in his holster. I hated doing it, but he had a lesson to learn. I think that shot brought him back down to earth. I turned and started for Micah’s office again.
Clarence was frozen in his spot. He suddenly felt hurt as he came back down to earth. But as I walked inside, I suddenly stopped. Wicks and Reade walked up to Clarence laughing. They started making fun of him, asking him if his gun was too heavy. I walked back over there to watch what these two bad boys were up to. “Say Clarence, I see your really disappointed. Let’s you and us play draw, huh?” Reade teased him.
“Shoulder shots, Clarence,” Wicks said then. “Draw and nick.”
I had to stop this and try to make Clarence feel better about himself at the same time. I had a plan. "Aren't you boys takin' quite a chance?"
“Nobody wants you to interfere, Mr. McCain. We’re just playing a little…draw and nick!” Wicks stated.
“You sure have confidence. More then I had when Clarence said he was gonna draw. You notice I didn’t even give him a chance to get his hand near that holster. You see, with all the years of make believe drawing Clarence has done, I got a hunch that Clarence is more of an expert then we give him credit for.” Someone thought I was pulling their leg. “No, I was just wondering about Clarence. Shooting that straight when Longden drew his gun.”
“His killing Longden was an accident,” Reade stated. “I saw him.”
“Accident or…trick shooting?”
Suddenly, Reade and Wicks weren’t so high and mighty anymore. Clarence was the only one smart enough to understand what I was doing. The street suddenly grew quiet. "Now don't forget it's a game Clarence...no shootin' to kill," I cocked my rifle.
The boys watched Clarence as he put his gun hand close to his gun. “I’m ready,” he declared with a smile. “I’m sure enough ready!”
“You know, George Tanner’s a smart man. He never gambles. But then I guess you fellows have more sportin’ blood then he has, huh?” I smiled. My plan was working. They weren’t to confident anymore.
“I guess it’s only fair if you boys draw first. I sure don’t want to take any advantage with my slick draw practicing!” Clarence declared as he gave them both really mean looks.
Reade laughed nervously. “It don’t seem right, Clarence. Us facing you after us getting you to drinking your liquor.”
“Oh, that’s alright, boys,” Clarence said. “I wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone that wants to draw again me.”
"Watch his eyes boys...when they narrow, that's when his hand starts moving," I warned.
Wicks gave a short laugh. “You sure do take things seriously, Clarence!” Wicks hurried out of town.
“Can’t you tell…we was only…spoofing,” Reade declared as he too started backing away. He ran the other way.
Everyone on the street began applauding Clarence. Clarence wasn’t sure how to react at first, but then slowly smiled. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was sure glad my plan had worked! Clarence gave me the gun and said he thought it should be sold and the money used towards a proper burial for Longden, and maybe for a fancy headstone like the clothes he liked to wear.
I gladly took the gun from him. “I’ll take care of it for you, Clarence.”
“Mr. McCain, I want you to know that all the time I was in that saloon, I was only thinking about one thing. How tomorrow I’ll only be a mop boy again and people will be looking at me without seeing me. If George Tanner killed me, I’d be somebody – even dead!”
That was kind of sad. “Well, I’m glad you feel different about it now. So how ‘bout joining me for a drink…a cup of coffee…in Micah’s office,” I suggested. He laughed, stating he was glad I didn’t want to give him anything stronger then coffee.
That night, I was sitting outside Micah’s office drinking coffee. Mark came out to talk to me. He had been reading a pamphlet about Mr. Tanner. “It says here he killed his first man when he was only twelve years old.”
“Rather he did or not, Mark, I don’t know. He was a very famous man, that’s true,” I agreed. “But he’s also an unhappy one. He’d trade everything…his reputation, his ability with a gun…everything he had if he could trade places with Clarence…or, for that matter, even you.” I took another sip of my coffee as Mark thought on that.
"Well, I'd sure like to trade places with him," Mark stated. “Most boys would.”
“You think he’ll ever come back to North Fork?”’
“It’s hard to say, son.” I took another sip of my coffee.
“Sure hope he does.”
I suddenly looked up at my boy. “Any particular reason?”
"Oh, I don’t know…He just makes me think of buffalo.....and prairie wagons.....Indians.” Boy, my boy was dreaming again!
"Mark, your dreams will supply all the buffalo, prairie wagons, and Indians you'll ever need!"
A surprised look suddenly crossed Mark’s face. He stared down into my eyes as I looked up into his. "How did you know I dreamed about those things?"
"Son...you keep forgettin' that I used to be your age?"
"Hm, I guess that doesn't seem too long ago to you...huh?"
I continued looking up at my son. "Only yesterday Mark...only yesterday."
I laughed and shook my head at him again as he began thinking on that one!
piddlin' stuff.....Buddy Hackett appeared in two episode ― Bloodlines as Daniel Malakie, the father of the the three disruptive cowboys. I thought he was excellent in this part! I remember when I first saw him in this role, I couldn't believe my eyes. Buddy Hackett being a bad guy, yeah right! He did great! He also was in The Clarence Bibs Story as the slow witted handy man who gets himself into trouble when he accidentally killed a skilled gunfighter.
Denver Pyle and Buddy Hackett appeared together in Bloodlines and The Clarence Bibs Story.
Lee Van Cleef has appeared in four episodes ― The Deadly Wait as Dan Maury, he's the bad dude who crippled Micah's arm ― The Prodigal as Stinger, he was one of the cowboys after Bill St. John ― The Clarence Bibs Story as Wicks, he was one of the cowboys edging Clarence on to kill Tanner ― Death Never Rides Alone as Johnny Drako, he was the cowboy who stood with Lucas and Micah against Billy Graves and his gang.
John Milford appeared in eleven episodes ― (Hmmmmm.....does this set any record or maybe there's a tie or maybe someone did more then John? Who could the other Cowboy be?) ― The Blowout as Ross Porter, one of the Porter brothers who was after Al Walker ― The Coward as Dub, he was the one who was reading from George's Journal and making fun ― The Horse Traders as Jonah Winters, he was the dude with the knife ― A Time for Singing as Bro Hadley, he dude who was a bit slow ― Meeting at Midnight as Morgan ― The Pitchman as Marsh Watson, he was the one who tied Mark up ― Baranca as Hadley, he was the one who killed Sanchez ― Dark Day at North Fork as Jack Solby, he tried to kill Lucas when he was blind ― The Clarence Bibs Story as Reade, he was one of the cowboys edging Clarence on to kill Tanner ― The Journey Back as Jess Grady, as one of the squatters, he was the one who held the rifle on Will Temple ― The Assailants as Lt. Price, the soldier in charge.
Denver Pyle appeared in five episodes ― Bloodlines as Henry Trumble, he was the one that the Malakie clan mistakenly killed, they thought he was Lucas ― The Legacy as Seth Mitchell, he was the Pa of the two young men that was accused of killing Pa Simons ― The Clarence Bibs Story as George Tanner the gunfighter who came to North Fork to find out what happened to his partner Pretty Man Longden ― The Decision as Frank Hazlitt, he was the dude who threaten Lucas because he was going to testify against his son ― The Hangman as Harold Tanner as the hangman and the killer of Eban Muchen.
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 eighteen episodes as Milly Scott and was introduced to The Rifleman in Miss Milly.
X Brands played Pretty Man Longden. He was the one who Clarence shot accidentally!
A bartender that would filled in for Sweeney from time to time was Joe E. Benson
In The Clarence Bibs Story Lucas calls him Benson. Joe E. Benson guest starred 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)
George Sowards appeared in six episodes ― The Sharpshooter as a barfly ― The Fourflusher as one of the townsmen ― The Promoter as a boxing spectator ― The Clarence Bibs Story as one of the townsmen ― The Queue as one of the townsmen ― End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go? as one of the townsmen.
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.
Tom Smith - How many times has Tom Smith been on The Rifleman? Is it 7 or 9? He was in The Queue as a customer in the dining room 'Outlaw's Shoes' as a cowboy in town ― The Clarence Bibs Story as a cowboy in town ― Millie's Brother as a card player ― The Long Goodbye as a cowboy in town ― Suspicion as a cowboy in town and he was in Squeeze Play which later they used stock footage from Squeeze Play for Conflict and End of the Hunt.
Ray Jones as one of the townsmen. He has appeared in at least 147 westerns and 6 serials.
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.
Bloopers - The Clarence Bibs Story
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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