"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
It was Saturday morning and I was sleeping in late. I had just
gotten back home after being gone all week on a trip. I woke up to a
rooster’s crowing. After looking at the clock and seeing that it was
now 6:30 am, I noticed that my son,
was usually hard to get up, was already up. His bed wasn’t made, and
I heard him scurrying around in the other room. So naturally, I
wanted to go investigate what was going on.
When I went in there, I saw that he had made quite a mess in the
kitchen. That boy! I was puzzled as to what my boy was up to.
Mark rushed to the table and started throwing food in his saddle
bags, quickly stating he was trying to be quiet since he knew I’d be
tired from my trip. “What are you doing up so early?” I asked as I
buckled my belt and stifled a yawn.
Mark didn’t answer my question. “Well, I was gonna leave you a
That’s not what I asked! “Where are you going, son?” He hurriedly
stated he was going to town, but I stopped him and gently – but
sternly – reminded him that he still had his Saturday chores to do –
as well as painting the flower boxes, which I had reminded him about
“Well?” I leaned on the table and stared at him.
“I painted it,” Mark answered.
“What about the firewood? Did you stack it?” He told me he did, so I
told him it was okay if he went into town. He picked up his saddle
bags and hat and started rushing out the door. I must admit that I
was very suspicious! I’d never seen my son so anxious to leave this
early on a Saturday morning before! He opened the door, but I
stopped him from leaving with my next question. “What’s all the
Mark turned and looked at me. “Well, it wouldn’t look good if I was
to be late my first day!” Mark answered.
I guess I was supposed to automatically know what the heck he was
talking about. That’s why I asked my next question. “First day for
what?” I asked, yawning. That’s when he made his announcement. My
son…my THIRTEEN year old son…had found himself a job while I was
gone! I stared at him in surprise. I don’t recall ever giving him
permission to work! He said he’d was working for Nils on Saturdays
and after school.
“Well, what about your homework and your chores around here after
school?” I asked suddenly.
He assured me he’d get them done. I think he probably knew I’d
disapprove of his decision because he rushed out before I could
argue anymore. After the door closed, I looked down at the table.
Then I looked over in the kitchen. What a mess this room was!
Then I stepped out onto the porch and watched the boy racing out of
the yard like the devil was after him. I looked over at the wood
pile – it wasn’t stacked! I rolled my eyes and shook my head. I
looked down on the floor – that’s when I noticed something else that
boy of mine had neglected – the paint can and paint brush was still
on the porch. I couldn’t believe this!
I didn’t waste any time in getting around and getting into town
myself. I wanted to get to the bottom of this right now! Something
was going on around here and I didn’t like it – not one single bit!
As I rode into town, I stopped and stared at the livery stable.
Micah came up and greeted me, asking me what was new – but I didn’t
even hear him! I was too concerned about this new problem that had
been handed to me!
I didn’t even answer Micah, but continued on down to the livery
stable. I walked inside and hollered for Mark. He jumped up on a
stool and said hello. I turned and walked over to him. He busily
brushed a horse down. “I’ll be with you in a minute just as soon as
I’m finished with this.”
He was treating me like a business associate instead of his father –
I had to use my stern, parental voice on this boy! “I want to talk
to you, son, now!” I looked straight at him…actually, it was more
like a glare.
Mark stopped brushing for just a second, but then quickly went back
to his task. “Well, you’ve always said yourself, Pa, that when
there’s a job to be done, get it done.”
“That’s exactly what I want to talk to you about.” Mark bent down to
brush the horse’s back legs. I bent down to look at him. “You didn’t
get the job done.”
“What job do you mean?” I told him I had to do all his chores. I
wasn’t too happy about it either. You know what he said to me? “Gee,
I’m sorry, Pa. Guess I just didn’t want to be late for work!”
Who was this person I was talking to???
Mark…uh…have I ever told you that we’re so bad off that I need you
to bring money in?” I questioned him. He said no. “Well then, why
are you working here?" I asked.
“Just because I want to.”
“Why?” I asked again. I expected a straight answer from this defiant
boy of mine!
“To make money,” he answered simply.
I reminded him that I’d
been giving him an allowance ever since he was seven years old. And
not only that – but I paid him for extra work! Mark didn’t argue
with these facts. Pa sighed and turned to look at me. “Pa, it’s not
“What do you mean it’s not the same?” I demanded to know as I looked
him straight in the eye.
"What you give me…well, it's family money...it's yours!" That didn’t
make any sense! "I wanna earn my own."
“Why?” I demanded to know then.
“Because I want to,” Mark answered impatiently. “Don’t get angry,
Pa. It’s just something I gotta do.”
Just then, my old pal, Nils drove up. I went to have a little chit
chat with him. "Nils!" My voice wasn’t too pleasant when I called
"Good morning Lucas...that's a good boy you've got there, he's a
I just stared at him. "Mm Hm, for you maybe,” I answered in a gruff
voice. I held my hands on my hips and stared at Nils. He asked me if
there was something wrong. “My boy’s my business, Nils! Who asked
you to hire him?" Boy was I mad! "What right do you have to pick a
boy up off the streets and put him to work? What kind of business is
that?" I wouldn't let him explain – I was angry and I wanted an
answer…now!. "There are plenty of able bodied men in this town who
need a job. But they want more pay then a thirteen year old boy,
"Now that isn't fair, Lucas." Nils tried to say, but I wasn’t done
yelling yet!. "Look who's talkin' about not being fair. He doesn't
do his chores at home....."
Suddenly, Nils interrupted me. "Now listen Luke! I've got something
to say and you’re gonna stay here until I finish!" He was yelling
now, and pointing a finger at me. I had no choice but to shut up and
listen. "Anybody works for me gets the same pay...man or boy!
Besides I didn't haul Mark in off the street! He came to me and
asked for a job. He said he needed the money. While you were gone
he's been all over town looking for work this week...and just ask
anybody on the street!"
Okay, so maybe I had been talking a little out of line! "I'm sorry
Nils." He would’ve asked me about it, but I was out of town.
Suddenly, I asked him if he knew what Mark needed the money for.
Mark was standing in the doorway listening to us talk, my back was
to Mark. Mark waved his hands and shook his head, silently begging
Nils not to tell me anything. Nils hesitated as he tried to figure
out what to say. At the moment, it was McCain against McCain, and
Nils would have to choose his side! He wouldn’t answer my question.
“Well look, Luke. If you want me to let the boy go, I’ll let him go.
Just give me the word.” I threw a hand over my eyes and shook my
head in frustration. I told Nils to forget it. I didn’t want to be
the bad guy!
That night at supper, Mark was falling asleep at the table. It was
kind of amusing to see him too tired to chew! “First day a tough
one, son?” He told me it wasn’t too bad. “Well, you look plumb
tuckered out,” I commented. He assured me, though, that he felt
fine. “Mark, if you want some extra money, I’ll be happy to advance
you a couple dollars.”
“No Pa,” Mark answered as his eyes grew heavy. “That would still be
“You don’t expect me to do your weekend chores, do ya'?” I asked.
“I’ll do ‘em,” Mark assured me. I watched him as he closed his eyes
and laid his head down on the table! My boy was exhausted! I smiled
and shook his arm. He quickly sat straight up in his chair. “I fell
fine, honest Pa!”
“I feel fine, honest, Pa!” I mocked him. I stood up. “Come on, let’s
go to bed, huh?” I grabbed his arm and helped him stand from the
chair. I followed him into his room to make sure he actually got
undressed and made it into bed before falling asleep! I shook my
head at this boy of mine!
One day, two men rode
along a trail toward North Fork. One of them men commented that
they’d take a short cut through Boarder Pass and get into North Fork
by Saturday. “Saturday?” His partner asked. “With every lawman in
the territory gunning for us? That’s five days off! All we have to
do is head this way and we’re in Mexico day after tomorrow!” But Ben
argued with him. His partner announced that he wasn’t going with him
– it was too dangerous! “Look, my life belongs to me! That’s not so
unreasonable, is it?”
Ben gave him his half of the money, and his partner started riding
away, but Ben had other ideas. He shot the man in the back. The man
fell off his horse – dead! Ben took the money back and rode away. He
was going to North Fork.
The next Saturday, I was still pretty groggy as I walked into the
kitchen. But my boy was just as chipper as always! He proudly
announced that all his chores were done this week as he started to
rush out the door. I was having a really hard time with this! I
didn’t like my boy having a job…He was just a boy, after all!
“Just a minute!” I turned to him and held a finger up. “It’s been a
whole week. I wanta know how long this is going to keep up!” Mark
avoided the question. “Mark, answer my question,” I ordered sternly.
But Mark declared he had to go and hurried out the door.
It was obvious my boy was hiding something – but what exactly, I
didn’t know! I found myself so frustrated! I furiously bent over the
sink to wash my face, but I was so angry that Mark was hiding
something from me!
Mark was busy giving the horses fresh hay when Nils announced he had
an errand for Mark – He wanted him to take a horse to Tom Merar’s
Ranch and bring back another one for shoeing. Mark knew it was just
past Twin Oakes. He could take a shortcut and get there sooner then
the hour the regular way. Nils said no. “You never mind about any
shortcuts! That Boarder Pass is no place for a boy!” Nils declared,
sending Mark on his way.
Mark walked the horse out of the stable and stared to mount him, but
two of Mark’s fishing buddies were walking by with fishing poles,
and motioned for Mark to come fishing with them. Mark turned and
looked at the stable, then he shook his head no. They brushed him
off, probably thinking he was crazy! But Mark had a job to do and he
was old enough to be responsible. He traveled toward the Merar Ranch
without any trouble, but when he got up to the Boarder Pass, he
chose to take it instead of staying on the main road – exactly what
he was told NOT to do. Little did he know that an outlaw was riding
that way toward North Fork.
Meanwhile, I was at home doing my darnest to concentrate on my work.
But I wasn’t having much luck. Not knowing what was going on with my
son was more then I could stand! I had always been able to control
my boy – making him help me out around the ranch – telling him when
he could do things and what he could do…Now, he had some other man
telling him what to do and I had no idea if he was staying out of
trouble or not! I looked around the ranch – it was too quiet around
here! I just had to get to the bottom of this today!
So I put my hat on and jumped on my horse to head into town. Maybe
my best friend would be able to help.
Meanwhile, Mark was running into a little trouble. He stopped dead
in his tracks when he heard a gunshot. A man was standing in front
of him with a big grin on his face. Mark wasn’t sure what to think
about that. The man walked up to him and greeted him all
friendly-like, explaining that he had just shot his horse because he
had busted his leg. “Oh, I’m sorry!” Mark said. He always hated to
hear about an animal having to be shot.
“Say, this is a uh….a nice animal you got here,” the stranger stated
as he reached out and patted the horse’s neck. The sympathetic look
on Mark’s face was suddenly replaced with one of suspicion. “What
you …uh…doing around here anyway? You live around here? Where do you
“I live on the other side of North Fork,” Mark answered, suddenly
“Oh, well that’s an awful long way away. How come a boy like you’s
so far away from home?” the man asked.
Mark told him in an unsteady voice that he was on an errand for the
livery stable in town. “Oh…well seems awful strange for somebody to
send a boy on an errand through a pass like this.” Mark knew he was
in trouble, but admitted that he had taken a shortcut. “On your own
then, huh?” The stranger grinned at Mark. “Honest, Mister, I gotta
be on my way!”
Suddenly, the horse
Mark was on reared as the stranger struggled to keep Mark from
hurrying away. The man told Mark he was being impolite, trying to
leave him out there without a horse or anything. Mark insisted that
he had to be on his way. The man insisted for Mark to stay. “You get
down off that animal!”
I had gone in to talk to Micah. “I don’t know what’s going on with
that boy,” I was telling Micah my sad story. “It’s got me puzzled.
One week, and I still can’t get a straight answer out of him! He’s
never held back on me before…He says he wants to earn his own money,
but he won’t tell me why! Another thing I can’t figure – when he
first started this job, he neglected his chores. Now he’s doing ‘em.
I should be back doing my work but I can’t keep my mind on it!” I
was staring at the window.
Suddenly, I realized my best friend was grinning at me. “What are
you grinning at?”
“If you ask me, Lucas, I’d say you got growing pains,” Micah
I walked over to him. “I’ve got growing pains?”
Micah nodded. “Mark’s growing up, and you’re feeling the pain of
I stared straight at this man I call my best friend and pointed a
finger right at his face. “Now look Micah, you know it better then
anyone around here…I’ve always given that boy a sense of
responsibility. Haven’t I? I’ve tried not to be too strict with him,
haven’t I? And I certainly haven’t pampered him, have I?”
“Well, a boy’s gotta grow into a man, you know,” Micah answered
still grinning like a possum.
“Well, part of that growing is being straight-forward with people!
Especially your father.”
“Well, could be you’re stepping on the breaks a little too hard
I slapped the table and stood up. “Oh, what’s that supposed to
mean?” Boy, was I riled!
Micah stood and walked over to me. “Well, I’ll tell you Lucas…maybe
you’re trying just a little too hard to hold on to the boy! Maybe
you’re thinking more about yourself then you are about Mark.”
I didn’t need to hear him telling me what I was feeling! I wanted
answers! “Look, he’s only thirteen years old! A boy that age has no
right working for a living!” Micah reminded me he wasn’t working for
a living. “Well, he’s got no right working at all,” I stated.
“Tell me, Lucas Boy, how old were you when you started working?”
I couldn’t answer that – because the truth would hurt too much. So
instead, I stated, “When I was a boy things were different.” Micah
just laughed at me, agreeing to agree with me. I knew he was right.
I picked up my hat and turned to him. “You know what’s wrong with
you, Micah? The trouble with you is that you always got an answer
“Isn’t that why you came in here?” So much for my best friend being
on my side!
I left his office, more frustrated then before. Being a father was
tough, and maybe Micah was right! I had to go check on my son –
after all, he was still my responsibility! But when I got to the
livery stable, he wasn’t there! Nils informed me that he had sent
Mark on an errand. “He should’ve been back by now!” Nils told me
where he had sent Mark and why.
Suddenly, Tom Merar rode up with another horse. “Tom!” I ran up to
him. “Where’s Mark?”
quickly explained to him that Nils had sent Mark on an errand to his
ranch. Tom hadn’t seen him – he should have passed him on his way
“The shortcut!” Nils suddenly declared. I shot my head around to
look at Nils. “He was going to take the shortcut up to Boarder
“The Boarder Pass?”
“I told him not to,” Nils stated.
That boy! Just wait until I get my hands on him! I
Mark knew how I felt about Boarder Pass and how dangerous it was.
This just kept racing through my mind as I ran and jumped on my
horse. I took off like a flash! I followed Mark’s trail for quite a
ways. He DID take the Boarder Pass! Just wait till I see that boy! I
started down the pass. Soon, I came upon a watering hole. On the
other side was a man with a horse. I had to see if he’d seen Mark,
so I quickly made my way over to him.
I wasted not time with introductions. “I’m looking for a boy,” I
told him, quickly told him he was thirteen years old.
The man didn’t act like he’d seen him. He hadn’t seen anyone around
all day. As I started to get back on my horse, I turned to ask him
if he’d be here for awhile. I asked him to tell Mark to wait here
for me if he saw him.
Then I turned to get on my horse. I glanced down at the horse beside
Razor and saw the brand – it was Tom Merar’s brand! That was the
horse Mark was riding! I slowly began reaching for my rifle.
But the stranger saw me reaching for it and knew I realized the
truth. He drew his gun on me. "Alright...hold it mister! Move away
from that horse!"
Rage suddenly crept into me. "My boy was ridin' that horse...where
"It ain't gonna make no difference to you," the stranger answered.
"Where is he?" I yelled.
“I said move away from there!”
I just stood still assessing my situation. Suddenly, I smacked
Razor, causing him to run off. That gave me the chance I needed. The
stranger fired the gun and missed me. I grabbed his arm and we
struggled with the gun. The gun went off again, and I was finally
able to knock it out of his hand. I punched him a couple times and
he fell to the ground.
He grabbed a stick and jumped up to hit me with it, but I was faster
and threw him to the ground again. Suddenly, he saw his gun and
bolted for it. But I jumped on top of him just before he grabbed it
and we struggled some more. We rolled around on the ground for
awhile, then he delivered me a hard punch. He was able to get away
and bolt for his horse.
I ran to him and jumped on him, knocking him from his horse. We both
landed in the water with a big splash! I finally had control of him.
I grabbed him by the shirt. "Where's my Son? Where is he?” The man
didn’t answer. I dunked him under the water and grabbed him around
the neck. “You dirty scum, I'll kill you! So help me, I’ll kill you!
Where is he?" I dunked him again. “Where is he?”
"I didn't lay a hand on him," the stranger sputtered.
I started to dunk him again. I’d kill him if I had to! “Pa!” I
suddenly heard. I looked up and saw my boy running towards me. “Pa!”
That was music for my ears and a sight for sore eyes! I dropped the
outlaw in the water and ran toward my son. I didn’t say a word to
Mark. I walked up on the bank and picked up the gun. “It’s all my
fault, Pa,” Mark stated. “Mr. Swenson told me not to take the
shortcut. You’ve got a right to be angry with me.”
Oh, I was! “Yes I am, son. But let’s forget it for now. I’m glad
There was no physical contact and no smiling. We both knew Mark was
wrong – there’d be consequences later after I had time to settle
The next Saturday,
got up to again find Mark up before me. This was the third Saturday
in a row he’s behaved in such a manner. Quietly, I opened the
bedroom door and peaked out. Mark’s back was turned to me and I
could tell he was busy doing something. “Mark-“ I started.
Mark suddenly grabbed the tablecloth and covered something behind
his back. “Morning, Pa.”
I slowly walked towards him. “I thought we settled this working
business last Saturday.” I took another step toward him. “You’re not
gonna start that again, are ya'?”
“No sir,” Mark answered.
"Well then, why are you up so early," I asked.
"No special reason."
I tried to look behind him. "What are you hiding there?" I asked.
He stepped aside. I walked up and stared at the mound on the chair.
He pulled the tablecloth off. "Happy Birthday, Pa!" He revealed a
I stared at my son. I was speechless for several moments. "You
mean…this is the reason that..."
"I bought it with the money that Mr. Swenson paid me. I wanted to
earn it Pa. I wanted this to be something from me to you...really!"
I just stared at him. I was speechless! "Well, it isn't exactly new
or anythin'...but it's real shinny," said Mark.
I finally forced myself to take my eyes off my wonderful, sweet boy
and picked up the saddle. I laid my hand on it. "Son, I…I'd say this
is the shiniest saddle in the whole world!"
That’s my boy! And boy, was I ever proud!
piddlin' stuff.....Ed Nelson appeared
in three episodes ―
Dead Cold Cash as Stacey Beldon,
the gunslinger hired by Sarah Caruthers to kill Lucas ―
as Ben Travis, the cowboy who murdered Sam, the tailor
― First Wages as
Ben Vargas, he
was the cowboy who
took Mark's horse.
Troy Melton appeared in two
episodes ― First Wages as Wally Pierson, he was Ben
Vargas' partner, the one Ben killed and took back his share of the
money ― Deadly Image as Ab, Len
Richard's brother, the cowboy Earl Bantry killed.
David M. Rodman played Tom Merar.
He's the one who thought Nils had forgot about picking up his horse
and decided to bring the horse into town himself.
Joe Higgins played Nils
Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson
Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it
Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was
it Niles or Nels?
played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming
Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the
horse thief — Stopover as
Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over
Glen Ryle played Ed/townsman.
Here's a bit of trivia from Glenn Gilbert about the episode
"You may not know unless you're from Cincinnati. The walk-on
appearance of 'Ed', (or 'townsman' in the credits), who delivers
'wanted' posters to Micah in his office as Lucas leaves in a huff,
was Cincinnati-local television personality Glen 'Skipper' Ryle, who
hosted a children's show, among other duties, at WKRC-TV. The
moniker 'Skipper' stuck because, on the kids show, he attired
himself as an Ohio riverboat captain.
I remember as a kid growing up here back in the '60's the story that
Chuck Connors came to town to catch the Dodgers vs. the Reds, and
that he invited Glen Ryle to appear on The Rifleman. That was his
15 seconds of fame!
Thanks Glenn Gilbert for the piddlin' stuff..... on Glen
'Skipper' Ryle! ~ I tip my cowgirl hat to ya'!
*Did you see the two boys who were going fishing in this episode and
motioned for Mark to come along?
The two boys that motioned for Mark to come along fishing were Chuck
Connors real sons, Jeff (on the left) and Mike (on the right).
Chuck's boys on the set
Connors' family tidbit.....Michael Connors,
the oldest son of Chuck Connors, became a full U.S. citizen on
8/11/64, he was sworn in at the Department of Justice in Los
Angeles. Michael was born in Canada while his father was playing
baseball for the Montreal Royals. This gives Michael dual
Mike is a Dolly Grip.
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 &
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
Joe Benson ― On the set of
First Wages episode #112 - 1961
― If you look between the trees you can see a gate.
This is the Lower Iverson's Ranch East Gate.
For a map at of this area go to the
Iverson Movie Ranch.
You've heard 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?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes