"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Long Gun from Tucson
Two miles out of North Fork stood some men. The leader of the gang, Holliver, was shooting at the mile marker sign. “There’s one thing about the long gun,” he commented. “It tears up what it hits. Kinda discourages the other fella’s trigger finger when he’s dying.”
A rider came riding up just then – one of the gang members – and announced excitedly that most of North Fork was deserted. Almost everyone was out of town at a celebration. “Well, I don’t know as I like that,” Holliver answered. “Playing into empty seats, as the saying goes.” The man announced the time was perfect for them with everyone gone. “Well, I kinda doubt any time is perfect for a man dying, DC,” Holliver commented. “We’ll ride in like always. Take it slow and easy. Pick our man, watch him do a bit of sweatin’ tonight.”
DC begged Holliver to get his kicks some other way. He just wanted a fast simple job. “Well, you might call it a vice, DC, watching a man sweat. But then you might say I’m doing a good turn, letting the man live the night out after seeing John Holliver.” Holliver grinned at the thought of it. “After knowing the time has come for him to meet his creator. So let’s go kill us a man. Do it real nice, so the folks of North Fork will remember us.”
Meanwhile, back in North Fork, I was watching the office for Micah. Henry Waller, the gunsmith, brought me my rifle. He got it all fixed. He was getting a lot of help from his boy, Jeffrey, these days. “Before breakfast, he had it broken down, barrel reamed, and a new spring cut. “ I tried it out as he talked – flipping it and coking it. Everything seemed to work great. I was happy to have my rifle back.
"That's fine Henry, your teachin' your boy a good trade."
"Ah, you know Lucas, a man likes to pass things on to his son," Henry commented as he turned to leave. But as he looked out the window, he saw some men coming up the street. He began backing up as he looked out the window.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Holliver," Henry answered.
"Holliver?” I asked. John Holliver?”
"That's him, with one of his men," said Henry.
They headed for the saloon. "I’ve never seen him before. Heard about him, and his share of gunfights."
"You can’t call ‘em gunfights Lucas, they’re executions!” Henry was very upset. I studied him. "Holliver’s an executionist! So many dollars a head! He made us wait five years. But he meant it when he said he'd be back!"
"Made you wait for what?" I asked.
Henry didn’t answer my question. He looked out the window again. Two more riders rode in. "That must be the rest of his men," Henry guessed. "Somebody in North Fork is sure gonna die Lucas." He started to leave.
"Henry, what happened five years ago?" I demanded to know. Henry didn’t turn around. He started to say something, but changed his mind and quickly hurried off.
I was curious to know what these men wanted in North Fork. As I walked outside, I saw Eddie sitting on the front porch of the hotel. He looked really nervous. Somehow, I knew the two men were thinking on the same thing. I walked up to him, hoping he could give me some insight. "What's the matter Eddie?"
"Nothing, Lucas, nothing,” Eddie said quietly as he shook his head.
“Nothing?” I sat down beside him. "You look like you've got trouble."
"Well with Holliver coming back here means only one thing, he'll be leavin' us with somebody to bury.”
"What happened five years ago Eddie? Henry Waller was too upset to go into it."
"Well, Holliver came to town alone. He killed a nineteen year old boy. He picked a fight with him and made it seem like the boy pulled his gun on him." He shook his head. "It was murder Lucas. Pure murder," said Eddie. I wondered what happened then. “Well, we couldn't officially charge Holliver with anything so we ran him out of town on a rail. I don't know how we ever got up the nerve unless it was because there were so many of us and Holliver was alone, but we must have been loco that night…Knowing Holliver to be a professional killer..."
I listened to the story and thought on all this. "Why did he wait five years if he'd been wanting to get even? That's what I don't understand," I said.
"I don't know Lucas, I just don't know."
I hated to do it, but I had to inform Eddie that there was nothing I could do unless Holliver gave me reason.
Holliver and DC took a room at the hotel. Holliver was very relaxed as he napped on the bed, but DC paced the floor worrying about it. Holliver informed DC that he was shortening his life by half by worrying about this.
Nils came over to Micah's office to talk to me. I stared out the window as he spoke to me. "Lucas, who's Holliver really after?"
"He doesn't have to be after anybody, Nils,” I answered.
"Those two aren't just standin' out there,” Nils declared. "We're having a meeting in my livery stable in twenty minutes. Everybody’s stickin' together on this," said Nils.
“No harm in that. Good idea, in fact. That is if Holliver’s really here with his eye on someone.”
"Lucas, will you back us?" Nils turned and looked at me.
"That's my job until Micah gets back." He thanked me, and then left.
Mark was staying with Henry and Jeffrey while I was working at Micah’s office. Mark was learning how to be a gunsmith. Jeffrey was trying to teach him, bur reminded him not to sand down too far – they could always take more off, but they couldn’t put it back on. “I’m being careful, Jeffrey,” Mark assured him.
I came in then. “Henry, I-“ I stopped when I saw the boys. I didn’t want to bring up the subject with them there.
Henry sent Jeffrey and Mark on to his house to get supper. “See you in the morning, Pa,” Mark said as he walked out the door.
I patted him on the back. “Get a good night’s sleep, son.”
I told him Eddie told me what had happened that night five years ago. I told him Holliver is probably passing through town and not looking for any trouble, just like him. He didn't agree with me. Henry was really upset. “No, Holliver would’ve never come back to North Fork unless he was intending to get even.” He suddenly got upset. "What got into me that night? I knew he was an evil man, a killer. Why didn't I mind my own business?"
I tried to tell him not to blame himself, but he kept talking. "Nils talked me into joining that night! He had no right to take advantage of me! I'm a sick man, I was sick then. I wasn’t fit! Now, Holliver was lookin' right at me that night when we were tying him to the rail. He'd remember me! He might even think I was the ring leader!" He got even more upset then. "They knew I wasn't well...they knew it. If they wanted to be so brave and run a killer out of town on the rail why didn't they go ahead and do it, instead of involving a sick man?"
I tried to calm him down. “What makes a man a coward, Lucas?” He suddenly asked.
I groaned. “Nobody can call you a coward for being afraid of a man like Holliver!”
“It isn’t only Holliver. I’ve always been afraid…from the time I remember considering myself as a man,” Henry informed me. "Man...I make a mockery of the word!”
"There isn't a person in North Fork who doesn't have the greatest respect for their gunsmith, that's you!" I said.
“I said I was a coward, Lucas. I am,” Henry said sadly.
"Nobody can blame a sick man-“ I started.
Henry gave a short laugh. "A sick man," interrupted Henry. He picked up a bottle of pills. "You know these pills that I'm always takin' that Doctor Burrage gives me? Sugar pills!" I didn’t understand. “Well, Doctor Burrage understands.”
Henry was so upset. I wanted to have a talk with Holliver and see what was on his mind. He was all for that. “And if he came here for me, you tell him that there were others in town who had more to do with what happened that night then I did! You tell him that Eddie and Nils and Tom Barrett were more to blame-“ He stopped suddenly when he saw the look of surprise on my face. I could hardly believe he was trying to take it off himself and have his friends killed instead! “I’m so sorry, Lucas.”
I chose to ignore what had just happened. I told him to meet me over at the livery stable with the other men. "I'll be there when I finish talking to Holliver. And Henry, calm yourself down, huh?”
I left. I was worried about Henry. From there, I went straight to the saloon. Holliver and DC were eating. I walked up to them and introduced myself. He motioned for DC to leave. “Sit,” he said.
I informed him that some of the folks were wondering about his business here in town. “I’ve come back to collect something, Mr. McCain,” Holliver answered. “Town owes me, I always come back to collect.”
“Exactly what do you intend to collect?”
Holliver looked up from his plate. “Well…you might call it self respect. As marshal here, I don’t figure you would have any objections to a man standing up to his self respect.” That all depended on his meaning! “A debt of honor, sir. I’m here to ask satisfaction from the town of North Fork.”
“A town is made up of people, Mr. Holliver.” I didn’t say that in a very nice voice, either!
“True,” he stated. “So, as an old man who wants his to go on slowly to the grave, I’m asking a representative of this town to meet me in the street at sun up.”
I suddenly leaned forward in my chair. “You know very well that none of those men who chased you from town five years ago is capable of facing a gunfighter!”
“Rode me from town, Mr. McCain! Rode me…not chased. Kinda like that record straight!” I suddenly wondered why he waited five years to return. “Knew some of the folks would be worried I’d be coming back, Mr. McCain. Didn’t see no point in having them stop worrying.”
I’d heard enough! “Holliver, you’re a man of twisted thinking, so I’m not mincing any words. My advice to you is to forget this. Because if you don’t, I’ll be on that street when you walk out at sun up.” He wasn’t too scared – he’d have his “boys. "There will be other men on the street behind me on the street too," I declared. "You better think twice before carrying this any farther, Holliver!"
He laughed. "McCain, sun up!"
I left there and headed over to the livery. Henry told me it was all set – they’d all back up whoever he guns for. “Well Holliver and I just had a few hot words.” I turned to the others. “He’s expecting me to meet him in the street tomorrow to represent the town to recoup his so called honor.”
Eddie was surprised – I wasn’t ever involved in this problem. They were surprised Holliver didn’t remember any of them. “It was…dark that night,” Henry remembered now. “I bet Holliver never got a good look and any of us!”
“Well, we sure have been doing a lot of worrying for nothing,” Eddie mumbled.
"There's still worrying to do, Eddie,” I assured him. “Just how we're going to handle Holliver and his men tomorrow. But, we've got four guns against his four." I don't think Holliver figured on a group of folks standing up against him.”
My smile died, though, as I looked at the three faces in the stable. They couldn’t look me in the eye and suddenly seemed very uncomfortable. “Something wrong?”
Eddie answered my question. I had words with him – they saw as a personal matter between Holliver and the Marshal. “I thought you told me you were going to stick together, no matter who Holliver came here for” I accused them all. I couldn’t believe this! But Holliver and I had words.
Henry even said, “Maybe you should have honey-talked him and avoided trouble.” I gave him a hard, cold stare. I couldn’t believe these were my friends and they wouldn’t back me!
“We weren’t gun-hands, Lucas. We were just sticking up for each other for our own protection,” Eddie stated. Nils agreed.
“Are you trying to tell me you’re…leaving me to face Holliver’s men alone tomorrow morning?” Eddie and Nils turned their heads from me. They couldn’t look at me. I turned and looked at Henry, who shoved his eyes down toward the floor. I turned in time to see Eddie and Nils hurrying out the door.
"They can't be blamed, Lucas,” Henry declared as I glared at him. “Fighting isn’t their business.”
"Neither is it mine, Henry!" He turned from me and started to walk out the door. All I could do was stare after him. He suddenly turned back and pointed at me. “But you are the Marshal while Micah’s gone! It isn’t as though I wouldn’t help you if I could, Lucas…well…I’m a sick man, I-” My cold stare got to me. He stopped in mid-sentence and walked out the door.
I was now alone…completely alone. And I was scared.
That night, I just stood in Micah’s office worrying and fretting about this. I was scared – I mean, really scared. Holliver had three men to back him while I had…zero. I knew the odds were stacked against me. I had no choice – come sunup, I’d have to face those men…alone. Holliver saw me from his hotel room window. He knew I was scared. “I often wonder what’s in a man’s mind his last night.”
DC couldn’t care less. “But this business about warning a man and then watching him sweat…It’s really gonna cost you someday.”
Holliver laughed. “It’s done for a purpose, DC. When a man sweats the night though, he just isn’t the same laddy in the morning. I’d say by the morning, Mr. McCain’s gonna be mighty fidgety. Yes sir, mighty fidgety!”
Mark heard what was going on and wasted no time to come back into town. He started toward the Marshal’s office, but stopped when he saw two men dressed in black leaning up against a post. He wondered if these were two of the men. I looked up as Mark raced inside and shut the door. “Well, I thought you and Jeffrey would be getting ready for bed about now.”
Mark ran up to me. He started to tell me that he and Jeffrey had heard about what was going on. But the door suddenly opened. Henry came in. Mark stopped talking and turned to look at Henry. Neither one of us greeted him. “You must despise me Lucas,” Henry stated as he closed the door. I didn’t answer. “Lucas, if I could help…if I really could help…I would help. I want you to believe that.”
I was getting fed up with this man. “Don’t you think it would be better if you stop talking about it?” I asked angrily.
“It’s a pretty difficult thing to…justify cowardness. You’re right, Lucas. Absolutely right.” Henry walked out.
I was so frustrated and fed up! Not just with Henry, but now Mark was involved. I had really hoped to keep Mark out of this completely. Now I’d have to deal with him on top of everything else. Mark turned back to me and spoke. “Pa, what I wanted to say before is that…I mean…I know I’m still a boy, but maybe I’m old enough to use a gun now.”
I didn’t even look at him – I couldn’t less he see the fear in my eyes. “You’re not old enough, Mark.”
“But Pa-“ Mark started.
I turned and looked at him. “I said you’re not old enough to handle a gun!” I yelled. We looked at each other for a moment. “Now get Jeffrey and go on out to the Waller house. And don’t come back to town until I send for you. You understand?” My voice was angry as I spoke.
“Yes sir.” Mark turned to leave.
I couldn’t leave it like this! I just couldn’t – it could be the last time that- “Mark.” Mark turned. I stood and walked around the desk. “Commere, son.” I sat down on the edge of the desk as Mark looked at me. “Commere.”
I gently put my hand around his shoulders and looked straight into his eyes as I spoke. I had to make him understand what I was saying. "Someday you'll be standing along side me, the two of us together, both of us men. But right now you've got something coming first. A growing up time."
"Growing up time?" Questioned Mark.
I nodded as I continued speaking softly. "You see son, a man either has a time to look back on or he doesn't have it. It's a…well, it’s an awfully nice time. When you see an old man dozing in the sun and he looks like he's smiling, well, he's thinking back on his growing up time-thinking back and living it all over again. Mark, I want you to have that time. I want you to be a boy while you are a boy. I don't want you doing man things. It's really very important.” I turned him around to face me as I spoke these last words. Looking straight in his eyes, I continued. “And then when you're a lot older and you begin thinking back instead of ahead, well, you'll know what I mean." I put my hands on his shoulders as I drew my face in front of his. “Goodnight, son.”
Mark knew. I saw it in his eyes as they filled with tears. I didn’t hug him because if I did, I’d never let him go. “Goodnight, Pa.”
Mark walked outside and paused outside the door. He allowed the truth to sink in. He ran up to the men standing outside. He wanted to say something…but didn’t. He ran passed them and headed to the Waller house.
Jeffrey and Mark were in bed, but neither of them were sleeping. Jeffery was crying for his father while Mark was crying for me. "Can you sleep Mark?" Jeffrey finally broke the silence.
"No!" Mark wiped at the tears on his face and sat up.
Jeffrey jumped off the top bunk and sat down on Mark’s bed. "I can't either.” Jeffrey looked at Mark. “I guess we’ll have to stay here until it’s over.”
“Well…my Pa wouldn’t like it if I were to stay up in town,” Mark answered tearfully.
“Well you know…we can hear the gunshots from here though.” Mark didn’t want to think about it. "Mark, it ain't like my Pa is afraid. Well, he handles a gun real good! So it ain't like he's afraid!"
"I didn't say anything like that. I didn't say nothing like that Jeffrey," cried Mark. Mark sniffed.
The tears streaming down both of these boys’ faces. "It's just, well he's so sick…I mean, if my Pa was better he would help your Pa tomorrow, and not leave him out there alone!"
Thinking on this made Mark begin crying harder. He couldn’t stand it – he was so scared for me. "I'm sorry Mark! I'm real sorry!" Mark looked up at him and put a hand on his shoulders. He tired to speak, but no words would come. The two boys just looked into each other’s eyes, then they hugged and cried. They were both fearing the outcome of tomorrow’s fight.
Sunup came. It had been a long night. The street was tired. I stared out onto the street and saw Holliver and DC come out of the hotel. I watched form the window as Holliver put out his cigarette and smashed it in the street. Then I watched as four men slowly made their way down Main Street. They all stood in front of the saloon lined up. They were ready – ready and waiting. I grabbed my rifle and checked it. Then I stared out the window again.
It was time – there was no use putting it off any longer. I quickly opened the door before I lost my nerve and walked out onto the street. I slowly walked out in front of them.
Four against one. I felt like a sitting duck.
When I was standing in front of them, Holliver spoke. "It does me good, McCain, to see North Fork boasting a one soul with a little bit of backbone. Kinda strengthens my faith in fellow man.”
I had to stay brave. "You may be calling this turn Holliver, but make no mistake, you’re callin' whether you live…or die!"
"Well I guess either way the town will be remembering me. That's kinda important to me Mr. McCain," said Holliver.
Just then we heard a noise. I looked over my right shoulder to see Henry walking out onto the street, a gun and holster strapped to his side. He slowly walked over to stand beside me. I stared at him, not quite believing he was there. He looked scared.
I stared at the four men in front of me and waited…and hoped…Sure enough, I heard more footsteps behind me as Nils and Eddie walked up to face the men. Now we were even – four against four. I wasn’t so scared anymore.
Holliver started laughing. "Looks like the sheep have grown horns. Well, looks like we might as well call the whole thing off!" Holliver tipped his hat to us as he tried to trick us, but we were ready.
At that moment, they drew – but we were waiting and ready. We got off the first shots and within seconds, the four men laid dead in the street. None of us felt like rejoicing though. Four men were dead and we had been through a deep trial of friendship. In the end, my friends stuck up for me, but it was hard for us to feel anything but remorse for the decision that had to be made.
I couldn’t help but to think about how different things would have been if my friends hadn’t come through for me.
Mark and I watched as a sign was hung – “Henry Waller & Son, Gunsmith.” That’s what it said. “It makes me feel kinda proud, Pa,” Jeffrey stated with a smile.
“No more prouder then me, son,” Henry stated as he put an arm around his boy and walked inside.
"Waller & Son,” Mark read. “Gee Pa that makes them partners!"
"And that gives me an idea...why don't we put a sign like that up on our barn?"
I suddenly turned and stopped down to his level. "You think we need a sign...partner?" I asked. We looked at each other and laugh. We had a deep, loving bond – we didn’t need a sign!
piddlin' stuff.....Peter Whitney appeared in nine episodes ― Eddie's Daughter as Tracey Blanch, he's the big dude who came looking for Lil ― Mail Order Groom as John Jupiter, he was the Mail Order Groom, the one that Jess Profit (John Anderson) kept picking on ― Heller as Andrew Bechtol, the mean stepfather ― Strange Town as Ott Droshek, he ran the Strange Town ― The Queue as Vince Fergus, again he was the bully, the instigator who picked on Wang Chi ― Long Gun From Tucson as John Holliver, he was the cowboy who came back for revenge ― Lou Mallory as Neb Jackman, the Pa of the Jackman clan ― Gun Shy as Vantine, he was the man who was holding Lou hostage ― Which Way'd They Go? as Neb Jackman, the Pa of the Jackman clan.
Whit Bissell appeared in four episodes ― The Patsy as Sam Barrows the Barber, the man who Sully Hobbs and his gang were terrorizing ― The Fourflusher as Gabe Fenway, the sharecropper for local landlord Preston, who plans to run his quarter horse Sapphire in a local horse race ― The Hangman as Volney Adams who is accused of killing Eban Muchen ― Long Gun from Tucson as Henry Waller, the Gunsmith who was scared to face Holliver and his men.
Billy E. Hughes Jr. appeared in three episode ― Day of Reckoning as Aaron, Jamison's son Billy ― The Sidewinder as Gridley Maule, the boy who came to North Fork to seek revenge on Lucas ― Long Gun from Tucson as Jeffrey Waller, he was the son of the gunsmith and the boy that he and Mark sat on together in his bedroom crying.
Brian G. Hutton appeared in two episodes of The Rifleman ― Obituary as Billy Benson, the young gunfighter who came to North Fork to add Lucas as a notch to his gun ― Long Gun from Tucson as Deecie, one of Holliver's gang.
Warren Vanders Vanderschuit as one of Holliver's gunman.
Joe E. Benson appeared in The Rifleman many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In Dark Day at North Fork he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen & the bartender.
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the house which was later called the den. (One of the several tree house pictures)
John Harmon as Eddie Halstead owner/hotel clerk of the Hotel Madera. John Harmon appeared in twelve episodes as Eddie Halstead. He was first introduced to The Rifleman in Duel of Honor.
Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The 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?
He 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 schedule.
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.
"Mark was upset. He didn't want me to face Holliver and his gang alone.
He wanted to strap on a gun and help. I couldn't let my boy do this....."
* Here is a great video from this episode. I call it A Growing Up Time done to Paul Petersons song, My Dad
For those of you who can't view the video from here, you can see it on YouTube.....
Cinekyd Tribute to the Values of the Rifleman (1985)
This video was a student project at Cinekyd, (Willow Grove, Pennsylvania) a non-profit arts program for youngsters. This video was created more than twenty years ago by a 15 year old Cinekyd student, who is now an ordained minister and had the unique pleasure of sharing it with his children when it was 'rediscovered' a few months ago and uploaded to YouTube.
A special thanks goes to Bob and his daughter, Becky, for sharing this video with all of us Rifleman fans and taking the time to send this video to The McCain Ranch for us to enjoy. Also Bob, please thank the creator of this video for us. Although we do not know who he is, this video tells us a lot about him.
This is what Bob had to say.....Incidentally, like yourself, I am a long-time Rifleman fan - going back to the original broadcasts. In the early 1960's, Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford were the special guest stars at the Philadelphia Police and Firemen Thrill Show down at the 'old' stadium in South Philadelphia. Seeing them in person was a 'thrill' for me. My children and grandchildren have all watched treasured reruns of The Rifleman with their old dad/granddad.
Bloopers - Long Gun from Tucson
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