"Welcome to the McCain Ranch" Long Gun from Tucson Episode 121
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’
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
"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
"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
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
I tried to calm him down. “What makes a man a coward, Lucas?” He
I groaned. “Nobody can call you a coward for being afraid of a man
“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
“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
"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,
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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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 Ned Jackman, the Pa of the Jackman clan.
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 ―
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 ―
from Tucson as Deecie, one of Holliver's gang.
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
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
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
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
"Mark was upset. He didn't want me to face Holliver and his gang
He wanted to strap on a gun and help. I couldn't let my boy do
* 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