Thursday, May 7, 2015


I've always liked buffalo. That is, American Bison. I don't know . . . I was born in South Dakota--Sioux Falls--and before the age of five (when we moved to Vancouver, Washington), we used to go out to the Black Hills for vacations. There, in the Black Hills, there were pines and hills and squirrels, rabbits, black bears, burros and there were bison. Buffalo. And even now I can recall them and remember that, yes, I liked them.

Big fuzzy black-brown beasts.

But I liked them later in life, as well. Have always been glad to see one--see them--whether just on the TV, or in a preserve, maybe a zoo.

Maybe I like them because I bought my father a pipe.

This was in Vancouver and it was his birthday and I was maybe eight years old. Not sure. Actually it was in Portland, Oregon, at Lloyds Center (the first indoor mall in America (the world?)). And it was at some store--maybe as simple as a Walgreens/CVS type store of its day (the mid 60's)--and they had pipes behind a counter and my father smoked a pipe at that time. Some of the pipes had animal heads. I don't recall all of them except, as you may guess, the buffalo. I liked buffalo and I wanted to buy him that pipe and I did.

I don't know if my mother had to help me to purchase a pipe as an eight year old--or nine, perhaps ten--but to the best of my recollection, she did not. They sold a kid a tobacco pipe . . . Things were different back then. And I gave him the pipe as a gift and he thanked me and I don't think he ever used it. He did not throw it away, either, because I checked. It was still around years later, after we moved to Johnson City, TN, even after we moved to Des Moines, IA. I would still see it and my father didn't smoke a pipe anymore.

My father called me Buffalo.

Maybe that's why I like them and still think of them. It was a nickname of sorts. I don't think he knew how much it meant to me to be called "Buffalo". Is that why I like them, or did I like them and he picked up on it and that's why he gave me the name.

I think it's because I liked them that he called me that. It meant more to me, I think I can say, than it did to him. Yet: who knows?

I bought the buffalo pipe because he called me "Buffalo" and because I loved the animals and I was from South Dakota and that's about all I have to say . . .