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The Cecil Kincaid story: As told by Bob Miller

After the death of Bob's father, his mother was left with three young children to raise, two sons and a daughter. She was barely able to scrape together enough money to maintain them, let alone put aside any extra. To gain relief, she would send her two oldest children, both boys, to stay with others during the summer.
Bob, the eldest of the 3 children was sent out to a ranch operated by Cecil Kincaid. Mr. Kinkaid had quite a history. He formerly ranched with his brother Ted Kincaid. One day while they were putting up hay, Ted got angry with Cecil, who was working on the top of the haystack, and shot him with a shotgun. He left him for dead and went to the ranch house and had lunch with Cecil’s wife. Mrs. Kincaid asked where her husband was, and Ted said he would probably be along shortly. After lunch Ted left, and Mrs. Kincaid went looking for her husband. She found him, and he had nearly bled to death from being shot in the leg. She took him to a medical facility, but they were unable to save his leg. From that day forward, Mr. Cecil Kinkaid wore a wooden leg. He also swore to kill his brother Ted, if you could ever find him.
Mr. Cecil Kincaid's ranch was located quite a way out of Sand Coulee, Montana. It was located between a mountain range to the south and the breaks of the Missouri River to the north. It was quite a desolate and isolated location.
One summer, an agreement was struck between Bob's mother and Mrs. Kincaid, who lived and worked in Great Falls, Montana to take Bob to the Kincaid ranch for the summer. Mrs. Kincaid would bring Bob as far as Sand Coulee and then return home. Mr. Kincaid and Bob would start out of town and wait on top of a hill until Mrs. Kincaid disappeared. They then would return to Sand Coulee, where Mr. Kinkaid would proceed to drink rather heavily with some friends of his at the local bar. Friends like Tex Smith. This would continue until Mr. Kinkaid would get in a fight with some other customer and would be asked to leave the bar.
It took quite a while to get to the Kinkaid Ranch, because you had to go 50 miles on a gravel road and then 10 miles across the prairie to reach the place. The ranch consisted of a very small one-room cabin, a walled army tent and a pole barn with walls of hay.
One of the many stories that Bob tells is when it came time to brand the cattle, Mr. Kinkaid would invite his drinking friends from Sand Coulee to come help. They would arrive early in the morning and work all day in the branding corral. After the branding was finished, Mr. Kinkaid was known to ask his friends if they needed some meat. If they said yes, they all would go on to the next-door neighbor's property and shoot one of his cows and slaughter it.
Another story that Bob tells is about the fact that he and Mr. Kinkaid ate a lot of deer meat during those 3 summers at the ranch. They would cover the meat and put it on what they called the “meat pole”. When they needed some meat, they would just simply lower the pole and cut off a hunk. Of course, it was illegal to shoot deer during the summer, but they were so far from civilization they thought they could get away with it. One day, a couple of gentlemen arrived in a car, which was a rare occasion, and Mr. Kinkaid was not at the ranch. Bob was there, and the two men inquired about the “meat pole”, Bob told them it was for holding their deer. When Mr. Kinkaid came back to the ranch he noticed that there were car tracks leading in from the road. He asked Bob who had come to visit and was told about the two men and the “meat pole” inquiry. When Mr. Kinkaid was told the story, he became very angry and told Bobby “Never to speak to anyone again” and proceeded to whip him.
For the three summers that Bob worked at the ranch he was paid nothing other than “room and board” by Mr. Kinkaid.
In addition to the deer meat meals, Mr. Kinkaid would also make sourdough pancakes everyday. Keeping the batter, active all summer. There was no refrigeration.
Many years later, when Mr. Kinkaid lay dying in the hospital, Bob went to visit him. Bob asked him if he needed anything and he said he wanted some liverwurst and some beer. Bob asked the nurses if that were possible. They responded that Mr. Kinkaid was the meanest, nastiest human being they had ever met, and they didn't care what he did or what happened to him. So, Bob went back to Mr. Kinkaid and said he was going to get him some liverwurst. Mr. Kincaid responded by yelling, “Get some damn crackers too.”
There is no doubt that these experiences left their mark on Bob. For a young man to experience such deprivation and strong discipline must have altered his path in life.


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