Back in the days when they hung folks they needed a pretty good tree to do it from. And in the desert that was sometimes a problem. First there weren’t many trees and if you did find one it was usually sort of short. That wasn’t always a problem either because people were a lot shorter themselves then. But if you had a tall one it kind of was. This tree was short even for those times but since it was the only one around for about 50 miles people took what they could get.
Folks were problem solvers back then. Take the time when they had to hang Big Leg Kathy, a notoriously bad woman that was so damn mean she just needed to be hung. The crowd brought her out here and hooked her up but she was so tall that her head stuck up through the branches. She just laughed and the crowd was so embarrassed by the whole thing that there was even talk of just letting her go, but then some enterprising soul had an idea. They’d just dig a deep trench right next to the tree there, which they did, hook her up again and shove her off the edge. Worked like a charm. Didn’t matter how tall you were then, and it didn’t matter how short the tree was. Problem solved.
Everybody was just darn pleased with that solution. That was until they got back home and in the celebratory proceedings at the Kingston house, the towns fanciest saloon, the problem solver, a Mr. Gaddeus T. Kellenbrock, shot the bartender’s cat, then shot the bartender when he got mad about it. Course next weekend they made the trip back out to the hangman’s tree with Mr. Kellenbrock to test his solution again, which by now they were calling Kellenbrock’s ditch. It worked fine the second time too. So all’s well that ends well.
It was always a good day for a hanging and given the scenery here outside of the Great Sand Dunes folks would look for any opportunity to string somebody up just for the chance to have a little time off, bring your best girl, have a picnic, see the sights and then hang the no good bastard and call it a day. Sunset was always a good time. The setting was so picturesque often the condemned would ask them to wait until the sun was just right and then they’d send ’em off with a flourish and start the long drive home.
Now a days there aren’t so many hangings and some folks lament that but we got to accept change when it comes. You have to admit though, it might just settle some of our more pressing problems. I got a list just in case they decide to have a change of heart and bring it back. I wouldn’t doubt you do too. Sometime when we get together to chew the fat let’s compare notes. I bet we got some of the same names on our lists.