A funny story that was told to me by the ranch manager on my last trip to Duke’s old 26 Bar Ranch located near Eager and Springerville, Arizona, and it goes something like this.
Duke and his partner and friend Louis Johnson had just completed making the deal on the purchase of the 2 6 Bar Ranch, and Duke said,” Hell I haven’t seen any of the high country up on the mountain yet. Have someone saddle me up a good horse, and get me a rifle, and I’ll ride on up the mountain and spend some time up there and just see what it looks like.”
Duke had been riding almost all day up in the high country, and in the late afternoon a thunderstorm came up, and before long buckets of rain began coming down. Duke looked around for someplace to get in out of the storm, and he finally found a line shack up on the mountain. After taking care of his horse, he went on in to get out of the rain. There were several cowboys already inside, taking advantage of the shelter to get out the rain themselves.
Duke had about two or three days of beard growth, and he did not have his hair piece on (because sometimes when he took his hat off, the hair piece came off with it!). The cowboys were talking about
the ranch being sold, and without his hair piece and with his few days of beard growth, they did not know who he was, and just thought he was a hunter getting out of the rain as well.
One of the cowboys was talking about the sale of the ranch, and said, “I guess the ranch has been sold to some “Hollywood yahoo, S.O.B.” and I sure hope he knows how to ride a horse, and we all have to go down to the ranch headquarters and meet him in the morning.” The rain finally quit, and Duke said goodbye to the cowboys and went on back down the mountain.
The next morning at the ranch headquarters, all the cowboys and the people that worked at the ranch were there to meet the new owners. When they were all gathered, the ranch foreman stood up and said, “I want you to meet one of the new owners of the 26 Bar Ranch – John Wayne.”
Duke stood up and said, “I guess I am that Hollywood yahoo S.O.B, that you were talking about up on the mountain!” Everyone had a big laugh, and much later the cowboys said that Duke was the best boss they ever had! And from that day on, that line shack has been known as “John Wayne’s S.O.B. line shack!”
One thing about Duke, he could take it and dish it out as well!