Charles Teaches Old West Lingo To A Co-Star

August 14, 2008

WHEN “LOCO” DOESN’T MEAN A RAILWAY ENGINE!

LOVELY brunette Delores Sidener, who is nineteen years old and made her film debut in a recent Columbia Pictures Western, had difficulty deciphering the various cowboy terms which kept confronting her while she was making this film.  Charles Starrett, cowboy star, undertook to explain them to her.  Loco, he told her, does not necessarily mean an abbreviation for a railway engine — but is a word which comes from the poisonous loco weed, which, if eaten by cattle or horses, will drive them mad.  The next word which cropped up was fork : “I always thought that this word simply meant a pronged instrument — until Charles explained to me that it can also mean to straddle a horse,” laughed Delores.  The next words she learnt were fanning — which she had always believed to be a cooling gesture on a hot day — and discovered to mean, in cowboy language, the action of a cowboy hero in a gunfight; haze which not only means a low mist or fog but to drive animals anywhere — usually used in connection with long trails.  Another word was draw, and Starrett chuckled “This does not always have to mean the conclusion of a raffle. In our language it is interpreted as the speed with which a gunman can go into action when he reaches for his gun.”  And Delores, slightly bewildered, decided after this that she had learnt enough new terms for one day…

— studio fluff piece reprinted in “The Western Film Annual” by F. Maurice Speed, 1953.

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