BIG SLIM ('The Lone Cowboy'):
(Jukka Joutsi, 5.4.2011 ~ latest additions: 5.4.2011)

A) BIG SLIM (Aliff) - introduced in '3rd Annual Good Will Tour Souvenier'-booklet.


Another pr-photo of Big Slim - 'The Lone Cowboy'.

Big Slim Aliff's 'Souvenier Folder' (Decca Recording artist - WWVA - 1938).

Big Slim in 1946.

'Big Slim' was born in Bluefield, WV in a farm home. His father was a horse and cattle dealer and they owned a 750 acre tract of land.
Became an orphan at the tender age of 8 and had to make his own way from there and didn't get much education. He said he left home at the age of 11, and left behind his four sisters and one brother.
Ran an engine for 3 or 4 months on the big "URR", but heard the call of the wild again, resigned and went back to what he called home.
At the time he was married to a Pennsylvania girl, he wrote, but she didn't seem to like that.
He moved back east in 1929 and on to radio and felt like he had gained thousands of friends. He said while on the radio, his big goal was to make it in the movies. Big Slim's real name was H.C. McAulife - also known as 'Aliff'. Fall, 1915, classified as high junior trick rider of all rodeos, in 1922, firing on the railroad and in 1927, became an engineer. Big Slim, The Lone Cowboy - Born: May 9, 1904, Died: October 13, 1966, WWVA Original Jamboree, WPIT Pittsburgh, PA and WWVA Wheeling, WV.

From a page called "My Life Story....." in a little song folio called "Big Slim - The Lone Cowboy Favorite Songs" and attributed to Big Slim (no copyright date or publisher listed).

(All Experts/Country Music, 2011):
Question: The song is Catanio the Pride of the Plain, sang many times by Big Slim at the Wheeling Jamboree. I used to know all the words but have forgotten most of them. It starts, I'll tell you a story there is one I know, of a horse I once owned down in Old Mexico, swift as an antelope, black as a crow, star on his forhead as white as the snow. ----- Only remember parts after that. Hope you have heard of it. Circa 1940's Thanks.

Answer::
This song was originally called "Plantonio, The Pride Of The Plains", but came to be known as "Patonio, The Pride Of The Plains" (and various other spellings of the name). It is not absolutely certain who wrote it, but it is often attributed to Harry C. McAuliffe and Bobby Gregory.
McAuliffe's real name was Harry Aliff and he performed under the name Big Slim the Lone Cowboy. I believe that it was first officially published in 1931 and the first recording of the song that I know of was by Powder River Jack Lee in 1938 under the title "Platonia, The Pride Of The Plains". It has also been recorded by Hank Snow, Billy Walker, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Don Edwards.
The lyrics vary slightly from one version to another, but below is what seems to be the most common version;

You look at the picture with a wondering eye
And then at the arrow that's hanging close by
And say tell a story as there's one I know
Of a horse I once owned down in New Mexico

He was swift as an antelope and black as a crow
With a star on his forehead as white as the snow
His arched neck was hidden by a long flowing mane
And they called him Patanio the Pride of The Plains

The country was new then, the settlers were scarce
The Indians on the warpath were savage and fierce
Scouts were sent out every day from the post
But they never came back, so we knew they were lost

One day the Captain said someone must go
For help to the border of New Mexico
A dozen brave fellows straightway answered, "Here!"
But the Captain he spied me and said, "Son, come here"

Patanio beside me, his nose in my hand
Said the captain, "Your horse is the best in the land
You're good for this ride, you're the lightest man here
On the back of that mustang you've nothing to fear"

"I'm proud of my horse, Sir," I answered, "You know
Patanio and I are both willing to go"
They all shook my hand as I mounted the black
Patanio sped forward and I gave him his slack

For eighty long miles over the plains we must go
For help to the border of New Mexico
The black struck a trot and he kept it all night
Till just as the east was beginning to light

When back from behind me there came a fierce yell
We knew that the redskins were hot on our trail
I rose up and jingled the bells on his rein
And I stroked his neck softly and I called him by name

He answered my touch with a toss of his head
And his black body lengthened as onward he sped
The arrows fell round me like showers of rain
When in my left leg, oh, I felt a sharp pain

The red blood was flowing from Patanio's side
But he never once shortened his powerful stride
Patanio, poor fellow, I knew he was hurt
But still he dashed onward and on to the fort

By good care Patanio and I were soon well
Of his death long years after it hurts me to tell
They write songs about him the cowboys still sing
The legend lives on of his long flowing mane

So look at the arrow that hangs on the wall
It was shot through my leg, boot, stirrup and all
On many fine horses I've since drawn the reins
But none like Patanio the Pride of The Plains

* * * * * *


Here's how Powder River Jack Lee's version went:

You gaze on that picture with wondering pride
And then at the arrow that hangs by my side
You say tell a story, you know there is one
Of the beautiful creature with eyes like the sun
That name ever haunts me whereever I go
I'll tell you a story, 'Twill thrill you I know
Of the famous cow pony I rode on the range
And they called him Platonia, the Pride of the Plains

He was swift as an antelope, black as a crow
With a spot on his forehead whiter than snow
His hair, like a lady's, was glossy and fine
He was restless and proud, yet was gentle and kind
But the flame in his eyes smouldered fiery and deep
He would always graze by me where I lay asleep
With arched neck so graceful, and dark flowing mane
And I called him Platonia, the Pride of the Plains

Our country was new and settlers were scarce
The Indians blood-thirsty, savage and fierce
Our scouts rode away and we got no report
They were lost, for they never came back to the fort
The captain spoke up and said someone must go
And get help on the borders of New Mexico
A dozen brave cowboys at once answered "Here,"
But the captain saw me, I was standin' right near

Platonia beside me with nose in my hand
The Cap knew my horse was the best in the land
He says, "If there's any one soul can go through
And outride the redskins, my boy, it is you"
Proudly I looked at my pony, I know
Platonia and I are both ready to go
They all shook my hand, as I leaped he dashed forth
I rode down the dark trail and swung his head North

The black strikes a trot and he keeps it all night
And just as the horizon started to light
Not very far back there arose up a wail
And we knowed the red devils wuz hot on our trail
I stroked his black neck and I called him by name
He answered the petting by tossing his mane
His dark body lengthened and faster he sped
And my rifle kept popping as onward we fled

The redskins surround us, I turn his head West
The arrows keep falling, a blow in the chest
I speak to my pony, the best on the range
Steady, Platonia, the Pride of the Plains
Bloody the froth flowing down o'er his bit
And arrows all marking where he has been hit
Platonia, poor feller, I knowed he wuz hurt
But he dashes right onward and up to the fort.

I gave them the messages, there's a dull haze around
My cow pony stumbles and then he goes down
Though wounded and weak, I'm a feelin' right bad
For the best pony comrade that man ever had
But before very long we are both pulling through
Of his death, years later, I'll not tell to you
I have rode many ponies, I've held many reins
But there's none like Platonia, the Pride of the Plains

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