After the chuck wagon cook had cleaned the dishes, put away the food, and the night herders were on their mounts, the camp fire was stoked and the cowhands would linger around the fire. At the rear of the chuck wagon, they would tell stories, read, dance, or listen to fiddle music. [See the photograph The Boys of the LS Near Tascosa (LC S59-110), which shows cowhands telling stories around the fire.]

Cowhands who worked as line riders spent many lonely days and nights, so they read everything from classics to adventure stories, often over and over again. Cowboys also entertained themselves by playing card games such as mumble-the-peg, seven-up, and hearts. When cowhands went to town, they might go to a dance, but most likely they would head to the saloon to celebrate.

After the trail drive or roundup was complete, cowhands followed a ritual similar to what Bruce Dillman describes in The Cowboy Handbook.
Erwin E. Smith (1886–1947)
The Boys of the LS near Tascosa Lingering at the Chuck Wagon after the Day's Work is Done, Listening to Range Boss Telling Stories, LS Ranch, Texas, 1907
Nitrate negative
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
  • They collected their pay (often several months’ worth) in cash.
  • They rode to an emporium of tonsorial art (a barber shop and dentist) for a bath, shave, and haircut.
  • They rode to a dispenser of dry goods for new clothes.
  • They rode to whatever other merchants or makers they needed to complete or enhance their outfits.
  • They might ride to a restaurant for eggs or oysters.
  • They rode to a saloon for a toddy or two.
  • Then they commenced celebrating.
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