Following the Tracks: Poodle Frenchy


There was one fellah, well I was with a guy
called Poodle Frenchy, he had four little poodle dogs. He was a real character, he was like a walking
pawn shop. He had tons of gear. His gear weighed, he said, over 150 pounds
and I was with him on the north side of the Columbia River in Washington and I knew there
was another tramp across the bridge, a railroad trestle in Oregon, I’d seen him before several
times when the train came through there and he was sort of legendary. His name was Whistling Jack and I thought,
you know, I’m going to leave Poodle Frenchy and I’m gonna walk this trestle and go over
and visit Jack. So I did and I spent, you know, maybe four or five hours with Jack but
he didn’t want his photograph taken and ah, he was, he had the best face, he had one tooth
in his whole head. You know, it was right in the center of his mouth
and uh, we got along pretty well except he insisted that I didn’t take his photograph
and he was armed, he had a pistol and um, never pointed at me, ah and I kept bugging
him about having his photograph taken, I tried every trick in the book, I mean, in talking
him into it. I said, Jack, you know, this is history. You’ve been out here, you know, for a major
part of your life, ah, he wouldn’t have any of it and, uh–he did tell me, this is the
only time I ran in to this, he says, you know, Dale, you’re wearing out your welcome. So I knew I had pushed him a little too far,
but then, you know, I thanked him for his time and I walked back across the bridge to
see Poodle Frenchy, well in that time I was gone, Poodle Frenchy had been stabbed to death. Um, and, uh, the way I heard it from other
tramps, they said, he sold a cabin that he built, ah, to a couple tramps and it wasn’t
his cabin to begin with and he sold it to them for a hundred and thirty-five dollars
so they came looking for him and they got him. So that was, you know I always wonder if I
didn’t go over to see Poodle Fre–I mean Whistling Jack, if I’da been there if that woulda happen
to him, you know, but um, but that’s what happened and ah, yeah it was a shame. He was quite a character and I never could
get, I never did get a great photograph of Poodle Frenchy because I thought, well, I have plenty
of time because he was full of all kinds of stories and sort of welcomed me into his camp
and then after that I guess ah, I’d heard that another tramp, Hatchet George, looked after
Poodle Frenchy’s dogs.

1 thought on “Following the Tracks: Poodle Frenchy

  • Read in entirety in two intervals. Great detail with surprisingly fluent writing in vernacular. Very good,clean photos as well. Well done Mr Wickum

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