CORKY INCITTI

CORKY INCITTI

     The Incitti family from old Sopris was pretty well known throughout the
Trinidad Valley. There were seven bambinos born into the Incitti clan. Momma and
poppa Incitti were Joe and Francis Jennie. Francis was a Randisi before she married
poppa Joe. Angelina, the first born, spent most of her growing years in Sopris selling
groceries at the family's small store in Jerryville. Jerryville, of course, was one of
five thriving suburbs of metropolitan hub of Sopris. Angelina completed her life's
work, ironically, in the food business as a cook at Colorado State University in Fort
Collins. Sam has been employed in a variety of jobs over his working lifetime and is
recently retired from the Department of Social Services in Trinidad as an eligibility
technician supervisor. Angelo (Spraggs) spent the majority of his adult life in
building and construction in Colorado Springs, and Dominic recently retired as a
school administrator in the Colorado Springs School District. Maryjane has worked
for years at the Trinidad State Nursing Home as a social worker and is now retired.
And then there is Joe, the "babe" of the family, who has committed his working years
to keeping old Trinidad Town viable as a manager of equipment and machine
operator.

     But this is a story about Guerrino, who nobody really knows as, well,
Guerrino. I've known this guy for over fifty years; and my perception of him, until I
wrote this story, was that his name was Corkey. So, "Corky" it shall be. He was born
the fourth of the seven children in the Incitti family. Corkey took a slightly different
tum in the path oflife than did his siblings. This fella was born to be a cowboy. Not
a city employee, nor an educator; not a carpenter or a technical supervisor-he is
living, breathing, rough and tumble western cowboy; "Corky the Cowboy!" There is
real alliteration to that handle.

 

     He was born and raised in Sopris where he was active in all three sports
activities provided by the small rural Lincoln school at the time; softball, track, and
basketball. He played every position but center on the basketball team. One can
surmise that, because of his pocket-sized five foot, six inch height and a very slight
one-hundred thirty pounds of body mass, the center position was out of the question.
He participated all the sports programs because of the fact that there were only ten or
so boys available in the whole goshdurn high school.

 

     "They were the best years of my life, that's what they were," mused the
diminutive cowboy in an interview at his ranch house situated at the foot of the great
Stone Wall. "I used to hang around with Buck Fido, Guido Coszalter, and Mike
Machone most of the time. They used to call us the 'Dead End Kids.' We were
always together and doing all kinds of things, hiking, bumming, and fishing down
the river. We used to hike up to Long's Canyon and jump the freight train from there
to Sopris Plaza.

 

     We also used to ride loose horses that we were grazing in a pasture on the
way to Long's Canyon. Albert Veciello, Pete Coszalter, and Easly and Gabby Ramirez
were also a part of this entertainment. My brother Spraggs used to chase them to us
until we caught them. We would put a piece of baling wire on their nose and ride the
heck out of them. Learned how to ride a horse doing that.

     "Albert (Veciello) was the ringleader for a lot of our stuff. I was with him
once when he got into the school [Lincoln] and drew a big black eye, with a marker, on
a bust of George Washington that was in the hallway. There was also a bust of
Abraham Lincoln, but he didn't bother that one. Mr. Davidson, the Principal, called
me into the office on Monday. He just knew it was Albert who did the bad deed. He
kept trying to get me to tell him who it was and I wouldn't do it, so he called Albert's
mom to the school and made her wash off the black eye on Washington!"

 

     And there are sooo many more stories the little cowboy can tell you.
 

     "Another time we ditched school and found some black strap molasses in an
old dump nearby," continued Incitti. "Guido Coszalter, Buck Fido, and Spraggs were
with me that time. We snuck into the old Sopris Gym and put the sticky molasses on
the stools in the girls rest room. We scratched a small space on the paint on the
window so we could see what was happening and waited for the Puffy Herrera dance
to happen that Saturday night. Sure as heck, the first one into the restroom was a
heavily endowed young lady who sat down square on the stool. She had a real tough
time getting up. Boy, was she mad. She pulled herself off the stool ranting and raving,
stooping over and holding her dress up to show the other girls what had happened. We
were outside busting a gut. Eugene McGinn was the Principal by then, and he called a
school board meeting that Monday. He called us all in before the school board and
asked us to write the names of the culprits on a blank piece of paper and give it to him.
Nobody did. All we got in trouble for was ditching school.

 

     "I loved those old days in Sopris. We were all in the same boat. We were all
like brothers and sisters in that town. We ate just as much tortillas and beans as we did
spaghetti. It was all one big family. There was nobody better than anyone else. We all
got along with each other. It was great."

 

     And so the ornery little cowboy finally graduated from Lincoln High School,
back in 1947, much to the relief of Mr. McGinn. His experiences of riding the horses
in Longs Canyon with his buddies were fresh in his youthful memory, so he tried some
bull riding soon after graduation. He then went to work for Ray Watson on his ranch
in Long's Canyon. He was a mere seventeen-year-old youngster. Here he pursued his
newfound passion for eleven years, working the spread and running cattle with Ray's
son, Bill. After eleven fruitful years of working the Watson ranch, he took a job with
the Ozello Construction Company for two years, doing heavy pick and shovel labor on
the construction of the portal at the new Allen Mine. It was at this time that he
encountered Babe Penn, the foreman of the Mecom's Bar-Nothing Ranch in
Stonewall. The two of them got to talking about his experience in Long's Canyon, and
Babe, without hesitation, asked the now thirty year old Corky to work for him at the
Bar-Nothing. And that, my dear readers, is yet another story.

 

     The Bar-Nothing was owned by the John W. Mecom family, formerly of
New Orleans, Louisiana, now relocated to Colorado Springs. Mecom was a gas and
oil entrepreneur and former owner of the New Orleans Saints. The ranch consisted of
a rambling five thousand scenic acres with an additional one hundred thousand acres
leased from the Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation. Here the young cowboy worked
as a general ranch hand doing all the things that general ranch hands do; mending
fences, building, and maintaining the property, punching cows and, caring for the
horses. Within a brief period of time he was promoted to head honcho and chief bottle
washer of the entire operation. "After Jubal (his son), I'm the real boss," mused a
pensive Corky.

 

     And, as fate would have it, the little cowboy from Stonewall met his future
bride on one of his infrequent sojourns into bustling Trinidad. She was a pretty
sixteen- year-old clerk by the name of Fay Gibson. Fay worked at the S & H Cress 5 &
IO-Cent Store on East Main Street. Ironically, this was the same store that my dad

met mom, who also was a sales clerk at this very popular nickel and dime
establishment. Corky took one look; and that's all it took. The young cowboy was
love-struck. He hung around the store and pestered young sales clerk for an
unbelievable six, long excruciating years. When she was 22 and he was 33, they
married. Way back in 1961.

 

     Presumably, so the story goes, Ms. Fay got real tired of him hounding her,
so the solution to the problem was fairly simple. It took a long time to convince her,
but he finally got the job done. Corky and Fay's first child, Jubal, was born on
December 27, 1962. Then, on Saint Patrick's Day, three years later, little Mary, the
veritable jewel of the cowboy's gleaming eye, came along.

 

     "1 can't tell you how much I love my kids," confided Incitti, "and Jubal is
now my top hand. I went to a Glenn Ford movie called 'Jubal' with Easly [Ramirez]
and Joe Terry. I told them that if I ever had a boy I was going to name him Jubal. It's
a good thing we didn't go see a movie called Lassie, or Dracula!"

 

    And so, the little cowboy, with his weather-beaten face, resembling the
rough rawhide he uses to assemble his saddles, has passed many moons running
cattle at the Bar-Nothing Ranch. And for forty-four plus years, it could not have
been any better.

 

     "I've always liked ranch work," explained Incitti. "Up here I don't have to
worry about nothing. Nobody is on your case. Nobody bothers you as long as you do
your job. I wouldn't have been here for forty-four years if it wasn't good. My family
grew up here. I watched all the Mecom family grow up here. Jubal and his family
live here. My granddaughter Mallory is into 4-H big time and is a real cowgirl. Both
my kids were born here. My grandchild was born here. I've been through three
generations of the Mecom family; my boss Betsy, her dad, and her kids. And you
can't beat the Mecom's. They have been so generous. They have taken good care of
my family and have done a lot for charity. Betsy helps a lot with our 4-H Program
and other charities.

 

     "It's been very easy, very good living and working here at the ranch. It's
great to have all the grand kids around. Melissa (daughter of Mary and John
Mangino), and Levi and Mallory (children of Jubal and Kelly) are always around.
There's no need for me to even leave the place. The kids do all the shopping for us
that we need. I just love to stay here and enjoy the mountains, work the cows, make
my wine and sausage and jerky, hunt, and oversee the kids and take care of my dogs."

 

     When Corky isn't dogging cows with his pooches, he tinkers. A gadget
guy, he holds a United States patent number 4,696,282 for the invention of a camp
stove. He was once highlighted in a national publication, Western Horseman
Magazine. with, of course, a photograph of him in his cowboy garb on the cover.
His harvests in life have been bountiful.

 

     "1 get up in the morning and look forward to each day," philosophized the
little cowboy. "1 just do the best I can and thank the Lord that I am here. I don't
worry about the weather or whatever. I just take life as it comes. If you have to
worry about the weather and don't want to get out of bed because it's stormy or bad,
then it's not worth it. You just can't worry about things. We've got to take it all as it
comes."

 

     "He is really like that," corroborated little brother Joe. "He's pretty easy
going. In all my life I've never seen him be uncomfortable with strangers or anybody
else. He could get along with the devil."

 

     And so, the irrepressible Corky, with the taut weather-beaten face, will rise
each and every morning, come rain, shine, sleet, or snow, to care for the Bar-Nothing
Ranch, ably assisted by his three pooches, Old Smoky, Little Fella, and Slim, and his
number one hand, Jubal And Fay will be there. And all the grandkids will be there,
too.

 

     For the ornery little Sopris cowboy with a mug like leather and an
interminably mischievous grin, all is peaceful and all is quiet; on the Bar-Nothing
Ranch near the great wall of stone.

 

     "We've just gotta take life is it comes!"