#Lookback: James and Maxine Shaw

A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

Jim Shaw grew up outside of Wheatland, Wyoming on a ranch near Laramie Peak which he later shared with his wife Rose and their two children. A severe drought caused rattlesnakes to invade the ranch and their home, causing worry for the safety of their young children, James and Maxine. In the spring of 1936, the family packed up and moved to Dubois in an attempt to escape the rattlesnakes. However, upon arriving in Dubois, the Shaw’s were greeted by water snakes. The family purchased a ranch outside of Dubois that came with a large log cabin and an outhouse. The place became known as the LU Bar Dude Ranch when Jim built an additional log house, bathhouse, and two cabins. According to a letter from Maxine Litecky (Shaw), looking back on her Dubois years, Maxine remembers how the dudes who worked on her family’s ranch were mostly from California and tried to come back to the ranch every year as they became enamored with the wild west atmosphere.

James and Maxine went to school with Virgil Rutledge who lived with the family while going to high school at the old log schoolhouse that served Dubois from 1936 to 1955. Maxine remembers walking over to a log cabin with a sod roof to eat a hot lunch prepared by Bernice Welty every day. Lee Warnock drove the school bus, which saved the students from having to ride their horses to school. Maxine enjoyed school, especially having all four grades in one room. She jokes, “I spent a lot of time staring out the window watching Ernest Stringer’s milk cows. I’m afraid I knew a lot more about those cows than what was being taught in class!” James and Maxine graduated from Dubois High School in 1948 and 1953 respectively. 

During World War II, Dubois got even smaller. James and Maxine were both still in school while Virgil was in the service. Maxine notes, “then came World War II, and the town sort of closed down. My barber, Harold Boedeker, was off cutting General MacArthur’s hair instead of mine—it just seemed like everyone was away.”

Maxine discusses in her letter trouble with a bull on the family ranch who would chase her and bar her entrance and exit from the outhouse. Maxine’s mule, named Gracie Allen, after George Burns’ wife, had an exciting night out on the town. “One night Gracie the mule went to Dubois and the cowboys invited her into the Rustic Pine Tavern. Since Gracie was a lady, those old boys bought her a whiskey sour—well, she loved it so they gave her some more drinks. After a while, Gracie got drunk and turned very unladylike and wouldn’t leave—like us humans, who’d pass up a free drink? How they finally got her out of the bar I have no idea, I just wish I’d been there to see it!”

Next up for the Fremont County Museum

March 4, 9-5 pm “First Friday” at the Dubois Museum, Pioneer Museum, and Riverton Museum.  State Farm Riverton/State Farm Lander

Thru October 2022, 9-5 pm Monday-Saturday, at the Pioneer Museum, “Hurrah for The Cowboy: Men of the Open Range” Art Exhibition

The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander, and the Riverton Museum need your financial support. In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits, and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.  Please make your tax-deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

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