Billy’s Step Up

The office felt small as a cattle stall. Hat in hands, Billy stood peering at the framed paintings of horses and prize bulls. None bore resemblance to any living creature Billy had seen.

“Mr. Groom will see you now,” said the man in the glasses.

B.B. Groom sat small and hunched behind a vast wooden desk in a dim room lit by kerosene lanterns, heavy drapes covering the huge windows.

“Won’t waste your time on preliminaries,” said Mr. Groom. “Mr. Thut’s going back to Switzerland. The foreman job’s yours if you want it.”

“Yessir,” said Billy.

And that was that.

Friday Fictioneers

The Francklyn Land and Cattle Company was an English syndicate chartered in 1881 to invest in the “Beef Bonanza.” It was headed by and named for Charles G. Francklyn, a son-in-law of E. G. Cunard, owner of the Cunard Steamship Line, who helped finance the venture. The syndicate purchased a total of 631,000 acres of land in the Panhandle counties of Carson, Gray, Roberts, and Hutchinson, and also in Greer County, Oklahoma, then considered a part of Texas. The purchase price was $880,000. For a resident manager the syndicate acquired the services of B. B. Groom, a relative of Francklyn, who for several years had bred cattle in Kentucky. The Route 66 stopover of Groom, Texas (pop. 574) is named for him.