Squirrel Tooth Alice

Libby Thompson twirled gracefully around the dance floor of the Sweetwater Saloon in Sweetwater, Texas. A banjo and piano duo performed a clumsy rendition of the house favorite, “Sweet Betsy From Pike.” Libby made a valiant effort to match her talent with the musicians’ limited skills. The rough crowd around her was not interested in the out-of-tune music; their eyes were fixed on the billowing folds of her flaming red costume. The rowdy men hoped to catch a peek at Libby’s shapely, bare legs underneath the yards of fabric on her skirt, but Libby was careful to only let them see enough to keep them interested. Many of the cowboy customers of the Sweetwater were spattered with alkali dust, grease, or just plain dirt. They stretched their eager, unkempt hands out to touch Libby as she pranced by, but she managed to avoid all contact. At the end of the performance she was showered with applause, cheers, and requests to see more. That night, Libby was not in an obliging mood. She smiled, bowed and hurried past the enthusiastic audience as she made her way to the bar for a drink. A surly bartender served her a glass of apply whisky and she headed off to the back of the room with her beverage. A large, purple velvet chair waited for her there in her usual corner spot by the stairs, along with her pets, a pair of prairie dogs. As Libby walked through the mass of people to her throne-like seat, she saw three grimy, bearded men surrounding her seat. One of the inebriated cowhands was poking at her animals with a long stick. “Boys, I’d thank you kindly to stop that,” she warned the unruly trio. The men turned to see who was speaking then broke into a hearty laugh once they saw her. Ignoring the dancer they resumed their harassment of the animals. The animal batted the stick back as it neared them and each time the men would erupt with laughter. Libby watched the three for a few moments then slowly reached into her drawstring purse and removed a pistol. Pointing the gun at the men she said, “Don’t make me ask you again.” The drunk cowhands turned to face Libby and she aimed her pistol at the head of the man with the stick. Laughing, the man told her to “go to hell.” “I’m on my way,” she responded, pulling the hammer back on the gun. “But I don’t mind sending you there first so you can warn them,” she added. The cowboy dropped the stick and he and his friends backed away from Libby’s chair. One by one they staggered out of the saloon. Libby put the gun back in her purse, scooped up her frightened pets, scratched their heads and kissed them repeatedly. Known as Squirrel Tooth Alice, Libby Thompson was named for slight imperfection in her teeth and for the burrowing rodents she kept, which were often mistaken for squirrels. Perhaps in spite of, or due to her idiosyncrasies, Alice was one of the most famous madams of the West. Among the many things that fascinate me about the west was the ability to challenge a bully without fear of getting sued. If you wanted trash out of your life and they wouldn’t go with a kind request you could force them to leave you alone. The bully wasn’t made the victim as is the case now of days either. My nephew works at a Walmart in Missouri and recently shared with me that Dottie Dial, a woman that has done nothing but cause heartache for my family, including accusing my nephew of some horrible acts, used his checkout stand to pay for the things she was going to purchase. While going through the line she had the nerve to ask him how he was doing and inquired about the rest of the family. Dottie Dial is a bully and should leave what’s left of my family alone. Given the circumstances she could have and should have gone through another line. But as I say, she’s a bully and no one will stop a bully these days. If only it were 1873 and Squirrel Tooth Alice was witness to the bad this woman has done and continues to do. I think I know the course Squirrel Tooth Alice would take. To read more about Squirrel Tooth Alice visit www.chrisenss.com.