There was a man in Toostone town, according to the Diary of Saint Muffy of the Watercress with the Crusts Cut Off, by the name of Rolan Kraps. It is said he was a large man, but not nearly so big as his heart. Dashing and bold, he made the ladies swoon, and not just with his ode’ cowboy. He did charitable works for the ladies without husbands, giving them money, asking only their company in return. He threw rocks at the children who had none. Rolan was in the vernacular of the time “Da Man”.
In his spare time he , like any proper gentleman, made whiskey. Not just any whiskey, but the best whiskey in the whole Territory, which was both vast and full of stills. This ambrosia was said to go down smooth as sodypop and kick like a spoiled mule. It was a far cry from his first recipe , which would to eat through glass. He was proud, and rightly so. Naming it after himself it was labeled The Kraps, Old No.2. It soon became the most popular libation in the Territory. Rolan, made it in great quantities to quench the powerful thirst and ease the pain of a hard life far from the comforts of ..uh..someplace…comfortable. So busy was he that he had no time to sell it by the individual bottle. You could only get it by the case. Which was fine, because that’s how everyone consumed it.
Many a cowboy was heard to say, as they road out of town with that wooden crate precariously balanced on their laps, “Man, It’s hard to ride all day when you have a case of The Kraps”. Truer words were never spoken. Though whiskey was always welcome by the fire, men shunned a man who drank in the saddle. These fellows would drink bottle after bottle, throwing the empties far behind them. They could hit another rider, or worse spook the herd. “You don’t want to ride behind Lefty today, he’s got a case of The Kraps”. Since it was best served chilled, it was often lain in a creek to keep it cold. Valuable as it was, a man had to guard it. “ Where’s Bucky”, “He’s down at the creek, probably be there all day, he has a case of The Kraps, you know”. The sturdy cases were right handy themselves as they were a good size to make doors and shutters from. All over the territory women told their husbands “ Now maybe you will make a door for the outhouse once you’re done with that case of The Kraps. By the individual bottle, it was just called Krap.
The measure of a man was often judged by how willing he was to share his whiskey . Up at the silver mines on Monte Carlo, unsociable types were said “Not to give a Krap”. “Don’t mind Charley, he don’t give a Krap for nobody”. On particularly despicable old coot would spit in the whiskey and then offer you a drink. Newcomers where advised, ”Don’t take no Krap off of that guy”.
In the far flung ranches past Toostone, where money was of little value as there was nothing to buy, men were often paid in whiskey. This was fine with the cowboys, because they would just blow a good bit of their wages on whiskey anyway. Most folks began to use it a money. It was once heard along the trail “I need a job, how’s the pay at the Double X?” “The boss works you like a dog, and the wages are Krap” “Where do I sign on?” That is all but the Dove ranch of course. Old man Dove was a temperate and God fearing man, though most folk still liked him anyway. He did not abide whiskey and it was often said that he didn’t pay Krap. While some businesses recognized it as a currency, others would not. You could see the sign in their window “We don’t take no Krap”. Forcing cowboys to take their business elsewhere. Christmas time at the ranches, the cowboys would exchange bottles. Each man would unwrap his present and yell “Oh Krap”,or “Would you look at this Krap?” The Church in Toostone used it in place of communion wine, where it was known as Holy Krap.
For a short time demand outstripped supply, and men turned to thievery. After a wave of vigilantism with shootings, and lynches it became far too dangerous to go take a Krap. However, abuse was not uncommon. I once rode to the Double Circle Rocking Consonants Ranch, home of the sorest cattle rumps in known world when we had a stampede over to the Lazy SOB. I called to the foreman, “Hey John, I need some men to help me round up some strays” “ No can do, Gunny, the boys are all full of Krap, and they ain’t moving too good this morning.” In fact a famous gunfight was called on account of whiskey. One man said to the other “ I ain’t a gonna fight you today , Doc, I was up all night with a case of The Kraps, and I can’t feel my legs. I ain’t in no shape to gunfight”. That man later became the Governor of the Territory, and then the State. So I guess you could say it the course of history has been in part shaped by The Kraps.
Thanks to Gunny Sackett for writing this down.