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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
A Catch Colt

Zona had heard some gossip. Whispers telling about *A “Catch Colt” in connection with her husband’s name and this made her aware of what she had to do.

“Come on, Gal! Help me hook up these oxen to the wagon. We are goin’ into town. The time has come for your Dad and me to have a heart to heart. This business of me stayin’ out here and him in town has got to come to a halt. I’m not doin’ any good, just holdin’ onto the place and that is all. He’s not doin’ any better in there either, even though he won’t admit it. He can’t make a go of a saloon with his drinkin’ up the profits. We’ll just take the boys over to the Stanton place and yu and I will go into town. God Almighty, I’m thankful to you for this girl of mine.” Zona spoke aloud to her Creator.

Zona walked through the swinging doors of the saloon as unconcerned as if she had been walking down the aisle of a church. John was studying her in the half light from his advantageous position behind the bar. No one could question the fact that she was a lovely woman. Her tiny, narrow feet she was proud to show off in dressy, elegant shoes, hard won but she always managed to own, along with a matching purse. Carefully cut clothes flattered a neat figure and always made her look like a woman of wealth. The sureness she now displayed John had forgotten and he fell in love with her all over again.

“Always in command of the situation,” he thought. Aloud, he said, “Zony Girl. What brings you into my humble, establishment?”

His wife didn’t immediately speak. Instead, she stood with one hand on a hip while she slowly looked around the interior of the stark room. The tables, chairs and rough-board-floors, total lack of finery was obvious. This cramped room had rough, wood bottom, surfaces to walk over. Bare tables and a simply flat, bar, with no polish or finish to it was where the men stood and sat. This all showed her a saloon created for one thing and that was just plain, hard, steady drinking. It was a place where a man would come, not for companionship so much as for relief the alcohol gave him from the constant pressure of having to survive this rough land or whatever other circumstance made him use alcohol to escape from his problems.

*Catch Colt. A slang term for a baby born to an unmarried woman.

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