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May 25, 2007

Of Mules and Men


Folklorist Bill Ferris is a familiar name to listeners of The Story. He's talked to Dick about single strand blues, as well as the African origins of the yodel. 

Ray Lum is probably not a familiar name to most listeners. Ray was a legendary horse and mule trader, someone Bill knew while growing up in Mississippi. He was a larger-than-life figure--not only could he size up the health and worth of an animal in a few seconds, he could hold his listeners spellbound with all of his stories. Stories about nearly being killed in a Wild West shootout in the 1920s ... or the story about a time when a man offered to sell Ray 80,000 horses in LaPlante, South Dakota.

They had 80,000 horses there. All you would see is horse manure. You could walk on it here, step on it here, step here ... you could walk for twenty miles and never get off of it. And some of that's been laying there for four or five years, just as hard as a rock.

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