Become a Fan
The Lone Butte Feud
By Robert J Fullerton
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
This is an incident which I wished to forget. Alas, it was not to be.
Writing it made it more bearable.
..The Lone Butte Feud..
...by Robert Fullerton...
I'm going to change just a few names, here. The other people, in this tale are still in Lone Butte, or in the surrounding area, for the most part, and I keep in touch with some of those who have moved away.
Early in 1979 my wife, Francine and I, having come into a little money, decided to look at property in the B.C. Interior. We wanted a place far from town, and the crime associated with denser populations, to raise our boys, Danny and Jimmy. A place where the boys could be a little closer to nature.
We found our place, Lone Butte. It was ideal, population: 273, twelve miles from 100 Mile House, the nearest place inhabited by more than five hundred people,
100 Mile House is a small town on the Caribou Trail, between Kamloops and Williams Lake.
The town had one hotel the Exeter Hotel, five restaurants, one pub, The Exeter Pub, one pharmacy, a post office, two banks, one major food retailer, plus a few motels along the highway.It also had a hardware store, which sold everything from firearms to motorcycles and parts.
100 Mile House boasted a brand new ‘mini’ shopping mall, housing the Bank of Montreal, and the 100 Mile Hardware Store, as well as five or six speciality shops. Danny’s school was in 100 Mile House, as wellThe house we found was older, but very well constructed, and sat well back from the main road that passed through the village proper.
You needed to cross a “cattle guard” to get to our place, something I hadn’t seen since I was a boy. It boasted huge evergreen trees on the property, and a well, two hundred feet deep that produced the coldest, purest water you could ever imagine.And so, when all the papers were signed, in 1980, and the money had changed hands, we moved in to our little Eden.
It was Eden to us. The dogs and cats loved their newfound freedom, and the boys’ eyes sparkled when they got up in the morning. My beautiful wife was even more radiant, as she started planning flower and vegetable gardens, in the front and back of the property.
Some of our new neighbours stopped in to welcome us, and brought all manner of inviting homemade foodstuffs, as part of their greetings.One of the first things I did, after I had placed the furniture in the final, of many, spots that Francine wanted them put, was to construct a small log cabin, for the boys, at the back of the property. It had running water, and electricity,
I, then, constructed a frame, where their hockey rink would be in the coming winter. I met some of my new neighbours, who showed up to help me fall and peel the logs. Barrett Irwin donated a ready-made roof for the project. To my delight, I found that the garage was full of seasoned wood; almost enough to last us through the winter.
I started to cut and stack more wood for the winter, which was said to be quite long and bitterly cold. We were mistaken, though, although the mercury said -25 or -30 degrees, it never seemed as cold as the +20’s and +30’s we were accustomed to on the coast. It lacked the dampness that permeated the winters in the southern coastal region of B.C.
Our house was situated on Matsuda Road, named after a Japanese farmer, hidden away by the community for the duration of the war, when a suspicious Government was interring Japanese Canadians in labour camps.
Mr. Matsuda’s descendants lived down and across the road in front of our home, and they were mighty good neighbours, too.I was recovering from a very serious motorcycle accident when we arrived, and had just graduated from a wheel chair. I was working in a truck manufacturing plant at the time of the accident, and the pleasant, but arduous labour, which was a part of my chores in our new homestead, put some meat and muscle back on my frame.
Muscle, which stood me in good stead in the ensuing months at our new place.By early summer, I had managed to stockpile enough wood for the coming winter, and started building a go-cart, for the younger boy, Jimmy, and an off road motorcycle, for his brother, Danny. They paid for my labour and parts necessary by performing chores, in and around the house.
They never got anything for nothing, except for Christmas, birthdays, and/or very special occasions. This strategy paid off in later years, I'm pleased to say.
About a hundred yards separated my lot from the property on our right, and the house was unoccupied when we arrived. This was about to change; and for the worse.The first indication that we had new neighbours, was a car we had not seen before parked in front of the nearby house, and the sound of loud music emanating from the premises
The vehicle just appeared there one morning. We never saw the people move in, nor the furniture they must have unpacked, in the middle of the night.We adapted quickly to our new life style, and were very pleased with the slower pace evident in this small village. We got to know the denizens slowly, and couldn’t help remarking just how different and eccentric some of the villagers were.
For instance: ‘Old Tom’ Jones was a cowboy, a real one, who had driven, branded, and coddled cattle through cold Caribou winters for more than forty years. He owned an establishment straight out of a movie.
He rented rooms in the Lone Butte Hotel, a log structure built at the middle of the century. He charged $8.00 a week for a room, and would change your bedding once a week - if pressed to do so.He was quite the ‘ladies’ man’, our Tom, and was the cause of many jealousies and squabbling at all the social events, among the unmarried women in town, and from surrounding areas.
He cooked wonderful Hamburgers and Fries in the kitchen, while holding a dead cigar in his teeth He claimed the ashes enhanced the taste He encouraged the villagers to show their arts & crafts in the hotel, and tourists were only too happy in purchase some of the local treasures.
Then, there was my friend Richard (“Turk”) and his beautiful wife, Viola. They had three young children, and Viola and Francine became fast friends.
Turk was something different, to say the very least. Though he bathed daily, he stained his clothes with oil and grease, so that even his clean jeans looked filthy.
He grew his beard long, and was very loud and boisterous. This, in fact, belied his peaceful character, and left strangers a little apprehensive of him.
Needless to say, a night out in the local bars with Turk (and he and I shared many such nights) could prove to be most interesting and amusing. He was also a motorcycle enthusiast, and one of his favourite pastimes seemed to be continually crashing his bikes.
And, of course, there were the colourful ‘nick names’ that Turk christened everyone with. George, who stood 6’ 11”, became ‘Tree Top’, Jean, a French-speaking fellow, became, ‘Froggy’. I shared the name, Bob, with three of his friends.
We became, ‘Little Bob’, ‘ Medium Bob’, and ‘Fat Bob’. I was the ‘medium’.Two of our friends were named Mike, so one became, ‘Mike Mental’, because of his intelligence, while the other became; ‘Mental Mike’, because he really marched to the beat of a different drum.
Francine became; Francie, and Turk tormented her and Jean, because of their accents; in a funny and respectful manner.I have to mention my friend, Greg Case, here. He got ‘Casey’, as his nickname, from Turk.
Greg was a powerfully built young man, with a perpetual smile on his face. He was one of the kindest and most gentle men you could ever hope to meet. He loved Francine and the boys, and gave me all kinds of help with my projects. Greg was never too busy, or too tired, to help anyone who needed assistance.
Greg’s uncle, Charlie raised palomino Belgian draft horses, and I got to help tend to these ‘gentle giants’ occasionally, which was always a treat. These huge beasts were a delight to behold when they were hitched to a wagon.Francine and I toured the countryside, and took in the spectacular scenery in our new domain.
We bought some twenty four-baby chicks, and some duck eggs, which I wanted to incubate at home. I took photographs of all the log homes in the area, as well as those of some old churches, rail fences, and antique farm machinery.I cleared some of the property in the back of the house so we could watch the beavers at work in the pond at the southern tip of our lot. I repainted the house, inside and out, and Francine bought drapes and curtains for our home.
The trees I cut in the back were used to construct the boys’ log house, which became a gathering place for the youngsters of Lone Butte.We set about enrolling the boys in their respective schools, and I started get their ‘machines’ running. Jim had his go-cart, and Dan had a 75cc YZ Yamaha dirt bike.
I gave the boys lessons for about a week, at which time; their skills began to surpass mine. Danny graduated to a 100 cc YZ, and Jimmy inherited the 75 cc bike.By the time a month had rolled by we were pretty well adapted to our new home, and to the relaxing pace of the country. We would go to bed, exhausted by the work that we had accomplished, but we would wake up, refreshed and invigorated, the next morning, prepared for another strenuous day.
I wasn’t welcome in Tom’s hotel, not at first, anyway. He thought I was a “Hippy”, because my hair was a little long, and I enjoyed walking about, shirtless. His attitude would change, as people got to know our newest neighbours.
After giving the next door neighbours time to get settled in, Francine and I decided to pay them a visit, and welcome them to the village, as we were welcomed when we arrived, not that long ago.
My first impression of “John” was, that I had not often seen such an imposing man, as he was, in my time.He stood over six feet tall, and must have weighed in the vicinity of 275 pounds. (If not, more) and had a perpetual scowl on his face. Though his gut was a little slack, there was lot of muscle on his frame.
His wife, “Alice”, seemed at first, to be a shy and demure young lady.. Not so, as the reader will learn further along in this story.I had, by this point, allowed my self the time to pursue one of my favorite pastimes; sketching, in India ink and charcoal.
There were many log houses in the area, and I made short work of those. I sketched, old barns, old farm machinery, all the old churches I could find.The sketch on the cover of this book was done on March19, 1981, and I presented it to Tom about a month after I was allowed in the hotel, for the first time.
My neighbours asked for some of my work, and used to hang them in the hotel for a while, for the villagers to see, before they took them home to adorn their walls. Tourists to the area saw some of my sketches, and some were directed to my home, in hopes of acquiring some of my art. The folks from Oregon and Washington State seemed to prefer the log home sketches, and the Lone Butte Hotel ones sold very well.For example, Chris Esterbrook wanted me to sketch a team of horses tied to the hitching rail in front of the Hotel on his canvas, and some tourists wanted me to sketch their vehicles, or asked me to put their likenesses in the sketch of the building.
I was always happy to oblige. I started to get a lot of demand for my work, and soon had a quaint little studio set up in my garage.By all estimates, I did over a hundred of the Hotel sketches, with a variety of additions. While no two sketches were identical, the scale of the building remained the same, and all the sketches were on 18’ X 24’ canvasses.
This was such a peaceful, comfortable time for Francine and me. We had no idea of the nightmare in store for us, and, for many other people, all around the area.For those who have honoured my by reading my poems, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my drinking problem thus far. It’s coming, for it, too, reared its ugly bead in the turbulent times that I am slowly getting to it.
My writing speed reflects my reluctance to dwell on the events of the summer of ’81. But, I said I’d tell the story, and I will.
We made many new friends, in the period just prior to the arrival of ”John” and “Alice”, most of whom, I still run into, now and then. Our house was over the “cattle guard’ that separated the range from the village, and there was an oval road that gave access to the houses.The neighbours had children, about my boys’ ages, and it was agreed by all, that they could use this road as their “track” The kids were in ‘Seventh Heaven’; especially Jimmy, who paid for his go-cart gas by renting the machine out.
Some of the friends we left behind on the coast came to visit, and we all had a great time. I acquired a temporary job in town, helping to erect an overhead crane. This proved to be a very exciting job, and I got a contract to operate the crane, when it was, finally, erected. I helped to construct some of the prettiest log homes you could ever imagine.
While I was working in town, the trouble started!
John had marijuana plants growing on and around his property, and he had purchased a bull calf and two pigs, which be said he was going to slaughter for meat in the fall. Unknown to us, he had contracted the neighborhood boys, including ours, to watch his crop.
The boys approached Francine with apprehension, and said that “John” would be angry with them for allowing ‘T Bone’, the calf, to eat “Johns” ‘grass’.Francine married me straight off the farm, and learned to speak English only after we moved to BC, in the fall of ‘75. So, naturally, she assumed they meant real grass, not pot.
She told them not to worry, that cows always ate grass. This was one of the many times that Francine’s limited vocabulary provided some chuckles to me, and her friends.I was concerned that “John” had begun cultivating marijuana, and that he had engaged the kids in this endeavour.
Since T Bone had eaten all of “John’s” plants, I decided not to pursue the matter any further, and, I purchased T Bone from him. As you imagine, it was very amusing to see the calf wandering around stoned. "John" was more than happy to get rid of the calf, and T Bone was immediately made a member of our clan.After T-Bone had seen to his ‘potty,’ I would wash him down with the hose, towel him dry, and bring him into the house, where he seemed to really enjoy watching cartoons with the boys.
He would chase, and, in turn, be chased by our dogs, and would come anytime someone called his name. He played with the chickens, and with the ducks, which we had successfully hatched, and, he loved our cats.
Of course, this television watching came to an end when he reached five hundred pounds, and would no longer fit through the door, but T Bone continued to watch cartoons every day through the window. At times, the boys would open the window, so that they could share popcorn with their ‘buddy’.
We kept T Bone until he was big enough to slaughter, but by then he was too much like a family member to kill. He was, however, at about nine hundred pounds, too big for us to keep on the property, and he had a liking for some of the neighbour’s gardens. T-bone, somehow, had solved the problem of crossing the cattle guard.
Their flowers were also at risk when T Bone roamed. T Bone was auctioned off, and we saw no more of him.
That was the start of the “Summer of John”. We soon discovered that “John” did not sleep at night; he prowled the area, stealing just about anything that was not tied down. He got caught stealing from the village convenience store, operated by Lawrence, and his wife.When threatened with police, “John” said he would burn down their store/home at night, while they slept.
Lawrence and his wife believed that “John” was capable of carrying out this threat, and they did not report him to the RCMP."John' began a slashing spree that left many residents with huge bills to replace slashed tires, and to stitch up injured animals.
Anyone that "John" felt had slighted him; received his special brand of payback.No one was immune to his forays and he, apparently, no distinct boundaries. He could be operating in 100 Mile House, or in Williams Lake. 'John' went where the pickings were easy. Picking were easy, as folks around here never locked their doors, garages, or barns.
Crime, except for the occasional brawl at the local watering holes, on some rare weekends, was virtually unheard of. I think that this was one of the main reasons that the neighbours did not know how to deal with 'John' and his rowdy crew.
Most of the residents were from the Caribou, which had always had very low crime statistics. The local RCMP was a very efficient police force, but, as with all police forces that hire locals, they were not too familiar to the likes of "John', either.
Parents started keeping kids at home, in fear of this man, and the boys watched the number of playmates slowly dwindle down to none. This was very hard for the boys to understand, and as I became aware of what was going on,
I started to make inquiries about our next-door neighbour.My wife told me most of this after I took an active role in halting “John’s” marauding. She was afraid of the violence that could ensue.And she was right.
In my younger days, I boxed, as an amateur, and as a semi- professional. I bad spent about four years in the liquor industry, as a manager, a waiter, and as a “bouncer”. I was not a stranger to violence.
“John’s” violence was of a different nature; it was unnecessary, and frightening in ifs randomness.
Any time I used force against another person, the amount used was dictated by their actions, not mine, except for the boxing, of course.
I approached my sons’ friends’ parents, and assured them that their children were safe under my supervision, and slowly the kids started coming back with their bikes, and motorcycles. I made trails, in the woods in back of the property for them, as, by this time, “John” had started diving erratically, and dangerously around the neighborhood.
One weekend, we invited ‘Stark’ Clark. a log peeler, and his girlfriend, Daphne, for a Bar B Q at the house. My friends, Greg Case, Mike Smith, and Wes Elliot, were also there. Stark Clark worked for the log house manufacturing firm where I was employed, erecting an overhead crane to speed up production.
He was, pound for pound, one of the strongest men I have ever met.Clark had met his girlfriend through an ad in the newspaper. He had herpes, and he ran an ad, seeking a woman with the same disease to contact him. Daphne was an exquisite lady, and they made a very impressive couple.
Clark had had his tires slashed in town, and recognized “John’s” truck as the vehicle he had seen leaving the scene, “John” spotted Clark’s truck at about the same time...
And the “Feud” was on!!
“John” came charging over, spoiling for a fight; Clark obliged with a beautiful right cross that should have knocked “John” down, if not out. Instead of going down “John” pulled out his Buck knife, and tried to disembowel Clark; But, I stepped in between them, and caught “John’s” arm on the upswing, and took away his knife. “John” retreated to his home.
Greg said that he was amazed that I didn’t get cut, so vicious was “John’s” sweep with the blade. I really didn’t even consider it, at the time.The next day, “John” started speeding around the “oval” and the kids couldn’t ride their bikes. I waited until he went to the Post Office, located right beside Lawrence’s Lone Butte General Store, and confronted him outside.
He had his dog Sabbath, with him, and he sicced the dog on me. I kicked it in the throat, and it convulsed on the road. Then I proceeded to blacken “John’s” eyes and bloody his nose.I have never before, or since, hit a man as hard as I hit “John” and not have him go down. He couldn’t touch me, but I couldn’t finish him off, either. The fight stopped when he couldn’t see out of both eyes and had bled buckets on the road.
His dog had recovered, but, chose wisely, and scurried off back home. I bad broken a knuckle on “John’s” hard head, and I went in to get some tape for my hand.There were about ten people in the store, and that’s when Lawrence’s wife told meabout the theft, and the threat.
No one seemed upset at the violence that had transpired moments earlier, and, it was about then, that I became aware of the fear that the villagers had, of this man. The kids were discussing going back to school, and “John” stayed well away from me for a while.
But it was not forgotten! Not by a long shot.Wes Elliot, who bad been at the Bar B Q with Greg and Clark had his tires slashed, at a cost of $l60O.00, and had all his chickens and pigs killed.
“Rob”, an employee at the BC Liquor Store, had caught “John” and “Alice” stealing vodka, and had called the police. He later lost two sets of tires and all the windows on his van. An unknown assailant also knocked him unconscious, as he left the pub. From behind!
Things were coming to a head. One morning, “John” kept speeding around the oval as the kids were leaving for school. I waited until I heard the school bus leave, and I took my Winchester 22 Magnum, a present from Greg Case, purchased at the 100 Mile Hardware Store, off the wall.I loaded the tube and breech with seventeen rounds of ammunition, and stuck seventeen more in my shirt pocket.
I walked up to his truck, and pumped the two tubes of bullets into the radiator, brakes, tires, and the alternator.“John” came to the window, but never emerged. He would have been safe; I made sure I used all the bullets up on the truck. But he didn’t know that. I waited for the police to show up; They didn’t.
The neighbors had not called them! Even though they had seen me shooting the vehicle! The speeding stopped! I didn’t shoot the old Pontiac he had; “Alice” drove that, and she drove responsibly.
“John” took offence to the way a lady drove by his house. His dog ran out, and she tooted her horn. He followed her van, forced it over to the side of the road, and beat up the lady’s passenger; her brother. He then tried to force the lady into performing oral sex on him. Had it not been for some passers-by, he might have succeeded.
The time had come for me to see if something more permanent could be done to restore the tranquility, we had before he arrived. I was walking past the Hotel, when old Tom called me. He bad a bruise on his check, and the sparkle he usually had in his eyes was not there, in. Tom told me that “John” bad been in. and had tried leaving without paying for his burger and fries. When Tom confronted him, “John” had pushed him into the counter, accounting for the mark on his cheek.
The police bad been called frequently about “John”, but he just made his court appearances. and was back on the street, the same day. Their hands were tied, but they were very sympathetic to the villager’s plight.
100 Mile House had not escaped “John’s” attentions, either. A rush of break-ins and vandalism had begun just after, “John” and “Alice” had moved here. But, unless they were caught in the act, nothing could be done to stop them.
By now, it was apparent that “Alice” was accompanying “John” on his crime sprees. There seemed to be no end to his acts of destruction, vandalism, and outright terrorism. He had taken to bringing some rough looking characters home, and some of the women in the village were being subjected to their lewd comments.
Such a comment was made to Francine, and I went next door, to “John’s place to “discuss” proper behavior with these people. After the discussion, and when the ambulance had taken the one who had insulted Francine to the 100 Mile House Hospital, the insults and untoward remarks died off and the girls want back to enjoying their walks in peace.
My friend, Tom Belanger and I, had done a little work with a construction company in the area, as “powder-monkeys”, since we both had explosives ‘tickets’. The fact that I had a ‘powder ticket’ led to more trouble from “John”, and to suspicion by the police.
He, and some of his rough crowd decided to rob the Bank of Montreal, in the shopping mall in 100 Mile House. They employed dynamite, stolen from the same company that Tom and I had worked for. Their intent was to blow up the night deposit box, and make off with the cash.
They didn’t get any money!
The police calculated that they had used ten sticks of dynamite, where one stick would have sufficed.
They did succeed, however, in destroying five businesses in the small shopping plaza, which was not even six months old, and one of the accomplices was permanently deafened by the concussion of the blest.
“John” returned home and planted the remainder of the stolen dynamite (eight slicks) under my back porch, along with six lines of ”B” fuse and caps, which were necessary to detonate the explosives.
He then called the police and said that be had seen me put the dynamite there. Next morning, the RCMP” Bomb Disposal Unit showed up at my door!
The officers asked me if l would allow them to search the property without a warrant, and I obliged. Of course.They found the dynamite
!I had played broomball with one of the attending officers; Cst. Buck, and he knew that I had not planted it there. His, superiors, however, wanted more proof than that, and so, I was flown to the RCMP detachment in Prince George, where I underwent a Polygraph test.Of course,
I passed the test, and then, the Police homed in on "John". They determined that he could not have been where he claimed he was when he ‘saw’ me put the explosives under my back porch, where it was found, and I was cleared of any suspicion. I was very relieved, but I was very angry with "John' and I decided. 'Enough is enough!"
I asked my boys to help me with a plan to make 'John" and "Alice" go away. "Alice", you see, had been visiting Francine, and some jewelry and some of her favorite crystal had disappeared, along with a modest sum of cash
The boys and their friends were delighted to help, so I proceeded to make "John's" life as miserable as he had made it for me, and other folks', in the surrounding area.I decided to subject him to a constant barrage of noise! I figured that if I could deprive him of, sleep, the community would be a lot safer, and it would force him into another face-to-face confrontation.
I talked to my police friend, whose name really was ‘ Buck’. and outlined what I had in mind. He, 'unofficially' agreed with my plan, but he warned me to be very careful. He thought that 'John' was one of the most dangerous individuals that he had encountered in his career, as a police officer.
I did not pay too much attention to his advice, as I had encountered characters, such as “John” before, in the big cities.
Danny and Jimmy, along with their friends were encouraged to make as much noise as possible with their motorcycles, paying particular attention to rev up the motors in front of 'John's' door. After two days of noise, 'John' appeared on his porch, with a shotgun.
I got my rifle and walked down toward his house, and he hurried back inside. I instructed the boys to run their bikes on the strip of land between the houses, and to make a lot more noise 'John' got tired of this, and ran out of his back door to chase them away.
I had told the boys to flee down one of many trails I bad made in the woods, and they did, with 'John' in hot pursuit! I took another trail that intersected this one, and waited behind a large tree. I picked up a big branch, about five inches in diameter, and four feet in length.
When boys passed by the tree, I stepped out on the trail and laid the branch across "John's" forehead.
He did go down that time.And he stayed down!
We were back in our yard for twenty minutes, before he staggered out of the woods, with blood streaming down his face.That night, I went to the pub at the Exeter Hotel. I knew that "John" was often there, and he had left his place, after he cleaned up the blood.
When I arrived, he was trying to goad Greg Case into a fight. I knew that he had bought another Buck knife, and, that he was prepared to use it.Greg was a very powerful young man, but he had had his hips shattered by a horse, which kicked him, and was not very agile. When 'John" and Greg went outside, I followed them into the parking lot.
Greg hit 'John", and sure enough, 'John' pulled the knife! I kicked it out of his hand, and proceeded to give him a boxing lesson, to the nth degree!He had to go to the hospital, that night; I broke his nose, knocked out three of his teeth, and broke his thumb, when he tried grappling with me.
When he got back from the hospital, I took a walk in front of his house. "John" opened his door, and sicced his dog, Sabbath on me. "John" was armed with an axe handle.
I got the dog by the throat, and I choked it, all the while, dodging the axe handle. When the dog passed out, I threw it in the back of 'John's' truck.
I, then turned my full attention to "John. 'Alice”, by that time, had come out on the porch, and was screaming at her husband to kill me, which he was certainly trying to do.
I managed to step under one of his swings, and, I hip-tossed him into the back of his pick up, where Sabbath was starting to come to. The dog, confused, I guess, started to chew on "John's" leg and I left the scene with "John” screaming to the dog; "It's me, Sabu! It's me!"
I went home and had a couple of beers, to calm me down. I only had a few in my fridge, so I went over to Lawrence's store to get some more. I forgot to bring my wallet, but Lawrence’s wife said I could pay for them another time, and I became the first person in Lone Butte to get credit, there.
The next day, when I went to get the mail, ‘old Tom’ called me over. His manner was quite gruff, but you could see right through the old softy. I went to see what he wanted, and he took me into the back of the hotel where he kept his supplies and opened his fridge. Inside was an assortment of things, necessary to his trade, and, two dozen bottles of beer. He informed me that this beer was mine, and that, I would have stop in for one, when I passed by the hotel.
People in Lone Butte were aware of the steps I had taken, and, responded in kind.Too, much, in fact!I had my beer and was back home, when Bobby Matsuda, our neighbour, beckoned me. He had a beer in his hand. Bobby doesn't drink; the beer was for me.
Vic Powers called me after I came home from Bobby’s house, and asked if I felt like company. I said. 'Sure”, “Come on over”. A few minutes later he arrived, with two boxes of beer.It seemed that everyone in the village wanted to buy me a beer, and I obliged them by drinking it.
My house was suddenly, the place where the men felt comfortable to drop in for a chat and a beer! France's social life cranked up a notch, too.
I drank so much beer, in the next little while, that I sort of let "John" slip my mind. While I was having a beer with Barrett Irwin, Wes Elliot, and Mike Smith at our picnic table, Francine went off to help the boys find a motorcycle part that they had lost. There were about five vehicles in front of 'John's" house, and I really didn't give it much thought until a shot rang out!
John was on the porch, surrounded by his 'rough trade" friends, and he was holding a smoking shotgun!I grabbed my rifle, and raced down the street, heading towards his place, to bring my wife and kids home.
'John" pointed the shotgun in my direction:And, the "Feud" got much more intense!I fired about ten rounds into the ground below his porch and the whole crew ran inside. "John" appeared at the window, still holding his shotgun, so,
I fired a round directly above his head! And, he dove for cover. I saw a hand come up, and pull the drapes closed, so I returned to my yard, with Francine and the kids, in tow.
This time, someone had called the police!Four police cars skidded over the cattle guard, and, onto our street. I placed my rifle against the tree, and sat back down at the picnic table. The police first went to 'John's". place, and I awaited their visit, while sipping on my beer.
When they came ever, I saw that my friend Cst. Buck, (I swear, that really was his name), was with the group. I told him what had happened, and he said that "Alice" had informed him that her husband was not there. She had told him, (Cst. Buck), that he had gone to Williams Lake, and would not be back until the following day.
I said that this was a lie, and that I had seen him run into the woods, behind his house.I was invited to attend the police station, to give a sworn statement. I said that I would not go and leave Francine and the kids alone.A compromise was reached, and an officer said that be would remain with my family until I got back.
While I was at the police station, "John" made of the mistakes that proved to be his undoing!
He came back out of the bush, where he had been hiding, and slashed one of the tires on the unmarked patrol car, which was parked in my driveway.
I had noticed a flurry of activity at the station, but it wasn't until I got home, a few hours later, that I learned just what had gone on, in my absence, and the reason for the commotion at police headquarters quad.The officer who had stayed at my home, I can't remember his name, (I never asked his name, because I didn't like him, or his attitude, very much) was so enraged, that he called the station and asked the dog handler to bring the police dog out to my place.
They turned the dog loose, and my wife said that about five minutes later, she could hear "John', crying out in distress, in the back field. She said that it took the police, at least five minutes, or so, to get to where "John" and the dog were locked in combat. Apparently, 'John" had to visit the hospital again that night, but, through no fault of mine, this time.
When the police brought me home, Cst. Buck said he was leaving my Winchester rifle with me, for my protection. He said that he didn't know if charges against me would be forthcoming, or not.
I thought "John” might take a break from the action, but he was persistent, if not too smart. The following day, I replaced the rings on Danny's Yamaha YZ dirt bike. I took it out, to carefully break them in. As I passed in front of his house, he ran out and fired two shots at me, with a Nickel- Plated, 22 caliber Derringer!
This handgun, was another of 'John's” big mistakes!The range of a Derringer of this caliber is about twenty feet! He missed me, but managed to take out a window on Chris Esterbrook's welding barn, just this side of the cattle- guard.
I continued to break in the YZ's rings, and I heard no more from "John", that day."John" was charged with assault, and sexual interference, as a result of the time he chased, and assaulted the lady, and her brother, in their van. "Alice", in the meantime, was in an advanced a state of pregnancy, and did not go around with 'John', on his nocturnal forays.
Her condition did not seem to matter to her husband; he was out '’Foxing' around at night, when the boys and I didn't keep him too tired!
He actually did refer to himself as ‘‘The Fox", and he raided more than hen houses!
Not for food, of course but to kill the chickens. "John" killed off all of Wes Elliot's chickens and pigs, on one such foray. Of course, after spending the night in the open, all the meat from their carcasses was spoiled.
We are getting to the crunch, and I won't keep you too much longer. Every time that 'John" did something to me, I paid him back in kind, but much worse. But, the lessons seemed to be lost on him.
One of his friends, who had decided that it was too dangerous to be around the "Fox", told me that "John" drank a 'mickey' of vodka in chocolate milk, for breakfast, every day.
Maybe, it was this drinking, that made him so crazy, I don't know. But, as my drinking increased, so did the degree of violence I inflicted on him, every chance I got.
The ‘camel’s back’ was broken, so to speak, in the last week of July. Our Sheep Dog - Wolf cross, Cindy, developed Canine Hepatitis, and our cats, both, disappeared. . The vet said that it was probably from tainted water, but we gave her fresh water each day, and I suspected “John” of poisoning her.
A neighbour, Bill Godreau, saw "John" deliberately shoot his cat, and throw its body into our yard. "John" phoned the police, and said that I had shot the animal, but, the neighbour intercepted the police before they got to me, and told them what he bad seen.
Since Bill described the gun as a Derringer type handgun, the police were able to obtain a search - warrant for his house. They found fourteen guns, hidden in various parts of his home, but not the Derringer. The other weapons were seized, and examined.
They were returned to "John", as they had not been reported stolen by anyone in the area.Then, he poisoned my Akita, Chopper. Chopper later recovered, but I sold him because I could not just keep him in the house, twenty-four hours a day, and I was afraid to let him out.
With no dog to warn me, "John” grew bolder, and entered my garage one night. He ruined some of my incomplete sketches, and slashed the tires on Danny's YZ, and Jimmy's go-cart.I took to sleeping in the garage, and, it paid off! I caught him coming into the garage, two nights later, and I chased him, all the way to his front door.
I would never have believed that a man, as big as he was, could run as fast as he did, that night. I would not go into his house, because of “Alice”, and her condition.
"John" really lost it, then! At six o'clock, the next, morning I caught him heading towards my house, with a lighted 'Molotov Cocktail' in his hand!
I threw a rock a rock at him, and, I was lucky enough to hit the bottle of gas, which promptly burst in flames. His pants were burning, as he ran into his house. I watched from the kitchen window, and I saw him emerge with his shotgun.
I took my rifle, aimed carefully, and shot him in the forearm. I, then, for the first time, called the police!
I was frightened, myself, for I know, in my heart that I would have killed him, but for the lucky hit with the rock. Had it not exploded the gas, and “John” was going to throw the Molotov cocktail at my house, I would have shot him, right between the eyes.
It should have occurred to me, long before this, to be frightened!The police arrived, with guns drawn!
I laid down my rifle, and sat down at the picnic table, to watch the events unfold.Bill Godreau, who lived just across street, was getting ready for work and had witnessed all of this. He was very cooperative with the police.
They arrested "John", and me, and, I spent two days in custody. The police, then, canvassed the neighbourhood, and now, people were willing to talk to them."John" was charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, and remanded in custody in Prince George.
He still had to face the charges of theft from the Government Liquor Store, and the sexual assault on the lady in the van, who I mentioned earlier in this tale, as well as the assault on her brother.
While "John" was in custody,” Alice" gave birth to a baby boy. Francine relented, and invited her over, because, she said “A new mother needs a woman to talk to” and "Alice" didn't have a single friend in the area.
As l mentioned earlier, one of "John's" pals' told him that be had seen 'Alice' in our home. When his lawyer secured bail for him, "John" returned to Lone Butte.He broke 'Alice's' arm, and the infant was injured, when he fell to the floor.
He was arrested again, and while he was in custody, this time, "A1ice's" mother, whom Francine had called, took "Alice" and the baby to live with her, on Vancouver Island. Where, she remains, to this day.
I was sentenced to thirty days in jail. The Judge found that I was not guilty of careless and reckless use of a firearm. But, I was found guilty of possession of a firearm without the mandatory Firearms’ Acquisition Certificate (F.A.C.).
I served nine days, and was sent home with a ban on owning firearms, and/or ammunition for five years.John was sentenced to two years, for each of the three counts, to be served 'concurrently' plus a lifetime ban from possessing and/or owning firearms or ammunition.
He was released, eighteen months later. 'Alice' had refused to testify against him, and charges pertaining to her and the baby's injures were dropped.
"John” moved to Ontario, as you will read his last chapter, at the end of this tale.
I think that "John" won the 'Feud', though!Francine was afraid of reprisals from "John's" friends, and insisted that we sell the house, and move away; Which, sadly, we did.
The 'Feud" cost us our Eden, and it cost the boys a freedom they had never before experienced, or since,
I might add It caused us to leave a lot of friends in Lone Butte, friends that we had grown quite attached to.Before leaving Lone Butte, and after “John” was incarcerated, I was offered a job as ‘bouncer’ at the Lone Butte Cabaret, a new establishment in the area.It was one of those log buildings, of which I spoke earlier, and I had actually worked on its construction, although, not on its final assembly.
It turned out to be a very rewarding, and fun filled job. It was my duty to see that animosity between the two or three groups of ‘bikers’ in 100 Mile House, Clinton, and William’s Lake did not erupt in violence at the cabaret.I had fellow, named Dan, who was my assistant, working on the floor, and I acted as the ‘cooler’.
Much to my amusement, Dan had a bit of trouble with some of these men, and asked me to help with the situation. The men were clustered around the door, and did not seem to be too happy with the fact that they were asked to leave.
I started to talk, calmly, to the ‘biker’ who seemed to be ‘in charge’ of the group.Suddenly, one his friends grabbed his arm and pulled him aside. Words were whispered in his ear, and the ‘leader’ shot a few glances my way. The leader then asked me my name. I told him, and his attitude changed completely.
He said that there would be no trouble from him, or his group, in my establishment. Indeed, they were a very well behaved lot each time they visited the cabaret.I later heard, from a reliable source, that this ‘leader’, had, earlier, been involved in a brawl with “John” in Clinton, and had been hospitalized, with multiple knife wounds.
I worked at this cabaret until our final month in Lone Butte, and, aside from having to escort some very drunk and rowdy folks from the bar, never had a single problem. The ‘bikers’ were model citizens in my cabaret.
In fact, Francine and I were invited to the 100 Mile House ‘bikers’ party about two weeks before we moved away. She asked Java’s wife why we had never been invited before, as I knew all of the folks there. She was told, much to our amusement, that the ‘bikers’ were afraid I might wreck their clubhouse.
We moved back to the coast, where I took a course in Court Interpreting, and worked in the court system for a while. Francine volunteered a lot of her time to assist elders in care homes, and helping others, in their own homes.
My sons continued their education, and Danny started his own business. Jimmy got a job as a subcontractor, a profession he still works at. My sons blessed us with three wonderful grandchildren, which Francine got to pamper and enjoy until her untimely death, at the age of forty-four…………………………The End.
'John' moved to Toronto, where he shot a man, who was tying to make off with his gas barbeque. He used, of course, a shotgun!
He was sentenced to twenty years in the penitentiary. I don't know what has become of him since, nor do I care to know.
“Alice”, and her son live with her mother, on Vancouver Island. I have not heard from her. The only contact we had was when her mother wrote Francine a thank you note. (She included $100.00 with the note)
Old Tom Jones fell down the stairs at the Lone Butte Hotel, while changing bedding for a couple from Oregon. He broke his neck and never regained consciousness.
Greg Case moved to Saskatchewan, where he married a very nice young lady. He works in a slaughterhouse.He's coming to visit during his vacation, this fall.
Wes Elliot divorced his wife. and moved to Surrey, where he repairs motorcycles. (Wes lost more to “John” than did anyone else in the area).
'Stark' Clark and his wife, Daphne moved away. I have, sadly to say, lost touch with them.
Chris Esterbrook still operates his garage and welding barn in Lone Butte. He has another of my Lone Butte Hotel sketches in his garage.
Mike Smith was present when I 'shot up' "John's" truck, and when "John" and Clark had their fight in my yard. He lives in Forest Grove with his lovely wife. They, and operate, an upholstery business in 100 Mile House. I talked to Mike, not even two weeks ago. I hope to visit him this summer, with my new wife, Sharon, or maybe this fall, along with Greg, and his wife. too.
The last time I was in the Caribou, Rob, who worked at the Liquor Store, and, who was ambushed by “John”, was still there.
Barret Irwin’s lovely wife, Karen, succumbed to a long illness, and Barrett retired from BC Rail, where he had worked for thirty years.
Our next door neighbour, Doug Townsend, who's son, Jeff, was Danny's best friend, moved to Surrey, where he was promoted to warehouse manager for the same food chain he worked for, in 100 Mile House.Danny and Jeff still keep in touch.
Lawrence and his wife retired, and moved to Forest Grove. Their daughter now operates the Lone Butte General Store and lives in the attached mobile - home, where she grew up.
Vic Powers retired from the School Board. He still lives in Lone Butte and recently sold a mobile - home to my friend, Mike Smith.
Francine, my true , blue friend: My lovely, and, oh, so patient partner of thirty years, passed away, suddenly, on January 22. 1995, at the age of forty-four.
Danny now owns, and operates, a wood- working shop in Abbotsford, not far from where I live, now.
Jimmy is a successful sub-contractor in the construction industry, and lives in Mission about five miles from us.
***The enclosed sketch, of the Lone Butte Hotel, was returned to me, after the death of ‘old’ Tom Jones.It now hangs on the wall of my friend, Gordon Watts, in Port Coquitlam.
Gord, is a friend we left behind, when we moved to Lone Butte.He, and his dear wife, Wilda, along with their children, Bruce and Kelly, visited us during the ‘Feud’, and saw some small part of the ‘action’.
Gord and Wilda were friends of ours since 1976, and our children were very close, also.I still see Gord, from time to time. I gave the sketch to Wilda, when I moved my family back down to the coast.
Wilda passed away about a year before Francine.
This story was painful to write, but, strangely enough, I feel better for having shared it, with you.RJF.25/ 01/2005.
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|Reviewed by Tracey K Houston
|Awesome read! I lived in Lone Butte as a little kid, have fond memories of it. Glad we left before this all happened though!
Tracey K Houston
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|...And I am glad you did, Robert. Very well done!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :(
Hope things turn better for you soon! You're in my prayers!