While browsing around the Baker City library in the historical section I came across a binder of "Baker City Folktales". These were stories told by old-timers to high school students in the 1970's. One that caught my attention not only from the title but because it was about miners around Greenhorn, an area where I set my Halsey Brother or "Petticoat"series.
Blue Dick's Funeral
told by Howard Boarse
There wasn't much in the way of entertainment in the mining camps around Greenhorn, so the men went to extreme lengths to form some kind of diversion. One of the most widely told tales concerning the Greenhorn area was of Blue Dick.
Blue Dick came to Greenhorn around 1890. He had received the name Blue Dick because of a mining blast accident he had been in, in which his face had been peppered with gun powder giving it a vivid blue complexion.
One morning the story went around the camps that someone had shot and killed Blue Dick, and his body had been laid out in McKissick's saloon. Most of the miners rushed down to see, and the barroom soon filled. Sure enough, there was Blue Dick laid out on a gaming table with a sheet over him. After grieving for awhile, the crowd decided to have a genuine first class funeral. So the barkeep put up the first $20.00 and the others followed. Soon there was a hat filled with money. A stranger who had been listening to the goin's on, asked to see this man with the supposed blue face. So the sheet was pulled back and there lay Blue Dick, his steel gray eyes fixed on the ceiling.
Just as one of the spectators thought he saw an eye quiver, the right eye of Blue Dick winked. A shout went up and Dick rose to a sitting position. He got up, staggered to the bar, and as the barkeep walked away with the hat full of money, he roared, "Set 'em up." The cheering crowd then proceeded to drink, forgetting all about the funeral donations, thus leaving it for the barkeep and Blue Dick to split up later.
By now it was time for the second shift of men to get off work at the mines. So Blue Dick returned to the table and the sheet was spread over him again. As the men came down the street, they were told the sad news of Blue Dick's death. So they hastened down to see the body and to contribute to the funeral fund.