Michael Marcroft 10.4.2021

Bio: White Grass Staff, 1983
Descriptor: $300/wk with room and board, my heart took root.

Michael’s Story: From late July, through the third week of August in 1983, I had the good fortune to work on White Grass Ranch.

Upon seeing The Tetons for the first time, I was so startled by the beauty of the mountain range, I quickly set out to find a way to sustain myself while in the area.

After checking with the local hardware store as to who may be hiring, I was directed to see if White Grass Dude Ranch had any openings. That same morning, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Frank Galey. I vividly recall him asking me, “Well, what is it you can do?,… can you sing?, … do you play guitar? Chuckling to myself, I reluctantly admitted I’d been overlooked with respect to those particular talents, but could offer an honest day’s work for whatever needed to be done. For some reason, he felt persuaded to hire me as he suggested I could start the following morning.

As I recall, the position paid $300.00/wk, along with room and board… I quickly agreed to the terms, (then, upon further review), discovered workdays consisted of 6.5 days/wk, with Sunday afternoons off to tend to any/all personal needs in town. Sunday evenings were dedicated to the campfire entertainment time, primarily for the Dudes – and strictly voluntary for ranch hands, (… hence the talent inquiry.)

Being shown to one of the bunkhouses, I readily found myself in fast friendship with three other employees with whom I’d share the residence. Two bunk beds and a stove; I didn’t spend much time there but they were certainly adequate quarters. Two of the young men were cowboys. To my revelation, I soon realized that several of these young men didn’t own a car; their transportation was strictly horse power, … and they were pros! 

These wranglers earned their keep by rising before dawn each morning, ride into the Tetons, round up the 50+/- horses of which the guest Dudes had come for their personal escape, … transporting them to the Western life they treasured!  With the end of each day, the shuttered corral gates would widely swing open, exposing the freedom from that day’s surrender. I will never forget the incredible display of beauty as these eager broncos ran unbridled to their liberty! The unmistakable look of emancipation on their faces left an indelible impression on mine!  

With respect to my daily chores, most mornings I would help brush down the stock and prepare them for that day’s ride. Also at times, I’d bail hay that grew on the property just below the main cabin, as well as, general carpentry duties around the many cabins. Harsh weather would undoubtedly spawn shortened lifespans to the ranch equipment, so the need for repair was in demand on a regular basis. Always a good day’s work!

One of the true pleasures for me, flowed from the fact the Galeys would also employ co-eds to help with the food prep and cabin cleaning, … some of the nicest people I’d ever met. I was 26 years young at the time, and felt I was the luckiest guy in the world! I couldn’t have stumbled onto a better place!  I say that because most evenings, once all the Dudes had eaten supper, then the hired help would dine, …. but soon afterward, we’d often play volleyball just behind the main cabin’s dining hall. Much more for fun than competition, we’d play until the last of daylight faded away. Wonderful times!

Friendships made were generous. I arrived to the ranch driving my ’76 V.W. Westfalia, soon realizing the vehicle was in dire need of a clutch replacement. I mention this, because one of the other ranch hands I’d befriended, donated the better part of his Sunday afternoon changing out my worn part, without a second thought; … he was just happy to do it! Thank you, Ben!        

Toward the end of the third week of August, I conceded to the idea of moving on. I had previously committed to attending the graduation of a younger sister in Phoenix. In sharing that news with Mr. Galey, he asked me to reconsider, saying he was hoping I’d stay on and look after the ranch for the upcoming winter, while he would he relocated the stock to a more desirable venue.  After careful consideration, I declined the invitation. My mind was settled on pursuing my journey East, although my heart had taken root.
I often wonder how that decision changed my life, if I had only stayed!    

Just over 38 years later, on Sept 9th of this year (2021), my wife and I traveled to White Grass Ranch from our home in Salinas, California. We thoroughly enjoyed the chance to spend time with Herb and Sally Ford, White Grass Ranch caretakers. They were truly a wealth of information and a pleasure to speak with! We appreciate their insight into the ranch history and look forward to revisiting the lure, solitude, and majesty I’d come to know and love!

With all sincerity, Michael Marcroft