As Cuppy once observed, "Persons who raise tiger cubs in their homes are sometimes known as missing persons."
WHERE THE BEEFALO ROAM
What was the best thing before sliced bread?
Sliced buffalo tongue, of course.
Only a few hundred years ago, 60 million bison ranged over North America. White settlers in the 1800s took care of that. In their zeal to feed railroad workers and starve Indians, they debuffaloed the West. Buffalo Bill Cody alone nailed 4,280 bison in 18 months. Rail companies encouraged passengers to pop them off from train windows. After slaughtering the buffalo, travelers would hack off the animals' tongues—a great delicacy—and leave the carcasses to rot along the tracks. Buffalo butchering became such a popular sport that by 1889, the number of bison in the U.S. had dwindled to an estimated 835.
Today, the buffalo are back. You can see a small herd from John Parker's ranchhouse window in Hudson, Colo. And grazing and gamboling with a pack of horses in a far field is Ralphie III, the mascot for the University of Colorado, in nearby Boulder. A shaggy, burly buffalo, she sidles up against a wooden post to scrape off her winter fur. She bobs her massive head up and down in the breeze that blows off the Rockies. Parker offers Ralphie a handful of hay. She stares at him with an unblinking, baleful eye.
"Ralphie's a big, big outfit," says Parker. He and his wife, Shaaron, have been training Colorado's mascots since 1987. "I guess I was the only graduate in their computer who raised buffaloes," says John, whose calling card reads RALPHIE PROGRAM DIRECTOR He's an outdoorsy kind of guy who walks hunched in a denim jacket, his hands jammed into his pockets. His face has the sharp edge of a polished stone ax. His eyes shift easily from the land to the horizon. "Someday Ralphie may have her own concession stand at Folsom stadium," he says.
"Ralphie Chips is one heck of an idea," says Shaaron.
"They beat cow pies any day."
"That's right. And they make terrific Frisbees."