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Continued from November 27, 1942

Though it is unclear why Yry left the CX when she did, one obvious explanation might be that during the winter months, she’d be hard pressed to earn her keep at the ranch. Life does not come to a complete halt during the winter months on a cattle ranch, but until the cows begin dropping their calves in the spring, things slow down. It would make sense for her to be looking for a more worthwhile winter occupation. But there is also that rift hanging in the balance. Claire’s letter hints at some upheaval, some argument. Something was not quite right at the ranch.

Yry enrolled in a ten-week short course at University of Wyoming in Laramie starting in January. It was an Agriculture program designed for ranchers and farmers. There was time to see a bit more of Wyoming in the weeks before classes began. Rumors spoke of jobs galore in Casper, a town in the center of the state, so she hopped on the bus with high hopes. Watching from her window seat, flat sage country flew by. The primordial prairie, now mostly snow-covered, was endless. Mile upon mile passed between towns. Occasionally a clot of shabby buildings and corrals flashed by, testimony to hard scrabble lives eked out on the edge of civilization. Who lived such an existence? What accounted for the vast difference between these solemn little hovels and the comfortable accommodations at the CX Ranch? What made some people prosper out here and others fail? Could she be setting herself up for more heartache and failure by pursuing this dream of independence? How could she spared herself some of the pain she felt? But she was sure she would not have altered a thing. Life was a series of experiences that are thrown at us to deal with as best we can.

Jobs in Casper turned out to be more rumor and less galore. She got part-time work helping a young woman who had fallen and broken her hip.  Mary had a small child and her husband was in the service. Yry cared for Mary and the child and cooked, cleaned, and ran errands. She also did some part-time waitressing. In between jobs she indulged in long walks around town, honing the art of leaning into the very worst of Wyoming’s iconic winds.

The month in Casper was a lonely time, but suitable for healing old wounds and restoring her strength and self-confidence. She cooked and shared a joyless and hollow Christmas dinner with Mary. On New Year’s Eve she spent a miserable night working at the restaurant. Customers were festive and inebriated. Moved by too many holiday spirits, men felt justified in mauling a beautiful young single woman who was obviously in need of male attention. After slapping off pawing hands all evening she fell into bed and cried herself to sleep, feeling homesick and sentimental.

Continued