Golconda's Capitalist Pig
Back in the late1970s, Waterhole Ike, a native
Nevadan, had a darned good job and money in the bank. Investors were
It wasn't all Ike's doing. He had a lot of help from Mark Cowley, former
cowboy, livestock buyer, ranch foreman, rodeo rider,
Cowley owned Mark's Waterhole #1, a bar and grocery store in Golconda.
He and some of his patrons had way too much
Cowley and seven of his customers chipped in five dollars apiece for
dues. The treasury was a milk carton. Knowing they
Ike's job was to make money for the syndicate. He made little pigs at $25 a shot. With pigs that's called "standing at." His imagined pedigree, compiled by members of the corporation, stated that his mother was "Go-Pig-Go" and his sire was "Three Stars."
Cowley and his friends sold preferred syndicate stock at one dollar a share. Certificates were printed that included the statement, "This is not a legal corporation." More than one thousand shares were sold. Even a former governor of Nevada bought a few shares.
Times were good. Money was pouring in and the stockholders decided to
open a bank account for Waterhole Ike. Cowley
Ike is a law abiding citizen so Cowley dropped in at the post office
and picked up a Social Security card request form. Mark
About three weeks later, a letter arrived from the Social Security Administration
in Baltimore, Maryland. Cowley opened it.
The bank later sent a letter to Ike offering him a loan from $2,500 to $25,000 if he ever needed it.
One might say that Ike was living high off the hog, so to speak. But, it couldn't last forever. Over the years higher feed costs, printing, and other expenses caused the bank account to dwindle. Cowley loaded Ike, his sow and nine little piglets in a pickup and drove them to Winnemucca. Mark went straight to the welfare office and told the people there the story. He said he had a friend out in the pickup. That buddy was out of a job. He's got a wife and nine kids and doesn't want to desert them and...well, here's his Social Security card. The welfare people checked the regulations, got out some forms and said Ike was entitled to $600 a month and food stamps.
Sometimes reality gets in the way of legends but it was reported that Ike got his welfare checks for awhile but, being an honest pig, he didn't cash any of them. This was a good thing because when county commissioners heard about it they were pretty disgruntled. Actually, Ike was just too proud to stay on welfare.
Ike's downward spiral continued. He lived behind the bar and Cowley started pouring leftover beer into Waterhole's morning bucket of oats. He became an alcoholic and was useless as stud service. Cowley reported that the curl went completely out of Ike's tail.
Mark hauled Ike into Winnemucca again and explained to rehabilitation
officials that Ike was out of a job, had lost his wife and
When Cowley told Ike what was going to happen to him, he sobered up in a big hurry and didn't have to go to Reno. Instead, Ike moved to Gil Pedroli's place in Winnemucca where he resumed his old job and continued living off the interest in his savings account.
There was talk that Ike planned to retire and collect Social Security benefits. In a pig's life span six years is equivalent to 60 years. With tongue in cheek, the story ends here. Most of the incidents are true. Waterhole Ike put Golconda back on the map for a few years.
Cowley sold the bar. Golconda, about twenty years east of Winnemucca
on I-80, is still there. Waterhole is, of course, no
Sources: Western Humor by Norman D. Glaser, late State Senator and Halleck,
Nevada rancher. Winni Mini Mart, story by
April 24, 2000