"scratch for it" and " shooting Christmas Creek Ranch."

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 07, 2005

In Reply to: "Scratch for it" and " shooting Christmas Creek Ranch." posted by Kashima on May 04, 2005

: Thank you for helping me out with the phrases, "old pie" and "Shake your tail".
: I came across with 2 other interesting phrases in the same Western film("Man in the Saddle")made in the 1950's.

: (1) The good-guys and the bad-guys are having a face-off at a saloon on the verge of a shoot-out, ready to pull out their gun anytime. Suddenly another good-guy comes in from the back door, pointing his gun toward the bad-guys, and says, "All right, men, scratch for it!".
: What does this "scratch for it" mean? My dictionary says that "scratch" means "to collect (information)", and that "scratch it" means "leave at once", but I couln't find the exact phrase "scratch for it". Does it mean "Draw your gun first"? Or "Get out"?
: Actually, after this line is said, nobody makes any move nor draws his gun nor leaves the room for a while. The shoot-out begins after 20~30seconds, when the bartender shoots the lamp(maybe to stop the fight), and saloon gets dark.

: In another scene, our hero with a rifle is hiding behind a rock outside the bad-guys' house. Our hero's footman asks him why he is hesitating to shoot them. He says, "I was just thinking, when I pull this trigger, I'll be shooting Christmas Creek Ranch right out from under me. It'll start a run and jump fight."
: What does this whole line mean?
: Thank you in advance for your kind help.

: a bunch of bad-guys in a small house.

If these expressions are in any way "idiomatic" or sland of the Old West, it's news to me. But what do I know? Without seeing the movie or reading the script I'll offer a guess on "scratch for it." It could mean several things, like "scratch for the sky" or "get down and scratch the floor." Maybe the motionless people who heard this phrase were scratching their heads wondering what on earth it meant.

The hero has a footman? If this was a Tarzan movie, with Lord Greystokes masquerading as an apeman, a footman would doubtless be appropriate. Or not. But to get on with it, perhaps he means, if I shoot this gun, I might hurt someone, and then, "Goodbye, Christmas Creek Ranch, since there's bound to be a ruckus and what's left won't be worth calling a ranch." Or not. I'll bet everyone in his line of fire stood motionless wondering what the deuce he could possibly mean with this speech. SS