“Walk a mile in my shoes…”
John saves soles
by Blaine Norvold
Cowboy, fire chief, EMT, mayor, cobbler, call him what you want but you still get a man that does a good job at whatever the trade.
One of 13 children, John Bachman was born to well-known rodeo stock contractor Eddie Bachman and Juanita Wright Bachman, descendant of the famous Orville and Wilbur Wright Brothers.
John attended school in Faith, South Dakota, until the 8th grade, and then moved to Eagle Butte with his stepfather and mother who started the Eagle Butte Saddle Shop. This is where John learned to repair boots and saddles. He finished his high school days at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High, graduating in 1974. John jokes about most kids running away from home but his folks run away from him and moved back to Faith. His parents did actually move but John stayed behind with a brother and sister to finish school in Eagle Butte.
John worked on a ranch a year for Bud Skates then when John’s brother left, John took over operating the saddle shop and still does to this day. He was pretty much self-taught on how to repair boots, shoes, and saddles and do custom leatherwork. He has made hundreds of western belts and repaired thousands of boots and shoes.
John eventually become a certified EMT and still is, claiming to deliver one baby in the ambulance because he didn’t drive fast enough. The baby was born between Faith and Dupree in the ambulance. John delivered the baby but thanks to Darci Harper, who was a nurse, just happened to come along and they got mother and baby to the hospital.
John also was a volunteer fireman for the city and eventually fire chief. He commented the worst fire ever was when three children perished and the fire department couldn’t save them. Also, the hottest fire was when the Eagle Butte Plumbing and Heating business burned to the ground.
From there he got involved in politics in the 1980s by being appointed to city council for a year. Then, as a joke, he run for city mayor but the joke was on him because he won the election and stayed in that position off and on for the next 20 years. His biggest accomplishment as mayor was getting the city and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to join together to build the Cheyenne Eagle Butte Airport. He also states the biggest asset to the community is the rural water system that replaced the old artesian well that supplied Eagle Butte.
John remains active in the fire department, Eagle Butte Community Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He’s sponsored many rodeos and powwows throughout the years. He is very close to the Dupris family and is proud to be adopted into the family by his longtime friend and co-worker, Casey Dupris.
John also participated in the Eagle Butte Hometown Days pony express ride from Pierre to Eagle Butte in one day.
John says over the years the quality and quantity of young cowboys has changed as there just isn’t that many young hands around like the old days. This also goes for the boot styles and quality of leather in them. They are made in foreign countries and impossible to repair as everything is bonded together, not sewn.
In conclusion, John deals with the public fairly and likes to visit and rib his customers. A lot of exciting western tales have been swapped at the saddle shop and also one fistfight. He has a poem about him and Casey, “The Saddle Shop Boys” written by Blaine Nordvold. John says he will continue the business as long as people need their soles saved. At 57 years old, I would say he has filled many boots himself.