1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Cowboy: A person usually working on horseback;
herding or tending cattle.
Dan Duff

I could be politically correct and use the word cowperson, if there is such a word. It doesnít show up in my Funk and Wagnall so I will use the word that is near and dear to my heart. Ever since I was a kid going to the Alpine Theater I have been a fan and admirer of cowboys. Their rugged features and character always made me wish I had lived in those glorious days of the eighteenth century.

Life in those days always seemed so simple. You worked hard and long hours for little pay, but then you didnít have all the expenses you have in todayís world. Your largest expenses were boots and saddles. You needed the best of both if you were going to work sixteen and eighteen hour days on the back of an animal that could turn on a dime and throw you, maim you or even worse, kill you. You worked for a ranch that usually had a bunk house and a cook. If the cattle were kept too far from the ranch house there were usually a small one room line shacks to get in out of the weather and bunk for the night.

The horse you rode was usually a mustang, broken to ride on the ranch where you worked and used by the cowboy as long as he was employed. Just like the company car, you turned it back in if you quit. That is why a lot of cowboys would catch their own wild mustang and break it in so they could ride their own horse.

In those days a mans word was his bond. If he told you something you could take it for the truth and if he promised you something you could be sure that every effort would be taken to see the deed or promise carried out. Cowboys lived by the simple rule and that was the golden rule. These men lived and died hoping they had done their best in this life and hopefully would be rewarded in the next.

The other side of the coin was just as true. If you committed a grievance against another man you were bound to make it right. This included everything from compensating for a loss that you caused, all the way up the dying for your actions. The latter was very rare in the old west and over glorified in movies to create more plot and action in the films. However, when the time came for bloodletting, it was done with the facts proven that the person being done in had it coming. In a land with few laws and even fewer people to enforce them, itís easy to see why a lot of people wore side arms and carried rifles.

Women were treated with the utmost respect. Anyone crossing the line of mistreating women or child were dealt with by the whole community. Children were treated as the hope for the future and everything that could be done to bring them a brighter future was planned and carried out.

I wonder whatever happened to those days? Have we come to the place where we have outsmarted ourselves? There is no surety of a manís word in today's world. There is no respect for women and the children barely get noticed except for the accountant at tax time. Those who prey on women and children are barely given slaps on the wrists when caught and are returned to society as ill people who are in need of social re-construction of some sort. Business people can do business with people and countries who a hundred years ago wouldnít be given the time of day.

Yep, the cowboy way was the way to go and should be the way it is now, except we are now too sophisticated for such people and ideas. We have outgrown the golden rule and certainly have lost all respect for our women, children and neighbors in general. We have been given to believe the way to go is disrespect authority and glorify hoodlums and gangsters. Now, we have reverted all the way back to the stone age where the rule of life is eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed. Get yours first and let the other guy make out as well as he can. After all, am I my brothers keeper?

We would do well to return to the mindset of those glorious cowboy days. Where right was right and wrong was wrong and it didnít take a ruling from a court of law to tell us which was which.

As for me I have made up my mind. When I grow up, I want to be a cowboy.