Writins of Weakeyes Cody
Talented and witty writings
My Heroes Have Never Been Cowboys @1999
Except for a little adolescent hero worship of the characters in the old two reel westerns, and listening to the Lone Ranger on radio station WXYZ in Detroit, I've never had a great deal of veneration for the so called American Cowboy. Hollywood, and the writers of dime novels in their attempt to entertain and make a buck, have for years, taken a multitude of liberties with reality and created what is today an American icon. And I believe any similarity to their creation and authenticity is purely accidental.
Ponder for a moment, how our hero for the silver screen appeared, as he pushed through the bat winged doors of the saloon, all eyes turned to survey him, dressed in his white chaps, polished high boots, white hat, pearl-handled six gun resting in a wide burnished holster, belt full of glistening cartridges, embroidered shirt and fancy hankerchief hanging loosly around his neck. He frequently carried a guitar and broke into song for the benefit of the beautiful saloon girl, who sat near him dressed in the latest fashionable gown, hair perfectly coifed with teeth straight and fair of face. And should the villain provoke him as he drank his glass of sarsaparilla, he was directed to the street where he stood facing out hero and was soon prone in the dust as our champion stood grim faced with smoking six gun which he spun expertly back into the holster. And lest I forget his horse, who with sixty pounds of silver inlay on the saddle and bridle, could keep us amused for quite awhile with a sizable array of tricks of his own. Who was the American Cowboy?
The name 'cowboy,' was given to the drovers by the Irish railroad laborers. It was a derogatory term and probably provoked many a fight between the two factions. Just for fun lets put our Hollywood hero smack in the above scene and turn back the clock to 1870. It's certain that all eyes would turn to survey him as he strode through the bat winged doors of the saloon, but first they would smell him! His last bath was when his horse swam the Cimarron River three weeks ago, and it's not the smart trick horse that he started with. This one can cut cattle, hold a tight rope and pivot on a dime. His white chaps, having been ripped to shreds the first day out, have been replaced by thick leather ones picked up in Fort Worth. Those shiny boots cracked after stepping in numerous cowpiles and that six gun was lost along with that overly heavy holster, cartridge belt and his left eye as he went riding full tilt through Texas brush after that stray doggie. The fancy shirt is now a dusty, dirty, thick canvas one and the hankerchief around his neck is about the only item that survived the trip.
Now he stands in the entrance waiting for his eye to adjust to the dark saloon, then he'll walk to the bar and order what passes for whisky in these parts. Surviving that, he'll want a woman to convalesce with. But don't expect much. At least not by our modern standards. Our hero will be lucky if she has all her teeth. These cow town floozies were every bit a match for what they frequently jumped naked into the sack with, caring little fi their sullen suitors seldom seen soap. It's probable that should we modern citizens awake to find wither of these characters beside us we would dump our oatmeal forwith.
Now the fight. Most differences were settled by a few well placed blows of flyings fists, an ear bit off or at worst, a long cut across the belly with our hero's favorite weapon, the knife. Major arguements could result in a short range blast with a shot gun from the shadows of a darkened alley. Or a well placed round from a rifle at long range somewhere out on the wide prairie. These old boys were no strangers to pain and suffering but none of them wanted to stand face-to-face to find our who could fetch a .45 Colt single action from its holster the quickest. Most of them couldn't afford the $18 price tag for one. And those that could, didn't get much practice with it because the cartridges for this thing were expensive back then, too.Our hero was often a scorned misfit dressed in rough clothing, where leather chaps, knife, rope, spurs, wits and a cow pony, were his tools. Among the population of his day, he wasn't outstanding. Everyone rode or drove horses then. But he survived far into this century, his job demands changing little over the years. Today, we pay to see a form of his trade performed on the rodeo circuit across the land. About the only major change he's made is that he bathes more often, jets or drives a pickup, to his rodeos, depending on his talent.
Clearly he has many mimics as witnessed by the wide brim hats from Walmart, boots from Acme, Levi's, and belt buckles we see moseying along streets of towns all across this land and elsewhere. But you can tell the real bronc busters from the drugstore cowboy.An old cowboy limps.
My hero's have never been cowboys. They were men who rode horses and could shoot a six gun from the hand of a villain at thirty yards, save the lady's mortgaged ranch from the crooked bankers then ride away into the sunset without waiting to be thanked. All on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. And they never cussed.
~ Weakeyes Cody