Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Am proud to consider myself a cowboy. Had a couple of horses way back when & haven’t sold my saddle, yet. Rodeoed a bit a long time ago. Have “run” with other cowboys off and on, several are still friends. Was given my first pair off spurs by a cowboy when I was just 5 or 6. Still wear boots daily, and don’t own but one or two pair of shoes.

I was given a belated gift from my daughter, a book called Revealing Character, consisting of a series of modern day cowboys photographed in tintype by Robb Kendrick. Accompanying the photos are thoughts from each cowboy photographed. The book includes a Preface by Tom Frost as well as one by the Photographer and a short commentary by fellow Texan John Graves.

The book moved me because its words eloquently portray what I’ve always felt, and why I've always been proud to consider myself a cowboy. Here are some thoughts gleaned from its pages.

“Man’s chief purpose is the creation and preservation of values: That is what gives meaning to our civilization.”
Lewis Mumford

From Tom Frost’s Preface:
“Character involves all the features and traits that that form the individual nature of a person.
… the cowboys of the 19th century gave Texas its character. Their honesty, sense of humor, work ethic and determination remain as our indigenous values.”

From Robb Kendrick’s Preface;
“… I’ve never been around people as a whole who love life and family more, and are more tolerant and considerate of others, than cowboys. They define the highest qualities of character, honesty incredible work ethic, self-reliance, and a respect for the wonders of the unflinching nature they deal with … trying to eke out a living as cowboys.
… I’ve heard a lot of people say that cowboys are a dying breed, that they won’t be here much longer. … Cowboys are evolving with the times. But …, cowboying still tests a man each day. … They are the ones determined to carry the torch forward. I hope they keep passing it along for generations to come.”

And from the cowboys themselves:
“Hard work makes you a better person. Makes you think in positive ways and pays off in the long run, in obtaining goals you’ve set for yourself.”
John Frazier (Pitchfork Ranch)

“A clean honest living keeps you pure. I won’t get rich, but too much money can make a man compromise his values.”
Dustin Haney (Pitchfork Ranch)

“To me, being a cowboy is not a job. I believe if a man goes to work for a paycheck, his heart can’t be in it.”
Dewey Hill (Saunders Ranch)

“You got to live in the past but remember the future.”
Jason Pelham (Spade Ranch)

“So why do cowboys cowboy? It sure ain’t the money. There’s never enough. It’s not the glory. There ain’t none. There are a million different reasons why a cowboy abuses himself and his family to do what he does, and most of them couldn’t be put into words. They are things that are inside a feller, such as pride in a job well done, the challenge of a constantly developing set of skills with horses and cattle and nature, and self-discipline that manifests itself in integrity.”
Buster McLaury (Paducah, Texas)
Will you say Amen?


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