The preservation of western cultural and the American Cowboy. Sharing the history of the early trail drives, the Chuck Wagon and those who pioneered untamed land. The content is for educational and entertainment purposes. Cowboys and Chuck Wagon Cooking reviews cooking techniques, products and western gear which today is part of western life style. We hope you will enjoy your visit and look forward to comments, recipes and shared heritage. Thank you for your visit. Hope you follow us along the trail of news, stories and the Cowboy way.
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Just Because a Man Wears a Cowboy Hat"

Cowboy at Sunset

Story by Roger Edison  


The term COWBOY is an interesting topic. The dictionary defines "Cowboy" as a person who works with cattle in North America and normally from Horse back. They also perform other duties from mending fences, maintaining equipment and care of the grounds that enclose the livestock.  However, I feel there is more to being a cowboy than just that of tending to cattle. True many people are mistaken to be cowboys just because they wear a western hat.

So mystic are these men who wear the Fedoras, as much is the topic about the cowboys who wear those hats.  The word cowboy seems to have many meanings.  Use with many contexts, that word can be powerful, bold and pride as those who tamed the west.  An yet, the word Cowboy has even been used in derogatory fashion.  Once used when referring to non white wranglers (Negro) cattle workers as whites were known as wranglers or cattlemen, while no man ever desires to be called boy.  It's been referenced as reckless in literature and as a irresponsible person, a show-off and one who undertakes a dangerous or sensitive task heedlessly:  The term Cowboy first used in the American English referred to Colonist who rustling cattle to support and feed the British Army during the revolutionary war.

Though what is the true Cowboy?  Today, cowboys range from a vase array of careers, personalities and such. The term Cowboy,  means much more than just tending cattle. Not all cowboys handle cows today.  Not all cowboys Rodeo.   Not all cowboys tend to be good men and some dislike country music, while others throw a football on Sundays.  Not all men who wear that Fedora will be a good COWBOY like Will Rogers or 80 John, though those who do follow an unwritten Code that is so honored among men . 

Charles Russell and Frederick Remington both captured the true working cowboy's through their wonderful paintings and statues.  Neither of the two men were really a cowboy by definition, yet they experienced the cowboy ways. Russell deeply admired the thought of Cowboys running away from home in Jerseyville, Illinois.  A mere 16 years old he first tended sheep in Montana before becoming a cowhand by 18.  The greenhorn learned everything about the cowboy though he turn to his love of art like Remington who showed the eastern states that illustration of the taming of the west.  Russell did go forwarded becoming a respected rancher as he learned from the cowboy way. 

The modern world has change and those men we call Cowboys have had to seek income from other things besides running cattle.  Some today may be an electrician or perhaps the stock clerk at the feed store.  Maybe he became a doctor like "Red Duke" of Houston Medical Science Center, Houston, Texas.  He might sell tractor equipment and own a NBL basketball Team like "Peter Holt" owner of the San Antonio Spurs.  Perhaps big Texas banking like "George Hawn" owner of Prade Ranch.  Surely a man can be both a cowboy and a Banker. Then there is a cowboy who owns more land in the USA than the federal government named "Ted Turner."  Today, he owns more head of  buffalo than this nation had free roaming in 1800.  Then there is another telecommunications businessman, John C. Malone who is the largest land holder in the U.S.A.   He owns the Silver Spur and their total land holdings exceed 2.1 million acres across several states, an yet reportedly he shuns the limelight and glamorous lifestyle preferring the open country views from his Colorado home.

They all share that mystic Fedora worn in different styles and blocks known as the Cowboy Hat.  Wide brims or short, high crown or low, some Cowboys may Rodeo, some may drink a beer or two at the local dance hall while some just may love wearing the clothes.  Some like Troy Dunn from Queensland, Australia currently ranked 8th on the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) circuit or Adriano Moraes from Brazil ranked second, both earning well over a million dollars. I suppose they just wear the hat of being a cowboy. Then there is a guy named Myron Duarte from Maui, Hawaii who should have known more about surf boards "Dude" than becoming a career Bull Rider with the PRCA circuit holding nearly a million cash in prize money. 

There's also the man name Marion Robert Morrison that received the Congressional Gold Metal in 1979 and the Presidential Metal of Freedom in 1980 who also became one of the greatest Cowboy Actors of all time, you know him as John Wayne.

There is even Al Gore's college room mate Tommy Lee Jones who graduated from Harvard with honors plus a law degree. However, he liked theater and headed to New York performing a few plays before heading to Hollywood becoming a top notch movie star and even directed a few.  You just might remember him portraying Woodrow F. Call in the movie series,  Lonesome Dove.  Today, he raises the finest set of Polo Ponies in the nation at his San Saba, Texas Ranch and raises cattle in southwest Texas.
Lonesome Dove
Sure being a cowboy is more than just wearing that special hat. It's more than just working cattle or Rodeo. It's a code of ethics that author James P. Owen captures in his book, "Cowboy Ethics" What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West.  Perhaps Gene Autry said best.

· The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

· He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

· He must always tell the truth.

· He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.

· He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

· He must help people in distress.

· He must be a good worker.

· He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.

· He must respect women, parents, and his nations laws.

· The Cowboy is a patriot.

I once heard that the hat makes the man, and I have heard it's the man who makes the hat.  Seems to me, there's nothing wrong with being a good man wearing a good hat. Somehow, they just seem to go together.

Just because a man wears a cowboy hat, doesn't make him a cowboy.  Some say being a cowboy is a way of life, some say you got to be herding cows.  However, I agree that being a cowboy is in the mans heart. It's living with those core values that forge across a nation like the carved out trails of the cattle drives.  Call it Cowboy ethics or Code of the West, the principals remain the same.
I respect those men and women who live by the code while proudly wearing their fedora's.  LBJ to Ronald Reagan,  Bill Pickett or Daniel Webster Wallace, Dale Evans or Prairie Rose Henderson, they each made their mark and lived lives of legacies.  They too, learned to live each day with courage, shared with patience and perseverance.  Today, the world looks up to the Cowboy.  Those men and women whose  once tamed the west, today is alive through so many that have preserved the qualities that I am proud to be a part of, the life of a Cowboy. 



Prairie Rose Henderson

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1 comment:

  1. You can be a cowboy in a business suit, it is all about the way of life, I should know I have a husband who's a real cowboy.

    ReplyDelete