"A Cowboy's Life"
"A Cowboys Life"
" A Cowboy's Life"
Another story of a black cowboy in the Black frontier in the old west according to Lillian Schlissel:
Most boys dream of becoming cowboys. They see themselves on a fine horse, wearing a gun belt and spurs. But to westerners in the 1880's, a cowboy was just a bowlegged man who sleeps in his underwear. A cowboy might spend two or three months in the saddle, moving twenty-five hundred head of longhorn cattle over a thousand of miles of rough land covered with mesquite and roving coyotes. A long cattle drive would start in Texas and end in one of the Kansas cow towns of Abilene, Wichita, or Dodge City.
Here the cattle were loaded onto boxcars and carried by railroad to Chicago for slaughter, Crossing open land almost always mean emergencies. A river at flood time could over turn wagons. A drowning, panic stricken calf might kill the cowboy trying to save it. Flat strecthes of land concealed rocks and could trip even a sure footed horse. The bite of a rattlesnake could penetrate a cow boys boot. Then his only chance would be to cut the flesh between the fang marks and suck out the venom.
Some cowboys pour gun powder on the wound to counteract the poison. On a perfectly calm day, a herd might stampede. In a land without fences, cattle got mixed up. Rustlers were always changing or tampering with brands and gun play was common. Lighting could frighten cattle,and some cowboys swore they saw balls of fire on the ends of the longhorn cattle in a storm. The water poured down in sheets and barrels . It rained blue snakes, pitchforks, and bob tailed heifer yearlings all at once. One minute was darker than the dead end of s crooked tunnel a mile deep under a mountain.
Then the prairie was a sea blue and yellow light dazzling to all eyes. Prairie fires spread havoc over dry land. One tactic was to start a second fire to counter act the first. when that didn't work, desperate cowboys might slaughter their cattle, split open bloody carcasses, and and drag them along the fire line in a last ditch effort to dampen the ground. Dust storms on the trail covered cowboys with dust an inch thick and left them half blind. When water barrels filled up with dust, cowboys said they had to chew the black stuff before they could swallow it.
On icy nights, winds stung hands and faces, and if the herd was hit with a snow storm, horses and cattle had to be brought to a shelter before they froze to death. As danger as cowboy 's life could be, scores of young black men left the South when the Civil War ended. They headed west on dirt roads, from Alabama and Sotuh Carlona to Texas. Even as slaves, blacks had worked cattle on horse back in Southern states. Historian estimate that one in four was a black man. They were paid the same wages as white and mexican workersand enjoyed a degree of camaraderie and freedom.
At a time when black sharecroppers were being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in the South, balck cowboys in Texas and Colorado enjoyed a rough equality in ranch life.
Benny Faye Douglass
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