I Would Have Made "The" Worst Cowboy Ever in The Early West
A cowboy life is no "walk in the park"
Frankly, a cowboy life is a tough life. If you have a “rough,” day, it was a good day. If you were looking for an easy, super-smooth, peaceful life in the early west, then you should have been a bartender or maybe a bounty hunter because only “real” men became cowboys. Men who snacked on cactus and dined on Gila monsters best describes these guys who helped to forge the Western United States.
Tobacco-chewing, whiskey drinking, poker-playing, and dance-hall-girl chasing manly men’s men. Those old guys who never knew how to back up from a fight or run from trouble. A look from their eyes that was sharp as a razor was all it took sometimes to shame a loud-mouth who had drank too much to be dangerous. But deep down inside, cowboys loved it.
Only a "special" man or woman can be a cowboy
A cowboy life was never an empty, dull life filled with monotonous routines that can kill the heartiest of men with sheer boredom from being “cooped-up” all day like a flock of laying hens. This explains why there were no real cowboys who sold shoes, cloth, nails and other things you would find in a general store.
Cowboys were in-love with the rocky, rough-to-follow cattle trails that spelled trouble around each bend in the road—rain, wind, and rustlers were all part of the trouble a cowboy had to face and mostly when he was dead-tired, asleep in his saddle, and worn down like an over-used horseshoe. But he knew he had to keep going if he was to live to see another pay day.
Zane Grey, famed-writer of many cowboy novels and writers like him couldn’t truly capture the life of a cowboy in words. I know that I cannot. I am not sure that even the journalistic-genius, the late Dr. Hunter S Thompson, even in his most far-over-the-edge nights, could capture the wild, brutish, life of a true cowboy. I guess that was how God intended it.
What is "the" worst thing about being a cowboy?
Visual proof of some of my reasons of why I would have made "the" worst cowboy ever
Fantasy is a far cry from reality
I used to love watching Roy Rogers, “King of the cowboys,” and his girl, Dale Evans, and their loving sidekick, Gabby Hayes get in and out of trouble each week on our black and white Zenith television. I even dreamed a brief dream of longing to be just like Rogers, move out West and grow into being a cowboy.
But most dreams that are unfulfilled or realized, die in the dust of our memories, and so did my “Cowboy dream,” for I did some serious research when I became a teenager and it was with great relief that I accepted the fact that—
I Would Have Made The Worst Cowboy Ever in The Early West
And here are the reasons why:
- Horses – do not like me. When I was a young man, my best buddy, Rick had a pony that his dad bought him. Rick wanted me to ride him. I wanted to ride him, but the only one of the three of us who didn’t want me to ride him was the pony, so he bit me on the leg as I tried to get into the saddle. Rick laughed. The pony laughed. I yelled in pain. And swore to never try that foolish stunt again.
- Tobacco – was a big part of an early cowboy’s life. You either chewed or smoked it. And if your constitution was not forged of steel, you couldn’t handle this home-grown “maker of men.” Me included.
- Wrinkles – in my forehead and face from riding into the harsh winds were not for me. I get cold easily. Plus I am the worst at building a campfire without a match or disposable-lighter. But some of the early cowpokes were to good at their work that they could just snap a finger and a blaze would shoot upward. Me? I would have frozen like a raw ham. No thanks.
- Saloons and Whiskey – at the end of a long trail ride were a couple of more “makers of men,” and “weaners of the weak,” so I figured that if I couldn’t take home-grown tobacco, the home-brewed or distilled liquor would surely take my life while I stood.
- Punching Cattle – for a living, riding with a herd with other cowboys as in CBS’ early western, “Rawhide,” looked good. Sounded good, but in reality was as tough of work as a man could get. Riding mostly day and night—fighting the elements, wolves, rustlers and fatigue. Yeah. I would have made a “Super Cowboy.” Could you detect the sarcasm?
- Acceptance – was everything to a cowboy either on the ranch or trail. And the photos (to the right) depicts a dozing cowboy wearing sneakers, that means you are a “tender foot,” not a cowboy who swears by his boots and never called lazy as this “sleepy head,” is seen. Me? I love naps and sneakers. Both feel good. So add this to the other reasons why I would have bombed as an early cowboy.
- Dashing Good Looks – as that of Ty Hardin, (in photos to the right), who starred in CBS’ “Bronco,” another early television western as that of “Rawhide,” taught me that “I” was not given great, carved features like Hardin, so I would have been “the” loneliest cowboy on the Chisom Trail.
- Cafes and Restaurants – would be where I would hang-out before going out with the next cattle drive. From what I found in my research, the most-important member of any group of drovers was not the trail boss, but the cook. And the crew with the best cook always drew the best drovers. But as much as I love food, I would have missed many-a cattle drive for staying too long in the cafes that sprang-up in the early Western towns.
- Colt .45’s – and Winchester rifles were a cowboy’s best friend besides his trusty horse. But me? I cannot stand a loud explosion, so once again, fear of explosions would have kept me from achieving my goal of being a good cowboy.
- Singing – around a campfire with my cowboy pals would have been a great time. Even singing to keep the cattle calmed down if I were on night duty, but one thing: I cannot sing. So what could I do to be musical and still be thought of as a cowboy, whistle? Maybe a tap-dancing drover?
- Bronc’ Busting – as well as driving cattle to the next railroad stop to sell them meant one thing: Hard work. And lots of it. I do not mind hard work if given to me in moderate doses. But the early cowboys never knew the meaning of ‘moderation.’ They had to work like a machine and never give in to exhaustion to make their mark as a good cowboy.
- Cowgirls – to me would have been trouble. Actually more trouble than all of the “Anti-Cowboy Reasons,” reasons above. Oh, I am sure that they were nice to look at and talk to when I would be lonesome, but my luck would be that each saloon girl I struck-up a conversation with would be engaged to a guy named “Satan,” and that was his sweet, pet name give to him by his gal. And coupled with his naturally-tough physique, he was born to kill at birth.
Maybe I could have been a good hobo in the early West and depend on the cowboys who had hearts to give me an occasional piece of hard tack to keep me alive.