Mm, mm, mm.  To me, cowboys are rated right there among firemen, policemen, men in uniform.  Yep, so I’m easy.  Through my experiences with camping (earlier blog), I have become acquainted with a few real-life cowboys.  As rustic and rugged when days of old, the characteristic stereotype of each cowboy I have met remains the same. 

Here’s a little story I found from a Physicians’ Mutual pamphlet I recently received and wanted  to share with you about cowboys.  For instance, “American cowboys get their roots from the Mexican ‘vaqueros.’  All the way back to the 1500’s, vaqueros were hired by ranchers to herd cattle from Mexico to what is now New Mexico and Texas.  When American settlers moved into the area, they were influenced by the vaqueros’ culture, including the way they dressed, spoke and drove cattle.  This influence was the start of the traditional cowboy image.

“With the building of railroads in the 1860s and after the Civil War, cowboys became important figures in the Wild West.  As herding routes changed and expanded, many towns were founded in their wake.  These settlements often benefited from cowboys who came to spend their hard-earned money, although most settlers considered cowboys to be troublemakers.  In reality, cowboys were young (normally in their 20s), hardworking men whose life was often exhausting and lonely.  They lived a life based on self-reliance and individualism.

“By the end of the 1800s and into the early 1900s, the cowboy way of life changed.  As more ranchers sectioned land with barbed wire and railroads moved farther west, the cowboys were not needed as much.  However, while the life af the cowboy changed, their culture began to be idolized by the rest of America.  With popular movies like High Noon and Gunfight at the O. K. Corral and famous TV shows like The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke, cowboys became heroes in the public eye.  There was also the birth of the “singing cowboy” portrayed by Gene Autry and Rex Allen, as well as rising star actors such as Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and John Wayne.  So, even though the real cowboys saw themselves as survivors just doing their job, Hollywood portrayed them as romantic, hero figures.

“In some aspects, the cowboys’ way of life today isn’t much different than it was 100 years ago.  For example, it is still hard work requiring long hours watching over large herds of cattle.  But other aspects have completely changed.  Some cowboys and ranchers use modern technology to make the work easier, like using helicopters to watch over the land and cattle (instead of relying solely on horses).  Though times are changing, the cowboy continues to live on as a symbol of persistence, independence and hard work.”

Ah, I repeat: a symbol of persistence, independence and hard work, very analogous to many of our life’s daily situations.  Take care!  A. K. Buckroth.


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