Today is National Day of the Cowboy. I was unaware of this special day until this week! But I have learned that Glen Rose is celebrating in a big way today. It seems that in 2005 “President George Bush declared the fourth Saturday in July as the National Day of the Cowboy to honor the heritage of those who came west after the Civil War and ultimately became known as the American Cowboy.” Bush stated that ” We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”
To go along with this I give you Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code.
1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.
Now, I’m kind of a farm dog and I spend a lot of time with kids who have horses and cows so I guess I know some cowboys. I do know quite a few people who seem to live up to that code. It seems to be something good to strive for.
When my Mom Person was a wee young thing a long time ago, she was a girl of the suburbs who dreamed of being a cowgirl. She had a horse, but no cows. It’s hard to be a real cowgirl without cows. But she lived in her world of books. And her favorite author in those days was a gentleman by the name of Will James (1892-1942). He was a real cowboy and a writer and an artist. Her favorite book was one called Smoky the Cow Horse. She read it to me when I was a wee young pup.
But today in honor of Cowboy Day, we read another Will James book that was written for younger kids called Young Cowboy. It’s actually kind of a mash-up from a couple of other books, but it was originally published in 1935 by Charles Scribner’s Sons. The book that we have was published in 2001 by Mountain Press in conjunction with the Will James Art Company. They have reprinted all of Will James’s books under the name the Tumbleweed Series.
Young Cowboy is the story of a boy, Billy Roper, and a horse, Big Enough, who are born on the same day and grow up together learning how to be good cowhands. The horse “breaking” methods are pretty out of date and style, and made me cringe a little, but the story is a good one and it is true to the times. It’s a pretty good history lesson about cowboy life. The book is filled with Mr James’s artwork and is quite stunning. It’s probably suitable for 3rd grade and up. Younger cowpokes might like to listen to the story and would surely enjoy the pictures.
So y’all head on out today and find a rodeo, or shop at a western store, or watch a good western movie on TV. Or just enjoy a good steak for dinner! And think about cowboys! YeeHaw!!!
For more on Will James you might visit the Will James Society website here.
There is a National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft Worth, Tx that is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. And there seem to be other cowgirl museums in other states. You might check that out.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is in Oklahoma City. I’ve never been there. But again, there are Cowboy Museums in lots of states. Our Texas Cowboy Museum is in Ft Worth.
And if you would like to read other Cowboy Codes you can visit this website.
And for your listening and viewing pleasure here is Mr Roy Rogers singing a tribute to cowboys – Hoppy, Gene, and Me –
And Y’all come back now!