Jackie Johnson's Stories

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  1. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT...Part One.

    A short story by jackie johnson

    I’m standing bewildered beneath the bright, florescent supermarket lights like a white tail buck caught in the headlights. I’m trying to decide which brand of baloney to buy, but the names on the packages are unfamiliar. I hardly notice when a woman and a young boy come up to stand a few feet to one side. Moments pass before a small voice asks, “Are you from Texas?”

    I smile and say, “I sure am partner.”

    “Where’s your horse?”

    The mother sighs and says, “I hope you don’t mind, he’s never seen a real cowboy before.” Her accent is a southern, summer night, heavy with honeysuckle and magnolia. I feel like an extra in “Gone With The Wind.”

    “Well, bring him on out to the rodeo and he’ll see plenty of them.”

    “Can we Mom? Please...”

    “We’ll see.” She looks me in the eye and says, “Thank you for your kindness.”

    The forty-piece orchestra’s rendition of “Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys,” is side-tracked by the ring of Boogers spurs, as he strolls bowlegged down the polished, shiny tiles of the aisle with a loaf of Sunbeam sandwich bread in one hand and a squeeze bottle of French’s mustard in the other.

    “Here comes another one!”

    I hear myself say, “Naw, that’s just Booger, he’s a bull rider.”

    “Wow!” The kid has a look of amazement on his face as his mother smiles goodbye and pulls him off in the opposite direction.

    “Can’t leave you alone for a minute. What’d she want, your autograph?” Ever since a girl in Los Cruces, New Mexico said I looked like a movie star; Booger has taken every opportunity to needle me about it. I pick up a pack of all beef baloney.

    “The kid mistook you for a cowboy, but I told him you were a bull rider.”

    “Thanks, grab a bag of ice, I’ll get the cold drinks.”

    Outside in the oyster shell parking lot, the sun has suddenly become too brilliant to face up to without a pair of polarized Ray Bans. The white Coup De Ville has blended it’s self into the bed of seashells like a flounder on the bottom of a sandy, shallow bay. Momentarily dazzled, I stumble into the side of the Cadillac and fumble along a fin till I find a chrome door handle.

    I pull at it and the dark refuge of the interior opens up for me. I duck down and crawl inside the capsule to sink into the soft, leather seat with a sigh. Booger cranks up the sabre-toothed kitten and she purrs to life, her breath an artificial, artic breeze blowing from her louvered vents. Through the tinted glass, I watch the sparkling parking lot slide past till it’s behind us and we merge onto Business U.S. 90 East.

    The fairgrounds are almost always out on the edges of the towns, just before the fields and farms begin to line the dirt roads. It’s like a buffer between the city and the country. It’s as country as cow chips, with the white stalls in the show barns standing full of pampered and pedicured livestock. The crafts barns are lined with rows of tables full of contestant’s entries in the canning, cooking, quilting, and other rural homemaking contests. They’re all waiting for the judges with the box of blue ribbons to come around. Early fall is fair time, a celebration of the harvest.

    The guy at the back gate waves us through with little more than a glace. After dropping off the cooler of cokes and sandwiches at the rodeo office, we cruise over to the corrals to feed the stock. Booger starts breaking open bales of alfalfa and scattering sections of it to the roping calves. I start with the broncs and work my way toward the bulls while Booger feeds the steers. By 10 AM our shirts are wet with sweat and stuck to our backs. We crawl back into the Cadillac and head for the cooler of cokes.

    By now, cowboys are beginning to show up and crowd around the bulletin board to see what the rodeo secretary drew for them in the first go-around. I got a big red roan called Powder River and Booger ends up with a big, black bull called Tar Baby.

    Dicks got his list of the stock to be used in tonight’s performance and we head back to the pens. Booger and me work the gates in the alley while Dick sends the stock to us one at a time. He calls out “keeper” if it’s one that will be used tonight. We put them in different pens so they will be easy to run into the chutes come show time. By the time we finish with the sorting, it’s lunchtime.

    Dick turns the Cadillac towards town and the Best Western motel with its restaurant. It’s crowded with the rodeo cowboy community. Most of them we know. The towns may change, but these faces don’t.

    It’s a regular mix of the smaller rough stock riders, with their tall-heeled riding boots and the taller calf ropers and the larger steer wrestlers, with their low-heeled Justin ropers. There’s the usual sprinkling of shapely barrel chasers, with long, silky-haired tresses to match their horses manes.

    The big dining room is dominated by large cowboy hats and shiny, silver trophy buckles. Waitresses bustle about with trays loaded down with platters of chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes covered with cream gravy and tall, sweaty glasses of iced tea with lemon wedges perched on the rims. The murmur of voices blends with the sound of silverware clicking against salad bowls and side dishes and the cooks calling out pick-up orders through the kitchen’s long, serving window.

    Marvin and Melvin wave us over to a table in the corner and we thread our way through the dining room tables with the red and white-checkered tablecloths. The twin brothers are the bull rider’s best friends. They don’t much like being called clowns; they prefer to be referred to as bullfighters. Marvin is fleet of foot like the rabbit and Melvin is the barrel man, like the tortoise with his protective shell.

    Dick says, “Just goes to show if you leave the barn door open, there’s no telling what’s liable to come in.” The brothers laugh because Dick is the guy who signs their paychecks. They know enough to stay on the good side of the boss. Everyone orders “Today’s Lunch Special.”

    The chicken fried steak and a smashed potato with gravy comes with green beans and a dinner roll as big as a large turnip. Desert is a generous portion of peach cobber. After the meal, Dick mentions that Marvin has drawn Speedy Gonzales in the first go around of the bull riding.

    Dick say’s, ”I didn’t tell you before, because I didn’t want to spoil your appetite.”

    Marvin’s face turns almost as white as grease paint and he says, “Ah, the money bull.”

    Dick says, “Yeah, if you can ride him. He hasn’t been ridden yet and I don’t expect he’ll let you be the first.”

    Marvin looks at Dick and says, “I’ll bet you a hundred dollars I can ride him.”

    Dick smiles and says, “Eight seconds on the back of Speedy Gonzales is like a lifetime.”

    Marvin grins and says, “There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode.”

    Dick smiles and says, “There never was a cowboy that couldn’t be throwed. But this ain’t no horse we’re talking about.”

    Marvin says, “Bet?”

    Dick says, “Alright,” and picks up the check. The rest of us contribute to the tip. Dick heads back to the rodeo office in the Cadillac and Booger and me walk over to our motel room. After a shower, we watch reruns of Gunsmoke on TV.

    Booger say’s, “There’s no way Melvin can stay on Speedy Gonzales.”

    “Nope.” I say.

    In the early evening, we don freshly starched cowboy clothes and meet Dick at the restaurant for supper, before heading back out to the arena. The parking lots at the fair grounds are starting to fill up with town cars and SUVs of the generations of families that now live in the city. It’s a homecoming; they’re here to explore their country roots.

    When the sun sinks out of sight below the western skyline, the night is held at bay by the carnival’s Christmas colored lights. The Ferris wheel turns slowly in the sky, like a giant pinwheel covered with sparkling jewels. The plastic, palomino ponies on the merry go round, pace in never-ending circles to the piping of the calliope.

    Quite a few folks are wearing hats, boots and neckerchiefs, clutching smoked turkey legs or colored clouds of cotton candy spun on paper cones. It’s a time and place of wonderful sights, smells and sounds. The early September night air is saturated with excitement. It’s easy to get hooked on the excitement of the dusty outdoor arenas, lit up with bright, overhead stadium lights in the summer nights. The crowds of spectators have come to see a spectacle seldom seen since the days of the Roman gladiators. It is habit forming to the cowboys that compete against the livestock and each other.

    Booger and me load the bareback horses in the chutes while the Rodeo Queen leads the Grand Entry into the arena. The horses snort nervously and one or two kick the reinforced sliding gates behind them so hard it sounds like gunshots, while the bareback riders get their riggings set and cinched down.

    We place our hats over our hearts with a rodeo flourish, when the High School band plays the Star spangled Banner that yet waves over the land of the free and the home of the brave. Then it’s rodeo time. The smooth voice of the rodeo announcer informs the stands of people munching popcorn of the events that are under way.

    “Walter Campbell, the son of a Tulia, Texas rancher will be coming out of chute number one on a horse fondly known as the Widow Maker.” Yeah right, cowboys are about as fond as Widow Maker as a scorpion is of a black widow. Some horses are hard to ride and if you manage to stay on for eight seconds, it’s still not good enough to put you in the money.

    The small, black gelding throws every dirty trick in the book at Walt. He takes a run out of the gate before breaking it off in a sideways lunge that turns into a twisting, ducking and dodging dance in a cloud of dust. Walt’s all over him like a drunken monkey on a football on a Friday night. Not exactly pretty, but he manages to mark a sixty-eight score on a horse everybody hates. That’s more than some could have done.

    I reckon that’s better than getting your head stuck in the dirt like a fence post in a posthole. The rest of the bareback riding goes by smooth as clockwork, no hold-ups, delays or injuries to man or animal or any other thing that upsets crowds or makes them restless.

    The next event is steer wrestling. The dogger chases a steer around, then tries to jump off their horse and onto the steer’s head, bringing it to a stop and twisting it’s neck till it flops over on it’s side. Then comes the team roping. The “header” ropes the horns and the “heeler” ropes the hind legs and they stretch the steer out till it flops on its side. Ho-hum, so much for those two events.

    Now this is more like it. They call Saddle bronc riding the classic event because that’s where it all started. Breaking a wild horse to carry a cowboy on it’s back through the long day over rough country wasn’t something every cowboy looked forward to. Or could even do, for that matter. Them that could were called bronc riders. Traditionally, they draw more pay than the regular cowboys, because the chances they take are a lot more dangerous. Bad horses have busted up many a cowboy, young or old. Trying to stay in the saddle on the hurricane deck of a mustang isn’t as easy as it looks, although the better the rider is, the easier he makes it look.

    Powder River is a big red roan from Montana, he carries a lot of weight and that slows a horse down.

    Course all those big muscles also makes for a strength you won’t find in a smaller animal. The big gelding is gentle as a plow horse and stands still in the chute while I pull the bucking halter over his big, long head and buckle it up. I set my bronc saddle high on his withers and cinch it down tight. Booger holds his head straight while I pull the braided sisal, bucking rein back and get a good grip on it six inches behind the forks. Then I straddle the chute and ease my seat down into the saddle. Powder River has one ear and one eye on me as I ease my feet into the narrow bronc stirrups.

    The adrenaline is flowing ninety to nothing now and my heartbeat is accelerating like a NASCAR coming off the high wall of a curve. My breathing quickens and I slow it down by breathing deeper. The butterflies are having a field day in my stomach while the muscles in my legs are tingling with a nervous anticipation that makes them quiver. I pull my hat down tight to the top of my ears.

    I hear Clem, the announcer, say over the loudspeakers, “Watch these horses folks, these are the kind of ornery critters that made the west a whole lot wilder than it had to be. Imagine having to top one of these off every morning before breakfast.”

    When I nod my head, the gate swings open and Powder River comes off the ground like a space bound skyrocket.

    It’s a pretty picture of a jump so high, I feel like I’m sitting on top of the world. When we come back down to earth, it’s pitching to and fro and bucking up and down like it’s out of control. I try to keep my eye on the horse’s head but at each jump it goes down out of sight and all I can see over the dashboard of the saddle is blue sky. The people in the stands become a kaleidoscope of color and sound as they jump to their feet, cheering.

    At every jump, Powder River blows my feet back to the cantle of the saddle, raking my spurs down his sides, ringing the dull rowels all the way. It takes all the effort I can muster to force my feet forward to the horse’s neck before his front hooves jars the ground. Each jump gets harder and harder and with each jump, I have to try harder and harder. Both of us are grunting with the exertion each jump takes. It becomes a war of willing our muscles to go beyond what’s normally expected of them. It’s man against a larger and stronger beast and everything else becomes as nothing. It’s just the horse and me now. There’s no arena, no crowd, no cheers. There’s no today and no tomorrow, there remains only the moment and the struggle.

    They both seem to go on forever. I know it’s finally over when Bo Hollis crowds his big pick-up horse against my leg and reaches over to take the rein away from me. He takes a wrap around his saddle horn with it and pulls Powder River to a stop.

    I grab the cantle behind Bo and slide off across the back of his horse to the other side away from Powder River and drop down to the ground.

    Bo grins down at me and says, “Good ride Hoss!” I limp the long way back to the chutes. The judges give me a seventy-five; it might be good enough for some day money.

    After the calf roping and the barrel racing, ho-hum, it’s time for the bull riding. Marvin asks me to keep the bull off him in case Speedy Gonzales bucks him off. Then he offers me fifty dollars if I keep Speedy from spinning. Now Speedy is a small bull and that makes him quick. Every trip out of the gate is the same. He always goes right into a flat spin to the left. He whirls around so fast; it reminds me of a propeller. He flings cowboys off, one right after another, like slinging snot off a finger. I know better, but I accept.

    I stand just in front of the chute as Booger pulls Marvin’s bull rope tight enough to suit him. Even through his make up, I can see the clown/bullfighter’s about as nervous as a tom turkey the day before Thanksgiving. Speedy also has a reputation for sticking a horn in a bull rider’s hip pocket.

    But it doesn’t come to that. As soon as the gate’s flung open, I jump in Speedy’s face and instead of spinning, he follows me, trying to horn in on my business. He bucks all the way because of the flank strap, which keeps him from even getting close to my hip pocket.

    It’s just straight away bucking without the spinning and Marvin rides him easily, scoring a seventy. He might get some of the go around money after all. Dick is so mad, he could eat a bowl of horseshoe nails for breakfast and threatens to fire me but he doesn’t do it.

    Not so much because he has to pay Melvin the hundred dollars, but because, as he tells me, “You could have ruined that bull from ever spinning again.”

    Boogers too charged up to even smile, his mind is on Tar Baby. I pull his bull rope tighter than Dick’s hatband and he takes a bubble around his wrist with it and tucks the tail under his belt. When he nods his head and the gate comes open, Tar Baby lunges through it like a runaway freight, before exploding into two different directions.

    The bull with the big horns goes one way and Booger with the big hat goes the other. The bull rider does a belly flop that makes me wince and the bull puts the rest of the cowboys on the fence. Later, back behind the chutes, Marvin slips me fifty dollars.
  2. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx

    by jackie johnson

    Booger squints down the length of the pool stick like he’s taking aim at a big buck with a Model 94 Winchester. He draws back and punches off a power shot that scatters colored balls all over the green, felt expanse. It also careens the cue ball off the table. The white orb ricochets off the wall and skitters across the floor like a flat rock skipping across a duck pond.

    Booger calls out, “Fore!” like we’re playing some kind of table golf. Then he squirts Copenhagen at a copper-colored spittoon and asks, “What’s par for this hole?”

    The Saturday afternoon pool parlor is almost empty; the lights are on over only a few tables, while the rest remain dark shadows in the quite, cool dimness of the cavern-like interior. Everyone must be out at the fairgrounds.

    One of the other players retrieves the wayward projectile and returns it to our table in the corner.

    “You guys here for the rodeo?”

    “Yep,” we both answer.

    “When I first looked over here, I thought you were cardboard cutouts selling Lone Star longnecks or something. When you moved, I almost freaked out.” He laughs and we laugh back.

    “Buy you guys a beer?”

    Booger says, “Thanks, but we have to go to work soon.”

    “Me too...I just wanted to say you guys are a couple of cool looking cowboys.”

    I tell him, “You ought to come out to the rodeo later, the bulls are planning to stomp a few of us tonight. Might be something worth seeing.”

    “I’ll be there,” he says, “I drive the ambulance and we like to be standing by...just in case.” Then he grins.


    It’s the cowboy attire that attracts the attention. A friend of mine owns a western wear store in Childress and it’s as good as a gold mine. But leave cow country and you’ll find those who entertain themselves and their friends by calling out, “Hey, where’s your horse?” Or “There’s the Marlboro man, I thought I smelled cow shit!”

    On the other side of the coin, there are those who want to shake your hand and buy you a drink.

    Dick likes to say, “Everybody wants to be a cowboy but it’s not as easy as it looks.”

    Then there are those who suppose we must have a screw loose somewhere and sometimes I’m inclined to agree. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a few of mine may have worked loose and fallen plumb out...along with whatever good sense I might have been born with. You have to be at least a little crazy to be a cowboy. And I firmly believe that an unconscious desire to commit suicide will take you a long way in the bull riding, if you don’t get crippled or killed first. You may not make much money but you’ll see a lot of country.

    Ranch work is long hours in unpredictable weather around unpredictable animals at predictably less than minimum wage. The big spreads are mostly found scattered in isolated areas, where the pavement ends, the west begins. Far from the lights of the cities and a long way from the talk of the towns. Out where even conversation is scarce. Seldom is heard...a word. It’s too lonely out there for most. They say the wind has driven women crazy.

    There is a lot of money in rodeos, but only for the top few in each event. And the chance for injury is a lot more likely in an rodeo arena than it is out in a cow pasture. I like being on the paved roads but the expense can chew you up and spit you out almost as quick as Booger can go through a can of Copenhagen.

    If you rope, chase barrels, or wrestle steers, you got to haul horses worth thousands of dollars around in a trailer that cost thousands of dollars and wear out two transmissions a year in a heavy duty Dodge Ram or whatever, that cost thousands of dollars. Add up the feed bills for you and the horses, the costs of motels, the price of fuel, plus the entry fees and that’s only the beginning.

    The only baggage I have to haul around is a bucking rein, a bronc saddle, chaps and a pair of spurs. Booger travels even lighter than I do. All he needs is a bull rope with a cowbell, a right-handed leather glove, and a pair of bull riding spurs. And of course, entry fee money.

    Working for Dick means all our expenses are paid, plus wages. Every week it’s a new town and another rodeo, and we get paid to do it. If that don’t suit a couple of country cowboys, I don’t know what does.


    Wildfire is the kind of horse that makes a cowboy think about getting crippled and wondering if he should have stayed home.If there’s one thing I’d like to avoid, it’s a horse that acts crazy in the chute. He’s kicking the slide-gate so hard and so often; it’s starting to splinter. I drag my riding boots, with the bronc spurs strapped to them, from my army surplus war bag and wiggle my feet into them. Then I slip on my chaps and buckle up. Wildfire’s still raising cane in the chute and making me more nervous by the minute.

    It takes Booger and me several seconds to get the heavy-duty halter buckled up on the horse’s hard head. When I gently place the saddle on his back, he rares up on the front of the chute. The next time we try it, he rears up and falls over backwards, slamming against the back of the chute.

    When we finally do get all four feet back on the ground, the gate-man runs a rope through the halter and wraps the ends of it around the two-inch pipe frame by the latch. Wildfire can’t move his head but that doesn’t mean he can’t kick and buck his back end around.

    I manage to hold the saddle on his back while Booger reaches under the horse’s belly with a long hook made of twisted, heavy wire.

    Wildfire snorts.

    Booger hooks the leather latigo and pulls it across to his side of the chute and runs the end of it through the cinch ring.

    Wildfire backfires again, kicking the slide-gate so hard, it rattles on its rollers.

    Booger holds the saddle straight, while I cinch it down tight.

    Wildfire rolls his eyes at me.

    Then I buckle the flank strap and measure how much rein to take.

    This bucking horse takes a long rein. When he’s pitching, he keeps his head down close to ground. If you take too short a rein on him, he’ll jerk you over his head. A horse that keeps his head high will take a short rein. Too long a rein and your arm won’t be long enough to pull all the slack out and he’ll jump right out from under you.

    The guys that ride the rough ones, study the stock. They watch each and every one, each time they come out of the chute. Most of them are consistent, whether they be calves, steers, horses or bulls. They do the same thing every time. If you don’t know the stock, just ask one of the guys. He’ll tell you everything he knows and most of the time, he knows plenty. He’ll tell you how much rein the horse takes, even though you will be competing against each other. That’s sportsmanship.

    A roper or dogger may tell you, “That calf or steer will sit up on you,” which means he’ll put the brakes on and you won’t have time to check your speed and ride right past him, unless you know what he will do before-hand. The calves and steers don’t have names but they have numbers and that’s as good as a name.

    When I straddle Wildfire, he puts all his weight against my left leg, pinning it against the gate. A sharp pain shoots through my knee and Booger has to work a length of cedar fence post, kept for this purpose, alongside my leg, between the horse and the gate. There’s no way to get him to stand up straight, not with his head snubbed to the side gate. It’s not the best position to be in, but it won’t get any better. I nod my head.

    When the gate-man releases the rope and swings the gate open, Wildfire staggers because his weight was against the gate. He recovers and takes off like a racehorse. Three long strides later and he’s at full speed, just like Seabiscuit.

    Then he ducks, drops his left shoulder and dodges to the right and goes to pitching. My feet are still in the front and this little trick slams all my weight onto the left stirrup and the wooden “U,” with the strip of galvanized tin around it, breaks in half. Only the tin doesn’t break, of course, it simply folds up on my foot, like a varmint trap. Wildfire goes to the right and I go straight ahead over his left shoulder like I’m shot from a slingshot.

    I hit hard but I’m hung in the stirrup and jerked off the ground by Wildfires next jump. Hanging up is a good way to get kicked in the head. I know to twist my body around to face down. This never fails to free the spur from the rigging or the foot from the boot. I do the twist and sure enough, come loose. The walk to the chutes always seems longer when you hear the whistle on the way back.

    Marvin and Melvin are bouncing and bounding around behind the chutes like Mexican jumping beans, loosing up for the bull riding. If I didn’t know who they were, I never would recognize them. What with white clown faces and big, round, red circus noses. Rodeo clown costumes are the same everywhere, over-sized, baggy, blue jeans with red suspenders and long, red neckerchiefs hanging out of both hip pockets, over red tights. Orange haired wigs sticking out from under black, narrow brimmed hats that look like someone’s been using for a seat cushion. I see by your outfit...

    Marvin makes a decent ride on “Poncho Villa,” a decent bull, might even get a little money. Booger’s bull is called “One Ton,” because the big, blond, Charlois weighs 2,000 pounds. He’s stout but slow and Booger puts a good ride on him, keeping his right shoulder aimed at the bull’s head and his chin tucked in to it. He keeps his back straight and his spurs in front of the bull rope with his toes turned out. The big bull twists, turns, humps, jumps and kicks, but Booger sticks to him like a cocklebur in a cows tail.

    He takes first place in the 2nd go-around and Marvin takes second. All I end up with is third place in the first go-around. No day money in the second go, so that leaves Booger and me out of the average. You have to score in two go-arounds to get in on the average money. Marvin covered both of his bulls and ends up taking 1st in the average, which means he gets paid for two scores that total up to enough to win the bull riding. He gets three checks. Not to mention the 100 dollars he won from Dick on the bet. He makes out like a bandit.

    Dick has a date with the rodeo secretary so we catch a ride to the motel with Marvin and Melvin. We leave the arena with Marvin doing the driving and trying to imitate Ray Charles singing “Born To Lose” for our benefit. You know how clowns are, always trying to be funny. We don’t laugh but Marvin and Melvin do. Marvin says maybe we’ll have better luck at the rodeo dance. Ray Price and the Cherokee Cowboys are playing.

  3. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    Johnny Appleseed

    Retold by
    Jackie Johnson

    Johnny Appleseed was a homeless hermit who liked walking around from town to town. He didn't want no home, he just wanted to plant trees. He didn't particularly like apples but the seeds were so cheap some people gave 'em away. Besides, apple trees grew like weeds so you didn't have to live next door to a tree surgeon to have one.

    He always went barefooted no matter if the sun was shining or if it was sleeting or snowing. It didn't make no difference to that Appleseed kid, he was kind of goofy anyway. He never even noticed when it rained. He didn't even care where he was going as long as he could plant some trees when he got there.
    He always had a big sack of seeds hanging over his shoulder and he wore a pot on his head for making applesauce. He had a long forked stick he used to job a hole in the ground with and poke a seed down in it with an old powder horn on a strap he kept full of seeds for a planter. When he wasn't planting he used the stick to carry his dirty hankerchief with his over-night stuff wrapped up in it.

    Me and Granny'd be robbing a beehive or digging out a stump and look up and see him coming down the turnpike whistling something about somewhere over some rainbow with a bluebird singing on his shoulder. He always had his applesauce pot on his head and his hole puncher on his other shoulder with his possibles. He always checked the mailbox to see if Granny's check had come so he could pick it up for us. The mail always ran on the third of each month and the Applesause Kid would always show up about the same time.
    The dogs finally got used to him and quit biting him and got to where when he walked in the yard, they wouldn't even come out from under the porch.

    His overalls were always ragged looking where barnyard dogs had bit holes in 'em. One hole looked big to have been made by the Saint Bernard up at the monestary on Wolverton Mountain.
    The Indians never bothered Johnny after it got to where they couldn't sic' the dogs on him anymore. I guess it's not much fun for a dog to bite someone that won't even run. Sometimes the Catahooches would walk along with him for a while and they'd give him a piece of jerky or a muskrat tail to chew on or make soup with in his pot. The Catahooches called him, "Pot Head," and they figured the Great Spirit looked out for the crazy ones.

    Everywhere he went folks fed him 'cause they felt sorry for him. They couldn't figure out how come some jaybird buck hadn't knocked him in the noggin a long time ago. They knew it was just a matter of time before Johnny got konked on the gourd and dropped off in "Dead Man's Hole" or the "Bottomless Pit" in his underwear... if he had any.

    After John-boy got through eating, he'd always give everybody a seed and thank 'em.

    His pot had a long handle sticking out like the hand of a compass so he just went which ever way it pointed. He said he'd never been lost but he'd been turned around a few times.

    One time a seed order catalog sent him the wrong kind of seeds and he got turned around and ended up in Texas. He was trying to find a town but that was back when there were only two of 'em in the state. I can't recall the name of one of 'em, it wasn't the one with the state capital in it, it was the one with the river you have to walk around to get anywhere. Anyway, he saw a good spot so he planted a bunch of seeds close to Bastrop.

    When the little trees got big enough to tell what they were, they said they were pine trees. The mayor wanted to know where they came from and what they were doing there. They said they didn't remember, all they knew was they woke up and there they where.

    The city council knew there wasn't supposed to be any pines in that part of the country and the short bushy trees didn't have no business being there, especially a bunch of little loblollies. If they were Pecans or Peaches or something else that was good to eat it'd be different but everybody knows you'd have to be a squirrel or some kind of nut to eat a pine cone.

    They took a vote and decided the little trees must be lost so they started calling 'em the "Lost Pines of Bastrop." When the loblollies heard about it, they got so mad they quit talking and nobodys heard a word out of 'em since.
  4. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    The Old Rocking Chair

    By Jackie Johnson

    Up the stairs, first door to the right,
    is where my Daddy spent his last night.
    There's an old rocking chair beside his bed,
    and that's where he laid his weary head,
    on the arm of "The Old Rocking Chair."

    He use to talk for hours to Mom's old chair,
    just like Jesus was sitting there;
    Sometimes I could hear him on into the night,
    when the wind was still and the world was quite,
    talking to "The Old Rocking Chair."

    Daddy never was much when it came to prayer,
    he just talked to God, like He was everywhere.
    He looked so peaceful, when I found him there,
    with his head on the arm of Mom's old chair,
    "Leaning" on "The Old Rocking Chair."

    Now sometimes at night, when time stands still,
    I lie awake listening to a whip-poor-will,
    And find myself talking to that old chair,
    just like Jesus was really there,
    sitting in "The Old Rocking Chair."

    Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms
    Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms

    What have I to dread, what have I to fear?
    Leaning on the everlasting arms;
    I have bless-ed peace, with my Lord so near,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.

    Leaning, leaning......

    May God bless us all with peace and love.

    Bud, my thank's to you, brother, for the story that inspired me to write a poem about the chair and bringing another part of God's many comforts to light.
    I may put a haunting melody to it and call it a song. After all, that's what I really am, a songwriter. On the other hand, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms", is haunting enough in it's self. Perhaps a recitation with "Leaning," tagged on the end, just like you read it here.
  5. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    The Reason I Always Carry A Knife
    By Jackie Johnson

    It was the worst winter anyone could remember. Ice was six inches thick on Buck Creek. Our world had turned in a white covered one. Two to three feet of snow lay in blankets on the prairie flats and sage brush, with drifts in the broken country, deep enough to hide a high horse. Barbed wire fences were buried all over the county. After the melt, some horses and cattle were found frozen in their tracks, still standing. The cold was deep, and the wind was constant. Almost every windmill had sheared gears, or broken sucker-rods. Fields of winter wheat lay buried beneath layers of iced glazed snow. Them that could, kept their animals in lots on the south side of the barns, and rationed what little hay was left.

    Others weren’t so lucky; most people’s feed was already gone. They had been using tractors and sleds to get the bales to the stranded cattle. Now it was being trucked in from several different states, The Air National Guard was dropping bales to groups of stranded livestock. We saw it all on the nightly Amarillo news, video shot from the air.

    The paper printed that some 60 head of buffalo had drifted in from God knows where, and no one could say whom they might belong to, if anyone. There was speculation they been in some lost valley since 1888, the year of the big drift that killed millions of cattle, and busted every ranch in the country.

    Now, it was happening again. More and more overgrazed ranches were deserted, left to cactus, mesquite, and certain grasses known as decliners. Plants that take over when the land has been abused by too much grazing for too long. Thin grasses and forbs, or weeds, with sparse leaves, little protein, and protected by burrs, or needle-like hooks, or stickers that cling to fur or feathers, to be transported to other areas. Grasses that provide no forage value, and are detrimental to the land, and anything that tries to use them. The country had been taken by the deep-rooted mesquite that robs the earth of precious groundwater, and the prickly pear, and pencil cactus that infest uncountable acres, covering them to the extent that pastures become armored. The livestock have no reason to penetrate it. As the old ranchers die off, one by one, the land is left to the wind and tumbleweeds.

    Grown sons and daughters had long ago moved to Dallas, Houston, or God knows where, to live urban lives of their own choosing, rather than wear themselves out on worn out land, digging their own graves like their daddies did. The ranches the offspring fell heir to, were divided into smaller parcels between them, and sold to the highest bidder, or left to broom weed and sand burr. Unless there happened to be oil on the acreage. Texas oil is the only thing that keeps many ranches from going belly-up.

    The majority of “ranching” now consists of people that lease land with a windmill on it, and plant it in winter wheat. In the spring, they buy as many head of steers, heifers, or both, as they can afford, and run them on the wheat through the summer. Then they’re sold at auction in the fall, hopefully at some profit. The average land owning rancher in Texas, now owns less than 100 head, and they hold jobs for other income. Weekend worriers we call them.

    There was a time when a man could buy land and stock, and after some years, begin to show a profit. Now a man must inherit the land, and if he can afford it, spend a lot of money on clearing brush, and converting it back to native grasses and clovers, and growing his own feed.
    Then, after twenty or thirty years, he might begin to show some profit. Falling markets, droughts, and bad winters have wrecked many a man, along with his hopes and dreams, leaving the land, and it’s occupants destitute.

    Every time I drive past pastureland, over-grown by spines, thorns, and burrs, I feel the loss as if it were my own. It makes my heart heavy, as the sight of the dust covered wasteland slides by, outside the window of my Chevy pick-up. Now, the desolation is hidden under blankets of white, making it look even lonelier. This is a lonely land, after all. Not many choose to live in the middle of nowhere in the Texas Panhandle. They call it “The Golden Spread”, but that’s a misnomer. It should be called, “The Land of Broken Dreams”. I guess that’s why so many try to drown their sorrows in spirits, or blow their brains out in some ranch or farm house, in their home on the range.

    This part of the state is “dry”, but it’s only 18 miles to the liquor store-lined, Oklahoma line. Midnight at the oasis, takes on a whole new meaning, when you see the bright-lit strip of small stores, with gaudy fluorescent neon, wrapped around plate glass windows, protected by rusty, wrought iron bars. I made a whiskey run for Ruby, now and again, loading pre-arranged cases of liquor out the back door of “Beth’s Liquor Store,” and noticed the parking lots, filled with hail damaged pick up trucks with bent bumpers, and cracked windshields, and covered with dust, dirt, and the mummified remains of an assortment of bugs and grasshoppers. A rush of last minute shoppers, trying to beat the clock, before the package stores close. The private clubs, and dance halls, with sawdust on the floors, dimly lit with beer sign lights, reflected by mirrors, are more like a weary mirage than the life preserver it becomes to some, floating in a sea of over-worked bladders and poisoned livers.

    The old cattle drive crossing on the Red River, once called “Doan’s Crossing,” because of Doan’s store, is now home to a different kind of “watering hole,” the kind that dumps empty beer cans out the back door, creating a aluminum landslide that spills down and covers the banks of the Red River. The historic place is now known as trash hill.

    I never realized how much alcohol was consumed in this small town, until I started going out with the bootleggers daughter, Darlena. And is she ever a beauty. And still in high school. They grow up early in this part of the state. When her mother was young, she must have been a beauty herself. She’s still attractive, but heavy, cynical, and sells more wine and whiskey than any state line liquor store. Her name is Ruby Lea, and she has two half Apache sons, that nobody in their right mind would mess around with.

    They’ve both been in and out of the reformatory at El Reno, and the state penitentiary at MacAlister. The oldest boy is smooth, suave and a ladies man. He dresses like a dandy, and has a penchant for calling men’s wives in the night, and trying to talk them into meeting somewhere. One met him in the gin yard one night, and shot him several times in the chest with a .22 cal pistol, loaded with birdshot. As far as I can tell, it didn’t slow him down much. His name is Dane and he’s always been friendly to me. The other brother is Dave, and he doesn’t look nothing like his slicker brother. Dave looks rougher than 20 acres of bull nettles, with his Geronimo face, tattooed with lighting, stars, teardrops, crosses, and a snarl. Four fingers on one hand are tattooed with h-a-t-e and the other hand is tattooed with l-o-v-e on the fingers.
    I’ve seen him with his shirt off, his body is covered with designs like “Mom”, inside a heart with a dagger stuck through it, and blood red drops, dripping off the point.

    When I rumble up on tire chains, in front of Ruby’s house, Dave’s car is parked in the driveway. I had been told Dave didn’t want me seeing his sister, and every body knows Dave is dangerous.

    The thing is, no one knows about me, I moved here after getting out of the army, I’m still a stranger to these people. They may have seen me working on Tuesdays at the livestock sale barn, or the feed mill, or the ranches I do day work on, or they might know I was gone a lot, following the rodeos, and breaking or shoeing a horse now and then, but that’s about all they knew. They don’t know that back where I come from, I had always been considered dangerous myself. I knew several dangerous men back home, and they knew me. But there were a lot more dangerous men in this part of the country than I had ever known. It’s the country that does it. It makes some mean men, and the rest of us have to learn how to take care of ourselves in self-defense.

    One thing I learned is that the mean don’t much mess with each other, they know it’s best to walk lightly around each others dangers, least someone gets hurt bad, or killed. It’s usually the ones who only think they are mean, and are out to prove it, that choose to mess with the wrong people. They don’t know any better, but they learn real quick.

    When I stomp the snow off my boots, and knock on Rubys door, Dave opens it and says, “Hey, I’m going to get some cigarettes, and I want to talk to you, come go with me.”

    “Ok”, I say. The first thing I notice, when I slide into the cold plastic covered seat of his car, is a knife on the dash. Its blade is open and it ain’t no little knife either. It looks a foot long. As soon as I see it, I reach over and pick it up. I start cleaning my fingernails with it, as I say, “I heard you didn’t want me going with your sister.”

    Dave says, “Who said that”?

    “Oh, it’s just something I heard”.

    “No,” he says, “I never said that...I got no objections.”

    “That’s good,” I say, as I fold his knife up.

    I let him watch me stick it in the pocket of my jacket, but he don’t say nothing about it. Never thinking it would come in handy, later that night. Not much more is said, as we pick up his smokes, and head back to his mother’s house.

    Ruby’s been married three times, twice to Indians. She once lived on the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico, and also on one in Oklahoma. Elmer, her present husband is white, and the father of the girl I’m going with. Together, they have another daughter and son.
    Kenny, the boy, works on the 6666’s down at Guthrie. The foreman is Biggon Bradley, the Marlboro man we see on TV, advertising the filtered “cowboy killers.” You know, the one that died from lung cancer. Kenny is a good kid, married to Maria Cortez, another girl that’s a pleasure to look at, like her sister Lisa. I often stop by Kenny’s when I’m headed out, or coming in from a rodeo. He always tries to get me to go to work at the big ranch that was won in a poker game. Every cowboy has seven horses assigned to him to train as he goes about his daily work. After awhile the horses are sold, and you get seven new ones to start on.

    I got too many rodeos to chase, to stick myself off on somebody else’s big range for 200 a month, a house, paid bills, and free beef.
    Elmer, the old man is likable, we get along good, and I get along good with Ruby and Kenny. They all like me; most do, unless I get on somebody’s wrong side. Elmer suffers from shell shock, a residue from WW 2. He’s on disability, and doesn’t have much to say. He mostly wanders around the house, like a slim, forgotten ghost, sipping coffee from a thick, chipped, crock colored cup.

    Ruby leased a building on the square, and had it converted into a domino hall, so Elmer would have something to do. It gets him out of the house, and makes room for her Mexican boyfriend to drop by. He’s another dangerous one, decorated with jailhouse tattoos. I’ve already seen one knife fight in Ruby’s kitchen, and he was the one that started it. I work with him sometimes, down at the feed mill, so we get along good. But he is awful jealous about that woman. And that woman is something else. If she didn’t like me, I sure wouldn’t be here. If I had good sense, I wouldn’t be here any way, but love can make you loose your mind, and make you do crazy things.

    Especially your first real love. You know, the one you never forget, or get over, but learn to stay away from.

    Ruby claims she’s black Dutch, with her dark eyes, and complexion, and black hair, now beginning to show gray at the temples, and doesn’t like many people. She treats her customers like stray dogs, and they keep coming back for more. They don’t talk back, because of Dane and Dave, and this is the only place around to get whiskey or wine. It’s on the edge of town, and Ruby has several 5-gallon barrels, buried in the pasture on both sides of the house, to stash her goods in. She keeps some half pints around the house. Stuck in the tank on the commode or tucked into the big pockets of a housecoat, hanging in the closet. The rest, she tosses out the door, into the snow. When she needs one, she simply opens the door, and reaches for the rake she keeps leaning beside it. You can’t see the holes in the snow, but she knows the location of each bottle, and she rakes it up to the steps, reaches down, picks it up, and hands a cold bottle of firewater to a thirsty customer. She don’t bother to thank them either.

    When John Green, a local farmer shows up for a pint of wine, she asks, “What’d you do John, buy up all the vanilla extract in town?”
    “Yep,” he slurs, “then I bought up all the black walnut extract too. I’ll be glad when the trucks from Amarillo can get in and out again.” Ruby tells me he sends his kids in the store to buy the stuff for him; and calls him a damned juicer, right in front of him.

    Darlena looks sweeter than a gallon of blue bonnet blossom honey, with that long auburn hair, spilling down her shoulders, flashing hints of red, when the sun hits it. That girl was blessed, or cursed, with a body you would not believe. She reminds me of a young, long legged colt. I swear she can make a man slobber on himself like a milk fed calf. She has a shy smile, and a way of looking at me, with those big, baby blue eyes, that makes me want to throw my head back, and howl at the heavens. I never knew any one like her before, and I knew I never would again.

    She’s the reason I got a knife stuck in me, in front of the movie theatre that night. Leaving the white line of a scar, just left of center, on my chest, right over my heart. I didn’t know Bobby Driver; one of her admirers, had an open knife in his glove, when I knocked him down.
    While I was sitting on his chest, using his face for a punching bag, I felt him pushing and shoving on the knife, trying to get it past my breastbone. I came up off him quick, when I felt it, I can tell you that. As I backed off, he got to his feet with the knife held before him, weaving it back and forth, like the head of a rattler, looking to strike.

    He says, “I’m gonna’ cut you up in pieces.”
    Without having to even think about it, I reach in my jacket pocket, and bring out Dave’s knife, and open it.

    It’s even bigger than Bobby’s, and when he sees it, he throws his aside and says, “I want to fight you fair.” So I fold it up, put it back in my pocket, and knock him flat on his back with my first punch, just like last time, only this time I don’t sit on him. His head is up against a car tire, parked in front of the theatre, and for the first time, I notice all the people standing around watching, that came out after the first show. I ignore them, and kick Bobby in the face with my Tony Lama cowboy boot. I do it again and again, till I get tired of it, like the time I kicked the tractor tire in front of Dick, my boss man, on his ranch near Canyon, Texas. Bobbys head is bouncing back and forth, between the tire, and the heel of my boot. His face is covered with blood, and I can feel my own blood, squishing in my boot from the hole in my chest. Two of Bobbies friends, take it on themselves to grab each one of my arms, and drag me off Bobby. I jerk loose, face them, and ask if they want some. They decline, backing off and shaking their heads. It does give me just enough time to cool off some. I look at Bobby, but he’s out of it, and I leave the scene.

    I go the Catholic hospital, and a Nun notifies the doctor on call. He sews me up with a couple of stitches, before the county sheriff shows up. He gives me a free ride to the jailhouse. On the way out, I see Bobby being examined on a table.

    As soon as the jailer leaves me with a dozen other inmates, I see another one that I had heard bad mouthed me with threats to whip me, once he got out. He’s a good friend of the guy who just stabbed me. I confront him as soon as the jailer’s out of sight. He backs down quick, and the others are cowed by my aggression, even the bank robber. Not only then, but forever after. Especially after the jailer comes in with Bobby, whose face looks like three pounds of ground round. He never says a word.

    The next day, when the judge hears the story, he laughs at Bobby’s face, which is all dried scabs now, and says, “Serves you right, maybe next time you’ll know better than to pop off in front of a girl on a date, and the guy she’s with. 50 dollars or 60 days. Mr. Johnson, you can go. Court dismissed.”

    After that, I always carry a knife. I keep it in my right hip pocket, between my wallet and my hip. It’s flat and slim, and don’t make no bulge.
    All I have to do is stick a forefinger and a thumb in my back pocket, and out comes a knife instead of a billfold. With practice, all it takes is one flick, with the ball of my thumb, on the blade, and it’s cocked and locked. Like a fang on a rattler, or a claw on a cat.
  6. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx

    The Mailbox
    By Jackie Johnson

    The week goes by fairly quick, everyday I ride out to check on the calves and every day, I get down on the ground to do my count. Seems like John is training me, instead of the other way around. If there's a way to make a pony stand still when it don't want to, I don't know what it is .... Every day I put a few miles on him. Just riding, enjoying the scenery. It's a pretty country, and it's lonely. That's one of the things I like about it. There are no highline wires or poles to see, except for the one that comes to the house from the highway. There are no lights to see at night. This landscape looks the same as if were a hundred years ago.. or two..three, and even four. The Llano Estacado looks flat, but there are swales and dips, not obvious to the eye, till you ride right up on them. And it's not unusual for a big black-tailed buck to stand up in some sunken buffalo wallow, when you ride up on the edge.

    The prairie is covered with sun cured grasses this time of year, here, it's mostly needle grass and grama, short grasses. These grasses have a network of roots that serve to hold the top soil together and keep the winds from taking it away. It's only a few inches down to the shaley bedrock that forms the giant table top. The grasses and ground is dry and dusty, and the sky just seems to go on forever. Here and there, the bottom of the sky is broken by tall yuccas that bristle their tops at the clouds. In the distance, one of the mountain tops is white with snow, all year long. Even on the hottest days, it's refreshing to look at. I love this country, it's big and seems to go on and on. Being on the back of a horse in wild country has a feel to it. It's not like driving across it, isolated inside a car. Out in the open, like this, you're isolated by the county's expanse. It just me, the land and a jughead named John.

    And I have to keep a close eye on John. I can't even let my guard down for a moment. This is the kind of land you don't want to be afoot on. The miles are too long. John is always looking for an excuse to act up ... the dad gummed knot head. We can just be walking along, listening to the the meadow larks, and he might kick up a puff of powered dust with a front hoof, and that's all it takes. You'd think he had stepped on a snake, the way he shies away from it. Everytime it happens, I have to pull hard on his head, so's he can't get it down and go to pitching. I soon learn to reach slow, when I feel like adjusting my hat to a different position. He's always watching and flicking his ears back at me. He makes me think someone has slapped him between the ears with the coils of a hard rope, more times than a few. Mistreating a pony doesn't do nothing but make things worse. You're just adding another bad habit to the list. The longer the list is, the worse the horse gets. Someone has already made him slap happy.

    Every now and then, I pull John up and get down to take a break. I squat awhile or sit awhile, and sometimes I even lie on my back and watch the sky. I like to take a good long look across the country, and just relax. Now this is my kind of cowboying.

    John gets nervous when we cross the long empty highway, the sound and feel of it makes him nervous, he acts like he's walking on ice. It makes me nervous too, thinking about how he could go to slipping and kicking and maybe falling if he starts acting up. We make it across both times.

    On the way back to the house, I decide to pick up the mail. It only comes twice a week, and when it does, the carrier drops it off in a big paper sack. It's always a sack full too. The mailbox is an extra big one and John doesn't like the look of it. He wants to make a wide cirle around it. Well, I don't. I want to ride right up to it, simply reach down, open the box, retrieve the sack of mail, and go on to the house. But John won't have it. I try for 15 minutes to get jughead close to the box, but there's no way. I dismount, and it's all I can do to lead John close enough to the box to get the mail. John doesn't trust the brown paper bag of mail either. He wants to run backward away from it. I shorten up on the reins to get closer, and John just goes crazy. He runs backwards, snorting and twisting so much, he stumbles and goes down. When he does, I drop the mail, and jump on John's head. I get a good grip on him ,and twist his head, and sit on his neck so he can't get up. I have him laying on his side, and he's kicking, snorting, and slobbering like a mad mule, but I don't let up. I reach for the bag, and rub it all over his head and face. He just goes nuts, like the bag was trying to eat him. You'd think it was a badger instead of a bag. It does sort of make a noise when I shake it, and John doesn't like that either. He don't like nothing about these kinds of doings, but I do. When I get around to letting him up, it ain't changed nothing. He still won't let me close to him with the sack of mail. In the end, I have to put it back in the box and come back for it in the pick up. Which don't make me none to happy. It's hard to out wit a horse when he's only a half wit. And I'm a half wit for thinking I can. I didn't teach him as much as he taught me. At least I know you can't carry the mail on him, and I don't intend to try again. This pony has learned all he's ever going to and that's all there is to it. Like me, he's set in his ways and he don't intend to change.
  7. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    "Gimmie' Me That Old Time Religion."

    By Jackie Johnson

    I would have put this on my old thread, but I can't find it. Guess I let it lie fallow too long. I hate to loose it, I guess I should have made a copy, I wanted to send it to some relatives. Should have already done it I guess but I'm always a day late and a dollar short.

    I want to talk about religion.
    Religion and politics, two subjects that we all know to be troubled waters.
    These two subjects, when combined, make even deeper and darker waters, so here we are, in the dark, swimming around in circles, trying to keep from sinking and hoping the sharks don't get us.

    God and government...
    How can we have government without God?
    Well, we can, I guess, if we want a godless government.
    It's the godless in our government that have made it what it is becoming, the money grubbers with no morals, constantly trying to pull the wool over our eyes and in the meantime, steal us blind.
    Most religions are based on morality, that's one good thing we can say. Still our own Christian religion is the one that made this country what it is or what it is supposed to be.

    We couldn't have come all this way if God were not on our side. Now there are those who want to cast Him aside.
    Why would the 10 commandments be booted off government property?
    Do the commandments violate someone's rights or religion?
    As far as my rights go, I like for people to know there are not supposed to kill me or anyone else, something wrong with that?
    Did the wrong God say it or something?
    What are these people thinking?
    Whatever it is, we must realize they are trying to turn this country into one we wouldn't even recognize or even want to live in.
    Why would anyone want to live in a country not blessed by God? Or be governed by a government that isn't?
    I do know many live under the heavy hand of those kind of governments, always have and always will and they are not there by choice. They'd rather be here.
    At least here, people that don't like the way things are... remain free to leave, but they don't. There's no place they would rather be.

    They have many choices, but they don't want to go anywhere else and we know why.
    They want to change things here.
    I guess somehow they think they know more than our fore-fathers whose ideals were the foundation of this democracy. Someone is always trying to drive a wedge between the lines of the Constitution and "improve it."

    Many of our countrymen have risked and given life and limb for that Constitution and to keep this Republic free.
    Some folks would rather not live if they can't live free.
    I know not what course others may take, but "give me liberty or give me death!"

    Men, women and children still risk their lives and perish just trying to get here.
    And now many of us don't want them here at all.
    Don't try to give us your poor, destitute and hungry!

    Even now, there are enemies within our own gates, that want us to lay down for them.

    Why is our country, better off than any other country in the world?
    Did God really bless America, land that we love, home of the brave and land of the free?
    I think so, but it seems many must not.

    Many believe in some other God or no God at all.
    Are they jealous of our God?
    Not really, they could have the same God we do, if they wanted to.
    If their God is just as good as ours, why are they so much worse off than we are.
    And we don't really realize how well off we really are. One day we may wake up to realize how well off we were...

    Most of us believe in our God because that's they way we were brought up. We went to vacation bible school and then public school, where we daily held our hand over our heart and pledged allegiance to the flag and to the Republic for which it stands, "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    Does that mean what I think it does?
    Does that mean that God and our country are indivisible?
    I don't think our country is indivisible, the civil war and politics certaintly show a clear division.

    Today we find that "from sea to shining sea," and indeed all over the world, there are powers against us and our God and many of those are in governments, including our own.

    These powers spring from those who were not brought up the way we were because they either do not know God or they reject Him.
    That's the way they were raised... or not raised, I guess we could say.
    They don't want our children or their own children raised the way we were.
    They want them to be raised like they were.
    They are like they are because they don't know any better and they'd rather we didn't either.
    But we do... don't we?

    We are warned that the children of the Lord will be persecuted until the end of days and our days are numbered.
    We are told the day will come when we must deny our Lord and accept the number of the beast or be crucified... in one way or another.
    Christ was crucified and if we follow in his footsteps, we will be also... again, in one way or another.
    I don't think many realize how much our life parallels our Savior's. The son of man must walk in the steps of the Son of God.
    Must we not go through the things He went through to be worthy, the way he did?

    The reason why they are those who want to put as much distance between us and our God is because of Satan's influence. Satan is seductive in ways we cannot imagine. According to the bible, he patrols the earth. He rules over it, he wants it all. He wants to rule the heavens in God's place but he never will.
    With all his wisdom, he can no more see the light than those he has blinded.

    The irony is, those that do his bidding are following in his footsteps... to hell and he wants to drag us all down with him.

    Now I know nothing I can say on this board will change anything. Even if every one that reads this were to jump on my bandwagon, it still won't change anything.
    And I also know that my words will fly like birds lost in a windy storm over the heads of those who refuse to agree with me. They will have their own arguments, whether they care to voice them or not.
    Many may look but some will never see.

    Well, like Hoppy use to say, "A fellers got a right to his own opinion, don't he?"

    "Gimme' That Old Time Religion," it's good enough for me.

    God help and bless us all. Amen.

    Exodus 20:3-17


    1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandants.

    3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    4. Remember the sabbath and keep it holy. Six days shalt thy labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    5.Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

    6. Thou shalt not kill.

    7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    8. Thou shalt not steal.

    9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.
  8. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    The Horse That Could Fly

    By Jackie Johnson

    I met Charlie and Betty in Artesia, N.M. They were on the rodeo committee. They had a horse ranch on the old Y.O. crossing on the Pecos. The Y.O. had once been a huge ranch, now broken up into several outfits. Rodeo season was just about over, winter was coming on, and Charlie needed someone to winter on the ranch.

    New Mexico was open range. The road from Hagarman to Cloudcroft had several cattle guards on it and the ranch house was a mile from the mailbox. I arrived just as the fall roundup was over, except for working the calves. They had 500 head of unhappy cattle in the pens in back of the barn. They bawled all night long.

    Charlie’s three brothers had a ranch close to Lubbock, and they had come over to help with the gathering. We spent the next day working calves in the lots. Roping, dragging to the branding fire, dehorning, and collecting buckets full of calf fries. We separated the sizable steers, heifers and older cows to load on trucks that would take ‘em to the sale barn in Roswell. We put the young stuff in a separate pasture to ween. The calves cried and the mother cows called. They met at the fence and licked each others noses through it.

    The next day, after the trucks left, so did every body else. The horse round-up was planned for the next weekend. Charlie told me to ride out and check on the calves every day to make sure none got through the fence, he told me to use the bay gelding they called John.

    Charlie’s prize stud was a leopard spotted appaloosa called “King of Four Mile.” He was white with black teardrop spots all over him. There was a big picture of Charlie and “King” on the wall of the Appaloosa World Headquarters in Moscow Idaho. Charlie is standing in front of the stud beside a tall yucca, looking out over his ranch. I had an autographed 8x12, but it has disappeared through the years.

    King’s fee was 15,000 bucks. We had one of his offspring called “Prince of Four Mile,” his fee was 10,000 dollars. John was "Prince's" half brother. The difference was in the mare that foaled him. She was a mustang that wandered off the Mescalero reservation, north of the ranch.

    There wasn’t anything special looking about John, he was just a decent looking bay gelding like you can find on any ranch. The only thing different about him was that he could buck. Only I didn’t know it then. I did know he needed a lot of wet saddle blankets pulled off of him; he had a lot to learn. They couldn’t do anything with him, that’s one reason they hired me. When a rancher finds out you’re a bronc rider, the first thing that crosses his mind is, “Here’s a chance to do something with some of them scatter-brains.” Seems like every ranch has at least one.

    The next morning, when I walked into the pen, John showed me his first bad habit. No matter which side I approached him from; he would keep his rump toward me. That’s the end that kicks. Cowboys consider it bad manners. I had to go back to the tack house for a buggy whip. You just tap the pony on the tush with it. You don’t want to cause them to jump into the sturdy fence, they might knock a shoulder down or injure themselves some way. They don’t learn in just one day, it takes awhile for ‘em to get down good. Everyday I had to take the stiff whip in with me, so he would stand facing me, as I walked up to put a loop around his neck.

    I saddled and put a bosal on him and lead him around the small pen in a few circles and figure eights. It’s just something you do before getting on a pony you don’t know. It’s a chance to see how he reacts to the reins. He fell in behind me like a puppy dog, and never tried to pull away. That’s good; at least it shows some sense. In these situations, the next thing you do, before stepping in a stirrup, is cheek the horse. You reach up with your left hand and get a good grip on the side of the halter or bridle. Then, when you step up, it pulls his head around toward you. A horse has to follow his head, and this causes him to step to his left, toward you. A few steps makes a circle and you’re on the inside of it. The end that kicks, keeps turning away from you. After you’re in the saddle, if he’s trying to act up, don’t turn loose. Just keep circling him till he calms down. He can’t do much when you mount this way. When you decide to let his head go, you keep a short rein, so he can’t get his head down. A horse can’t buck with his head up. You just sit there and hold him for a few seconds. If he don’t try to act up, give ‘em a little slack and smooch your lips, and just lay your spurs gently against his ribs, and he will step out. Make few circles in the pen, before you get down and open the gate. Lead him out; make sure you’re clear of anything he might buck into before mounting up. Cheek him again, and when you’re on his back, keep his head up and point it in the direction you want to go.

    We left the ranch yard with the black and white Border collie behind us, tagging along. It was a mile to the calf pasture, and I topped out on a small knoll and pulled John up to get a count on the calves. Every time I got about halfway through my count, John would get fiddle footed and start dancing around, causing me to lose count. After about four times, I had enough. I thought I’d work some of that excess energy off. When I got through with him, he’d be glad to have a chance to stand still for a while.

    I kicked John into a lope and he was glad to go. He stretched that lope into a hard run in three jumps. Man could that horse move! I’ve never been on a Cayuse that could run like that one. I mean the wind fanned the brim of my black Resistal against the crown, and brought tears to my eyes. If I knew I was gonna be in the big race, I’d a’ looked around for some goggles. I was just hoping he didn’t step in no hole. I’d have probably summer-saulted all way the back to Texas.

    I had it in my mind, to curve John around in a big circle, ending up back on the hill we started from. John had ideas of his own. He was headed for Lincoln County, Billy the Kid country. I couldn’t pull his head around with the bosol. Well, I had a remedy for that too. I had just about enough of this foolishness. It was too early in the day, to be treated this way. I yanked his head hard to the left, and at the same time, I hit him high on his right shoulder with my bronc spur. That didn’t work, instead of dodging away from my spur, we left the ground in a high leap. Kinda’ like the cow that jumped over the moon must have used, when she launched her moon shot. That wasn’t so bad, not for a bronc rider like me. The bad part was when we came back down to earth. John hit the ground with his fore legs stiffer’n cedar corner posts and he kicked with his hind feet. We hit so hard, it jarred my sombrero off.

    The old saying, ”When a horse bucks your hat off, your butt is soon to follow,” flashed through my mind. The teeth-jarring landing, also caused me to lose a stirrup, and that’s worse than being bucked out from under your hat. It’s sort of like trying to pedal a runaway bicycle with one foot.

    Two jumps later, I was sailing over John’s jug head like an Olympic diver. I made a three point landing...on my back. “The eagle has landed.” Me, the guy who could usually hit the ground on his feet, when a bronc and me parted company. Course, that was in a plowed arena. This prairie had never seen a plow. There were too many rocks in it. I had planned to keep a grip on the reins, so I wouldn’t be walking back, but the shock was so great, my hand opened up like I didn’t have control over it anymore. When I rolled over with a groan, I saw John pitching around in a circle, with the cow dog barking and biting at his heels.

    The stirrups were popping together over the seat of the saddle with every jump. Now that’s something you don’t see on a ranch horse. Animals that can buck like that are usually seen at the Las Vegas finals. When John broke out of the bucking circle, the dog was having such a good time, he chased John all the way back to the house.

    On the long walk back, I thought how glad I was the boss wasn’t home to see my ride come in without me. I didn’t know it then, but I was counting my chickens, before they pecked a hole in the shell and popped out. “Surprise!”

    My spirits dropped even more when I got close enough to see a pick-up with a stock trailer, parked at the pens. And three cowboys perched on the corral like birds on a high line.
    “Howdy,” say’s one. I could tell they were trying not to grin.
    “We saw the horse come in without you, and figured you’d be along.”

    “Well,” I say, “It was such a nice day and all, I decided to take a little stroll.” They broke out the grins then, and passed ‘em around.
    “We’re neighbors, we just dropped in to say hello to Charlie, sorry we missed him.”
    “I’ll tell him you came by,” says I. Thinking to myself, “There ain’t no way
    Charlie won’t hear about this. The birds always come home to roost.”
  9. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    No Guts, No Glory
    By Jackie Johnson

    When Paul Ray stuck his arm under the big washout, at the bottom corner of the low head dam, it went right in a yellow cats mouth. Plumb to the elbow. He knew he was taking a chance when he did it. So did we. They were known to be big flatheads in that part of the Brazos. That’s why we were there.

    He would later say, “No guts, no glory.” Paul Ray was like that; he got it from his old man. There wasn’t anything they wouldn’t tackle. The whole family, was the same way, all nine of ‘em. Even the old lady and the three girls. When it came to the outdoors, hunting or fishing, they were hard to beat.

    They lived in an old shack on the outskirts of our small town, off in a mesquite pasture. Dad and me hunted and fished with ‘em all over the country. Day, night, it didn’t make us no difference. We had coon and cat dogs, all kinds of rifles, shotguns, pistols, bows, spotlights, and the most important thing, permission to hunt over several hundred acres.

    We called up ‘yotes, cats, fox, and an occasional curious coon, by blowing through a whittled out piece of split cane, with a flat rubber band stretched through it. When a varmint got near, we could sometimes coax ‘em closer by loudly smacking our lips against the palm of our hand. We hunted on big farms and ranches and had keys to several gates. Ah, those were the days.

    The .22 pistols were for rattlesnakes, loaded with .22 shorts and sometimes birdshot, (which I never cared for). One year we collected the bounty from the county, for 200 rattlers. When eating the snakes came into vogue, we sold live ones for as much as eight dollars a pound.

    Where was I? Oh yeah, the arm munching flathead. The water we were standing in was almost up to our armpits. Paul Ray had to suck in and hold his breath to reach the hole. He reached it all right; it wasn’t but an instant before he lunged up and out with the big flat on his arm. When we seen it, we liked to have spit! Paul Ray grabbed the cat by the gill with the other hand and hung on for all he was worth. And that was a lot. He was 25 years old and had the physic of an athlete. He worked in the oil patch and that’s not easy work. It’s hard and dirty. Paul Ray was hard, but he wasn’t hard enough to handle a fish that size. When the flathead started spinning, there was no way he could hang on to it. The fish unscrewed it’s self off Paul Rays arm, like a corkscrew. It did it so fast, it was like a blur with a lot of water splashing. It came off his arm quick, and when it did, it took a lot of skin with it. Paul Rays arm was covered with scabs for quite a while.

    The big one always seems to get away and that was a big one all right, but it wasn’t as big as the one Paul Ray stood on one day. It was in the same place too. The big cat didn’t move for a few seconds, and when it did, it shot out from under Paul Ray so fast, his feet shot up in the air. I’m here to tell, those flats can flat move! Last I heard, Paul Ray owned a shrimp boat, down on the gulf.
  10. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    A Good Ole Boy
    By Jackie Johnson

    It was in the last light of a hot summers day, I'm down at the boat ramp catching a few perch for some night time flathead fishing.
    I hear someone call my name and look up to see some guy at the top of the ramp waving at me. I wave back, saying to myself, "Who the hell is that?". I don't recognize the car, and it's one you wouldn't forget. It looks like something that rolled out of a wrecking yard. When he opens the door to get out, it falls off, and he gives it a good kick. Then he goes to the rear of the car, and unties the truck lid, and starts throwing stuff out, till he finds his fishing equipment, which looks like some stuff his great grandpa must have left him.

    As he approaches with an arm load of rods and reels, and a bag of ice, I still can't place him. Not till he explains who he is. His name is Mike Johnson, (no relation) and I remember him. He had recognized my brothers red and white '87 Ford four wheel drive F-250. Since Jerry's passing, his wife Kay has been letting me use it to go fishing.

    The first time I met Mike was on a weekend, out at my brothers small ranch. We were just sitting around, picking around on our guitars, when Mike and his girlfriend showed up. While we were jawing around, I just kept quitely picking on my 1950 J-40 Gibson.
    They never paid much attention to me until my brother asked me to sing a song. They really perked up when they heard me. You'd have thought I was George Strait himself. Course I was flattered. I've worked long and hard at trying to be pretty good at it. Mike still remembered my singing and playing, and commented on it. He says, "You oughrt'a be on the radio."

    I laughed and say, "I'd rather be on the lake." Then he starts singing a song that I'd fogotten I had wrote. He didn't remember most of the words, but neither did I. I was amazed he remembered any of them.
    Mike's a sight to see, he's a good sized guy with duct tape wrapped around his redwing, steel toed boots so the soles won't flop around. I watch as he pulls out a knife and saws a hole in the bag of ice, lying on the hot rocks. Then he fills one of them tall plastic picnic cups with ice, and pours bourbon and coke over it. He offers one to me, but I decline.

    Pretty soon Mike is feeling pretty good about things. He tells me he has a garage full of cast iron skillets and all kinds of stuff, and if I ever need anything, just come over and get it.

    He keeps looking around, watching for game wardens, becuse he has no license. I reckon he figures on hiding behind the "No alcoholic bevererages," sign, if one was to drive up.

    After awhile, Mike decides to make the short trip over to "Charolettes Cove," a lakeside cafe and marina, for more ice, and I suggest a couple of burgers to go along with it. Mike ties his truck lid down and drags the door behind him as he gets in the car. Then he takes several minutes to tie the door on with baling wire. Then he roars away in a cloud of smoke and dust.

    When he gets back, it's dark and I have the latern lit and a small fire going. Mike drops the bag of ice on the ground and saws a hole in it, and dips out a cup of ice. We're sitting on each side of the fire, eating our burgers, when his lawn chair tilts over and he falls sideways into the fire. Course he don't lay there long, and jumps up, brushing off his smolding clothes.
    I couldn't help but show my concern by laughing and asking if he was alright.
    When he gets his chair set back up and his butt back in it, I try to point out that his cloth chair is smoking and smoldering, but he don't pay it no mind and pretty soon it goes out.

    Then he starts telling me his girlfriend got mad because he was going fishing and made him promise to be home before dark. And how he passed out on his bed while smoking a cigarette, and almost burnt his bed up.

    "The cigarette burnt a big hole in the mattress, and my hand got hot enough to wake me up. The room was all smoky and I had to open the window. I ran into the bathroom and got the dogs water to throw on it. I left the faucet running and I was running back and forth throwing water on the flames. After I get it out, I go back to sleep. Then I wake up and the bedrooms all smoky again. The floors ankle deep in in water, I forgot to turn off the faucet. I put the fire out again and go back to sleep."

    I say, "Whoa man! You're lucky you didn't burn up!"

    He says, "Yea I know. Then he says. "Say Jack, I got a big pontoon boat that's in great shape, call me and let's go fishing."
    Well, now there's nothing I'd rather do than get out on the lake on a pontoon, and I like Mike, he's a good ole boy, he'd give you the shirt off his back, but the thought of being out on the water with him is something I don't think I'm ready for, know what I mean?
  11. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    Home, Home On The Range
    By Jackie Johnson

    Part 1

    I'm sitting in the cook shack, sweating and swatting flies in the late August afternoon and finishing a glass of ice tea, when I see a big cloud of dust coming down the county road.

    Not much traffic out this way, so I'm not much
    surprised when the cloud of dust wheels in through the gate. It's the boss and his new, pretty blue Chevy pick-up.

    Dick and his mother moved off the ranch several years ago. They have another house and another bunkhouse in town now, only it's got a washer and dryer in it and the one I stay in, don't.
    I've haven't been working for Dick long enough to know his family history or even care, all I needed to know was that he's a bucking stock contractor for rodeos and he needed a hand.

    I run on to him at a rodeo in Snyder where I was entered in the saddle bronc riding and went to work for him. I was just trying to get started on the circut and working for him meant my motels and meals and most everything else would be paid for and I would get paid too. It was almost like a free ride. It was just one rodeo after another and that was just what I wanted.
    I had only been working for him about three months and this is the first time I'd been to the home ranch. It's kind of a relief to be off the road for a few days.

    Dick is six foot six and should have been a linebacker for Dallas. He's about 45 years old, more than twice as old as I am, when I meet him in the driveway between the bunkhouse and the windmill. Booger, his other cowboy that stays at the other bunkhouse in town isn't with him, making me wonder where he got off too.

    Dick has decided he needs me to do a little farming so we walk together toward the barn.
    We stop beside a big "Case" tractor with a hand clutch and the boss says, "start her up," so I climb up the steps, take a seat, turn the key and hit the starter...
    Nothing... "Try it again," he says, so I do.
    After several trys he says, "Well dammit, don't just sit there, do something!"

    I don't much like the way he said it and I don't recollect ever telling him or anybody else, that I was a tracter mechanic anyway.
    I know it's gotta' be the battery but I don't happen to have one on me.

    If I had known he was gonna' try to make a farm machine repairman out of me, maybe I would have brought one or two along.

    I don't know what he expected me do, but I know it wasn't what I done.
    I jumped down off the tracter and went to kicking one of it's 6 foot tall tires, hard... until my foot got tired.
    When I stop and look at Dick, he's standing there with a disgusted look on his face and then he turns and starts walking in the general direction of the bunkhouse.

    Sure enough that's where he goes and by the time I open the screen door, he's sitting on one of the old beds, pulling his Tony Lama boots off. His Stetson hat is hanging on one of the dusty antlers of the several deer and antelope that watch from the walls with their dusty, glass eyes.

    I don't say nothing, but that's my bed he's sitting on... the one right under the dusty, stuffed Golden eagle.

    Dick looks up and says, "Pick out a pony and bring that herd of bulls in from the north pasture." So I close the screen and head on out toward the corral.
    I saddle up this trim little buckskin mare with a black mane and tail and high tail it north ... in a manner of speaking.
    Actually I take my time and try to enjoy what's left of the day.

    This is part of the shortgrass prairie up between the caprock and the big canyon. Fall is already creeping up on us and the sun-cured grass is brown and dusty. The desert colored dust drifts up from underneath my horse's hooves.
    This time of year and this time of day, the dust and the light makes the whole country look golden.

    Ain't nothing like being on a young horse, riding across old Buffalo and Comanche country like this here used to be.
    Prairie grama, Buffalo grass, cedars... and dust.

    It's pleasant enough... Sometimes I enjoy slowly rocking along in a stock saddle, listening to the leathers rub and squeek against each other, instead of lunging back and forth, in and almost out of my bronc saddle in the middle of some dusty arena, with a horse squeeling under me and a crowd screaming all around us. A lot more relaxing too.

    I had let the tension go out of my muscles and was sorta' slouching along in the saddle, and slowly drifted down the trail about a mile before I come the south gate of the north pasture. I got down and tied the reins of the Dun to the fence about six foot from the gate.

    These old barb'ed wire fences and gates are stretched pretty tight sometimes and this was one of them. When I put my weight against it and got the gate opened, the whole fence squeeked like someting rusty. When it did, it startled my pony and she rared up and run backwards on her hind legs and broke the reins off at the bridle.
    Then she heads back towards the corrals a mile away while I watched. This time I was the one standing there with a disgusted look on his face.

    (Now I'm a contemporary western writer who does his own pencil illustrations.)

    Part 2

    Where the deer and the antelope play.

    (But not as much as they used to.... at least not the ones keeping watch from the walls of the bunkhouse, back at the ranch... where I wish I was right now.)

    Where seldom is heard, a discourging word..

    (I have a discourging word but there's no one here to hear it and I don't want to waste it. Now I know why those kind of words are seldom heard. There's no one around to hear them.
    I think I'll save mine for a time when there's someone to listen.)

    With a sigh, I start the mile-long trek home.

    The pleasant afternoon ride has all of a sudden and without warning, turned into a not so pleasant hike through hell in high-heeled boots across the trekless plains... At least that's how it looks to me, now that I'm afoot and looking at it from ground zero.

    I contemplate looking like a zero to the lone, red-tailed hawk, gliding aloft on the wispy, unseen wings of the upper winds above me,
    while down on the ground, there's not even a breeze and I'm soon covered with dust, plumb up to my knees.

    Now I know how Francisco Vasquez De Coronado must have felt when he discovered that one of his "Seven Cities of Cibola," namely, Quiviria, with it's golden cathedrals, were actually adobe-mud pueblos, bathed in the golden, late afternoon sunlight through the dust in the air. So much for fairy tales.

    Coronado came right through here on this edge of the Palo Duro in 1541.
    Palo Duro means "hard wood" and that's not the only thing that's hard about this country. Above and around the canyon, water is hard to find and often it is too hard to drink when you do find it.

    Down in the canyon it's self, water is plentiful enough, the headwaters of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River begins in the clusters of canyons as does the Clear Fork and the Salt Fork of the Brazos.
    The Canadian also comes along through the northern part of the canyon and they all snake their way east or southeast.
    Quitaque creek and many other water courses, help make the canyon good cattle country, where wind mills and irrigation pumps now dot the landscape.

    On top of the caprock and in most directions, there's not much water to be found above the ground.
    South, from here to the Colorado and the Concho, there's nothing to drink west of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos, where the Salt Fork and the Clear Fork run together and what water can be found is unpalatible and even undrinkable because of the salt and mineral content.
    Only the Comanche and the Comanchero knew where the good water was and that's why the Rangers and the Army always turned back from their pusuit of the relentless Raiders that often struck deep into the more eastern parts of the hearts of the settlements.
    To the west, the big springs we now call Big Springs, lies right on the main branch of the Comanche Trail, and from there you have to go south or west, all the way to the Pecos to get a drink.

    The first primitive dug-outs of the settlers were limited to the banks of rivers, springs and creeks.

    Things have gotten a lot easier since windmills came along, the water from the under the ground water table is soft, clear and cold, but this country can still be hard and unforgiving.

    And it's a big country, the Llano Estacado is an elongated, oval uplift that covers over 20 million acres in western Texas and over 7 million acres in eastern New Mexico.

    It's capped by a layer of rock with a few inches of soil on top that is anchored by the interwoven root systems of the short, sweet prairie grasses.
    It's hard to leave tracks on this treeless and landmark free plain and even Coronado's men were often lost for days. It was often required for those at camp to fire muskets at intervals to help guide scouts in at the end of the day.

    You have to drive a wooden stake into the ground to have something to tie your horse to, if your smart enough to bring a wooden stake along.
    Otherwise you tie your horse to your wrist. It's not smart to tie a horse to your ankle or your neck, a horse likes to run away from danger and you don't want a runaway dragging you across the plains or leaving Dodge without you.

    Coronado and his conquistadors could never have traversed this country without the Arabian desert horses they brought with them from the North Africa Moors to the semi-arid plains of the Texas panhandle and they thrived here as they did in south Texas along with the colorful cattle brought from Spain.

    In 1865 there were millions of multi-colored horses and cattle between the Nueces and the Rio Grande or the Rio Bravo as the Mexicans still like to call it. Unrestricked breeding resulted in the mustang and the longhorn.

    The unmounted Indians could only stand aside and watch in awe and fear as Coronado and his mounted conquerer's rode by with their lances, armor and black powder weapons that spoke like thunder and struck like lightning. Even the horses beneath them wore leather and metal armor.

    Seasons came and went and as the prairie winds blew through the thick grasses of the Llano Estacado, the buffalo herds continued to migrate here in the summer to feed on Grama, Buffalo and Mesquite grass and the nomadic men on foot followed them with their flint-tipped spears and their shelters of sticks and hides. The buffalo and the Comanche spent the winters down in the canyons.

    In the late 1600's and for 200 years after that, the Ciboleros, Mexican buffalo hunters, armed with lance and bow, ventured from Santa Fe to the trackless plains with ox-drawn Carretas to transport vast cargos of jerked meat back to New Mexico. It is said they "staked the plains" to mark the way. Llano Estacado is Spanish for "Staked Plains."

    The Ciboleros were second to none when it came to bold bareback riding. Some parties consisted of over 150 men. They brought trade goods along to appease the Comanche.

    Every part of the buffalo was used. The fat was cut up into large chunks and rendered as tallow for cooking and candle making. The cracklings or chicharones were saved as a treat for children and to put in cornbread. The hides were tanned into robes, rugs or heavy winter coats. Horns were used as utensils and decorative items. The long wool from the neck was packed into mattresses, pads and pillows or spun into coarse cloth. The hooves were boiled for glue. A cured tongue, considered a delicacy, sold for 2 dollars. The hump was also preferred as were several organs. Even the intestines made canteens and containers for things like pemmican, an Indian version of trail-mix, a high protein, ground together mixture of dried meat, berries or nuts with some fat added.

    In the meantime, horses strayed or stolen from european explorers, large sprawling, Spanish farm and ranch mission complexes, rancheros and later farms and ranches, mobilized the plains tribes and the dreaded Comanche became a formitable mounted force to be reckoned with. Common sign language among the plains Indians for Comanche is a slithering motion like that made by a snake.

    While other tribes used the horse as transport, most first preferred to fight on foot. Not so the Comanche, who were put on horses soon after birth, where they in turn gave birth to mounted, light calvery tactics.
    It was the boys job, young and old to stay with the horse herd and watch it.
    The younger boys learned to grip the large sinew behind the horse's hind legs, between their toes, while pulling themselves up with hand-fulls of tail and onto the horse's back.

    They were first mounted on the wider backs of some of the more gentle stock and even took naps on top of them. They grew up on the bare backs of their fathers horses while the older boys watched them and the horses and soon they had their own horses and quickly became mounted whirlwinds and ran every Apache plumb out of Texas.
    Other tribes developed mounted horse warfare, but none excelled like the transplanted to Texas Shoshone that came to be called the Comanche.
    Parts of Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas were not safe.
    The Comanche accepted the Kiowa and the two tribes often raided together.
    The Staked Plains and most of Texas became known as "Comancheria."

    In 1786 a New Mexico treaty gave trade rights to the Comanche and from this and the Ciboleros, sprang the trade between the Texas and Mexico raiders and the New Mexican, Comanchero traders.

    The traffic of stolen horses, cattle and children from Texas and Mexico flourished for over 100 years.

    Large, New Mexican families, along with their countless cousins and countless sheep grazed east along the Canadian and into the northern panhandle and established complex Kivas beneath the rim, along the protected river breaks, before the Santa Fe Trail ever thought about coming this way from the east.

    The ruts of this long traveled road of commerce can still be seen on many of the large, rather remote ranches in that area and many ruts of the Old Comanche Trail of commerce that ran south from Kansas to the deep interior of southern Mexico are still visable.

    Some of the canyons with springs in them became popular trading grounds, near here is "Canon del Rescate," - the canyon of ransom.
    So many mexican captives died on the Old Comanche Trail, that a mountain pass in the Big Bend became known as "El paso del Chisos", the "Pass of the Ghosts."

    I'm kinda' starting to feel a little light-headed and ghostly myself when I finally hoof it into the dusty yard.
    I bypass the windless, windmill which is not pumping and head for the cook shack and a cold glass of iced tea.
    Fortified, my next stop will be the bunkhouse where I will disturb Dick's nap with my latest discourging words he won't want to hear.

    When I open the squeaky, fly-specked screen door with a spring on it, Dick's eyes fly open and him and his small herd of heads, mounted on the walls, all watch me.

    After I tell Dick what happened, he
    say's, "Don't ever tie a horse to a fence when you open a gate, keep the reins in your hand and it won't get away from you."
    Recognizing good advice when I hear it, I say nothing.
    "Go get another bridle and bring those bulls in before it gets dark and put your spurs on, don't ever ride a horse without spurs."

    I still say nothing and the next thing I know, I'm jingling with every step on my way back to the tack shed and another bridle.
    Soon, I'm back in the saddle again... out where a friend is a friend.

    And a horse is your best friend out on this expanse. I gently nudge the spurs to mine and we leave the cowboy compound in a trot.

    I stand in the stirrups and brace one hand on the horn and let it and my slightly bent legs, help absorb the shock. A rider can travel for miles this way without much strain on him or the horse.

    Almost two miles later, I notice the bulls have already noticed me because I notice them disappearing over a rise in the distance, headed away from me.
    When I top the same rise, I ease my pony down to a walk and we plod toward the fence corner where the bulls have come to ground.

    I count 27 bulls of all shapes, colors and extra large sizes in this bunch and as I slowly close with them, they watch me intently, like I'm watching them. I pull up to a stop about 50 foot from them and we watch each other for awhile.


    Part 3

    Home, home on the range...
    where the deer and the antelope play.
    Where seldom is heard... a discouraging word..
    and the skies are not cloudy all day...

    I look for clouds, but the song is right.

    The way they sing it, they must think we are lucky not to have them, I see it from a different point of view.

    I remove my black, XXX, beaver, Resistol with my left hand and wipe the sweat from my forehead with the long sleeve of my Panhandle Slim western shirt.
    I glance at the distance between the sun and the horizon, to judge how much light is left.
    Plenty of sky still there and the old ball of fire is still high enough to be hot...

    I could use a few clouds right now.

    A Meadowlark trills and rolls it's extended melody from the top of a cedar fence post.

    The lark has a big meadow to sing to.

    A prairie is a meadow... a big one.
    There are trees and shrubs, but they are mostly along the water courses.

    The rest is just grass.
    Grass.. that's what made this country.
    Grass for the buffalo.
    Grass for the horse.
    Grass for the cattle.
    If it wasn't for grass, this country wouldn't be what it is today, or then either.

    Where would that leave me?

    In the spring everything waited for the grass.

    If new grass is grazed before June, it will be pulled up by the shallow roots, instead of grazed to grow back. The stock will get sandy dirt from the roots and will wear their teeth.

    The buffalo waited and so did the Comanche.

    They both waited on the grass... before heading south.

    The buffalo knew the warm winds and rains would carpet the ground with the different grasses, forbs, clovers and wildflowers.

    The Comanche were waiting for the grass to get good enough to support their ponys on their forays against the whites and the Mexicans.

    And they were waiting for the right full moon.

    The Texicans called it the "Comanche Moon".

    The grass sustained the Comanche warhorse and the moonlight lit the way.

    The bulls are still watching me and show every intention of staying put.
    I peel my pony around to the left for a few yards and then back to the right and toward them.
    They watch for a moment and when one decides to walk away from me, the rest follow suit... except for one... the big grey, black and white, brahma bull, Dick calls Dallas.

    Brahmas are big and mean lookin'... this one's looking big and mean right now and he's looking right at me and my mare.

    I move closer but he's not gonna' let a little thing like a cowboy on a horse intimidate him.
    I slap my hat against my leg and give out a whoop and a war cry.

    He takes a short step but it's not away from me.
    I whistle between my teeth and yell, "yeeehaaawww"!!!

    Then it's a few quick charging leaps toward me and I pull the mare around to the left and jab my spurs against her ribs, the bull's head goes down and under the belly of my now broadside pony and Dallas picks us both up off the ground about 3 more foot.

    My pony shied sideways just before the bull hit her and she is scrambling both before and after we are lifted up, and she's still scrambling when we come back down.

    We hit hard but she keeps her feet under her and we are moving as soon as she feels the ground again and she puts some distance between us and the bull.

    I pull her back around to see Dallas is still standing there. His head is held high watching us and his tail is switching from side to side... like a cats.

    This is great... the other bulls are strung out down the fence line pointing south toward the windmill and corrals. They are on their way to the barn.

    When you have a bull by himself like this, it can be a stalemate.
    If we were in a rodeo arena, we would turn a few steers in there with him and they would soon get together and let themselves be driven.

    Dallas didn't go when the others left and that means he ain't moving.

    He just stood there and let the herd walk off from him.

    I've seen it happen many times, the most memorable was on Jim Shoulder's bucking ranch outside Henrietti, Oklahoma.

    Jim is a world champion 16 times.
    He rode barebacks, saddle broncs and bulls, he was an all around cowboy, like me, but not in the same league.
    Well, we were in the same association,
    The Rodeo Cowboys Association, the RCA. Now it's the PRCA.
    Once it was the old Turtle Association and the approved bronc saddle was called a Turtle ...

    Don't ask me, I don't know. I think I did but now I've forgotten.

    Jim was gettin' ready to take some stock to some of the rodeos.
    He was partners with Neal Gay in the weekly Mesquite Rodeo. Neal is Don's dad, you've heard Don announce rodeos.

    Don is an 8 times world champ and was riding his dad's bulls when he was just a kid. He was a good kid and he made a damn good bull rider.
    Don's dad and Jim had a lot of different bulls with a lot of different tricks for him to practice on and they both taught Don.

    Anyway, there were about 30 or so cowboys there and we were each bucking out several animals a day.
    Jim would sit on his horse and watch and coach us and chose which animal went to the arena and which ones went back to the pastures.
    We did this for a week. Each of us paid a couple hundred bucks to get bucked around and round-up and test Jim's bucking stock.

    Jim ran a rodeo riding school and a roundup in conjuction and killed two birds with one stone, and wore us all to a frazzle doing it.

    We wanted to get as much expierence and tips as we could before the week was over and we made ourselves get on as many head as we could muster.
    We got to where we couldn't hardly walk, but we still tried to ride.

    To get back to the bull... Jim took some cowboys with him after the stubburn bull, along with a Ford tractor.
    When they returned they were pulling the bull with the Ford like it was a trailor.
    They had a chain around both big horns and the bull was sliding along on his side.

    Jim had worn him to down to a frazzle, kinda' like us, only the bull was bare of hair on one side. At least we still had ours.

    Then they chained his head up against one of the arena light poles with a big padlock for a couple of days. When the bull recovered from his ordeal, he would put his weight against the telephone pole and shake it with his head and horns and bellow.

    I know the situation I'm looking at and I know what I have to do.

    I pull my pony's head around south, toward the house and the rest of the bulls who are almost half way there now..... Dick ain't gonna like this.


    Part 4

    "How often at night, when the heavens are bright
    With the light from the glittering stars
    Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed
    If their glory exceeds that of ours."

    Home, home on the range....

    Be it ever so humble...

    I feel pretty humble myself, that's twice humbled and twice told.
    Today, I've been put afoot and out-gunned both, once by a horse and once by a bull, and it ain't over yet.
    And I'm supposed to be a cowboy.
    Maybe I need a vacation from this vacation.

    I dismiss the "tractor incident," as kickin' the rear tire, repeatedly has been the highlight of my day... so far.

    I nudge my pony in the ribs and we lope off toward the Hacienda del Rancho Grande 'til I catch up with el toros. I ease up and fall in behind them and we plod on down toward the line of trees and the windmill tower and blades that mark our destination.

    Twice is two-too many times to let farm animals outwit me and the worst part is the boss is here to see it.

    I don't count the tractor, all it needed was a set of jumper cables but I wasn't gonna' suggest that... if I had I would be stirring up more dust with a tractor and a plow, than me and this mare ever could... unless we were in a heck of a wreck.

    And I'm not about to mention letting Dallas get up under the mare, what Dick don't know won't hurt him... or me either. My reputation has suffered enough damage as it is. Need a little quality control here... no negitive PR.

    Home, home on the range....

    The herd of horns in front of me, makes me think about the real "Longhorns."

    Steak on the hoof that could walk to Kansas or Canada and get fat doing it.

    After the Civil War, no other state had anything to rebuild their economy on like Texas did.
    You had to grow cotton. These cattle were already grown.

    Texas was born
    of hoof and horn
    ... and rawhide.

    There were literaly millions of wild cattle in a state where they were worth about a dollar a piece. Anyone could out and shoot one if they got hungry.
    In Dodge, they got to be worth 20 dollars a piece.

    They weren't like the cattle you see today, they were considered game and dangerous game at that.

    Many an old range bull has charged out of the brush and took horse and man down, sometimes killing the horse before it even knew what was happening.

    Two military detachments that I know of were attacked by bands of bulls that ranged together during certain times of the year.
    One was a Spanish Military Force and the other was a troop of US Calvary.

    Wounded Longhorn bulls have been known to track their enemy by scent with it's nose, like a hound.

    Longhorns of course, had long horns that were rather sharp, they sharpened them themselves by rubbing them against things. They were long-legged, narrow-flanked critters with long necks.
    They could run and jump like deer and often browsed lower limbs along with them.
    There hooves were harder than the rest.
    They were grazers and browsers, kinda' like a goat.

    They weren't nothing like buffalo, the Longhorn stayed in groups of 5 or 6 and lay in the thickets by day, grazing in the meadows at night with their nose in the wind.

    Their kidneys were small and they required little water, some of which they got by eating prickly pears and pads, many had thorns sticking in their nose and around their mouth.
    It was said many drank only a couple times a week and some walked 50 miles to do it... and didn't lose weight because of it. I guess they musta' just got tougher.
    When times are hard, they chewed on sticks and bones.

    They would lay in the low brush with there chin flat on the ground if anyone was close.
    In 1867 many had never even seen a man... unless it was a Comanche... out beyond the Brazos River Breaks.

    And then the Comanche probably never seen him.

    They are survivors and there are many Registered Longhorns today.
    If Dallas had horns like them, my mare would have been gutted and I would have been in a pretty good bind myself.

    As I approach the pens, I see Dick standing behind the gate to close it after the bulls go through it.

    The first thing out of his mouth is, "Where's Dallas?"
    The first thing out of mine is, "Backed up in the northeast fence corner, taking a stand."

    Without another word, Dick heads for his pick-up.

    I pull saddle, blanket and pad off the mare and lead her to a pen with the other horses and take her bridle off.
    By the time I jingle back to the tack shed, Dick is waiting for me and I crawl into the passenger seat.

    No one says a word as we head on off down the cow trails.
    It's rough but Dick takes it slow and easy and after a while, we come up on Dallas, still in the corner.

    Dick eases up gently, pretty close to the bull from one side and when we get about 10 foot from him, Dallas charges and hooks the front of the Chevy.

    After about 3 times Dick decides to broadside the bull and we hit Dallas so hard it knocks the dust off of him in a cloud and knocks him plumb down on the ground.
    He ain't giving up yet tho' and neither is Dick, I just brace myself and get set to watch the show.

    After about 4 times the bull has had enough and starts plodding and slobbering toward the barn.
    We follow along behind.

    I had seen Dick's face get red and his temper show it's self before, but not toward me and not toward Bugger either... or Bo.

    He might have been scared of Bo but I knew he could never be afraid of me or Bugger. He must have respected us for other reasons. And I figure he could read us as someone with a Zero push factor.
    As a matter of fact, his remark to me on the tractor was the first time he had ever spoke to me in that manner. I can lay that with not being in a good mood... maybe. After all, he hadn't had his nap yet.

    I could pretty much read Dick like a book, and I pretty much knew what he expected. I had known him for three months and had been around him a good deal for most of it. I had seen him deal with a lot of people in a lot of places.
    I'd seen his short temper directed toward the clown and extra people he hired here and there to do this and that.
    I can tell he was a spoiled kid who got use to getting his own way and after he grew up, he got it because he had the money to get it. He wanted everything his way and that was the way he mostly got it.

    Bo was cool, I liked him and he liked me and Bugger, I could tell he didn't like Dick as much as he did us.
    Bo Hollis was half Cherokee and almost as big as Dick. He was one of the pick-up men you see in the arena, rescuing cowboys by riding up beside them and letting them hop over to the back of their good-sized stout pick-up horse.
    When you leave the hurricane deck of a bucking horse, it's a dive toward the rear of the rider on the other fast moving horse.
    It's a grab for the cantle of his saddle for a firm grip to help you onto the horses rump.

    You don't want to lunge and grab the pick-man by the neck or the waist, you could unseat him or cause his horse to stagger and perhaps fall because of the sudden shift of extra weight.

    That's the first thing Bo taught me and he did it in a friendly way, with a wink.
    What he said to me is what he always said to everyone but most of the time he didn't wink.

    He would say, "If you grab me by the neck or the waist, next time I'll run out from under you and let you fall. Always grab the cantel of my saddle."

    Bo was a steer roper and a steer wrestler.
    He had real dark eyes and hair and complextion.
    He had his own team of roping and dogging horses and you could use them for a share of the winnings.
    He don't live far from here, just down the canyon about 40 miles. He has a nice little rancho and wife and he's pretty quick to smile... he's ain't slow about frowning either, if he thinks he has a reason.

    Not a word has been spoken since we left the lots and Dick and me keep it that way.

    By the time we have the bull in with the rest of the others, the sun is yawning on the far edge of the western horizon.
    The late evening air is cool, a sign winter isn't far.

    Neither one of us even glances at the front of the new, pretty blue Chevy but we could tell it was pretty banged up cause we could see the buckled up hood through the windshield.

    We continue to ignore the truck and stand in the last of the late evening light with our forearms on the splintered, grey, top board of the corral and watch the bulls munch on split bales of alfalfa. We can hear them clearly.

    I like the smell of the hay and the animals and the evening and I know Dick must feel the same way. The smells here are a long way from the pig-sty smell of grain fed, over fattened beef in a feed lot... in more ways than one.

    Nobody says nothing.

    Seldom is heard... a discouraging word...

    "The wind blows cold off the cap rock
    as the shadows reach for the night.
    The coyotes call... between the canyon walls,
    as the sun slowly sinks out of sight."

    Far from the lights of the city,
    far from the talk of the town.
    Far from the cars, the friends and the bars.
    And far from the new life she's found.

  12. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    Old Blue
    By Jackie Johnson

    "Old Blue" wasn't old the first time I saw him. He was just a floppy-eared, clumsy, big-footed pup.
    He was a registered "Bluetick Hound" and his name on the papers, was "The Mississippi Blue Midnight Rambler."

    Blue grew to have what we called, a "cold nose," which meant he could pick up an older scent, when the other dogs, couldn't.
    And we had the best bunch of coonhounds in our part of the country.
    "Old Rock," was the oldest and there ain't no way of knowing, how many nights him and Dad had hunted together, before me and my little brother, Jerry were even old enough to go.

    Rock was a white "Walker Dog," with a tan-colored head and ears and a couple of large, tan spots. He had been without most of his teeth for a long time, still, he would not be left behind.
    He had a fondness for finding a possum and chewing around on it for a minute or two before rejoining the other dogs or us.
    He never bayed at a possum, but sometimes we could hear him making little growling noise'es, when he was mouthing one of the small, ugly, rat-looking critters. We often found the possum close by, unhurt but wet with dog slobber.
    None of our dogs barked or bayed at anything other than a coon, except maybe a bobcat once in a while.
    "Queenie," was a "Bluetick Hound" also. She was younger than Blue, and her nose was not near as cold as his. When she got on "the trail," she was hard to lose. There are times when the trail of scent is lost but the dogs were usually able to work it out. Queenie was our best dog and was our main "kill-dog."

    Once she got a coon by the throat, there was no getting her loose. Often one of her ears would be hangin' down in a coon's mouth while she had it by the throat and both ears resembled ribbons.

    Blackie was a short-eared "Black and Tan Hound" and he had a hot nose. We never heard him bay, until he was within a few hundred yards or so of the coon. When we heard his bark, that meant the coon was in sight.
    He was our "catch dog." After the coon was "tree'd," he was the one that caught the rascle, just before it hit the ground, after Dad kicked it out.
    If not for him, the coon would hit the ground and with one great bounce, spring over, under or through the dogs and the chase was on again.

    I remember a time or two, when for one reason or another, Blackie did miss the coon.

    One night as we were proceeding down a well-worn cow trail, with the dogs up ahead, searching for sign, our flashlights revealed something with one bright, "light-reflected" eye, bounding down the trail toward us.
    We liked to have run over each other, trying to get out of the way of whatever was coming straight at us. It turned out to be Blackie, we guessed he must have poked his eye on something in the dark.
    I never will forget that time we had stopped to listen to the dogs for awhile in a small, clear meadow, bathed in the light of the moon.
    Everone had switched off all the flash lights and we were standing around listening and commenting on the sound of our hound's voices.
    Their "bugleing," was music to our ears.

    We had all noticed a round object, just a few feet from us, but we had assumed it was nothing more dangerous than a dried-up cowpattie.
    It was and it wasn't.
    Once we had decided to proceed on, someone's light flickered across it to reveal that it was a pretty decent sized rattler.
    As a matter of fact, through-out Blue's hunting career, he was snake-bit no less than three times.
    Once on the head, once on the chest and once on the genitals (ouch!).
    He dis-proved the old saying that a dog will die if struck behind the front part of the chest, where the heart is. He swoll' up all three times and woundn't eat for days. He would just lay in the shade and as I remember, drink a lot of water.
    All our dogs were registered and man did they love to hunt coons!
    My favorite was the "ridge" coons.
    They differed from what we called the "river" coons. The ridge coons lived in rough country and were tougher than a sun-dried corn-cob.
    They liked the river too, but they liked it where it had cut it's sandy, serpentine way around and through the rocky, red-bed clay and grey, limestone strata, of west Texas.

    If you drive across the Aspermont bridge, you can look off into the "Clear Fork of the Brazos River" and it's "Breaks," that extend for many canyon-cut and ravine-rutted miles.

    If you look to the west, just north of the bridge, you will see what is called the old, "Dugout Above The Brazos." It's actually a half-dugout along U.S. 83.

    "Fieldstone, cedar shingles, and a clap-boarded front comprise the physical elements of the one-room shelter. The builder also put into it a fireplace, high loft, and numerous windows, including a unique dormer fenestration."
    "Regrettably, secrets of it's history remain unrevealed. Even the names of it's former occupants are unknown. A woman who lived in the vicinty did tell one story about the place. She said people traveling along the highway on dark nights have reported seeing a spectral figure cross the road before them as if leaving the dug-out, apparently bound for the river." - Mondel Rodgers.

    This is big ranch country and one of the guys that hunted with us, owned a big piece of it.
    Them big, ole' tall coons up there have longer legs, making their bellies a lot farther off the ground than their short, fat counterparts down on the flat, farm-land cottonfields of the Cottonwood and Pecan and Mustang grape-lined Brazos.
    Ridge coons are lanky and fast and look like a cross between a coon and a coyote.
    They are also able to travel farther than flatland coons and will run almost plumb out of the county, if a bunch of yelping and yowling hounds get after them.
    Many nights we have listened to the sound of our dog's voices lose themselves in the night and fade plumb into tomorrow.

    When that happens, we might not see them for a day or two.
    If they were still within hearing, Dad would call them in with his whittled-out, hollow bullhorn with a leather strap on it, that he kept slung over his shoulder.
    If that was the case, we would build a fire and sit around it, until all the dogs that were coming in, came in.
    Before we finally left, usually around 2 or 3 AM, but sometimes much later, Dad would throw his jacket down on the ground, where the vehicles had been parked and we would start the long drive home, without them.
    We would go back every evening after Dad got off work until we found them laying around on his jacket with their tongues hanging out and their feet so sore they could hardly walk.
    When we hunted ridge coons, I never tried to stay with the pack, I stayed with the two-legged hunters on those long-ranged, rough, broken-country hunts.

    A ridge coon will run until it can't hardly run no more and it will usually tree in a cave instead of a tree. Most of the trees off in the breaks are stunted juniper and small mesquite, they might smell good, but offer little refuge if you try to climb up into one.

    A ridge coon will often tip-toe around in a small cave with rattlers laying around on the floor of it. If you get one out, you've got a real fight on your hands, with only three dogs and old Rock.
    Rock was not much help but he liked to cheer the others on and would rush in for an almost toothless bite or two, just to show that he was not too old to be left behind.

    I can almost hear them still, in the quiet, moonlit nights of bygone times and dogs and people, now all long gone.

    "There's old Rock, I hear him mumbling on a possum."
    "Well, there's Blue, he's picked up an old scent, probably from last night or earlier today."

    Then as we strolled along through the pasture in the direction of the dogs, we might hear Queenie open up. If that happened, then the race was really on.
    Each dog had it's own voice and yodel and we knew them as well as our own, and we knew what they meant.
    When Blackie opened up, we knew it was almost over. Soon, we would hear the change in those yodels, that told us the coon was in a tree, or a cave.

    Old Blue long outlived all the rest of the dogs, along with our desire to hunt coons.

    He grew to be a very large and fat dog. In his old age, he lived up to the rambling part of his name by roaming all over our small town. He came home once in a while, but seemed happier roving around. I was that way myself for most of my life.
    Almost everyone fed him and sometimes I would see him on the other side of town and give him a ride home.
    Then one day we knew he wouldn't be coming home anymore because we hadn't seen him for a long time.
    Well, that's my story about "Old Blue." Dad had once been offered 2500.00 for Queenie and in the late '50's that was considered a lot of money.
    He would never sell any of his dogs, no matter how much he would have been offered or how bad we needed the money.
    Queenie was the best, but Old Blue lived and stayed with us the longest.
    Who knows, someday our trails may cross again.
    I know if he comes across mine, his "cold nose," will tell him and I can almost hear him now.

    Maybe Daddy and my brother, Jerry, along with Old Blue, Queenie, Blackie and 'Ole Rock, are rambling down some long forgotten trail through the juniper, mesquite and prickly-pear cactus together.

    "In last light of a winter day, the wavy shadows, barren mesquite, and dark, thickset cedar seemed attuned to the supernatural."
    Mondel Rodgers.


    "Thanks to Mondel Rodgers of Sweetwater, Texas for his painting of "The Dugout Above The Brazos."
  13. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx

    "Cooter Brown's hounds."
    By Jackie Johnson

    We raised coon dogs and a lot of times, we had a lot of em'. We kept em' out behind the outhouse so we didn't have to stumble over em' in the dark on the way to the two holer.

    "Let sleeping dogs lie," they say... that's cause you're liable to get bit, if you step on one. I reckon' they don't sleep so good if they have to worry about gettin' stepped on and it's mighty startling if you trip over one or step on one of their feet in the deep, dark, sleepy night.

    Sometimes we had as many as twenty dogs out on the edge of the mesquites, 'course most were pups.

    Queenie, our prize Blue tick gyp, could throw as many as fourteen pups at a birthin'.
    We would think, well, that's the last one and then we would think, no it ain't! We would do that until finally, the last one fell out.

    The dog houses were 55 gallon drums with one end knocked out and laid on their side with a couple of cedar posts wired close together up under each one, like skids to keep them off the ground. Each barrel had a large burlap bag stuffed with cotton picked up from the piles at the end of the rows at pickin' time.

    After you've dragged a cotton sack back and forth from one end of a long field to the other, all day, packing it with cotton, you feel entitled to pack up some and drag it home. You never know when it might come in handy.

    Boys, if you ain't never pulled bolls, you got no more of an idea of what it's like than a boll weevil looking for a home does.
    We didn't pick the cotton out of the boll like they did in some places, we pulled the whole boll off the stems of the stalk.

    "Up in the morning... out in the fields,
    I work like the devil for my pay.
    But that lucky Ole' sun, ain't got nothing to do,
    it just rolls around heaven all day."

    Mama started me and my brother out when we were buttons, with old pillow cases for bags, once we were big enough to start stuffing that stuff into a sack.

    Before daylight, the women would have the chicken, fried from the night before, packed into baskets or buckets along with some baking soda biscuits.
    Just when the sun started peeking over the pink horizon, they would put their bonnets on, grab the baby and herd the little ones out the door and the whole family headed for the field.
    We took gallon jugs with burlap bags wired around em' and dipped em' in the cistern when we filled them.

    The wet burlap helped keep the soft rainwater that ran off the gutters around the edge of the cedar shake roof and into the brick and cement cistern, passably cool.
    The jugs were left at the end of the rows where the older girls watched the little ones on homemade quilts spread out in the lacy shade of the big, old, twisted and deformed looking mesquite trees with the green mistletoe and their little white, poison berries.

    By that time the sun looked like a red and yellow ball of flames, which of course it is and it felt like one too... and of course, it still does.
    You didn't look right at it 'cause everyone knew you could burn a hole in your pea-picking brain.

    A dove, somewhere close, but back in the pasture, mourns in the early morning light for the coolness of last night, now lost and gone, fleeing from the dawn.

    They were several families that worked together in the fields and by the time I was dragging a ten footer, we were picking' cotton with Cooter Brown and his large family.

    Cooter and his oldest boy pulled 20 footers like Dad and the other men. Most wore leather knee pads with straps and buckles to keep from wearing out their knees and the knees of their bib overalls.
    When the cotton bolls opened up and dried out, each section of the shell, peeled back to expose the white cotton, which dried and became soft and fluffy.

    The sharp end of each section dried hard and sharp enough to poke painful holes in the palm of your hands if you weren't careful. There's four sections that split and curl back as the boll dries in the sun. The men wore old worn out gloves with the fingers and thumbs cut off.

    You went between the rows, picking two at a time, left, right, left, with both hands and when your sack got a good load in it, you had to put your back and body into it, leaning forward against the wide strap and pulling like some Ole' broken down Missouri, long-headed mule. The canvas bags, packed solid, left long and wide drag marks between the furrows.

    Once in a while, that lucky Ole' sun, that just rolls around heaven all day, would slip behind one of the few skimpy clouds passing by, just long enough to let you remove your old straw, work hat and wipe the salty, sweat off your forehead without gettin' your brain fried.
    When you did it, you sorta' paused long enough to straighten your back to try to get the kinks out.

    While you were at it, you took a long, look around to see where everyone else was and made sure none of the kids were missing and none of the women had fainted from the heat.
    It got so hot down on your knees in a cotton field, that the grasshoppers hoped they don't have to hop and the blister bugs refused to budge.
    The green lizards with their narrow yellow and red stripes and the horned toads with their horned heads ran around with their legs stretched out and their belly's sucked up high off the hot ground.
    Even the roadrunner's sharp and pointed, pink tongues hung out the side of their long, lizard catching beaks. The tarantulas stayed in their holes and so did the bumble bees and scorpions.

    You glanced toward the sky to see if there were any other clouds in the neighborhood, while your head droned along with the cicadas out in the sweltering pasture.
    The other end of the field that felt like a furnace, simmered like thick strips of salt pork with the rind on it and a few hog hairs still stuck in it, getting ready to start sizzling in a cast-iron skillet on a hot, wood burning stove.
    You could see the waves of heat, shimmering and rising up off the sun-baked and bleached ground.
    Every once in a while, a dust-devil danced across the field, sucking up dusty dirt and throwing about a handful of it in your face, in your hair and down the back of your sunburned neck.
    Your nose, ears, eyes and throat got the worst of it... if your mouth was hanging open and your tongue was lollin' out, like an Ole' hound laid up the shade of a china berry tree... only there was no shade where you were and the ground was too hot to lay on.

    Then you had to spit for ten or fifteen minutes trying to get the grit out of your mouth on the way to the water jugs, even if you were out in the middle of the field somewhere.

    Come lunch time, everyone met in the shade under the mesquites for dinner and the jugs were the first thing we reached for.
    Once our thirst was quenched, the mason jars, topped off with dark amber-colored, sweet tea were passed around.
    Everyone sat on the cotton sacks, cause they felt like a comfortable, cotton stuffed mattress and that meant it felt good to lay on one and relax your tired muscles, while you cooled off in the lacy, leafy, shade.

    "Lord, show me that river and help me across,
    and wash all my troubles away.
    And like that lucky old sun, don't give me nothing to do,
    just let me roll around heaven all day."

    It's hard work for hard men and men that work hard, play hard, if they ain't too tuckered out.

    During pickin' season, there ain't much coon hunting, but after that, it's a different story.

    Cooter and his bunch are ready and willing to hunt for almost anything, almost anytime, day or night, rain or shine or whatever.
    They'd rather hunt than anything and when it comes to work, they'd rather do anything but that. Once in a while, they simply had to, like it or not, but Cooter never did it a lot and he never learned to like it when he did.

    They didn't have much, Cooter's kids were more ragged than we were. I never seen Cooter's wife wear shoes and I never seen her without the brown, Garrett's snuff, staining the creases in the corners of her mouth and between her teeth.

    She had a few sprigs of curly hair that sprang from her chin and few more on the big, brown mole on her nose and she had more hair on her legs than I did.

    The old man wore brogans and rolled Bull Durham in glue-less cigarette paper, twisted on the ends, so the finely ground tobacco sweepings from the dusty, warehouse floors couldn't dribble out or get sucked down his gullet.
    When he ran out of papers he used a pipe made from an old, dried up and hollowed out corn cob.

    He always needed a shave and a haircut... and a bath. Baths were free, all it took was a bucket or two of water from the well and a shave and a haircut was two bits at the barber shop with the big red and white candy cane in front of it.

    After a bath and a barber, you walked out blinking in the bright sunlight, smelling like bay rum with the back of your neck powdered with a dry shaving brush and you felt clean as a whistle.

    We hunted a lot together and Cooter never had a dog worth having. Ever now and then he would get his hands on one in the hopes that it would hunt.
    The dogs he came up with usually hunted alright, but not for coon, they mostly liked to run rabbits or jump possums.

    The one time Cooter brought a dog along that joined in on the chase and the fight, with a big Ole' coon, Cooter hit him on the head as hard as he could with a cedar fence stay, trying to hit the coon.

    The dog musta' thought the coon did it, 'cause he never would get close to one again.

    The fight was going on in the creek and Cooter said later, he was afraid the coon was gonna' drown his dog.
    I don't know which is worse, gettin' drowned by a coon or gettin' knocked into next week with a fence post.

    The first time Cooter wanted to kick a coon out of a tree, Dad said, "Go ahead," and he stayed down on the ground to watch.
    We were standing around with our lights, searching the leafy branches of the tree top, trying to spot the varmint while Cooter kept asking, "Where is the damned thing?"

    Dad would say, "Keep climbing, you'll find him!"
    Pretty soon Cooter yells down, "There the damned thing is, out on the end of a limb!"

    Dad said, "Poke at him with that stick and knock him out, Cooter!"
    The branches and leaves started into shaking and the coon started into growling and spitting and jumped at him and Cooter fell out of the tree, right on his dog and the dog takes off down the river bank yelping like it's been scalded... or like something jumped out of a tree on it.

    Dad starts laughing and Cooter says, "I think it's a damned bobcat!" Dad says, "That ain't no bobcat, gimme' that stick." and he climbs up and prods the coon out of the tree with it.

    Once Cooter was up in some branches over the river, trying to kick a coon out, when he got into a yellow-jacket nest and got stung so bad he turned loose and fell off in the river.

    His head swelled up so bad with lumps, his eyes looked like slits in an old, dark brown colored, wrinkled, Naugahyde cushion on a wore out couch and his old beat-up felt hat with the sweat stained band, wouldn't fit right. One of his hairy ears swelled up so bad, it looked like a pink purse made from a pig's ear.

    If it was something small enough, he would catch it and take it home to raise. He always had a pet squirrel or a rabbit and sometimes a coon or a bobcat.
    After one of his cats got grown, I was afraid to get too close to it. I run into it one night while it was sitting in a trail in the pasture.

    It was just getting dark and it was between me and the house so I backed off and made a wide berth around it.
    The old house they lived in looked a lot like a chicken coop, so did ours, neither one ever knew what paint was. If anything ever got painted, it was the barn, if you had one... and if you had the money to buy paint.
    You could mix flour with water and get a kind of paint but it washed off the first time it rained, but that wasn't often.

    I watched Cooter wrestle with that "pet" bobcat until his arms were bleeding from the scratches from the cat's claws. When the cat got tired of clawing and chewing on Cooter, it would spring through the closet doorway that had no door or anything in it, and bounce off the wall of it, up and through the cubby hole to the attic, where it liked to stay during the day.

    At night it liked to roam around and get into folk's hen houses and eat pullets and suck a few eggs.
    It become a celebrity of sorts, when the small weekly paper in the small town started printing stories about wild bobcats coming into town and eating chickens. Finally someone shot it... I read about it in the paper.

    We hunted with Cooter quite a bit and once he got peeved when I shot three half grown, wild hogs with a 30.30, he didn't think it was very sportsman-like, not to wait 'til they were grown.

    I told him I was too hungry to wait that long. I figured pork was pork and the young ones were tender.
    We were hunting hogs down by the river and they had nests in the tall weeds that looked like some kind of prehistoric birds had been nesting there.
    Cooter was hunting with a .22 hornet and almost shot at his dog, thinking it was a hog in the weeds.

    Them four boys of his were tough as whang' leather and they weren't afraid of anything.
    They could hunt with bows and arrows, long, sharp sticks and slingshots or pick up a rock to throw and knock something in the head with it.

    Once, I knocked one of them in the head with a hard, red dirt clod as big as a grown man's fist.
    I saw him strolling down the county dirt road between two cotton fields one evening. He never saw me, the cotton I was in was green and up to my waist. I was trying to hit the hard packed, sun-baked road in front of him but my aim was a little off.
    I stood there watching as the hard flung clod arched across the blue sky and disintegrated against the side of the top of his head in a cloud of west Texas dust.
    As soon as I saw the dust cloud from the disintegrated clod envelop his head, I dropped down between the rows and on my hands and knees put as much distance as I could between us.

    He was two years older than me and could probably have whipped me up one side and coasted down the other.
    I saw him a couple of days later and he didn't say nothing about it but he did have a big knot on his head. I didn't say nothing about it either, least he put one on mine to match his.

    Them boys could run down small rabbits and climb Pecan trees like squirrels.
    They all grew to be good shots with any kind of rifle.
    Cooter had three almost growed up, long legged, blonde-headed girls that reminded me of "wood's colts." Two were twins, Flora and Nora, they were just about as cute as could be. Miriam, the youngest girl, looked more like a boy than her brothers did... or her mother.
    All the boys had a shock of hair that always stuck straight up on the back side of the top of their heads.

    Sometimes they all went coon hunting with us, along with another girl or two that were friends of theirs. They were always having to go off behind the bushes in bunches. Once I flung a dried up cow chip off into a big Buck thorn bush they were crouched behind in the dark and they flushed like a covey of quail, trying to run with their pants down.
    They broke the routine and it was fun to have them along.
    We all went catfishing and swimming together a lot too.

    The first thing Cooter and his boy's did when we got to the lake or river was to walk off in it and start feeling' around up under the banks and down under the rocks for cats. Sometimes they caught some good ones.

    I had more fun feeling around under the water, swimming with their sisters, while they were happily feeling around for fish, turtles, bullfrogs and snakes.

    One time Cooter brought a crank telephone down to the river and wired one wire to a metal pipe he drove it into the wet bank and he wired another wire to a piece of chicken wire about three foot in diameter. Cooter threw it out in the river, where it was as small as a creek and started crankin'.
    Pretty soon a big Ole' cat rolled to top, belly up, looking like it was stunned and he waded out waist deep to get it. Just about the time he got to it, one of the boys started cranking and I never did see nobody get to the bank as fast as he did.
    The fish got away and so did Cooter Jr, the Ole' man couldn't manage to catch either one of them.

    We hunted rattlers quite a bit for the bounty and instead of using .22 shorts, like the rest of us, he brought an old shotgun along and when he let the hammer down on a snake, not too far from his feet, you couldn't see him for the dirt and dust.
    I remember once when the Ole' coot had to sneeze and he hugged up to a cottonwood like a bear about to climb it, it must have been the mother of all sneezes 'cause his head recoiled back and then forward so hard, he banged his forehead on the rough barked trunk and knocked himself unconscious.
    He also knocked a big hunk of bark off the tree and off the front of his head. He woke up with a knot on it the size of a softball.
    Afterward, he said, "I'll never do that again."

    Another thing I suspect he never did again, is lean over against the door of that old rattling, pick-up on the outside of a sharp curve on a gravel road one night on the way to hunt coon.

    When the door came open, he rolled off down through the tall Johnson grass, like a big beach ball bouncing down the bar ditch.

    It was lucky for him we had slowed down for the curve and that there weren't any mailboxes in the way.
    He folded the careless weeds over to the ground for a good, little piece. His oldest boy got the truck stopped before Cooter could get stopped. Cooter said he was afraid to try to stop too soon, so he coasted to a stop to keep from gettin' skinned up.
    At one time or another we hunted just about everything that walked or crawled or took to the air.
    All in all we had some good times together and I miss them.
    I miss Cooter and his wife and the kids and I miss Dad and my brother... and I miss the flowers in the fields... when the cotton bloomed.

    "I wish you could have seen it...the way it use to be,
    fields of snow white cotton, as far as you could see.
    Sitting on the front porch... of a Sunday afternoon,
    and the only flowers Momma had, was when the cotton bloomed."

  14. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    Origin Of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic"
    As Told By Jackie Johnson

    In 1861, after a visit to a Union Army camp, Julia Ward Howe wrote the poem that came to be called "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." It was published in February, 1862, in The Atlantic Monthly.

    Howe reported in her autobiography that she wrote the verses to meet a challenge by a friend, Rev. James Freeman Clarke. As an unofficial anthem, Union soldiers sang "John Brown's Body." Confederate soldiers sang it with their own version of the words. But Clarke thought that there should be more uplifting words to the tune.

    Howe met Clarke's challenge. The poem has become perhaps the best-known Civil War song of the Union Army, and has come to be a well-loved American patriotic anthem.

    The words as published in the February, 1862, issue of The Atlantic Monthly are slightly different from her original manuscript version as documented in her Reminiscences 1819-1899, published in 1899. Later versions have been adapted to more modern usage and to the theological inclinations of the groups using the song.

    First Published Version

    Here is "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as written by Julia Ward Howe when she published it in February, 1862, in the Atlantic Monthly:

    Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
    He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
    His truth is marching on.

    I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
    They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
    I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
    His day is marching on.

    I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
    "As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
    Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
    Since God is marching on."

    He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
    Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
    Our God is marching on.

    In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
    As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
    While God is marching on.
  15. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    The Fishing Song
    By Jackie Johnson

    Deep water days or shallow water nights,
    you have to be there, when the time is right.
    If the moon or sun is not too bright,
    You have a good chance of doing alright.

    If the wind is blowing from the west,
    that's when your chances will be the best.
    If it's from the north or south,
    the fish will greet you with an open mouth.

    If the wind is still and the lake is flat,
    you might as well fish for the lowly bass.
    They are easy to catch and make good bait,
    even though their taste is second rate.

    Every girl knows, if the bait is good,
    you can catch every fish in the neighborhood.
    Don't be too early and don't be late,
    When the fish are hungry, they just won't wait.
  16. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    A Look Into Jackie's Life
    By Jackie Johnson

    Muchas gracias mi' amigo, perhaps I shall write more if enough show interest. I enjoy writing and get lost in the mesquite myself when I let my mind wander over yesterdays horizons, through the dusty sage and buck thorn.

    We use to breed and raise registered Longhorns. I have seen a good cow go for 30,000 in the sale ring.
    They are mostly raised for horn and show.

    Some of us also mix them with Herefords and Angus.

    Longhorns are amazing animals, they were almost wiped from the face of the earth but in the early 1900's some concerned folks traveled South Texas and Mexico and purchased what remnants could be found. Since about 1920, Texas has had a state herd with one Lone Star branded on the hip.
    They can be seen at Fort Griffin state park about 40 miles from here.

    Longhorns are long lived and resistant and resilient to most disease and other things that cattle fall prey to.
    They retain their teeth and ability to drop a calf every year on up to the age of 30 years and more.
    They are excellent mothers and hide their new born in the brush, like deer.
    They hide their calves together and a cow will watch over them while the other mothers go to grass or water.
    Then she will be relieved to take her turn.

    One bawl from a mother cow will draw every Longhorn in the area in a hurry.

    Coyotes give them a wide birth, these animals are far from helpless around anything that thinks to mess with one of their offspring.

    We had one cow that was very aggressive unless you had a bull whip or a buggy whip in your hand... or even a stick. She knew what a whip was.

    You didn't go into a pen or pasture with her empty handed... if you did you didn't stay long.

    We watched her run the ring master out of the sale ring when we bought her at auction in Ft. Worth.

    We raised them on my brother and his wife's ranch. When the dreaded cancer got the best of Jerry, we sold the whole herd to a ranch at Buffalo Gap. They were bought merely because folks like to have them around to just admire and enjoy. They aren't sold much for meat unless they are cross bred to other stock.

    Here you can see a few of our Longhorns in the background.


    Those horns are sharp.


    Another one of my favorites.


    My cow dog gets close to the horn.


    A nice cow with her calf.

  17. abilene

    abilene New Member

    abilene, tx
    Song Writing 101
    By Jackie Johnson

    In my travels I have come in contact with many folks who want to write songs.
    I'm wondering how many brothers or sisters on the boards may be interested also.

    Being a successfull songwriter is a lot like winning the lottery, the odds are against us.

    Still, we don't let a little thing like that stop us, do we? Hehe.

    The most common thing would be writers lack of structure.
    If anyone is interested, I will show you how to structure a song.
    The most common song structure is simply two verses and a chorus.

    It's best if you first have an idea and a title.
    The title should be catchy and convey the song's premise.
    I will use one of my songs to relate this to you and the title of that song is,
    "What's An Old Cowboy Like Me, Supposed To Do?"

    The title suggest what this song will be about, and that of course would be me. I'm too old and set in my ways to do a woman much good and too old to start all over.

    The title will be tagged onto the end of both verses and the chorus, the title is what the song is built around.

    That should be four lines to each verse and the chorus. That's 12 lines to the song.

    We are using the title 3 times so that leaves 9 lines to write. That's not many is it?
    Surely we can do that. Remember every song has a beginning, a middle and an end, and they all should be good.

    "What's An Old Cowboy, Like Me Supposed to Do?"

    My knees don't.. hard-ly bo-ther me.. unless I'm driv-ing.. all night long.
    My shoul-ders get-ting bet-ter.. the pain is almost gone.
    But these ro-deos are.. all.. I know.. it's too late to.. start anew..
    "What's An Old.. Cow-boy Like Me .. Supposed To Do?"

    O.k, we have a pretty good beginning, now we need the middle, that would be the chorus. It needs to be real good, because it is the heart of the song and it will be repeated after the second verse.

    I know it's ..not right to ke-ep her... waiting around,
    when there ain't a .. snow-balls chance in hell..
    I could e-ver.. settle down.
    She te-lls me.. I'm the on-ly one.. who could ever.. make her blue..
    but "What's An Old Cow-boy, Like Me.. Supposed To Do?"

    Ah, that's not too bad. It took some time and I put some effort into and there it is.
    Now for the second verse. It must be metered and each line must have pretty much the same amount of vowels. One line must not be too long or too short. The small pauses in the vocal will count the same as a vowel.

    She say's.. I .. make her feel.. some things.. she ain't ne-ver felt before..
    and even though.. she knows.. I-'m not.. a kid...
    She tells me.. I'm the on-ly one.. who could make her.. dreams.. come true..
    But, "What's An Old Cow-boy Like Me, Supposed To Do?"

    At this point the chorus will be repeated and so will the last line, the title line.
    With the intro, the turnarounds between the verse and chorus and the ending phrase, this song will be in the neighborhood of 2.50 minutes.
    Program directers like them short and he's the one that picks the songs for airplay.
    He wants short songs so his DJ's can play more per hour to help offset the many commercials they need to stay in business.

    Here's the verses and chorus all together with out the accents and pauses in the vocal.

    "What's An Old Cowboy Like Me, Supposed To Do?"

    My knees don't hardly bother me, unless I'm driving all night long.
    My shoulders getting better, the pain is almost gone.
    But these rodeos are all I know, it's too late to start anew.
    "What's An Old Cowboy Like Me, Supposed To Do?"

    I know it's not right to keep her, waiting around,
    when there ain't a snowballs chance in hell, I could ever settle down.
    She tells me, I'm the only one who could ever make her blue.
    But, "What's An Old Cowboy Like Me, Supposed To Do?"

    She says I make her feel some things, she ain't never felt before.
    And even though she knows, I'm not a kid anymore,
    she tells me I'm the only one who could make her dreams come true,
    But "What's An Old Cowboy Like Me, supposed To Do?"

    And I know it's not right to keep her waiting around,
    when there ain't a snowball's chance in hell, I could ever settle down.
    She tells me I'm the only one who could ever make her blue,
    but "What's An Old Cowboy Like Me Supposed To Do?"

    "What's An Old Cowboy Like Me Supposed To Do?"

    Copywrite by Contention Music. Nashville Tn.


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