My “Cowboy Grandpa” was a gentle horseman who was born and raised in a mountain valley along the Mulberry River. Although he was short in stature, he seemed a giant astride his shiny black horse as he herded cattle from one pasture to the other.
Grandpa could lasso a calf while controlling his horse with one hand. He knew how to fashion bridles out of rope and braid reins from lengths of leather. I remember his saddle in the kitchen floor and the scent of the saddle soap he used to keep his tack soft.
Grandpa always gentle-broke his horses and preferred a bitless bridle. He would not abide abuse of his stock. His cattle dog was trained to obey a mere nod or a whistle.
Grandpa and Grandma raised nine children during the depression. Although it is doubtful Grandpa ever made more than five dollars an hour and often only five dollars a week, Daddy said they never felt poor.
Grandpa traveled to Oregon in the early 1930s to make his fortune as a cowboy. He said if not for the kindness of strangers, he would have starved coming back home to his little family.
This picture was taken at a church camp meeting during the 1930’s or early 1940’s. Everyone in this photo is family or family friends but I will have to ask an aunt who they all are. My Grandpa is the handsome man on the end with the freshly starched and ironed clothes. Grandma is in the center and my precious Daddy is standing in front of her.
Grandpa never raised his voice except in prayer. This little man was a prayer warrior who knelt every night to ask God’s protection for each of his children, their spouse, and every grandchild. Although I was often impatient for the final Amen, I later appreciated the fact he had God’s ear.
This fifties cowboy followed a cowboy code of ethics before anyone coined the phrase and taught me lessons I did not know I was learning.