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by Frank Shortt
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A Cowboy Wannabe
I suppose that some of my first thoughts, of having a career, were of becoming a cowboy.
I can remember going to the movies with my sister and her boyfriend as sort of a chaperone. The movies I saw were mostly of the western
genre due to the fact that my sister’s boyfriend loved them. This somehow gave me a lopsided view of the American west.
After seeing a western movie, I would ride around on mom’s broomstick for days afterward pretending to be Lash Larue, Johnny Mack
Brown or one of the other Cowboy actors. I paid close attention to what each actor did on the screen and tried my best to duplicate
Another cowboy attribute I had, was to love the outdoors and wide
open spaces. It was very difficult for my mom to keep me home. I was known as “restless winds”. I didn’t care where I parked my “horse”
as long as it was somewhere away from home.
I guess I went overboard when I tried to talk
like Randolph Scott, sing like Gene Autry or Ferlin Husky, and walk like John Wayne. There wasn’t much else to do in the way of entertainment
on a rocky, hillside farm.
Later, at eighteen, I joined the U.S. Air Force. Their uniforms
were far from Cowboy. For work time we wore the grayish-green fatigue uniform. For dress in summer, we wore the desert sand uniform.
For winter, we wore the familiar Air Force blue dress uniform. Although I was very proud of my uniforms, I awaited the day when I
could once again wear cowboy clothes.
After basic training in Texas I was shipped to Mather
Air Force Base in Sacramento, California. I was required to wear my appropriate uniform while on duty. I soon learned from an older
roommate, Barry Gilbert, we were allowed to wear civilian clothing when we were not on duty. Was I elated?!! As soon as I received
a payday I was at the commissary buying some jeans and cowboy shirts. I didn’t care if the other guys called me a drugstore cowboy.
I was totally comfortable with my getup. I eventually bought cowboy boots to round out my total cowboy look.
As I grow older I am still partial to cowboy movies. Not the modern kind where the cowboys are seen placing young ladies in compromising
positions, but the older black and white variety where the morals were indeed, “black and white”. These days of yesteryear are just
about forgotten except for a few old veterans like me. Once in a great while I am able to convince one of my grandchildren, especially
Katie , my only granddaughter, to watch an old John Wayne or Tex Ritter movie with me. Katie likes Gabby Hayes!
I am sure that my grandchildren are bored to tears, but they are patient with their old grandfather and try to placate my desire to
“once again ride the range” on Silver, White Star, Blackjack, Trigger, Champion, or one of the other host of faithful equestrian companions.
Now this is the life of a Cowboy Wannabe!