Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ridin' Again

Zane Grey had it right

(Poster from Movie Collection)
Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.  3/18/2014:  I spent most of the morning in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage museum in Oklahoma City..right where I wanted to be.  

  I can't pass up the place.  It has won my heart and I am a paid-up member even though I rarely get there more than once a year (see index on right for previous visit). If some of this is repetitious, I don't care.  It's a wonderful collection of western art in all its forms; beautiful artifacts and reminders that what worked once..still does.  Look at this..

   Men and women earned their living with things like that.  Maybe not always as elegant, but certainly just as efficient.  They still do. You still need horses to work with cattle, you still need a big hat, boots and a saddle.  They use pickup trucks today where they used to use wagons, but that's OK..the old guys would have liked a pickup, too, if they had one.

At the end of the (old) day, it was beans and a bunk, 40 dollars a month, and all the hard work you could ask for.  Take a peek through the bunkhouse window:

   That bed has a rope "box spring."  It's why they tell you to "sleep tight."  If the rope was loose, you sagged.  If you could stand up straight the next morning, you saddled up.  If you couldn' still saddled up.


The place is a mecca for all things cowboy..and Indian.

You want elegant?  That's elegant.

So's this.


The rodeo's a big story:

The movies, too.  This is John Wayne's six-gun:

   The old Colt is representative of all that's here.  Autry, McRea, Selleck, Cooper, Brennan, McCoy, Burnett, Boyd, Stewart and more.  Signature artifacts and costumes from hundreds of movies.  But the movies get just one gallery out of several.  You find the real thing more compelling as room after room tells you the rest of the story.  A hard life, grueling labor.  My cousin once said to me:  "You always wanted to be a cowboy."  And I replied, "Oh, no.  I never wanted to work that hard."


Writers and artists have always been drawn to the west.  There are galleries full of wonderful paintings here.  Such emotion goes into works of such beauty that it's hard to pull away.  What these chroniclers see and feel pours out on paper, canvas -- even bronze:

                                      Let's see a little more of that:

   The plaque on the statue says that the west is a place where a person is respected for what he or she does for him/herself and their family, a place where they always help their neighbor and where a handshake is as good as any written contract.  I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty much what it says.   

                                           Good enough for me.


     Now, I'm gonna kick 'em off, tighten my bed rope, and call it another day.

Seeya down the road, Pard.