Lee Pitts is a freelance columnist for The and Paso Robles Press; e-mail [email protected]
He had read too many Louis L’Amour books and seen too many John Wayne movies. Now the boy from Newark wanted to be a cowboy.
The Jersey boy drove his Mustang to a sleepy town in West Texas, opened the doors of the Spanish Historical Museum/Drift Workshop and asked where he could find work related to drifting.
Thanks to his extensive experience at McDonalds in Newark, Jersey Kid first worked as a kitchen assistant for West Texas Rawhide. When he served a chicken pie and a bland coffee as an appetizer, the cowboys politely told him “Go West young man.”
So he went to Nebraska, where he first shot and then asked questions. After finishing two bulls with fillies, he was asked to leave. He was then hired by a cattle feed company in Kansas to set up sick pens, and of course the cowboy apothecary got sick on the first day. So the Jersey man moved to Wyoming, where the two ranchers fought for his services. That’s where the Jersey man found out he hated horses. And the feeling was mutual.
The boy got a sniffly bronco looking good in his designer jeans, cologne, a colorful scarf around his neck and a wide-brimmed hat with a feather. He was square in the front with a low, straight crown and creased in three places. At least his head was not bowed in retrospect. The master remarked that the Kid was “dumber than a barrel of hair.” To which the Kid replied in a New Jersey accent, “Smile when you say that, sir,” but the foreman was already there.
In search of the cowboy life, a fellow from Newark drove a pickup truck across the Missouri River and dropped a roll of barbed wire over the Rocky Mountains. Bozeman’s last words were. “And don’t let the door hit you in the #@! ” on the way out.
When he came to Ritzville, Washington, to work on the cattle, Jake, the boss of the cows, said it was like losing three good men. Not wanting to get on another horse, Jersey Kid is part of the ground crew. One of the real cowboys hooked a leg, and Jake told Jersey Kid to put the other leg in the loop. The Kid looked a little crazy, standing with his right leg in the loop.
In Adel, Oregon, he asked the Buckaroo boss how much he was paying. “We pay you what you’re worth,” he said.
The Kid didn’t want to work for him, so he left at sunset when one of the bukaroos asked, “Who is this idiot?
The Jersey boy had been looking for months for the cowboy life he had seen on TV. He came to California as a lawyer dealing with the Ayrshires and the Shorthorns. He called them Airhorns. He lost that job when they changed the tax laws.
When the Jersey boy finally went as far west as he could without swimming, he found a place where the cows were sweet, the whiskey sweet, the ostrich boots, the women fast and the horses beautiful. And the sign on the hill above the town read “HOLLYWOOD.”
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We’ll get through this together, Atascadero….