I spent twenty-seven years of my life in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so cowboys are not a new phenomenon to me. In Tulsa, I saw them everywhere–well, at least I saw men wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots everywhere. They sauntered into grocery stores, and politely removed their hats at movie theaters and restaurants. But, being a California girl originally, cowboys remained a unique characteristic of Oklahoma, kind of like the heat and humidity of Oklahoma summers, or the southern twang of “y’all.” I watched from afar, but never got to know a “real” cowboy.

But last weekend, I had the honor of attending the Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Surrounded by hundreds of cowboy peers, my friend and writing mentor, Dusty Richards, was presented an award for Outstanding Western Novel for his book, The Sundown Chaser.

Before and during the ceremony, we were surrounded by cowboys and cowgirls–most were real, but there were certainly some “wanna-be” cowfolk, like me. What a community I found — ranchers, horsemen, performers, artists, writers — all with a love of cowboy culture.

I have to admit, I was surprised to feel so “at home” with a group that in the past, I had only watched from “afar.” But their warmth, patriotism, determined self-sufficiency and down-home charm drew me in.

In some of the presentations, I sensed concern that cowboys may become a thing of the past. There are fewer western movies and fewer novels these days. I overheard one rancher talking about the “cowboy way” not being the most efficient way to ranch anymore. But, in the hundreds of people present that weekend, I also saw a determination not to let that happen — a determination to keep the cowboy alive.

When I left Oklahoma City to return home, I thought a long time about the cowboys I’d met and listened to, and I hoped more people would get to know a cowboy, and wouldn’t simply watch this symbol of American culture from afar.

This entry was posted in cowboy, Dusty Richards, National Cowboy, The Sundown Chaser, Western Heritage. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Cowboys

  1. I love this, Jan! We are truly "sisters of the heart and soul"


  2. Claire says:

    This is wonderful. Gotta love the cowboy way. I really don't understand why the western market has dried up. At every conference I've attended at least 30% of the authors are writing westerns. People love them! The frontier spirit will stay with Americans forever. At least I hope it will.


  3. dormouse says:

    The 'cowboy way' in my mind at least, represents a certain willingness to support the people of your community– esp. the weak and downtrodden, combined with a stoicism that I admire. The country as a whole is too full of people whining and not working toward a solution.


  4. Dear Jan,

    Somewhere in the midst of this I sent my first three chapters of PSKFM to Dusty. He sent them back pencil slashed with notes illegibly written in red pen in the margins. By the time I finished reading I was on the verge of chucking the whole idea of being a writer. Whatever made me think I could? Fortunately, after a few days of moping, I scraped my chin off the floor and emailed him asking him what I needed to do. He graciously elaborated in his email and at the end of it, he said, “You have the lust to be a writer. It will come.”
    I later told him how much he had helped me and I felt that he had a lot to do with my being published and thanked him. His eyes filled with tears. “Most people think I’m a crusty old cowboy. Thank you for that.”
    And thank you, Jan for sharing this blog again.



    Liked by 1 person

  5. rgayer55 says:

    Gil Miller gave a nice tribute to Dusty & Pat at our Masonic Lodge meeting last night. He said the annoucement of Dusty’s accident on the Oghma Facebook page had over 700 comments with most saying how Dusty & Pat had helped that person in some way. What a great legacy–and I feel blessed to be in that number.


  6. truthsbyruth says:

    Oh how I remember that night. I was in seventh heaven. God Bless the American cowboy. (and their horses too


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