It was 1980 And I
was going to work as a cowboy for the first time, The job was in
Cotulla, La Salle County, South Texas. For the Rocking S, Owned by
Charles Shwartz, Top Hand and Ranch Manager was Charlie Arnold.it
was around 18.000 acres, Not a particulary large one by Texas
standards, But a Job offer that I was extremely pleased to take, I
had met Charlie on a TV show, when The Remuda Club which I ran back
in England had gone to texas for the first time, Seven of the club
were toured around like royalty as the guest of the Texas Tourist
Board, It was during a TV appearance that we were to meet Charlie,
he took a shine to us and invited us to go stay at the ranch for a
couple of days and ride some Ranch horses. We got to stay in the
bunkhouse which just tickled the shit out of all of us.
So we ducked out of the itinerary the Texas tourist board had us set
up for and went with Charlie. It was on this visit that Charlie
offered me a job. So in January of 1980 I said goodbye to my first
wife and Kids and went off for a year to fulfill a lifelong ambition
to be a cowboy.
I learned a lot that first time. I got to Cowboy, not the glamourous
idea that most people have. Riding off into the sunset. Spurs
ringing on boot heels on a bar rail , drinking beer in a honky tonk
listening to Hank Williams with a pretty girl on my arm.
No it was more like Dog tired all the time. Arm up a cows ass
pulling dead calves out of dying cows. Or covered in blood trying to
stitch an animal up while it tries its best to kill you, riding
horses that don’t see the glamorous side of it all and just want to
part company with you. On the rare occasion I did get to town it was
in the wreck of a pick up truck to pick up cattle or horse feed as
to drinking beer when I did get a nite off I usually went to bed
early not only that but there was no bar within 70 miles. But I
When I wasn’t busy with the glamorous job of cowboyin I got to drive
a tractor haul winter hay and feed. Fix fence, Clean out tanks, and
water traps, Fix windmills, Maintain trucks, and tractor
equipment.Weld gates and other stuff in fact I got too do a lot of
welding once Charlie found out I could weld I even got to tile out
the bathroom in Charlie’s house ( I lived in the bunkhouse) Ole
Charlie sure liked his hired help to earn his keep. Then there was
really good stuff to do like clear out the spider infested never
done for fifty years barn That was really cowboy .But I loved it!!!
On a rare occasion we had to haul some borrowed equipment back up to
the owners place in San Antonio . we got to stay overnite in his
unbelievable house he even had a full size civil war canon in the
hall. What a house !!! The next day being Saturday I managed to get
Charlie to tour San Antonio and we got to go the famous Stage coach
country and western bar. we was there watching some gorgeous western
girls dance with the usual bunch of drugstore “cowboys” a great nite.
I looked across the dance floor and saw A girl that worked for the
San Antonio tourist board who Id met and hit it off with on the club
visit .Me and Charlie walked around and I introduced him to Lou Anne
a real Southern Belle with a great accent and great looks, a real
Texas Darlin. Around 5’7” Blonde hair a fantastic body a great sense
of humour a rich father.We spent the rest of the evening with her
and the group Japanese tourists she was showing around .By the time
we left at 2am Charlie was in love/
I didn’t get to see much of him for the next month he was gone most
of the time long weekends that gradually tuned into four and five
day weekends I was more or less in charge I guess youd say I’d get
phone calls at the bunkhouse most nites and get various chores to
do, Charlie sent out a couple of part time cowhands that got things
going in the right direction. But I was pretty much left to my own
devices.If there was any cattle work Charlie would show up and Guy
and James, the two hired hands as well, I did a lot of Horseback
riding checking the cattle in various pastures, It was all fairly
straight forward Id picked up what to look for, it wasn’t calving
time so really just a matter of checking for accidents and crippled
animals and judging what to do. Anything serious and I’d call
Charlie. There was a bunch of other chores that Charlie said “WE”
needed to do. I had heard that “WE” shit a lot since arriving at the
rocking S. He’ show up and there would be a long list of “WE” shit
enough to keep twenty men busy. I have to admit it got a little thin
at times. Some days usually the day after he left to go see Lou Ann,
Id take the pick up and run into Cotulla and drink coffee at the
Dairy Queen and chew the fat with other hands. It was a break. Well
days rolled along and I was beginning to “make a hand “
One evening the phone at the bunkhouse rang around 10pm id just got
of the shower, It was Charlie with another “WE” list.
John. I’v promised Cliff some help to set up for the CPAA gathering
at the school hall.for the weekend. That’s the Cowboy poetry of
America association. He asked me for help to set out the chairs I
told him “WE’D” help theres two hundred seats need to be laid out,
They keep the chairs in an old stone out building it shouldn’t take
you more than a couple of hours. When you done that “WE” need to
call over to the Hiemanns and Pick up a truck load of steel posts
.I’ll be back Saturday with Lou Ann, I’m gonna read a poem or two at
the gathering. If you get thru with your chores you can come along
.Thats mighty nice of you I thought.
I gotta admit this cowboyin’ is getting a little thin.
Ok Charlie I’ll take care of it I answered.
4.30am The alarm started buzzing I got up drank two cups of coffee.
Smoked three cigarettes and went down to the corral and called the
horses in and fed them. Then opened three cans of cat food and fed
the cats that should feed themselves on the rats in the barn. Then I
fed the dogs. That was the daily routine done. Then I hooked up the
bumper pull stock trailor to the green pick up to haul the steel
posts as the pick up was full of fencing equipment that I’d been
using and didn’t want to unload as I had some fence to repair over
at the north end. One of the horses looked lame so I caught it up
and checked and found a split hoof I put it in the barn and trimmed
its hoof and figured id better do the other three .that taken care
of I had to get the tractor running and “dirt up” one of the cattle
guards over at the Retoma pasture as it was getting to where the
cattle could walk over it.
By the time I was done it was around noon and getting up in the 90s
I went to the bunkhouse and made some lunch. Then “WE” headed for
town so “WE” could lay out the chairs.
I parked right next to the stone building where the chairs were
I looked across the grass The hall where the poetry gathering was
about sixty to seventy foot away up six stone steps, This is gonna
be fun I thought. That’s a hundred trips carrying two chairs!!! Then
again seein as its “WE”.
“WE” might could do it in fifty trips?
I figured id start at the end with a small stage about 10 X 8 foot
the other end of the hall the entire wall was covered in huge deep
red curtains.I put the first two chairs down about fifteen foot from
the small stage.by the time id got two hundred laid out the last row
was almost to the red curtains. I was sweating real bad so I closed
the doors and went to the truck and drove too the Dairy Queen. A
couple of other ranch hands were there and I told them what “WE” had
been doing, they all laughed. Charlie was well known.
I worked late Friday and got started early saturday I was preety
much all done by 3pm and the event didn’t start till 6pm So I
showered and changed into a pair of laundered and startched and
creased Wranglers and put on a laundeder white shirt my best black
Resistol and fired up the green truck and headed for Cotulla. I got
there as the hall was filling up I saw Lou Anne and Charlie John
come sit with us called Lou Anne I joined them as Charlie said I
gotta go round the other side to join the others on stage.
Me and Lou Anne sat in one of the two hundred seats and watched as
the hall filled up it was getting pretty full and at around ten till
six the general noise started to quiten down At six on the button I
heard a swoosh behind me and a voice over a microphone said good
evening ladies and gent…. what the f….
almost two hundred people turned around to look At the announcer on
the stage behind the curtains!!!!! I’d put the chairs out facing the
near two hundred people stood up and turned the seats around. At the
end of the evening Cliff the announcer said his thanks to all who
took part and those that helped . and said a special thanks to
Charlie Arnold for his help in setting the chairs out which received
a hooting racus round of applause as Charlie sat on the stage with
all the other performers and went the same colour as the curtains
which had hidden the stage area. I smiled and thought Im glad “WE”
wasn’t on the stage.
!!!! Cowboyin’ is sooo much fun.!!!!