“We’re all travelers in this world from the sweet grass to the packing house.
From birth to death we travel between the eternities.” from the western movie “Broken Trail”
Howdy Partners. Here’s a little story for y’all,
“Tex” Johnson always felt like he should have been a cowboy in the Old West. Though he was born in Texas, he hadn’t lived there since he was four years old. His parents then moved to Ohio where his Dad (formerly an actual working cowboy) searched for and found a steady job in a steel mill since all the big ranches back home had gone corporate and he just couldn’t take it any longer. Those big outfits thought of, and treated, working hands like Tex Sr. as if they were dirt, paid them as if they were dirt, and most importantly had no idea and didn’t care what real cowboys like him were all about.
After arriving in Ohio and finding work (and as soon as he could afford it), Tex Sr. moved his little family into a farmhouse outside the city. Next he bought a used but in relatively good shape 1972 Harley Shovelhead at an auction, not as an extravagance, but to be his work vehicle for the twenty mile commute leaving their car for his wife so she might find some kind of job too. Years later when his son was big enough, he taught the boy to ride motorcycles by finding a beat up old dirt bike in a dump, making it run, and life was good.
Then on Tex’s eighteenth birthday, as he and his mom waited patiently for Tex Sr. to come home from work so they could all celebrate, a car pulled in the drive with two company men who told them his father had died in an accident at the mill that day. Tex Jr. would never celebrate his birthday again.
He sadly soon found himself in possession of the closest thing to a horse an Ohio cowboy could have... the Shovelhead, which he used to find himself a job to help support his mother. But he’d spend most of his off-hours riding the countryside. He came to know every back road, every highway, and of course, every gas station in that part of the state. He became friends with other local riders too. He became familiar with the honky-tonks and the truck-stops. He came to know what it was to be a “country” biker, and though he dearly missed his dad, all was good again.
Tex believed in, and lived by, what has commonly been thought of by many as the “Code of the West” where men tipped their hats to women and treated them with a sense of respect, honor, and protection, and he applied that to what had become his “biker” lifestyle, the closest thing in Ohio to being a cowboy. He’d never lie. He’d never steal. He’d never take advantage of those he came in contact with, nor would he allow himself to be played in any way. In short, he was truly a man and someone both men and women instantly respected.
The funny thing is Tex didn’t care what others thought. His “Cowboy Ways” wasn’t some kind of affectation, something he just played at like the jerks who frequented Country-Western bars wearing their Stetson hats and their cowboy boots... no, he was the real deal. He just lived and did what he thought was right because that’s the way he was raised and what he believed.
Now, Tex had a lady named Suzi whom he adored. A tiny little thing, she worked at the diner where he always stopped for coffee and a newspaper on his way to work at the hardware store in town. From her first “What can I gettcha Hun?” he was smitten. Her sparkling eyes were incredibly blue and her fine, dark-red mahogany hair seemed to compliment and set off that sparkle.
From the very first time they met, she was drawn to this handsome man with the slow cowboy drawl. One thing led to another and eventually people took it for granted that they were a solid couple. When over-attentive male customers flirted with Suzi more than casually, Tony the owner/cook would put them in their place by simply stating, “That’s enough buddy. She’s taken.” Then one night the excrement hit the air conditioner when one guy just wouldn’t stop.
It was a Saturday evening and this guy appeared to have gotten an early start on his drinking because he seemed to be sloshed already as he stumbled into the diner about nine that night and took a seat at the counter (about the same time that Tex got off work).
“Hey Baby! How about something to go with this coffee... maybe a little sugar you smokin’ hot babe?” then he circled his mouth with his thumbs and fingers and made an obscene gesture with his tongue, something that instantly disgusts every woman in the world, but some idiot men insists on doing anyway. Suzi ignored him hoping he’d stop... but he didn’t. Finally, Tony saw and heard enough through the order window and stepped out from the kitchen asking the man to leave, but once again... he didn’t.
Instead the man suddenly appeared completely sober and pulled out a gun from under his jacket while yelling, “Gimmie all the cash!” Tony immediately emptied the register drawer into the thief’s waiting outstretched hand but didn’t move fast enough... so the robber smacked him hard on the side of the head with the barrel of his gun, then he pistol-whipped the old man until Tony fell to the floor bloody and unconscious. Next the stranger turned to Suzi...
It was at precisely this moment that a smiling Tex stepped through the door of the diner, but that smile froze as he stood staring in momentary confusion. Then he erupted into pure rage.
(To be continued next month)
Hopefully you’ll get this in time to consider coming to our Legislation Seminar and Awards Banquet in Akron on April 7th and 8th if you haven’t done so already. This event is always a blast every year! I plan on bringing a few guitars and some harps, and I’m sure there will be at least three guitarists for the way-after-party to accompany everyone as we all howl at the moon. The main event starts at 9:45 AM on Saturday the 8th and continues throughout the day with the banquet and awards ceremony in the early evening for those of you who want to be there only for that.