Column: My big heroes have always been cowboys

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

Things weren&8217;t always like they are now.

Back when I was a boy, there were fewer things. With fewer things to pick from, we became &8220;either or&8221; people.

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When it came to cars, you were either a Ford person or a Chevy person. You ate either Wheaties or Corn Flakes for breakfast. Smokers went with either Camels or Lucky Strikes. We watched &8220;The Three Stooges Show.&8221; We liked either Curly or Shemp. We drank either Coke or Pepsi. When I was between grass and hay, there were three kinds of movies. There were war movies, mushy movies and cowboy movies. I liked cowboy movies much better than the other two. Growing up, you were either a Gene Autry or a Roy Rogers kind of guy.

Who was the best, Gene or Roy?

Their horses were about equal. Roy Rogers&8217; Trigger and Gene Autry&8217;s Champion were fine horses.

Trigger was billed as &8220;the smartest horse in the movies,&8221; so I&8217;d have to give Trigger the edge.

Randolph Scott&8217;s Stardust was likely a better horse.

Roy was a much better rider than Gene. Ben Johnson was better yet.

Both could get about 47 shots out of a six-shooter.

Each could take on a battalion of bad guys without ever once losing his hat.

My father would sing Gene&8217;s &8220;That Silver-haired Daddy of Mine&8221; while we milked the cows. He

never sang Roy&8217;s &8220;Happy Trails.&8221;

Gene came up with his Cowboy Code.

1. The cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

3. He must always tell the truth.

4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.

5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

6. He must help people in distress.

7. He must be a good worker.

8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.

9. He must respect women, parents and his nation&8217;s laws.

10. The cowboy is a patriot.

Not to be outdone, Roy Rogers crafted his Rider&8217;s Rules.

1. Be neat and clean.

2. Be courteous and polite.

3. Always obey your parents.

4. Protect the weak and help them.

5. Be brave but never take chances.

6. Study hard and learn all you can.

7. Be kind to animals and care for them.

8. Eat all your food and never waste any.

9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly.

10. Always respect our flag and our country.

The following was read as John Wayne&8217;s eulogy.

1. A cowboy does not judge color of skin, but by character within.

2. A cowboy always respects a lady and tips his hat to all that pass him by

3. A cowboy stands strong for what the American frontier is all about: freedom, truth, justice and the American way.

4. A cowboy will not be wronged, nor wrong another. The justice he deems out depends on that.

5. A cowboy is loyal and hard-working and maintains a high ethic.

6. A cowboy loves his country and will fight for its principles and sovereignty.

7. A cowboy respects his animals and the earth they roam upon.

8. A cowboy is faithful to what is entrusted to him.

9. A cowboy is bound by duty, honor and gratitude for what God has given him, which includes his friends and family.

10. A cowboy maintains a hidden code in his heart, for all to see.

Then there is What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West.

1. Live each day with courage.

2. Take pride in your work.

3. Always finish what you start.

4. Do what has to be done.

5. Be tough, but fair.

6. When you make a promise, keep it.

7. Ride for the brand.

8. Talk less and say more.

9. Remember that some things aren&8217;t for sale.

10. Know where to draw the line.

Then there are the Ten Commandments, cowboy style.

1. Just one God.

2. Honor your Ma and Pa.

3. No telling tales or gossiping.

4. Get yourself to Sunday meeting.

5. Put nothing before God.

6. No fooling around with another fellow&8217;s gal.

7. No killing.

8. Watch your mouth.

9. Don&8217;t take what ain&8217;t yours.

10. Don&8217;t be hankering for your buddy&8217;s stuff.

It was easy to tell the good guys in the old cowboy movies. They always wore white hats.

We need more white hats today.

(Hartland resident Al Batt wears a green hat. His columns appear in the Albert Lea Tribune every Wednesday and Sunday.)