Who needs a cowboy hat? Maricopa, where I grew up, held its 49th Stagecoach Days. I was there with another local writer (yes, authors have sprung up from this formerly sleepy town) for a reading. We read portions from our books at noon and two.
What struck me about the day was how things had changed. This time it was at a park. In the past, it was held at what were more closely identified as rodeo grounds. In the park, we had grass, a lake, a Ramada and even restrooms with more than 3 stalls each!
In the past, we had dirt and more dirt. Puddles that you dodged if Stagecoach fell on a day after a big rain. We also had Corrals where people were gathered watching cutting horses, other areas where families’ kids could compete in Gymkhana and still other areas for a greased pig contest and more.
There was one familiar event from previous Stagecoach Days: The Western wear contest for kids. We saw a lot of urban cowboys and cowgirls parade through. They were cute. And the winners went away with some pretty cool prizes.
This year’s organizers did a great job. They accommodated for a new time. For a new day.
It was different though. I didn’t run into any old timers except the Andersons and Mr. Pratt. It felt kind of lonely even if the crowd was just as big as days gone by. I miss the dirt and the puddles we had to dodge. And I love urban cowboys but they’re just not like the real cowboys I grew up with.
So at my last reading, I read from my book the section called, “Go to a Western Store and Buy a Cowboy Hat”. And I read the following:
To obtain the cowboy hat you need go to a western wear store. If you can’t find a store near you, go online to obtain a catalogue or simply shop the Internet. A slow cruise through a local western store will reveal all sorts of wardrobe features in the style of the traditional cowboy or cowgirl. My favorite section to check out was always the cowboy boots. I used to wear my older brother’s boots until Mom bought me my own pair of black boots. Running after the older cousins in a pair of oversized boots didn’t get me very far very fast. Another reason it’s fun to shop in a western store is the smell of leather, especially for boot, belt, or saddles. Some stores serve as both a western wear and feed store. In these stores you’ll find a line- up of freshly tooled saddles. Though Mom had at least three saddles, she never passed the saddle section without checking out the new arrivals. One visit prompted her to saddle up on a brand new saddle with silver trim. She forgot that the saddle stand displaying the saddle is a lot less stable than a horse and went crashing to the floor in front of the store owner. Dad had fun with that story the entire day. He would say, “Mom prided herself in never being bucked off a horse, but the one that got her was an in-store saddle stand.” Cowgirls have to try on a saddle just like trying on a pair of pants. Western-style wear comes and goes for the general public but serves as every day wear for the true cowboy and cowgirl.
And the true cowboy loves his gear. To protect the innocent – actually the mischievously creative – I won’t name names, but a story is told about one cowboy in quite the frisky mood gently tapping his slumbering wife on the shoulder saying, “Hello cowgirl….” Opening her eyes and looking up at her husband through a sleepy gaze she sees him with nothing on but his leather chaps and a smile on his face.
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