Howdy! Or as Capt. Andy says in “Showboat”, Haaa-peee-Nooo-Yearrr! Woody Allen says, “The main thing in life is to show up.” Babs and I showed up once at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport on our way to the Sheb Wooley Western Flick Fest back in ‘04. Our flight was not unlike a ride on a bucking bronco. The plane took a sudden dipsy-doo—so did our coffee cups, but our coffee remained suspended in air, just like Wile E. Coyote when he runs off a cliff. I tell ya, there were no atheists on that jaunt.
We were greeted by a wonderful Texas gal, Moe by name. I told her she should call her truck “Stooge Coach”. She let out a whoop and a holler. We exchanged high fives all weekend. Love me, love my jokes.
We piled aboard and moved on down the road. Our drive to the Sacred Spur Ranch took ‘bout as long as our flight, but it was a whole lot smoother. Out our way in Long Island there’s a death a day in traffic. Texas drivers are more considerate. Out Texas way we heard nary a discouraging word nor a horn honk. There’s plenty of space out thataway, lots of room for everybody. Why, we got up to 90 mph. Felt like 55. Texas keeps their roads clean.
We arrived in East Texas where the tall pines grow ‘midst gently rolling hills and beautiful homes, where men are men, women are women, and the sheep are grateful. I love Texans, don’t you? They treat you as they would be treated. They say Sir and Ma’am a lot. They smile and laugh a lot. I’ll bet the hombre who posed for the original smiley face was born in Texas. They actually listen to what you have to say. They step right up, plant their feet, look you square in the eye, and tell the truth. Will Rogers once said, “Texas is the only place on earth where you can stand knee-deep in mud while dust blows in your face.” At Yuletide, Texas kiddies sit on Santa’s lap and ask him what he needs. A Texas oil baron had a dental check-up. The dentist said, “Your teeth are perfect.” The oilman replied, “Drill anyway—I feel lucky.”
The Sacred Spur Ranch is some spread. Bob Miller is the proud owner, a dead ringer for Richard Farnsworth. He’s got blue ribbons and loving cups wherever you look, prizes for his World Champion horses. He’s got an equestrian arena good for barrel racing. He told me to give it a go. I did. Great! Bob said, “Now try it on a horse.”
Linda Dotson Wooley, Sheb’s widow, was our charming hostess. That night we chowed-down by the chuck wagon at a tall table with no chairs. Reckon that’s where all-day horsebackers eat. Best gol-durned stew I ever experienced. Chef gave us the recipe. The secret’s in using ranch dressing. Figures. For dessert Ed Bruce knocked our socks off strummin’ and hummin’ one of his big hits, “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”…to a standing ovation, and there were plenty of chairs. Later, Babs and I honored a gathering with our classic version of “Streets of Laredo”. Me to Babs: “I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy.” Babs to me: “I can see by your outfit that you are one too.” Together: “We can see by our outfits we are both cowboys, so put ‘er there, pardner, and say howdy do.” (Hearty handclasps and hat tippin’.) I spot a purty gal in the front row, “But she has no outfit, so she is no cowboy.” Babs: “So lend her your outfit, and she’ll be one too.” Me: “Why, shore, she’ll have an outfit, so she’ll be a cowboy.” Babs: “But you’ll have no outfit, so then what are you?” Heh, heh. You really had to be there.
I fancied a nifty petting zoo featuring kindly, chawin’ llamas. Llamas in Texas? Yup, somehow, their hooves, trompin’ about on the plains, are good for the environment. And they keep wolves away—How? Moe says their hooves pack a socko punch, and they can kick hard. Bob says los lobos don’t cotton to llama smell. Oh, Oh! Head upwind. Here come the llamas!
Dealers galore. I bought a belt that looks like a coral snake. Babs bought a spiffy cowgal outfit. Did you hear about the Texan who bought his kid a cowboy outfit? A 10,000 acre ranch.
“Oh! Look! Isn’t that James Drury?” Yes, Ma’am. ‘Twas, indeed, the Virginian himself, up close and personal. On the last night we were all hugely entertained at an outdoor country-cowboy music concert featuring Ty Herndon and Linda Davis. Intermission was courtesy of God. He gave us an impressive thunder and lightning storm. Run for cover! In Texas if you don’t like the weather, wait a spell. It’ll change on ya. Sure enough. In less than 10 minutes the skies cleared, and the shindig continued onto the wee hours. We told all our new pals, “We’d love to stay the whole week through, but we really must be going.”
At the airport the sweet miss behind the ticket counter said she could see by our outfits that we were both cowboys. She allowed as how she grew up not watching many westerns. Then, with a wistful, far-off look, she fondly recalled a goofy TV cowpoke of yore who rode the range with lawbooks in his saddlebags. I told her. “Ma’am, you have made my day. Nay, you have made my year.”
The proceeds from Sheb’s Jamboree went to the big battle against leukemia. Sheb died from leukemia. Folks say Texans have hearts bigger than Stetsons. Some day leukemia will bite the dust along with all the other dread diseases of this planet. Know what that means? We’ll live forever. Where will we all fit? Why, Texas, sure enough. There’ll always be room for one more in Texas, truly a heaven on earth.