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From Vequero to Cowboy

Posted by on Jan 18, 2019

What’s the difference between Vequero or Cowboy? Cattle handlers were called many names with various meanings over the past 150 years, beginning with the great cattle drive era to present day. Today cowboy is the most familiar term, but in the old days it meant something entirely different. The great cattle drives as we know it really took off in 1866 when Texas pioneer and cattleman Charles Goodnight drove a herd to Fort Sumner and then on to Colorado thus establishing the Goodnight-Loving Trail. Cowboy literally meant a “boy” who tended the herds. Just barely in their teens, they were hired from the towns and farms to spend the next three to six months on the trail driving the valuable beef to northern markets. Much of the labor pool were second sons from European families whose first born had...

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Cast Iron Cookware

Posted by on Jan 4, 2019

Worth a Mention in Your Will Cast iron cookware has been so treasured for many generations, some women left specific instructions in their will for the care of their cookware. Without a doubt, the best wedding present we received was a large cast iron skillet. My sister-in-law said, “I wanted it big enough so that you could cook a whole chicken.” It’s so heavy, I have to use both hands to lift it. After 30+ years of marriage, it has obtained a smooth, shiny black patina and I love my cast iron skillet.   My grandmother used her cast iron pan to wilt lettuce. Chunks of leftover bacon, diced onion and garden-grown lettuce that she and I had picked that morning, stirred in re-heated bacon grease. I’ve never tasted anything like it since. My parents were extremely picky about...

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The Cowboy Stomp

Posted by on Dec 28, 2018

Stomp, Hoe-Down, Shin-Dig, Baile, Hoe-dig The “grapevine telegraph” spread the word through short grass country of upcoming social events. Neighbors rode for miles to share the gossip and pass the word along to other neighbors. If any cowboy who happened by your place mentioned the upcoming Hoe-Down, you could consider yourself invited. The hosting ranch prepared the bar-b-qued beef and the party-goers traveled for long distances bringing cakes and pies, dressed in their Sunday best sporting new haircuts and freshly laundered shirts. Folks living on the high plains rarely missed the chance to participate in these important social events. Long time Texas Panhandle historian and journalist, Laura Hamner, records one such cowboy dance that occurred in January in the town of Canyon, Texas. “January 1, 1897, did not fit into the calendar. Winter evidently had reached out grasping fingers,...

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Longfellow’s Christmas Bells

Posted by on Dec 21, 2018

The sorrow behind the joyful words of Longfellow’s song. As a writer, I’m always fascinated to learn the history behind the stories and how the events at the time might influence the  words that flow onto a blank page. Good or bad, joyous or devastating–strong emotions can evolve into powerful prose. A good example is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of my all time favorites. Longfellow’s Sorrow In the case of Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words to his poem on December 25, 1864.  The music and message we enjoy today is up-lifting. The words actually came from a very distraught Longfellow during one of the lowest times in his life. Tragedy Strikes Again Three years earlier, the summer of 1861, his beloved wife Fanny had tried to preserve her daughter’s hair clippings in wax.  In...

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Truck Cookies and Piles of Worms

Posted by on Dec 14, 2018

“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.” ELLEN GOODMAN “I’m putting a truck on mine,” proclaimed my eight-year-old. “That’s a great idea!” I said. Dump trucks are not ordinarily parked on holiday cookies, but expressing oneself is an important part of growing up. Besides, we only had this short afternoon to form life-long  memories, so let the merry making begin. “Don’t spread that out, Mom.  It’s supposed to be the lights,” ordered my five-year-old, as he licked green icing off his fingers.  Against my better judgment, I set aside a cookie with long, thin tubes, which looked more like a pile of worms. The time passed quickly as we added final touches from an assortment of sprinkles, gummies, and peppermint candies. We had...

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