Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam,
and the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
This past Sunday night when I was driving home after having had dinner with two sisters, a sister-in-law and a nephew, the program on my NPR station was folk music with that night’s theme of “Boots and Saddles” featuring cowboy songs. Some were even old recordings from the 1930s. As I sang along with those I knew like Gene Autry’s “Back in the Saddle Again,” I felt nostalgia from my childhood years when more than anything else I wanted to live on a ranch in the West with lots and lots of horses and be a cowgirl.
We used to go to Saturday matinees featuring westerns at the three or four theaters then in the town closest to us. Like Willie Nelson, who sings “My Heroes have always been Cowboys.” I loved western movies with cowboys like Gene Autry and The Lone Ranger, but the cowboy I loved most was Roy Rogers. My cousin, who lived across the street from me, also liked him. Dolores and I shared a comic book with his picture on the cover and we’d take turns sleeping with it under our pillow so we would dream of him. I don’t think that ever actually worked.
|Roy Rogers, Dale Evans & Trigger|
For years we galloped on our imaginary horses around our grandparents’ farm leaping over logs and ditches. One of my horses was named Wildfire and another was Lightning. I don’t remember the names of her horses. I read every horse book I could get my hands on; books like Thunderhead, My Friend Flicka, The Red Pony and many more whose titles I can’t remember now. When I got older, I started reading Zane Grey. Some time in my teens, I gave up that dream – not the dream of having a horse someday, but the dream of being a cowgirl on a ranch with hundreds of horses out west. I’m not sure when I quit galloping everywhere while hitting my thigh to make my imaginary horses go faster. I’m guessing it was before I hit my teen years.
So for a while during that hour long drive home, I sang the cowboy songs whose words I remembered like “The Streets of Laredo” and even yodeled to “The Cattle Call” – not something I would do if I weren’t traveling alone.
The next day my sister called to see if I’d enjoyed the evening and the food she’d fixed. I told her how much I did and how perfect everything was. Then I mentioned I was in the middle of writing a blog for this week and what it was about. Elaine started laughing and said she and Suzanne, two years younger than her, and our cousin, Linda, the same age as Elaine, did the same thing. She said Suzanne’s horse was Volcano, Linda’s was Tornado, and since they took all the good names, she came up with Erosion. I’m still laughing over that. She’d read and enjoyed the same books I did. I had no idea they did the same things as our cousin Dolores and I did, but then Elaine’s seven years younger than I am and my other sister is nine years younger so by that time I was a teenager and well beyond those childish activities.
What childhood dreams did you have?