Remembering cowboy commandments and glowing campfire perfection


Remember the good old days of the cowboy commandments?
It seems like such a long time ago when every child wanted to be a cowboy who stood up for all that was good, honorable and right. Those wonderful American cowboys served as such great heroes for so many of my generation.
Just the other day I ran across Hopalong Cassidy’s “Creed for American Boys and Girls,” and thought Farm and Dairy readers might enjoy it.
It reads as follows:
1. The highest badge of honor a person can wear is honesty. Be mindful at all times.
2. Your parents are the best friends you have. Listen to them and obey their instructions.
3. If you want to be respected, you must respect others. Show good manners in every way.
4. Only through hard work and study can you succeed. Don’t be lazy.
5. Your good deeds always come to light. So don’t boast or be a show off.
6. If you waste time or money today, you will regret it tomorrow. Practice thrift in all ways.
7. Many animals are good and loyal companions. Be friendly and kind to them.
8. A strong, healthy body is a precious gift.
9. Our country’s laws are made for your protection. Observe them carefully.
10. Children in many foreign lands are less fortunate than you. Be glad and proud you are an American.
I remember many times playing the role of a victim of some sort while my sisters and cousins got to be the heroic cowboys who went through all sorts of agony to “rescue” me. I wanted to be the cowboy in the worst way! I was told countless times that my turn would come, but that the youngest one simply always had to be the little old woman who stayed on the porch and was captured by hobo bad guys and later rescued by the intelligent cowboys who could artfully follow a trail of clues.
Bubbling quicksand. Or, I was to be the school girl who fell in the creek and was nearly swallowed by the bubbling quicksand. The scenes changed, but the final curtain call always brought the boy cousins and my sisters running to my side on their amazing horses, just in time to save the day.
We learned from the patriotic cowboys of the day: Gene Autry, who wrote “the 10 commandments of the cowboy,” and Roy Rogers, who penned “the rider’s rules.” All carried similar themes of honesty, patriotism, gratitude and respect for self and others.
While aching to be daring, dashing cowboys, we also learned to strive to be good citizens that others just might look up to with admiration and respect.
Couldn’t be better. And if there was anything better than a cowboy with an incredible horse, it was a cowboy with a beautiful singing voice and a perfectly tuned guitar, sitting beside a glowing campfire at the end of an adventurous and successful day, cowboy hat tipped back at a jaunty angle.
Ah, that’s perfection!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.