Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Living By The Cowboy Code?

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago I saw a couple of young boys at the Ventura Harbor walking with their parents. Not sure how old the kids were but probably about the same age I was in the photo. One of them had a cell phone on a cord around his neck. His brother, a year or so older, had both a cell phone and a flash drive on cords around his neck. Most of you probably know that a flash drive is a little device to which you can download vast amounts of data from your computer so that you can carry around the most important digital details of your life with you at all times. These little dudes were most definitely cool. Of course, I was the coolest kid on my block at that age also. I wore a skate key around my neck on an old shoelace. (see photo) Even when I wasn’t skating. Yeah.. I know that you’re wishing you’d known me back in the days when I was one of the cool kids...

The milkman would come first thing in the morning so the last thing you’d do at night would be to put out the empties on the front porch along with the little printed card where you checked off what you wanted the milkman to leave. I’d get up before my parents, sneak out to the front porch, check off “Chocolate Milk” and sneak back to bed. My mom would get angry because the milkman kept delivering something that she hadn’t ordered. One time she was up early when she heard the clanking of bottles outside and rushed out to confront the poor guy as he was delivering my chocolate milk. Once she saw the order card for the morning, the scam was revealed and the little chocolate-loving, criminal master-mind had been caught. Not cool... 

I spent the best summers of my life in that neighborhood. It was filled with young kids and we’d gather with our Roy Rogers cap pistols in the vacant lots to play Cowboys and Indians (today of course we would be playing “Cowboys and Indigenous Peoples”). Today, children take their bullet-resistant backpacks to school and afterwards wait behind security fencing for their mother or legally-authorized adult to pick them up. It was different back then. I walked the two miles home and often stopped at the corner soda fountain for a root beer. There was very little crime and strangers said hello and people were nice to each other. My career goal back then was to be a cowboy and I’d spend my days at home dressed like one of my TV heroes. But my mother insisted I dress nicely and forbid me to wear my Roy Rogers cowboy bandanna to school. Of course it was easy to hide the bandanna in my Lone Ranger metal lunch box, but I was busted when my mom saw the fourth grade class photo and I was the only one wearing a genuine Roy Rogers cowboy bandanna. Yep. Too cool even in school!

Okay.. Sure I was an altar boy from the age of nine but I was far from the perfect child. I suppose the worst thing I ever did was to become addicted to coke. Yeah I know what you’re thinking but it was surprisingly easy to do in those days. All of my friends knew where to get it. No secrets in our ‘hood. We’d tell our moms we were going to a friend’s house but we’d meet at the corner gas station. You had to go into the dark corner of the garage where you couldn’t be seen from the street. We’d nervously look around to make sure no one’s mom was pulling into the station as we took the dime out of our pocket and slipped it into the slot. The “Vendo” machine had no choices – there was only one lever to push down on. The heavy, thick glass bottle skidded down the chute and made a loud “clunk”as it hit the end. It was icy cold and condensation would immediately form on the bottle if it was a hot summer afternoon. You slanted the bottle into the opener, pushed down and heard the metallic clank as the cap dropped into the red, sheet-metal cap holder. You may not understand my addiction because Coca-Cola today tastes nothing like it did fifty-five years ago – not even like today's “Mexican” coke. We’d place the empty bottles in the special wooden bottle holder and sneak back home hoping our moms wouldn’t smell the coke on our breath. Since I’m confessing my bad deeds to you, I also used to chew Black Jack Chewing Gum which my mom prohibited me from doing because it would “rot my teeth.” But sometimes those of us rebellious bad kids were the coolest. Of course you could argue that because I really wasn’t all that bad maybe I wasn’t really all that cool. You might be right about that... 

What a different world it was in the fifties in comparison to today. I was thinking about this last week after coming across the Gene Autry Cowboy Code. This hung above my bed when I was a child, but I’d forgotten about it. Gene Autry, the “Singing Cowboy” was raised by his grandfather who was a Baptist preacher. Autry wrote in his biography that he was “not a devoutly religious man” but I can attach Bible scripture to Autry’s first nine Cowboy Code values. (Not the 10th because the Bible tells us that we are first and foremost citizens of the kingdom of God.)

If it were up to me, the next president of our United States would not recite the “oath of office.” On Inauguration Day, he or she would place their left hand on the Bible, raise their right hand, and recite the Gene Autry Cowboy Code. Can you imagine an America where we no longer hated each other, but treated each other with respect and kindness? I think our County would be a better, much nicer place to live in if our next elected president and all of us in American would agree to live by the Cowboy Code!

To Print the Gene Autry Cowboy Code,touch or click HERE For a PDF Version 

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