MargaretBrownley-headerThe only good reason to ride a bull is to meet a nurse

Recently I read that the American cowboy wouldn’t have survived “lonesome” had it not been for his ihorse“guts and his hoss.” The author got it only partly right. For the cowboy had one more weapon of survival under his Stetson: his sense of humor.

Seeing the funny side of life in the Old West was just as vital, if not more so, than a cowboy’s horse or six-gun. Those early buckaroos survived long hours in the saddle under the most difficult conditions with jokes, horseplay and cock and bull stories.

fireNo campsite was complete without a tall tale or two. Cowboys didn’t experience weather like the rest of us. No sirree. One cowpuncher told about winter being so cold they couldn’t hear the foreman’s orders. “The words froze as they came outta his mouth. We had to break them off one by one so we could tell what he was sayin’.”

The wind was a popular subject. “You think this wind is bad? You ain’t seen nothin’.” Cowboys talked about feeding their chickens buckshot so they wouldn’t blow away in the wind. Not to be outdone some claimed it was so windy a chicken laid the same egg five times.

Don’t dig for water under the outhouse.

California’s current drought is nothing compared to what those cowboys of yesteryear experienced. “One teethdrought was so bad the cactus took to a-chasing after dogs.”

Texas was reportedly the healthiest state. So healthy, in fact, no one ever died there naturally. They needed the assistance of a bullet to accomplish that feat. More than one Texan was caught crossing the border just so he could “ride to the great beyond.”

Perhaps the most amusing rivalries in the Old West pitted cowboys against railroaders. Cowboys had little patience with the “bullheaded Irishmen” who stampeded their cattle. In turn, railroaders thought cowboys a bunch of troublemakers—and for good reason.

One railcar filled with smoke when a cowboy attempted to cook a steak on the train’s coal stove. Another cowpoke, on the way to meeting his best gal, shocked women passengers by stripping down to his long johns so he could don his new suit.

When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example,

he hands out good advice.

One foreman befuddled railroad officials by sending a wire requesting cars to ship 2,500 sea lions. The foremen figured his cattle had swum across so many streams that “sea lions” aptly described his sirloins.

Railroaders dished out as good as they got. One cowboy learned the hard way not to travel without a ticket when the train he was riding came to a screeching stop and left him stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Another cowboy boarded a train and when asked for his ticket pulled out his six-gun, declaring it the only ticket he needed. The conductor convinced him otherwise by returning with a rifle and sticking it under the cowboy’s nose.

Cowboys didn’t just laugh at these antics like regular folks. Oh, no. They’d sit ’round a campfire “grinnin’ like a weasel peekin’ in a henhouse.”

So when is the last time you grinned like a weasel? What tall tale, anecdote or family memory would you share around a campfire?

What they’re saying about Undercover Bride

Expect some fun reading while the detective team attempts to unmask a pair of train robbers and murderers. That’s how Margaret Brownley writes. Western mystery with humor rolling throughout, like tumbleweeds on Main Street.-Harold Wolf, Amazon




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20 thoughts on “HOW THE WEST WAS FUN!”

  1. Loved this post Margaret! Made me think of my uncle Forrest, a Midwest farmer who had a sense of humor like these cowboys! He always had a smile on his face and a quip about the weather even in the direst of weather conditions. Seemed you couldn’t catch him “down.”

    There are several tales we tell in my family, but one is about a time I went fishing on a charter boat. My younger brother and I were on opposite sides of the boat and our lines got tangled underneath, and as we tugged, each thinking we had a huge fish or shark beneath the boat when my little brother gave over his pole to a stronger man beside him. At that precise moment, I gave a tug and he lost his pole to the sea…He came running around to tell me completely upset and scared he would be punished when, wha-laa…up I cranked his pole. Over the years the story had stretched and morphed until it was my pole that got keel-hauled. So it depends on who is telling the story as to how it goes now. 🙂

    • Hi Kathryn, I got a good laugh from your fish tale. Isn’t it interesting how family stories evolve over the years depending on who’s telling the story? That’s the fun of it.

  2. Margaret, these are so funny! I don’t know where you find this. Loved the Life is Short image. So funny. No one’s better at exaggeration than Texans. They give us lessons in school. LOL Or at least they try.

    My mother believed in ghosts and she loved telling about one during the Depression. She and some of my family watched a man coming down the road. Before he got to them, he turned and disappeared into a large bush at the side of the road. After a while of watching and he didn’t come out, they went to investigate but never found him or anything in the bush. I think it makes a good campfire story.

    Wishing you tons of success and happiness!

    • Hi Linda, love your ghost story. I had something similar happen to me and it really spooks you out. It does, as you say, come in handy around the campfire.

      Much happiness and continued success to you, too!

  3. When my family first moved to Kentucky my 2nd son Caleb was 6 and as we were driving around town we starting seeing horse statues all over the place and my six year old says, “look frozen horses”. He’s 14 now and we mess with him from time to time.

  4. Great post, Margaret! I loved all these little jokes — made me smile, too. As far as grinin’ like a weasel, I’d say it’s my husband that keeps me entertained with many a tall tale. You’d think I would’ve learned by now how he loves to tease and exaggerate, but I never seem to. : )

  5. For me, humor has always been a necessary element in life and the books I read. When things get bad, it can be the only thing that keeps you sane. You will hear a lot of joking around among those in high risk or tense jobs – medicine, military, fire fighters, law enforcement. It is often a dark humor, but it cuts the tension and helps them forget the seriousness of their job s for a short time.

    The humor in your books is one of the reasons I enjoy them so much. It goes a long way to set the atmosphere and help you learn more about the characters.

    One story that makes the rounds at our family get togethers was told by our mom. When she was a teen (in the 1930’s), she was caring for her younger cousins out at the family’s farm. It was late and dark when she heard a noise outside near the room she was in. She looked out the window and saw two large, glowing eyes staring back at her. She never said, admitted, she screamed, but it scared her badly. It was only the horse that had gotten out of the pasture and decided to check out the house.

    • Hi Patricia, I absolutely agree; Humor does keep us sane. I love the story about your Mom. What a scare!

      Reminds me of the time I hung a Christmas ornament over the kitchen sink. It was an angel. What I didn’t know was that it was designed to glow in the dark. I got up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water and there was this bright glowing angel. It almost scared me to death.

  6. Thanks for the fun stories and laughs. I’ll be repeating the “Life is short” saying a lot. Best wishes for your books!

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