Good times were had at Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering

On the Back Porch

A new year started, and it was already the end of February of 2019 when my young bride Stella and I began the nine hour trip to Alpine, Texas to be a part of the 33 rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The bad news is that this would be the last year for this historic event.

The folk that kept it going had all gotten older and some had health problems and the general consensus was that it was time to pee on the fire and call in the dogs, so they did. But a new group came forward, determined to keep this icon of our western heritage alive and so, the third week-end of February found us making the long trip to Alpine, Texas.

Bob Saul put together an idea and some willing helpers and February 20 th was the initial start of the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas, where you pert near hear as many “Howdys” as you do on the campus of my beloved Texas A&M!

Yes, you do have to want to go to Alpine when you make that trip, because it takes a spell and many miles on the road. But, everywhere you look is a “Kodak Moment!”

Your time is literally filled with good western cowboy music and the cowboy poetry takes you back to yesteryear in the old west.

We had great visits with a passel of folks that have now become “old” friends. Now, before you start hurrahing me about that “old” term, let me just say that we have become friends with a lot of folks across Our Great Land that we might have never met had we not started enjoying cowboy poetry. And some haven’t reached a point in their life where they might be considered “old.”

For instance, Ezra Staart, a young man from Wyoming, just 16 and an up and coming poet in his own right. He was willing to take advice from some of us “Old-timers” as we mentored him. Friday and Saturday was filled with poets and songsters alike plying their trade and the nights found us in jam sessions in the lobby of the Quality Inn at the end of fun-filled days. 

Gatherings like this not only give you opportunity to reunite with old friends like Dick and Jane Bowersox from the Houston area, that told us about good memories they had when they were hunters on the March Ranch, where my brother Bill spent a lot of years trying to keep the lions from killing his calves. And then, there were friends Terry Nash and Dennis Russell, ranchers from Colorado, that we have known and had the chance to enjoy their poetry and songs for several years.

Of course, there were Andy Nelson, a radio personality from Kanab, Utah that we met in 2012 and Jarle Kvale from Dunsieth, North Dakota, that I was in a play with at Durango, Colorado. You always have a chance to meet new friends like Paul and Sherry from Connecticut or the youngsters, Brigid and Johnny Reedy from Whitehall Montana. And I can’t leave out Red and Danny Steagall that are longtime acquaintances. I could go on, but its poem time.

Here is a poem that I wrote throughout our stay that will help you enjoy and be there as we ride the western trail in search of a rhyme!
Trailin’ To Alpine, Texas

That wind last night was shore floppin’ the fly!
I figgered stuff would be scattered to an’ fro,
but Cooky pointed the tongue at the north sky
an’ tied down most things that tended to blow.
Cooky was bangin’ the pots an’ the pans
long afore there was color in the east.
So there was plenty hot coffee for the hands
that straggled in from night herd with the beasts.

Today, we’d get to the end of our trails,
to join others there at the gather.
Tonight will find us tellin’ a few tales,
shore looks like it’s gonna be good weather!
Well, this day shore ‘nuff started with a smile!
Our camp cook is a feller named J.R. Smith,
to eat his vittles, we traveled many a mile,
and he’ll shore do to ride the river with!
Every hour sees more outfits settin’ up camp,
an’ some of them hands is shore ‘nuff slick.
So somewheres around dusk we’ll light the lamps,
an’ get into plyin’our trade purty quick.
Pride in our western heritage is shown,
always kept alive in our heart an’ mind,
They say Texas was forged from hoof an’ bone,
an’ the west was won as they intertwined.
Shucks, we’ll have pickers an’ songsters, an’ poets too,
an’ the crowds will clap an’ stomp while they cheer.
Of course, most folks will have fun through an’ through,
that’s why they put in the miles to come here!
An’ come here they do, knowin’ it will be great.
Some for the very first time to find the west
from out of the country an’ out of state,
findin’ Alpine hospitality the best.
All the good talent that is on display,
helps keep our Western heritage goin’.
And the super great time we had today,
is because God’s Blessin’s are flowin’.
All the songs have been sung and the poems said,
friends have been hugged and we have shook every hand,
we pack the rigs an’ pull for the home spread,
an’ say so-long to this fine western land.
Then the thought comes on us as we travel this sod,
how blessed we are that so many call us friend,
we drop to a knee an’ give thanks to God,
our western heritage will never end.

In fact, this trip can never be complete,
without feeling thankful to our God above,
for the many blessings that He lays at our feet,
with the folk and the way of life that we love!
Folks, it is up to us to keep it alive,
so from all you hands, can I get an AMEN!
Our way of life will shore ‘nuff survive!
Happy trails to you… ‘til we meet again.
© Ol’ Jim Cathey
God Bless each of you and God Bless America and our Western Heritage!

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