Tricks of the Old West

Well, my fascination with the Frontier and its many incarnations has yet to cease. I just finished a great book, “Last Go Round” by Ken Kesey. I found a copy in a record/used book store in Lincoln Square and never having heard of it, I was drawn in by the cover. It took me a while to start it, but I would say it is most certainly “A Real Western” through and through. My favorite Western Mythmaker, Buffalo Bill, makes an appearance as a show businessman and villain to the three rodeo champions and heroes: George Fletcher, Jackson Sundown and Jonathon Spain. The story is a perfect mix of history and imaginative retelling of the first ever World Championship Rodeo held in Pendleton, Oregon in 1911, in which a black man, a Nez Perce man and a white Southern man go head to head in a contest that even allowed women to compete. Towards the end, George Fletcher pulls a stunt during his final ride in the rodeo that embarrasses Bill Cody. The line  struck me because it rings true with my own upbringing:

“Buffalo Bill tries to ignore the shabby visitor and this amuses the crowd more than ever. They’re still heehawing when George comes bowlegging out the gate. He’s lugging the saddle parts in his horseblanket. I have to ask him if he made that throw at Buffalo Bill on purpose, or was it just a lucky accident.

“‘My pappy used to say, “Son, everything is an accident–“‘ he digs the blindfold from a hip pocket and hands it to me. ‘”The trick is making believe it’s on purpose.”‘”

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