There was a period during my late teens when I was convinced that I’d been born in the wrong time and place. I was sure that I should have been a cowboy. Or maybe the marshal of Dodge City. I was a little unclear on the details, but the whole idea of having been around in the Wild West fascinated me.
I loved all the TV and movie westerns and also enjoyed reading about the old days, especially those books that told a truer story than what Hollywood put out. For example, I loved reading about Wyatt Earp and his brothers and their “heroic” showdown at Tombstone’s OK Corrall — but I learned that it actually took place elsewhere and was probably far from heroic. In fact, Wyatt and his bunch had to stand trial afterward.
I also enjoyed growing my sideburns long and wearing a cowboy hat — or at least I did during the periods when my family took vacation trips out West. I didn’t have the nerve to wear it at home in the Midwest, but on our Western travels I’d wear my ol’ Stetson (actually a cheap copy), squint at everybody, spit occasionally, and start saying “yep” a lot.
Of course, I outgrew all that.