Every child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s knew all about the wild west. Television and Holly Wood was all about sweeping landscapes and gun toting hero’s…Indians, wagon trains, stage coaches and bad guys of the era. Every youngster of that time would have played Cowboys and Indians, had at least one Cowboy hat, or coon skin cap, pair of fancy buckled boots, silver cap gun, a roll of red poppers loaded into the breach ready for action, and listened to songs about Davy Crockett at the Alamo on the radio.
Saturday morning’s were all about Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and Hop-a-long Cassidy. The ‘Old West’ was pervasive in the minds and dreams of an entire generation of youth…and yet so few people will ever experience in adulthood the big country that filled their backyard childhood fantasies. What kid didn’t want to ride the 25 cent mustang that sat outside the Safeway while Mom shopped inside?
So I find myself in the blessed condition to be reliving my childhood Saturdays on the back roads of East Texas, as my wife and I road trip through rattlesnake country and ranch land west of Ft. Worth and Dallas. The rolling hills are just as red and lonesome and the skies are still as blue as they were in Louis L’Amour’s western fiction about the plains in his ‘duster’ novels, or the scrappy films of John Ford, the Longhorn cattle are where they should be and wistful sagebrush still tumble across the road as we speed by.
What I like is that the world outside my window is authentic, and not a Hollywood or Disneyland fantasy for tourism, in fact there is precious little of that. The highways west of Dallas, going towards Abilene and West Texas, like the TX 51, the I 20 or the TX 377 are regarded as ‘farm roads’, we find ourselves alone amidst the fence lines, purple heather , burned scrub and winding asphalt. The history of the Old West is alive and well for anyone with the will to brave the expense of getting here and traveling the country. These by-ways back roads are peppered with famous and infamous towns alike, where famous names trod the boardwalks .