Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Western Wisdom

I know this is an art blog. So why is there an old picture of a cowboy on this post? It's someone close to our hearts around here...Hopalong Cassidy, one of my husband's favorite cowboys.

My husband's grandfather was a real-life cowboy. His son, in turn, spent his childhood in the western lifestyle, working on ranches, riding horses and carrying a gun. Hearing all the stories from these men, my husband devoured as many Hopalong and other cowboy books as he could find as a kid. They were all easily 40-50 years older than he was at the time, but he enjoyed the stories, the adventures,..the heroes.

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 100 years since cowboys in books and later on the silver screen captured the imaginations of a generation of girls and boys. The stories were straightforward and the lessons clear - be honest, brave, responsible, work hard and help your neighbor. Oh, and be polite to ladies.

I did not grow up reading about the classic cowboys, but I was a devoted fan of those who appeared in the movies and on TV in later years like The Lone Ranger and Gene Autry...and of course, James Arness. I liked him so much that when we moved to Missouri, my main concern was that "they might not have Gunsmoke". For kids like me, Matt Dillon (U.S. Marshal, not teen idol) embodied all that was courageous, honorable...and handsome.

Recently, I stumbled across the list below from a Hopalong Cassidy promotional website and decided to print it and frame for my son's room. It will go perfectly with all of the western ephemera that he will surely inherit from his dad -- felt hats, Zane Grey books, Red Ryder BB gun, etc. But I realized how true the advice is and how we've somehow lost our need to rise to these standards. Sadly, they seem outdated. But I long for a day when we might return to teaching our children thoughtful principles like this.

So, here's to a simpler time, at least in our imaginations. When a publicity company would even think to print and distribute a "creed" like this -- and the public would actually buy it...and follow it. Here's also to timeless concepts such as right and wrong and thinking of others before yourself. What could be so bad about all that?

Hopalong Cassidy's "Creed for American Boys and Girls"

1. The highest badge of honor a person can wear is honesty. Be mindful at all times.

2. Your parents are the best friends you have. Listen to them and obey their instructions.

3. If you want to be respected, you must respect others. Show good manners in every way.

4. Only through hard work and study can you succeed. Don't be lazy.

5. Your good deeds always come to light. So don't boast or be a show off.

6. If you waste time or money today, you will regret it tomorrow. Practice thrift in all ways.

7. Many animals are good and loyal companions. Be friendly and kind to them.

8. A strong, healthy body is a precious gift. Be neat and clean.

9. Our country's laws are made for your protection. Observe them carefully.

10. Children in many foreign lands are less fortunate than you. Be glad and proud you are an American.


The Farmer's Wife said...

Shelly, this is SUCH a good post! And I love the Creed. So much so that I think I'll print it out for my kids AND myself.

It seems like so many of the kid icons today are applauded for being rude, disrespectful to others and themselves, selfish and so forth. My brother often played that he was Matt Dillon and none of us wanted to be Festus... But what a great role model! (I had no idea that Miss Kitty was NOT a great role model, until I got much, in my 20's.)

Great post!
And with regards to this being an art blog? I think all the things that make up the art that we so love, springs from good things like this. This is part of what makes you one of my favorite artists!

Shelly said...

I'm laughing at your story about playing Gunsmoke as kids, Mary! I didn't get that Kitty was a bad girl either until years later! It's so true that all the little things like this affect what we create. That must be why I like The Chronicles so much!

Larissa said...

Awesome list for the kiddos! I think I'd like ol' Hopalong...

Larissa said...

Hoping you all are ok!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Shelly, times have changed...
This was lovely!
Adding your blog to mine and hope we can connect on Facebook too!
Diane Knott