Archive for December, 2014

“When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example,
he hands out good advice.”
—Old West proverb, taken from
“Old West Wisdom, Old Sayings, and Famous Cowboy Quotes”

In my previous post I began a quiz titled “Twenty Telltale Signs That You Might Be Country-Western.” Since I only presented sixteen of those signs, here are numbers seventeen through twenty followed by a quiz on grade-B movie/TV cowboys, a quiz on old Country-Western songs, and concluding with a quiz on John Wayne Western movies.

You might be Country-Western if . . . (see answers section below)

  1. You know the meaning and derivation of each of these Western terms: Bronco, Cayuse, Corral, Hoosegow, Lariat, Mesa, Remuda, Sombrero, Vaquero, Yodel.

Quiz on Grade-B Movie/TV Cowboys 

“Winter must be cold for those who have no warm memories.”
—British actress Deborah Kerr in
classic movie An Affair to Remember

You might be Country-Western if . . . (see answers section below)

  1. You can identify each of the following cowboys and their horses, leading ladies, sidekicks, and theme songs (Hint: Jot down your answers):

18a. Called “The Singing Cowboy,” this Western actor who gained his fame in the 1930s was from Texas but also lived in Oklahoma where a small town was named after him. He was also known for singing the children’s holiday favorites “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus,” the last of which he wrote. He went on to become a tremendously successful businessman who owned a professional baseball team.

18b. Billed as “The King of the Cowboys,” this singer/actor, born Leonard Franklin Slye in Ohio in 1911, became famous primarily in the 1940s and 50s. Known for riding a famous Golden Palomino horse and doing riding and gun slinging tricks, he began his long and successful movie and TV career by singing with a Western band called the Sons of the Pioneers.

18c. A bit older than most of the Western heroes of his time, the veteran actor from Tulsa, Oklahoma, sported a full head of white hair, wore a black outfit and hat at a time when only the “bad guys” wore such attire, carried a pair of silver six-shooters, and rode a white horse.

18d. This icon of the Old West was known for his black mask, his white stead, his silver bullets, his “faithful Indian companion,” and his distinctive yell to his horse and his classical musical theme.

18e. Adored by both girls and boys this handsome dark cowboy had a French name, wore all black, rode a black horse, and was nicknamed for his bullwhip which he taught Harrison Ford how to use in the Indiana Jones movies.

18f. The only “Mexican” Saturday-matinee Western champion, this handsome young vaquero with a big sombrero had an older Mexican sidekick with whom he always ended each movie and TV show by calling each other’s name: “Oh, Pancho!” “Oh, C_______!”

18g. This all-American rough-looking red-haired cowboy became famous for the immensely popular kids’ pellet rifle named for him as featured in the perennial kids’ movie A Christmas Story and for his young Indian sidekick played by later TV actor Robert Blake.

18h. Billed as “The Arizona Cowboy,” this Western actor was indeed an authentic cowboy who rode a horse named Koko and was introduced to fans before his first movie by none other than “The King of the Cowboys.”

18i. This good-looking Western star also rode a black horse with a prominent wide breastplate across its front quarters and was known for later providing the voice of Mr. Ed, the talking horse on that popular TV show by that name.

18j. Tall, slim, stalwart, and tip-lipped, this Western actor wore a set of twin pistols turned backwards in their holsters and went by the nickname of “Wild Bill.”

Quiz on Old Country-Western Songs

“Tonight my thoughts are slidin’
down the trail of distant years.”
Roy Rogers, “The Cowboy Night Herd Song”

You might be Country-Western, if  . . . (see answers section below)

  1. You can fill in the missing words in the following old Country-Western songs (Hint: Jot down your answers):

19a. “As I walked out in the streets of _______.”

19b. “Just remember the _____ _____ ____ and the cowboy who loved you so true.”

19c. “Oh my darling, Oh my darling, Oh my darling ______________.”

19d. “Just drifting along with the tumbling ___________.”

19e. “__________ riders in the sky.”

19f. “I’m an old cowhand from the ______ __________.”

19g. “Come a ti-yi-________ ________ ___.”

19h. “I’m headin’ for the last _______.”

19i. “Git along little ________ . . . you know _______ will be your new home.”

19j. “I’ve got spurs that _______, ________, ______.”

19k. “He’s a rootin’, tootin’, son of a gun from Arizona, ________ cowboy Joe.”

19l. “Gimme Eastern trimming where women are women and you’re all mine in ______ ____ _____.”

19m. (And my father’s favorite Western song sung by Eddie Arnold) “He rides in the sun till his day’s work is done . . . singin’ his _______ call.”

John Wayne Movie Quiz

“All the screen actors behaved like real gentlemen. They didn’t drink, they didn’t smoke. When they knocked the bad guy down, they always stood with their fists up, waiting for the heavy to get back on his feet. I decided I was going to drag the bad guy to his feet and keep hitting him.” 
—John Wayne, from Brainy Quotes

John Wayne in 1965 studio photo

John Wayne in 1965 studio photo

You might be Country-Western if . . . (see answers section below)

  1. You know the names of the characters that John Wayne played in these famous Western movies (Hint: Jot down your answers):

20a. The Alamo

20b. Big Jake

20c. El Dorado

20d. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence

20e. Red River

20f. The Searchers

20g. True Grit

The John Ford trilogy:

20h. Fort Apache

20i. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

20j. Rio Grande


  1. Following are the meaning and derivation of some common cowboy terms (marked by source as M-W for Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and TFD for The Free Dictionary):

Bronco: “A wild horse from North America.” Source: Mexican Spanish, meaning literally “rough, wild.” First Known Use: 1850 (M-W).

Cayuse: “A small Native American pony used by cowboys.” Source: The name of a Native-American tribe in the Northwest United States (TFD).

Corral: “An enclosure for confining livestock.” Source: Spanish (TFD).

Hoosegow: “Jail.” Source: Spanish juzgado (M-W).

Lariat: “A rope for picketing grazing horses or mules.” Source: Spanish la reata (TFD).

Mesa: “A flat-topped elevation with one or more clifflike sides, common in the southwest.” Source: Spanish word for “table” (TFD).

Remuda: “A herd of horses from which ranch hands select their mounts.” Source: American Spanish (TFD).

Sombrero: “A large straw or felt hat with a broad brim and tall crown, worn especially in Mexico and the American Southwest.” Source: Spanish, perhaps from sombra, meaning “shade” (TFD).

Vaquero:  “Herdsman, cowboy.” Source: Spanish — First Known Use: 1826 (M-W).

Yodel: “To sing so that the voice fluctuates rapidly between
the normal chest voice and a falsetto.” Source: German jodeln, from German dialectal jo, meaning “an exclamation of delight” (TFD). (To hear Roy Rogers yodeling “The Cowboy Night Herd Song,” click here.)

18. Following are the identifications of the Grade-B Western movie/TV cowboys:

18a. Gene Autry, whose horse was named Champion, whose most popular female lead was Gail Davis (from my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas), whose theme song was “I’m Back in the Saddle Again,” and whose two most famous sidekicks were Pat Buttram (who later played Mr. Haney in the popular TV series Green Acres) and Frog Milhouse (also known as Smiley Burnette, who appeared in a popular TV series titled Petticoat Junction.)

Gene Autry, "The Singing Cowboy"

Gene Autry, “The Singing Cowboy”

18b. Roy Rogerswhose horse was named Trigger, whose dog was named Bullet, and whose female lead was Dale Evans whom he later married. His theme song was “Happy Trails to You,” and his most famous sidekicks were George “Gabby” Hayes, Andy Devine, and Pat Brady.

Roy Rogers with his leading lady and wife Dale Evans

Roy Rogers, “The King of the Cowboys,” with his leading lady and wife Dale Evans (to magnify, click on the photo)

18c. Hopalong Cassidy, a popular movie and TV hero whose horse was named Topper. One of the actors who appeared in seven “Hoppy” movies and later went on to become a Hollywood legend in his own right was Robert Mitchum.

18d. The Lone Rangerplayed on TV by Clayton Moore, whose horse was named Silver, whose “faithful Indian companion” was Tonto played by Jay Silverheels, whose cry was “Hiyo, Silver, away!” and whose classical theme song was “The William Tell Overture.”

The Lone Ranger and his horse Silver

The Lone Ranger and his horse Silver

18e. Lash LaRuethe Louisiana cowboy whose sidekick was Fuzzy Q. Jones played by Al St. John.

Lash LaRue in his black outfit and hat and carrying his famous bull whip

Lash LaRue in his black outfit and hat and carrying his famous bull whip

18f. The Cisco Kid, played by Duncan Renaldo who was actually not Mexican but was born Renault Renaldo Duncan in Romania. His sidekick Pancho was played by Leo Carrillo, twenty-four years his senior.

18g. Red Ryder, a comic book Western hero who was played in the movies by several different actors and whose young sidekick Little Beaver, a Native American boy, was also played by more than one actor. Another of the fictional characters in his movies was an older woman called simply “The Duchess.”

18h. Rex Allen, whose sidekicks included Buddy Ebsen (later to gain fame as poor-mountaineer-turned-millionaire Jed Clampett in the hugely popular TV series The Beverly Hillbillies), and Slim Pickens (who went on to appear in many movies, notably as the cowboy bomber pilot in Doctor Strangelove and in the comic Western Blazing Saddles).

Rex Allen, "The Arizona Cowboy"

Rex Allen, “The Arizona Cowboy”

18i. Allan “Rocky” Lane, whose horse was named Blackjack and who made eighty-two film and TV appearances, mostly in Westerns. His last roles were in voice-over acting as in the TV series of the talking horse named Mr. Ed.

18j. “Wild Bill” Elliotwho “took over the role for which he would be best remembered, that of Red Ryder in a series of sixteen movies about the famous comic strip cowboy and his young Indian companion Little Beaver (played in Elliott’s films by Bobby Blake). Elliott played the role for only two years, but would forever be associated with it. Elliott’s trademark was a pair of six guns worn butt-forward in their holsters.”

19. Following are the missing words from the old Country-Western songs (in italics):

19a. “As I walked out in the streets of Laredo.”

19b. “Just remember the Red River Valley and the cowboy who loved you so true.”

19c. “Oh my darling, Oh my darling, Oh my darling Clementine.”

19d. “Just drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweed.”

19e. “Ghost riders in the sky.”

19f. “I’m an old cowhand from the Rio Grande.”

19g. “Come a ti-yi-yippee-yippee-yay.

19h. “I’m headin’ for the last roundup.

19i. “Git along little dogie (pronounced “dough-gie,” a motherless or abandoned calf) . . . you know Wyoming will be your new home.”

19j. “I’ve got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle.”

19k. “He’s a rootin’, tootin’, son of a gun from Arizona, ragtime cowboy Joe.”

19l. “Gimme Eastern trimming where women are women and you’re all mine in buttons and bows.

19m. (And my father’s favorite Western song sung by Eddie Arnold) “He rides in the sun till his day’s work is done . . . singin’ his cattle call.”

20. Following are the answers to the John Wayne quiz on his name in various Western movies:

20a. The Alamo: Davy Crockett

20b. Big Jake: Jacob McCandles

20c. El Dorado: Cole Thornton (Do you recall his name in the classic John Ford film The Quiet Man with Wayne playing a Yankee returning to his home in Ireland? Answer: Sean Thornton.)

20d. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence: Tom Doniphon

20e. Red River: Thomas Dunson

20f. The Searchers: Ethan Edwards

20g. True Grit: U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn

The John Ford Trilogy:

20h. Fort Apache (1948): Captain Kirby York

20i. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949): Captain Nathan Bridles

20j. Rio Grande (1950): Colonel Kirby York


On Sunday, December 28, I went forward at church, put a dollar in the Joy Jar and said: “My joy is named Marion, and yesterday was our anniversary. But when we started dating I asked her, ‘Do you mind if I call you Mari?’ And she replied so sweetly, ‘Just as long as you call me.’ So now it has been fifty-two years, and I am still calling her . . . and all my Christmases have been merry, spelled ‘M-A-R-I'”! (See my previous posts titled “Mari: Anniversary Remembrances.”)

On December 21 Joe Dempsey published his “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.” This is how he described it: “This is our annual Christmas post. It was our first, and we’ve never found one better.” I agree. To read the story and view Joe’s photos of the lonesome cedar tree that stands in the center of it all as the only lasting memento of it, click here.


The photo of John Wayne was taken from:

The photo of Gene Autry was taken from:

The photo of Roy Rogers was taken from:

The photo of the Lone Ranger was taken from:

The photo of Lash LaRue was taken from:

The photo of Rex Allen was taken from:


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Frank: “A reader asks, ‘Dear Ernie, why was the world
made to have so much pain and suffering?’”
Ernie: “So we could have lyrics for country and western music.”
—Frank and Ernest cartoon, Tulsa World, 08-13-96

In my preceding post titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Part II” I examined some of the Country-Western terms I learned as a child and youth while working in my father’s cattle business in the Ark-La-Miss region in the 1940s and early 50s.

Me holding my father's cattle brand

Me holding my father’s cattle brand, the old Circle P

In this post, the continuation of that series, I offer a brief introductory list of Country-Western language items and activities that indicate that you might be Country-Western. That list is followed by the first part of a longer section titled “Twenty Telltale Signs That You Might Be Country-Western,” which is continued in the next post, Part IV. I had meant for this third post to be the conclusion to the series; however, due to its length I had to separate it into new posts.

So the next post in this series, titled “You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part IV,” will be published in two or three weeks. It will complete the twenty-question quiz on Country-Western terms and film and TV cowboy stars. The final post in the series, Part V, will be composed of another quiz on 1950s and 60s TV Westerns, a list of some false or mispronounced French terms, and some of my favorite French quotations that I collected during my career as a “French cowboy” teacher, translator, and interpreter.

Country-Western Language and Lifestyle

“Everybody wants to be a cowboy.”
—Director of Cowboys Who Care,
an organization that provides cowboy hats
to hospitalized children to help cheer them up

“In our family we were really earthy.
Why we bred cattle at the breakfast table!”

—Vivian Peacock

As noted by my mother above, in my family our cowboy language was like our lifestyle . . . earthy.  Based on that “down-to-earth” lifestyle and language I came up with the following test.

You might be Country-Western if you have ever . . .

  1. Milked a cow, branded a steer, or castrated a calf.
  2. Candled eggs (to see if they are fertile and will produce baby chicks) or wrung a chicken’s neck.
  3. Churned butter in an old-fashioned churn.

    Old-fashioned butter church

    Old-fashioned butter churn (to magnify, click on the photo)

  4. Scalded a hog to remove the hairs from its skin and then used that skin to make “cracklin’s” (pork rinds).
  5. Bailed hay.
  6. Picked cotton.

    Picking cotton on a 1930s Arkansas plantation

    Picking cotton on an Arkansas plantation in the 1930s (to magnify, click on the photo)

  7. Plowed behind a horse or mule.
  8. Chopped heater wood (from such a wood heater I still bear large burn marks on the backs of my thighs from backing up too close to it) and/or kitchen stove wood (from which I still bear a scar under my right eye caused by a wayward falling jagged piece).
  9. Used an old-fashioned “heat up on the stove” flat iron to press clothes.

    An antique iron

    Antique flat iron for heating on a wood-burning stove and using to press clothes (to magnify, click on the photo)

  10. Used an outdated Sears Roebuck catalog for toilet paper in an outdoor privy.

    An outdoor toilet

    An outdoor privy equipped with a Sears Roebuck catalog for toilet paper (to magnify, click on the photo)

To that earthy language/lifestyle list I have added the following “signs” section on it.

Twenty Telltale Signs that
You Might Be Country-Western

 “I see by your outfit
that you are a cowboy . . .”

—traditional Western song

“I was feeling real good and manly. Until a real cowboy walked by
and told me that I had my hat on backwards.”
—Michael Biehn, quoted in
Celebrity Cipher, Tulsa World 12/1/14

You might be Country-Western if . . . (see answers section below):

  1. You know the origin and meaning of the term “quarter horse.” (See photo in answers section below.)
  2. You know what the parents of a mule are called and what the offspring of a mule is called.
  3. You know why the saying, “sweat like a hog” is inaccurate.
  4. You know what the offspring of a goose is called and what a guinea is. (See photo in answers section below.)
  5. You know what a stile is and have ever used one. (See photo in answers section below.)
  6. You can name another type of hay besides alfalfa.
  7. You know what a Georgia stock and a singletree are. (See photos in answers section below.)
  8. You know what a year-old calf is called and what book and movie bore this same title . . . and the name of their author.
  9. You know what a cow chews and how many stomachs she has.
  10. You know what the meat from a cow, a calf, a sheep, and a pig is called and why each is different from the name of the animal.
  11. You know the difference in the way cattle and hogs are marked for ownership.
  12. You know how to judge the age of a cow or horse.
  13. You know how to determine whether a cow is pregnant or not.
  14. You know what a colt, mare, and stallion are and what they are each called in thoroughbred horse racing.
  15. You know how long the period of the Western cattle drives like those from Texas to Kansas lasted and can name at least one famous trail.
  16. You know how to tell whether a saddle shown in movies and TV shows about the time of the Western cattle drives is authentic to the period or not. (See photo in answers section below.)

Below are the answers to the first sixteen questions in this quiz. The rest of the twenty questions and answers will appear in the following post.


1. A quarter horse is a horse that is especially bred to run at top speed for the distance of a quarter mile or less. (For more, click here, and see photo below.)

A quarter horse

A quarter horse (to magnify, click on the photo)

  1. The parents of a mule are a horse and a donkey. There is no offspring of a mule because as hybreds, mules cannot reproduce. (For more, click here.)
  2. The expression “sweat like a hog” is inaccurate because hogs have few sweat glands, which is why they wallow in mud to try to keep cool. (For the origin of this term “sweat like a hog,” click here.)
  3. The offspring of a goose is a gosling. (For more, click here.) A guinea is a barnyard fowl something like a “fancy chicken.” (For more, click here and see the photo below). When Mari’s father was overseas during WWII he informed his family where he was located by writing in a coded and censored letter that he was “where we found that nest of eggs.” His family then knew that he was in New Guinea.

    A Guinea fowl

    A Guinea fowl (to magnify, click on the photo)

  4. According to Wikipedia, “a stile is a structure which provides people a passage through or over a fence or boundary via stepsladders, or narrow gaps.” (See photo below.)

    A stile over a fence

    A stile over a fence

  5. Another kind of commonly known hay besides alfalfa is lespedeza. (For other types, click here.)
  6. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a Georgia stock is “a plow beam with handles and a standard to which a moldboard, shovels, teeth, or sweeps are attached.” (When I say that I am of “Georgia stock,” I am referring not only to my rural upbringing but also to the fact that my rural ancestors migrated to Arkansas from Georgia. See photo below.) Mother Earth News: Glossary of Terms for Plowing with Horses defines a singletree as “the pivoted or swinging bar to which the traces of a draft animal’s harness are fixed. Also called ‘swingletree’ or ‘whippletree.’” (See photo below.)

    A Georgia stock plow

    A Georgia stock plow

A singletree, part of the harness for a draft animal

A singletree as part of the harness for a draft animal (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read more on this subject, click here.

  1. A year-old calf is called a yearling (but pronounced “yerlin’ in SEARK), which according to Wikipedia was the title of “a 1938 [year of my birth] novel written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.” It was adapted into a movie in 1946 starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman. (For more, click here.)
  2. A cow chews a cud and has four stomachs. (For more, click here.)
  3. The meat from a cow, a calf, a sheep, and a pig are called respectively: beef, veal, mutton, and pork. The reason the names of the animals vary from the names of the meat taken from them goes back to the time after the 1066 invasion of Saxon (Germanic) England by the Normans (Vikings turned French) from Western France. Since the Normans were the ruling class for several hundred years, both languages, Saxon and Norman, existed at the same time. When the Saxon serfs slaughtered the animals they called by the names they knew them in their Germanic language, the meat they served up to their Norman lords was called by French names: boeuf, veau, mouton, and porc.
  4. Cattle are marked for ownership by branding their hides with a red-hot iron. (See my earlier post titled “My Father’s Brand and Seal.”) Hogs are marked for ownership by making distinctive cuts in their ears (hence the expression about funds being “earmarked” for certain special uses).
  5. The age of a cow is determined the same way as the age of a horse, by examining the animal’s teeth for degree of wear. (I saw my father perform this simple procedure hundreds of times, and he was seldom wrong in his estimate.) Thus the expression, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” (i.e., in order to determine its age and value.)
  6. In the days of my childhood and youth a simple way of determining whether a cow was pregnant was by bumping a fist against her stomach and feeling for the rebounding fetus. (Again, I saw my father perform this procedure hundreds of times, and he was seldom wrong.)
  7. In thoroughbred horse racing the common terms colt, mare, and stallion are called: foal, dam, and sire. (For more, click here.)
  8. According to Wikipedia, the Western cattle drives from the ranges of Texas to the railheads in Kansas lasted only about twenty years, from 1866 to 1886, much less than the amount of time these famous drives have been portrayed in modern Western films and TV shows. One of the most famous and best known of these drives was the Chisholm Trail. Another was the Goodnight-Loving Trail. (For more and other drives, click here.)
  9. You can tell that a saddle shown in Western movies and TV shows is authentic to the time of the cattle drives from Texas to Kansas and other railhead locations by the cantle (back rest) of the saddle. If it is high, then it is true to the period. If it lies flat against the top of the saddle, it is a modern saddle. (See photo below.)

    A high-cantle trail saddle

    A modern version of a high cantle trail saddle


While preparing this post I received this message from my longtime friend and McGehee (Desha County) High School classmate Pat Scavo who (like me) has Selma (Drew County) roots:

Dr. Curtis Merrell, one of Drew County’s leading historical preservation representatives, has passed away. He was instrumental in the college’s being able to obtain the land with the Taylor house and cemetery [featured in a couple of my previous blog posts on Arkansas Delta plantations], which has been united with the AR Historic Preservation. Just as his dream of saving the pre-Civil War, two-story log house has come about, we lost him. It will be a great loss for historic preservation in Drew County.

Taylor house on the Hollywood Plantation

Taylor house on the Hollywood Plantation (to magnify, click on the photo)

According to his obituary Dr. Merrill was also instrumental in establishing the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance which works to restore and preserve this historic stream. To read his full obituary, click here. To read my earlier post on Bayou Bartholomew, click here.

Bayou Bartholomew, "longest bayou in the world," which passes between Selma and McGehee, Arkansas

Bayou Bartholomew, “longest bayou in the world,” which passes between my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, and my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

To view a twenty-minute video of the history of the Taylor house and the Hollywood Plantation, click here.

On the subject of Arkansas Delta Plantations, here is a photo of a Delta cotton boll Christmas tree sent to me by my longtime friend and McGehee High School classmate Pat Scavo. The source of the photo is found in the sources section below.

Cotton boll Christmas tree

Cotton boll Christmas tree (to magnify, click on the photo)

Incidentally, Mari and I have two cotton boll Christmas ornaments on our tree plus a special Christmas tree decoration with the symbol of Lakeport Plantation featuring a stylized cotton boll on it (see photo below).

Lakeport Plantation Christmas tree ornament

Lakeport Plantation Christmas ornament with symbol of cotton boll on it (to magnify, click on the photo)

Merry Christmas, y’all!


The photo of an old-fashioned butter churn was taken from:

The photo of the cotton pickers on an Arkansas plantation of the 1930s was taken from: A Photographic Legacy by I. Wilmer Counts Jr., copyright © 1979 by I. Wilmer Counts Jr., Bloomington, Indiana.

The photo of an antique flat iron was taken from: http://www.featurepics.com/FI/Thumb300/20070823/Antique-Clothes-Iron-426043.jpg

The photo of an outdoor toilet was taken from:

The photo of a quarter horse was taken from:

The photo of a guinea fowl was taken from:

The photo of a stile over a fence was taken from:

The photo of a Georgia stock plow was taken from:

The photo of a singletree was taken from:

The photo of a high cantle trail saddle was taken from:

The photo of the Taylor house on the Hollywood Plantation was provided by Taylor Prewitt.

The photo of the cotton boll Christmas tree was taken from:

The photo of the Lakeport Christmas tree ornament was taken from an email offer from Lakeport in 2011. For more information, visit the Lakeport Web site at: http://lakeport.astate.edu/


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“Some folks stroll down memory lane, others stride, but you, my friend, build an interstate highway into your past along which you send a conquering army to take permanent possession of what others consider the lost and faded moments of their lives. All your friends and I are the fortunate beneficiaries of that conquest.”
—Paul Talmadge, in personal email to Jimmy Peacock,
dated September 22, 2014

The previous post on this blog was titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Part I.” In that post I noted that I was marking my seventy-sixth birthday on November 23 by publishing two posts on Southeast Arkansas terms I heard and used as a child in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas.

Jimmy Peacock on his seventy-sixth birthday

Me on my seventy-sixth birthday with Arkansas-shaped cookies in place of the traditional birthday cake (to magnify, click on the photo)

Jimmy Peacock's Arkansas-shaped birthday cookies with a smal white heart at  the location of his hometown of McGehee

My Arkansas-shaped birthday cookies with a small white heart at the location of our hometown of McGehee; my birthplace of Selma is just to the west of McGehee (to magnify, click on the photo)

I then provided a glossary of such terms illustrated by personal photos and other representative online images. At the end of that post I listed several other online sources of examples and tests of Southern speech and culture. In response to that post Paul Talmadge wrote to me on November 24, Your catalogue of southernisms is amazing!”

However, I soon discovered that the material I still had on hand would require two new posts and not just one, as originally planned.

In this post, the second in the series of three, I offer an examination of some of the terms I learned while growing up on my father’s ranch and working in his cattle business during the 1940s and 50s. My apprentice cowboy days ended with his untimely death at the McGehee Livestock Auction on May 25, 1954, while he was working in the ring and I was penning cattle in the back of the barn. He was forty-nine years old, and I was fifteen. (I discussed this subject in my earlier post titled, “My Father’s Brand and [Corporate] Seal.”)

Arthur Peacock (in white hat) in the ring of the McGehee Livestock Auction

My father (on the right in the white hat) in the ring of the McGehee Livestock Auction where he died on May 25, 1954 (to magnify, click on the photo)

Terms I Heard in My Father’s Cattle Business

“Are there any words I should know besides ‘Howdy,’
‘Yup’ and ‘Whoa’ if I wanna speak cowboy?”

–Dennis the Menace in cartoon,
Tulsa World, 11/29/14

As I have often noted, I was born in 1938 on my father’s ranch in rural Selma, Arkansas. As such, I often worked with cattle and traveled the Ark-La-Miss area with Daddy and my two older brothers visiting livestock auctions. Besides the McGehee Livestock Auction, in which Daddy was a half-owner with auctioneer C.B. Walker, some of the other weekly auctions we visited regularly were located in: Monticello, Eudora, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Greenville, Mississippi; and Delhi, Louisiana.

Here is just a small sample of some of the Western terms (and local pronunciations) I heard during my childhood and early adulthood in the course of Daddy’s cattle business.

bit: part of a Western bridle held in the horse’s mouth, as when I was told by my father that I needed to “take the bit in my mouth” in order to finish a hard task. (For other parts of a Western bridle, click here.)

breastplate and martingale: parts of the gear of a Western bridle and saddle. (The term “breastplate” is defined by Wikipedia as “a piece of riding equipment used on horses . . . to keep the saddle or harness from sliding back.” A “martingale” is defined by Wikipedia as “any of several designs of tack that are used on horses to control head carriage.” See the photos of a “breastplate” and a “martingale” below.)

Western horse breastplate

Western horse breastplate (to magnify, click on the photo)

Western horse martingale, running from under his chin down between his front legs

Western horse martingale, the strap running from below the horse’s chin down between his front legs (to magnify, click on the photo)

calf: the offspring of a cow, pronounced “caife” in SEARK, as when my mother would tell me about a poorly done piece of work: “I think you need to go back and lick your calf over again.” When I was too weak or timid she told me, “You need to get some bull in your neck!”

drugstore cowboy: what we called a “dude” who wore Western clothes such as hats and boots but who had never owned any cattle or even lived or worked on a ranch or farm. (Incidentally, I still own two Western hats and three pairs of Western boots which I call my “Proust boots,” named after the French author Marcel Proust who described the power of the taste of a small cake called a “petite Madeleine” to evoke unconscious memories and associations from his childhood, as I am doing in this entire blog! See the quote on recalling unconscious memories in the addenda to this post.)

dude: what we called an outsider, especially a “citified” character who knew nothing of Western dialect and lifestyle.

girt: what we called the girth or cinch on a Western saddle, terms which are defined by Wikipedia as “a piece of equipment used to keep the saddle in place on a horse or other animal.” (To view the standard parts of a Western saddle, click here.)

Girth (the wide belt running under the horse's belly) on a Western saddle

Girth (the wide strap under the horse’s belly) on a Western saddle (to magnify, click on the photo)

lope: a certain gait of a horse. (This term is defined by the Merriam-Webster as “an easy natural gait of a horse resembling a canter.” “Canter,” a term that was never used in my SEARK Western upbringing, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a 3-beat gait resembling but smoother and slower than the gallop.”)

muley: term used to describe hornless or polled cattle. (This term is defined by Merriam-Webster as “of Celtic origin; akin to Irish & Scottish Gaelic maol bald, hornless, Welsh moel First Known Use: 1840.”)

Red polled cow

Red muley or polled cow (to magnify, click on the photo)

rowel: the round spiked part of a Western riding spur. (For more information on the parts of a spur, click here.)

Western spurs with large rowels

Western spurs with large silver rowels (to magnify, click on the photo)

tack: Western horse gear. (This term is defined by Wikipedia as “a piece of equipment or accessory equipped on horses in the course of their use as domesticated animals. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horse tack.”)

Distinguishing between Western Animals/Terms

“You don’t have to be an expert judge of horseflesh
to be able to tell a jackass from a thoroughbred!”
(Unfortunately, too many of those people we have
to deal with these days are no thoroughbreds!)
—Jimmy Peacock

On the subject of livestock, you might have been raised on a farm or ranch if . . .

. . . you can recognize by sight—or even distinguish blindfolded by smell—the droppings of:

cattle (and even distinguish between the droppings of cattle and calves)

. . . you can name at least five breeds of barnyard animals such as:

horses (example, Clydesdale), for others, click here.)

cattle (example, Jersey), for others, click here.)

hogs (example, Duroc), for others, click here.)

chickens (example, Rhode Island Red), for others, click here.)


To view one of Joe Dempsey’s recent “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” blog posts which features (besides some Delta scenes of rice fields, views from the Mississippi River levee, a cypress slough in autumn, etc.) several photos of different breeds of cattle, an inquisitive donkey, and a couple of horses, click here.

A muley (polled, hornless) cow from Joe Dempsey's weekly blog

A muley (polled, hornless) cow on Joe Dempsey’s weekly blog which he calls “a Charolais lady” (to magnify, click on the photo)

About these levee cattle Joe says:

“There are always enterprising cattlemen who use the levees as pasture land for their stock. [My father was one of them. Believe me, riding in a pickup truck loaded down with restless cattle up and down and along the sides of a levee was not for the faint-hearted!] This levee was no different. I found this herd of cattle, which looks like bovine diversity in practice. The cattle and levees have a symbiotic relationship. The levees provide food to the cattle and the cattle provide fertilizer and lawn trimming services to the levee.

“Mind you, I am no cattle expert, but in this group you see signs of Holstein, Charolais, Hereford, Angus, Jersey and what appears to be the Appaloosa of the cow world.”

A mixture of cattle breeds from Joe Dempsey's weekly blog

A mixture of cattle breeds from Joe Dempsey’s weekly blog

. . . you know the difference between . . .

heifer and Hereford

shoat and chute

chaps and craps

Guernsey and Jersey

gait and gate

gee and haw

Answers (all from either Wikipedia, marked Wiki, or from Merriam-Webster, marked MW):

A heifer is “a young cow before she has had her first calf” (Wiki); a Hereford is “a beef cattle breed, widely used both in intemperate areas and temperate areas, mainly for meat production” and often called simply a “whiteface.”

A Hereford ("whitefaced") bull

A Hereford (“white-faced”) bull (to magnify, click on the photo)

A shoat is “a young hog and especially one that has been weaned” (MW); a chute isa channel for handling and sorting [or restraining] farm animals” (Wiki), as in the country saying, “I feel like an old cow in front of a new chute!”

A Western cattle chute

A Western cattle chute (to magnify, click on the photo)

Chaps (pronounced “shaps”) are “sturdy coverings for the legs consisting of leggings and a belt” (Wiki); craps is “a dice game in which the players make wagers on the outcome of the roll, or a series of rolls, of a pair of dice” (Wiki).

Western fringed chaps

Western fringed chaps (to magnify, click on the photo)

A Guernsey is “a breed of cattle used in dairy farming. It is orange/red and white in colour, and is particularly renowned for the rich flavour of its milk, as well as its hardiness and docile disposition” (Wiki); a Jersey is a small breed of dairy cattle. Originally bred in the Channel Island of Jersey, the breed is popular for the high butterfat content of its milk and the lower maintenance costs attending its lower bodyweight, as well as its genial disposition” (Wiki).

A Guernsey cow

A Guernsey cow (to magnify, click on the photo)

A Jersey cow

A Jersey cow (to magnify, click on the photo)

A gait is defined by the Merriam-Webster as “any of the sequences of foot movement (as the walk, trot, pace, or canter) by which a horse moves forward.” This term is distinguished from the common term gate for an opening in a fence, which was always closed unless a “dude” went through it and left it open, a real no-no on a ranch or farm.

According to Wikipedia, gee and haw are “voice commands used to tell a draft animal [like a horse or mule] to turn right or left. . . . Gee (pronounced ‘jee’) means to turn to the off side (away from the driver). Haw means to turn to the near side (towards the driver). In the United States, the driver of draft animals sits on their left, so animals will turn right to the gee command, and left to the haw command.”

Incidentally, do you know the only noun in English related to Country-Western language that follows the German style of forming the plural by adding “-en” to the end of the noun, as in the German terms for “soldier/soldiers”: “soldat/soldaten”?

Answer: ox/oxen (see online German-English dictionary by clicking here.)

A yoke of oxen

A yoke of oxen (to magnify, click on the photo)

The third post in this series, titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Part III,” will continue the same theme of this second one with a couple of quizzes of your experience with and knowledge of the Country-Western lifestyle and its depiction in 1940s and 50s movies. It will conclude with a citation of some of my favorite French quotations collected over my long career as a “French-cowboy” teacher, translator, and interpreter.

Addenda and Updates

“I’ve got your memory,
or, has it got me?
I really don’t know,
But I know, it won’t let me be.”
—Patsy Cline, “I’ve Got Your Picture”
To hear this song sung by Patsy Cline, click here.

Since I published my last post titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Part I” I have copied or received several additional items relating to memories and to my birthplace and the Mississippi River Delta area of my childhood and youth.

First is a quote on memories that I saw in Parade magazine on November 23, my seventy-sixth birthday (italics mine):

“. . . memories are chemical, meaning that they have substance, however slight. (Otherwise, they could not exist.) People who can be hypnotized . . . may respond to the suggestion to ‘forget’ certain events . . . but this action simply prevents them from being able to recall the episodes. The memory itself still exists in their brains. Eliminating the physical matter of the memory is beyond the reach of hypnosis. . . . when the suggestion to forget is withdrawn, all of the memories return, which is understandable: After all, they never left; they were just inaccessible.”
—Marilyn Savant, “Ask Marilyn,” Parade magazine
Sunday, November 23, 2014,

Next is a Southern Web site sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell titled “Garden and Gun” with a link to some interesting and nostalgic still photos from the classic 1939 movie Gone With the Wind which is celebrating its seventy-fifth birthday. To access these sites go to: www.gardenandgun.com and then click on “The Making of Gone with the Wind,” or simply go to: http://gardenandgun.com/gallery/making-gone-wind

A scene from Gone With the Wind

A scene from Gone With the Wind with Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, and Tara in the background (to magnify, click on the photo here and especially in the sources section)

On September 11, 2014, in her Arkansas blog titled “Tie Dye Travels” Kat Robinson published a post called “5 Unique Arkansas Foods” which are listed as: 1) Chocolate gravy, 2) Possum pie, 3) Cheese dip, 4) Fried pickles, and 5) Tamales. To read about each of these fascinating Arkansas culinary delicacies, click on the title above.

Possum pie

Possum pie (to magnify, click on the photo)

The following painting of the Mississippi River Delta by Gary Walters with a Delta poem by Patricia Neely-Dorsey was sent to me by my high school classmate and longtime friend Pat Scavo.

A Delta painting by Gary Walters of Jackson, MS (to magnify, click on the painting)

A Delta painting by Gary Walters of Jackson, MS (to magnify, click on the painting)

Delta poem by Patricia Neeley-Dorsey

Delta poem by Patricia Neely-Dorsey used on Gary Walter’s Delta painting (to magnify, click on the photo)

Finally here is an announcement of a new book by Gayle Harper about her voyage of discovery down the Mighty Mississippi which I discussed in an earlier post:

“Roadtrip with a Raindrop:
90 Days Along the Mississippi River”


I am absolutely thrilled to share this with you! The books are here—and they are gorgeous! The brand spankin’ new website is live at www.gayleharper.com and is taking orders!

This journey has been—and continues to be—the adventure of a lifetime! I have looked forward to putting it into your hands for a very long time!

It is a luscious 240-page hard cover edition with nearly 200 full-color photographs. In a series of 55 short stories, each one complete with its photographs, you will have your own experience of this 90-day road trip.


We keep pace with an imaginary raindrop called Serendipity, on her nearly 2,400-mile journey from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. We watch the river grow from a fragile stream into a massive force of nature. We pass through dramatic changes in culture, geography, lifestyle, accents, foods and agriculture, but what does not change is the warm open-heartedness of the people I encounter. Join Serendipity and me as we meet people on their porches, in their farm fields, in cafés and even while stopped for road construction. They invite me to dances, birthday parties, home for dinner, out on their boats and into their lives. It is a joyful, unplanned wandering through the heart of our nation.
Come see for yourself at www.gayleharper.com


The photo of the breastplate was taken from:

The photo of the martingale was taken from:

The photo of the girth was taken from:

The photos of the muley cow and other cattle were taken from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” at:

The photo of the spurs was taken from:

The photo of the Hereford bull was taken from:

The photo of a chute was taken from:

The photo of the chaps was taken from:

The photo of a Guernsey cow was taken from:

The photo of a Jersey cow was taken from:

The photo of two yoked oxen was taken from:

The photo of Gone with the Wind was sent to me by Pat Scavo. It was taken from:

The photo of the painting of the Mississippi River Delta was sent to me by Pat Scavo and used by permission of its artist, Gary Walters. It was taken from:

The photo of the Delta poem by Patricia Neely-Dorsey was used by permission of the poet. It was taken from:

The photo of the cover of the book titled Roadtrip with a Raindrop was used by permission of Gayle Harper. It was taken from her Web site at:

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