Special to the Tribune-Star
In the late 1960s, I was made general manager of KODL in The Dalles, Oregon. In the early days of summer that year, we were getting ready for the town’s annual celebration, The Dalles Days Rodeo. To look the part, I had to find myself a pair of western boots and I did at a store in the downtown area. They were western right down to the heel, which was a walking heel. Because of the flat heel they didn’t make me taller, but it was easier to stand and walk in them.
So here I was in my ten-gallon hat, my new, low-heeled cowboy boots, and I was all set to interview the Rodeo Queen and her court. So, I did. Then, the Rodeo Queen leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I asked her what that was for. She told me I was wearing a walking heel because I was walking and not going to be riding a horse, and that made me something other than a phony. I asked her what she was talking about, and she said most of these drugstore cowboys couldn’t ride a horse if they had one. She also said most of them don’t ride and don’t own a horse. And she mentioned since I was a radio guy, it makes sense I was wearing a walking heel.
Those boots are wrinkled and cracked and have been re-soled with new walking heels placed on them. But there is a valuable lesson there.
While I would wear them riding and even garnering a couple of rodeo trophies, it did tell a lot about me … I was never a full-time cowboy and it’s always nice to be kissed by a rodeo queen. (Out west, rodeo queens have to be proficient in a rodeo contest to be named queen of the rodeo.) The queen in question was a barrel racer.
I thought about this when that shining example of a Texas phony talked about slipping out of his cowboy boots and putting on slippers. Ted Cruz may or may not get the government crashed and the law, The Affordable Care Act, disenfranchised. Many a good man from our western states has worn boots as a part of their western heritage. Some, like Teddy, just wear them to stand out in their stupidity. All of us had better pray that these blowhard fools from the political right do not ruin the country. They are, however, well on their way.
Next time I wear my cowboy boots I’ll remember being kissed by the rodeo queen, and that all men in boots are not necessarily good men.
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.