Monday, May 17, 2010

Herschel Would Be Proud

I went into the military for two main reasons.
1. It was all I ever wanted to do. I can't imagine having chosen any other profession. I'm a little amazed that 20-odd years have flown by. And I'm still trying to figure out what I'll do when I grow up (professional athlete and Indian Chief are probably out of the running; I could still be a fireman somewhere, though).
2. I had to find an honorable way to avoid the implicit familial obligation to commit myself to a lifetime of ranching in Alabama. Back-breaking, before-the-sun-comes-up 'til after-the-sun-goes-down, day-in-day-out whatever the weather ranching. I've enormous respect for cattlemen. It's an unforgiving, all day, every day, ball-busting profession (profession, not job). I come from a family tradition of cattlemen. They are my heroes. And there's no way in hell I was going to do that for a living. It's truly a calling, and if you're not called, stay the hell away. I liked the cows. I liked the horses. I liked the guns and the auction barns and the honky-tonks and the ranges and pastures. But I didn't love it. And being a cattleman is a labor of love.
So, when I saw this political add (posted up on AoS) it brought me back. This guy is not a poseur. I can imagine putting boots up on the rails of the Kennett-Murray auction barn and spitting tobacco juice with this guy*. He's for real. God Bless 'im.

*Alabama cattlemen taught me to set a horse, gave me my first beer, my first shot of whiskey, my first lessons in shooting, first taught me the intricacies of the ambush (because we were going to By-God get the sumbitches that were putting sugar in the tanks of the cattle trucks). They also first, through the auspices of Herschel, exposed me to tobacco. As I looked around the Kennett-Murray auction barn, every cowboy there was chewing on some sort of tobacco. Plug, leaf, and pulverized. Some seemed to spit incessantly, some spit never. When I asked one of the cowboys about it, he said, "well, boy, some spit and some gut it." I begged a pocketknife and a rind of Cannonball plug off of Herschel. The juice was pretty sweet, and I didn't know then to have a container on hand, so I gutted it. Which went well for about 15 minutes. Then I stumbled outside and heaved into a big rubber-made trashcan on wheels. I was just tall enough to hook my chin over the lip of the trashcan. When I went back in and told Herschel I'd tossed my world-class cattleman's breakfast, he said,"That's all right, boy; it'll get the worms out." I think I was eight.

1 comment:

  1. I never knew that story. ahh the building blocks of life.