I must admit that I’m excited about the new Lone Ranger movie starring JohnnyDepp as Tonto (you notice I mention his name first) and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. My history with cowboys started the summer before third grade, when I had my first crush.
It happened in the back yard behind our house on Dysart Street in Springfield, Missouri. That’s where my neighbor Karen and I had imaginary meetings with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers . . . and their horses.
|Me in my snazzy cowgirl outfit
When I was in elementary school, cowboys and horses were all the rage on T.V. There was the Cisco Kid and his pinto, Diablo. Hop-a-Long Cassidy’s horse Topper was a pure white stallion. So was the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver. But Karen and I liked Roy and Gene the best. Their horses, Trigger and Champion, were beautiful. And we liked how both cowboys sang.
Saturday afternoons, after our chores were done, Karen and I met on my patio. We spread a moldy canvas cover (left over from the lemonade stand my dad made me) over a rusty, Ping-Pong table frame. This smelly tent represented the ranch house where Karen, Roy, Gene and I lived. The playtime always began with a fight over who was married to whom. Roy was known as “The King of the Cowboys.” He was top pick because we both thought his golden Palomino, Trigger (The Smartest Horse in the Movies), was every horse-crazy third-grade-girl’s dream. This gifted and talented horse could untie ropes, count, dance and even shoot a gun.
Gene Autry was known as the “Singing Cowboy.” His horse, Champion, (World’s Wonder Horse), was a beautiful sorrel with white stockings and blaze. He could dance, play dead and jump through a hoop of fire. But he wasn’t quite as flashy as Trigger.
We pretended that we fixed our cowboy husbands flapjacks and fried potatoes for breakfast. Then we waved goodbye as they galloped across the prairie. When they returned home, we pretend-kissed them very enthusiastically, and asked them how their day had been.
After a week, we cowboy wives were BORED! Roy and Gene didn’t let us ride their horses. We weren’t having any adventures. Our cowboys and their steeds were out roaming the range most of the day while Karen and I sweated in that stinky old tent.
When the berries appeared on the mulberry tree in Karen’s back yard we escaped from the ranch house. Karen and I perched on the tree’s branches and feasted on the fat, juicy fruit. The berries were kind of like raspberries, but not as sweet and with more seeds.
My parents drank a sweet wine called Mogen David on holidays. Sometimes I was allowed a sip. I didn’t like it very much. Karen’s parents (who were originally from Poland) drank martinis most nights. A Martini is a strong alcoholic drink with an olive floating on top.
When we finished eating our mulberries, we made cups from mulberry leaves. Then we filled them with olive juice drained from a jar of martini olives that Karen swiped from her refrigerator. “Cheers,” we’d say, as we secretly sipped the nasty stuff. Karen and I agreed it must be a very grown-up drink because it tasted so bad. We decided that we were very, very sophisticated women. Those cowboys were history.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to Johnny Depp’s next film.
Update: Who was that masked man?