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Slim Randles
Slim Randles

Steve, the cowboy on the board of directors of the Mule Barn truck stop’s philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank, swears on his coffee it happened.

“Tourist guy got off the train the other day when I was in the city picking up a friend,” Steve said. “He asked me if I was a real cowboy, and I allowed I probably was, because I wasn’t smart enough to get a real job. So he asked if I minded if he asked me some questions.”

Steve sipped his coffee. “I said, ‘Shoot’ and the guy says he wondered why we wore these big ol’ hats with the wide brims. So I explained to him they give us shade in summer and keep the rain and snow off our faces, and told him we could give the horse a drink by putting water in them. 

“Then he thanked me and asked why we wore chaps. So I explained how they protected our legs from cactus and thorns, you know.

“He asked about wild rags like this one,” he said, touching the blue silk scarf around his neck. “I told him it filtered dust and we could tie our hats down with it in a high wind.”

“Sounds reasonable,” Doc said, “but I thought everybody knew that. Television and Westerns and all that.”

“Well, yeah,” Steve said. “Me, too. But I think this guy was from a city somewhere and didn’t watch TV or eat anything that ever had a pulse. Looked kinda puny. But he was real friendly.

“So then he asked me about saddle horns. Wanted to know if they honk. This guy was really green, you know? He wanted to know about ropes and spurs, all kinds of questions like that. I did my best to answer him, too. Finally he says, ‘Tell me why you cowboys always wear tennis shoes.’

“So I told him we didn’t want anyone thinking we were truck drivers.”

Even the truck drivers laughed at that one. Then they threw cracker packets at Steve.

Brought to you by the book Packing the Backyard Horse, enabling you and your own Ol’ Snort to have some camping fun in the back country, available on