Book Of The Month: 'Log Of A Cowboy' By Andy Adams
8/15/2012 by BY MARGARET BOGUE
Let?s begin with a couple of lines of an old cowboy song:
?Come along boys, and listen to my tale, I?ll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail.?
This exactly describes our Book of the Month. The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams.
Many songs, novels, and movies attest to the fact of the great influence of the Old West on American culture, especially the cowboy. Andy Adams book is different. It is non-fiction. The author spent 12 years on the cattle trails. The story describes what actually happened on his first drive when he was a very young man. I feel sure this book has been used by all writers of cowboy fiction.
It began in March, 1882, when 3,200 head of cattle were rounded up in Mexico. It ended six months later when they reached their destination in Montana. Andy?s outfit had 14 men to drive and care for this big herd.
Many perils were encountered on the over 2,000-mile trail. Among these were stampedes, buffalo, drought, thirst, floods and rustlers. Andy said, ?Our comfort was nothing, men were cheap, but cattle cost money.?
After the first thousand miles on the trail they reached Dodge City, Kansas. The herd was put in camp a few miles from the town, and the drovers were allowed to go into Dodge for a day and a night. This was their first recreation break since leaving Mexico.
McNulta, on old experienced cattleman who was thoroughly familiar with Dodge gave them advice about what to expect. This was valuable since many were youngsters like Andy.
?I?ve been in Dodge every summer since ?77, and I can give you boys some points. Dodge is one town where the average bad man of the West not only finds his equal, but finds himself badly handicapped. The buffalo hunters and range men have protested against the iron rule of Dodge?s peace officers, and nearly every protest has cost human life. Don?t ever get the impression that you can ride your horses into a saloon, or shoot out the lights in Dodge; it may go somewhere else, but it don?t go there. So I warn you to behave yourselves. You can wear your six-shooters into town, but you had better leave them at the first place you stop?and when you leave town call for you pistols, but don?t ride out shooting; omit that. Most cowboys think it?s an infringement on their rights to give up shooting in town, and if it is it stands, for your six-shooters are no match for Winchesters and buckshot; and Dodge?s officers are as game a set of men who ever faced danger.?
Later, Andy saw the correctness of that last sentence. He scanned the list of past peace officials of Dodge which included: Ed, Jim and Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Jack Bridges, ?Doc? Holliday, ?Shotgun? Collins and Mayor A.B. Webster.
Lovell, an old drover, advanced a half month?s wage to each man to spend in Dodge. This was 25 dollars in gold. No one protested, even though they had three month?s wages due. They knew the old timer?s decisions were right.
Thus, the drovers headed into Dodge, a cowtown of hotels, livery stables, shops, gambling houses and saloons. There were many places to spend the 25 dollars.
?What about Matt Dillon?? you say. That is fiction. This book is for real. It tells of real experiences on one of the longest droves ever made. It covers nearly 3,000 miles from the Rio Grande to the Blackfoot Indians in Montana.
The book is factual, but easy and interesting reading. It has been called the finest piece of literature about the cattle country ever produced.
Log of a Cowboy is available at the library.
Good reading to you!