Saturday, June 14, 2008

Passing on the stories
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Julie Carter

The Native Americans pass legends down through the generations through designated storytellers.

It's the job of a gifted tribe member to be the keeper of the stories and to pass them on to the next generation from the many generations before.

Cowboys do much the same thing. Where the Native American storyteller will have a name like Grandmother Two Bears or Old Father Story Teller, the cowboy will simply be named Ben, Joe or Charlie.

If those same fellows were in a tribe somewhere, they could possibly bear names such as Man Who Walks Like Penguin. Old cowboys tend to be shorter than they were in their youth, a bit bow-legged and waddle when they walk.

The days of that long-legged strolling stride left when the "Itis boys" (Arthur, Burs and Tendon) showed up in every limb of their body. What they don't have left in athletic ability has been enhanced with humor and their imaginative re-telling of "legends."

The number of topics from the old days when cowboys were king is endless. First, know that things were bigger, better and wilder "back then." They may not be able to accurately give you their wife's full name, but they can name every one of the jug-headed horses they rode during the past 40 years.

In every story of every wreck they were ever in that involved a rope and cow, they can also describe, in detail, the appearance, personality and pedigree of the horse they rode. And not always in the verbiage fit to repeat in polite company.

For whatever reason, that same horse will consistently be either be the best he ever rode, or the sorriest. There doesn't seem to be any recollection of any mediocre nags from that era.

The topic second in line for the windiest stories includes incredible tales of snakes. There are generations of big ugly diamondbacks that slithered into bedrolls, traveled up a catch rope to meet the roper or fell out of a tree on an unsuspecting cowboy riding by.

Snakes, in their mystical ability to strike the fear in the heart of all men, garner a corner of cowboy history dedicates to that species. Ask any old bowlegged, cowboy-booted hombre you run into for his best snake story. It is guaranteed he will have not just one.

Additionally, there are the "goin' to town" stories. In the old days, not so long ago, cowboys went to town only to buy a few groceries and other necessary supplies.

During that same trip they might eat a steak at the local restaurant, spend a couple bucks for a haircut and then wile away a few hours of sundown time at the local watering hole, imbibing in adult beverages.

One of my favorite cowboy storytellers told a great tale that had all the going-to-town ingredients. He gleefully recalled, often upon request, riding a young barely broke horse into a bar.

The blaring jukebox music didn't frighten the colt until it stopped and then the silence brought him to life. He blew up, fell over on the pool table and in doing so, broke the cowboy's foot. Decades later, the cowboy delighted in detailing the reason for that particular limp.

The cowboys that fill my pages with their stories have had no expectations that their shenanigan-nonsense would entertain so many.

I delight in being able to pass on those reasonable presentations of the truth

They don't all stay at the ranch
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Julie Carter

Ranch raising is the best way any kid could grow up. It teaches life's lessons in the most basic ways for all the formative years. Then one day the ranch kid wakes up and he is an adult with big-people dreams and plans that often don't include staying at the ranch.

Cowboy life is not always awash in glamour. A good bit of it involves farm implements, a shovel, plumbing tools, fence stretchers and carpenter skills. It's that seedy side of the career than will send a young man looking for the excitement.

My own younger brother was a good example of this natural migration. Being the last one left at home - his older brothers already gone, making the big bucks in the construction industry - he was the last cowboy standing. Well into that stage of maturity where Dad didn't know a thing about anything, ranch work was just another frontier of disagreement. To improve his circumstances, he joined the U.S. Army.

The irony was that after basic training, they sent him to live on an Army-owned ranch in Colorado to be in the cavalry regiment that performed in parades and re-enactment. In this newfound career, he cleaned stalls, tended to horses and preformed other ranch chores.

Eventually his tour was up and he moved back home. However, cowboy glamour at the ranch soon left again in the midst of moving sprinkler pipe in the hay fields and other such tedious chores.

The lad re-enlisted, but not without throwing in a tour of duty tending bar in a big city honky-tonk, teaching country dance lessons and landing a role in a beer commercial for the really big bucks. His cowboy expertise came in quite handy.

Through the years, the armed forces have been the "great escape" for a number of cowboys.

In Texas, Donnie was still at home, helping his dad out with the family ranch while considering his career opportunities. During the last rainy spell, his dad decided that the house roof needed new shingles. Donnie came to mind for this job.

Soon, Donnie found himself up on the ridge row with a shingling hatchet, a bundle of shingles and a nail apron firmly in place. After the first couple of rows of shingles, the summer sunshine was losing its charm.

Donnie managed to work the head off the hatchet and was climbing down when Dad, who was paying more attention than Donnie realized, tossed him up a hammer. It took Donnie a while to break the handle on the hammer, but he got it done. Dad had another one ready for him.

While nailing on a couple more rows of shingles, he decided that Dad was preoccupied. The hammer slipped out of his grasp and landed about 500 feet away in the stock tank. That just happened to be the last hammer on the place, so Dad sent Donnie to the hardware store in town for more hammers to finish the job.

On the way to town, Donnie noticed he had a couple of extra shirts and pairs of Wranglers in the truck so he went on down the road to Mineral Wells and joined the Army.

Three years went by before Donnie returned stateside and got back to Texas where he headed home. On the way, he remembered what started it all.

He stopped by the hardware store, got a couple of hammers and when he walked in the door at home told his Dad, "Here's your hammers. I got them just like you told me."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

These are a little old, didn't get them posted before they shut me down on 5/31.


Border Agents, Lured by the Other Side The smuggler in the public service announcement sat handcuffed in prison garb, full of bravado and shrugging off the danger of bringing illegal immigrants across the border. “Sometimes they die in the desert, or the cars crash, or they drown,” he said. “But it’s not my fault.” The smuggler in the commercial, produced by the Mexican government several years ago, was played by an American named Raul Villarreal, who at the time was a United States Border Patrol agent and a spokesman for the agency here. Now, federal investigators are asking: Was he really acting? Mr. Villarreal and a brother, Fidel, also a former Border Patrol agent, are suspected of helping to smuggle an untold number of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Brazil across the border. The brothers quit the Border Patrol two years ago and are believed to have fled to Mexico. The Villarreal investigation is among scores of corruption cases in recent years that have alarmed officials in the Homeland Security Department just as it is hiring thousands of border agents to stem the flow of illegal immigration. The pattern has become familiar: Customs officers wave in vehicles filled with illegal immigrants, drugs or other contraband. A Border Patrol agent acts as a scout for smugglers. Trusted officers fall prey to temptation and begin taking bribes....
Mexico crime wave takes ten more lives Ten people were found shot execution style, including three beheaded bodies, in 24 hours of drug-related warfare in northern Mexico, the Juarez prosecutor's office said Wednesday. A local police officer's head was found inside a plastic bag with a note warning the Sinaloa drug cartel: "so you know we're not playing around." It was signed by La Linea, a rival drug group fighting for control of this city on the US border, the office said. On a blanket spread over a bridge in nearby Chihuahua, 360 kilometers (215 miles) south of here, were scribbled the names of several local police officers and a threat -- "these guys are next," the prosecutor's office added. The ten bodies found late Tuesday and Wednesday included two in Ciudad Juarez, two in Loma Blanca, two in and around Durango, two on roads leading to Chihuahua, one in Casa Grandes, and one in Ignacio Zaragoza, the office added in a statement. One of two decapitated bodies found in Durango was topped by a pig's head and laid out in a cemetery, it added. The violence came after seven federal police officers were killed Tuesday in a shootout with drug traffickers in northeastern Culiacan, the Public Safety Ministry said, adding that a criminal was also killed in the firefight....
Mexican Police Fleeing Drug Cartel Assassins The escalating violence by Mexico’s various drug cartels has taken a heavy toll on Mexico’s police forces in recent months, with the month of May proving especially brutal. At least four high-ranking police officials were gunned down in May, along with many other police and soldiers. “Drug cartels are sending a brutal message to police and soldiers in cities across Mexico: Join us or die,” reported the Associated Press on May 19. Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, has been one of the worst hit cities along the U.S.-Mexican border. The AP story notes: “Police who take on the cartels feel isolated and vulnerable when they become targets, as did 22 commanders in Ciudad Juarez when drug traffickers named them on a handwritten death list left at a monument to fallen police this year. It was addressed to ‘those who still don’t believe’ in the power of the cartels. Of the 22, seven have been killed and three wounded in assassination attempts. Of the others, all but one have quit.” “These are attacks directed at the top commanders of the city police, and it is not just happening in Ciudad Juarez,” Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said at the funeral of the latest victim, police director Juan Antonio Roman Garcia. “It is happening in Nuevo Laredo, in Tijuana, in this entire region,” he said. “They are attacking top commanders to destabilize the police force.” More than 1,100 lives have been taken in the wave of narcoterror so far this year. The cartels have become more brazen, even attacking with machine guns and hand grenades in full daylight in public venues....
9 men killed as Juárez violence continues Violence continued to rage Wednesday night and Thursday in Juárez as at least nine more men were shot dead and the ankle of a 7-year-old girl was nearly severed in a shooting that wounded several members of her family. Four unidentified men were shot and killed when shooters unloaded 84 rounds Thursday afternoon outside a butcher shop in the Division del Norte area of the city, state police said. In addition, a double homicide occurred near the community of Barreales outside Juárez. Before dawn Thursday, two unidentified men who had been shot several times died outside the emergency room of the general hospital. In a separate incident, it was unclear whether the family of a girl, identified by police as Berenice Alanis Mata, was targeted or merely caught in the crossfire Wednesday night when 35 shots were fired in the Praderas de los Alamos neighborhood. Television news aired graphic video of Berenice and relatives driving up in private vehicles and bleeding heavily at Clinica 66 medical center....
Border Governors Head to Mexico As Violence Rises Governors from both sides of the border are meeting in Mexico City to push for more crime-fighting and border security amid unprecedented violence in Mexico. The governors of California, Texas and New Mexico planned to offer support to Mexican President Calderon on Thursday for his crackdown against the drug trade, in which he has deployed more than 20,000 federal troops across Mexico. Cartels have responded with increasingly bold attacks against police and other security officials. On Tuesday, seven federal officers were killed in a shootout at a suspected drug safe house. Beyond policy talks, it's not clear what the U.S. governors and the governors of the six Mexican states will be able to accomplish, because many of the actions they are seeking require congressional approval....
ABC Reality Show Will Chronicle Work of Border Agents A new reality show, led by executive producer Arnold Shapiro of "Big Brother" fame, will give viewers an inside look at a day in the life of border patrol agents working to stop illegal smuggling and immigration. ABC has ordered 11 hours of "Border Security USA," which is said to be the first multi-episode television series to be shot in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show, based on the Australian series "Border Security: Australia's Front Line," will include security screeners at a New York airport, a Coast Guard boat off Puerto Rico and border patrol in Texas, the newspaper reported. Some plots in the episode include customs agents finding a human skull sent through the mail and a Coast Guard boat chasing cocaine smugglers. "We're showing everyday heroes who are risking their lives to protect us," Shapiro told The Hollywood Reporter. "Every mode of transportation to get into the country, we have covered." Shapiro told the newspaper they were free to tape the day-to-day efforts, but were asked to keep several tactics used by border agents confidential....
Jesus Statue Made of Cocaine Seized in Laredo
A drug dealer named The Spider is wondering why his Jesus Christ still hasn't appeared in Dallas. Thanks to an unusual bust by federal agents in Laredo, they're not going to connect. Drug traffickers mixed as much as six pounds of the illicit white powder into a paste and used it to make a regal statue of the Christian savior, complete with painted-on flowing hair and a gold cape. Smugglers were likely hoping the statue, which could be worth as much as $30,000 on the streets, would be dismissed by border guards as just another of the hundreds of plaster representations hawked to borderland tourists. But a dog trained to sniff out drugs confirmed it was anything but another religious memento....
Report says courts can handle terrorism cases Two former federal prosecutors say that when it comes to handling accused terrorists, the best way is the old way: Put them on trial in civilian courts, not military tribunals. A report examines 123 terrorist cases from the past 15 years, and the study's two principal authors say that the courts were able to produce just, reliable results while protecting national security. The report comes at a time when the Bush administration's system of military commissions remains mired in delays. Whether the case is the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 or the East African embassy bombings in 1998, judges, juries, defense attorneys and prosecutors are able to get the job done correctly, they say. Although the justice system is far from perfect, it has proved to be adaptable and has successfully handled a large number of important and challenging terrorism prosecutions, said New York lawyers Richard Zabel and James Benjamin of the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld....
Customs inspectors charged in NY drug probe Two federal customs officers were arrested Wednesday, accused of taking bribes in exchange for letting large quantities of hashish and counterfeit watches and sunglasses into the country through Kennedy Airport. The two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were among seven people charged as a result of a long investigation into corruption at the airport. Federal prosecutors said the probe had already resulted in the convictions of more than 20 people including distributors and overseas suppliers. Walter Golembiowski, of Bethpage, N.Y., a supervisory Customs and Border Protection officer, and Officer John Ajello, of Hicksville, N.Y., were charged with bribery conspiracy and narcotics importation. Prosecutors said Golembiowski, 65, regularly accepted and solicited bribes from 2004 to this year in exchange for permitting shipments of contraband to pass through Customs without inspection. Ajello, 51, also accepted bribes, in one instance asking for $80,000, a charging document said....