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Mount up, people, round 'em up!

... a quiz, where'd it come from?

from Don Norris



Back a few years, when I was a Scout, a bunch of us were selected to spend some
time at a National Scout camp in New Mexico -- not too far from Cimaroncito. I'm
guessing the year was 1947, and I was 16 years old.

An Eagle Scout, by the way.

Four of us from Troop 4 in Bloomfield, New Jersey, were selected as candidates
to the Boy Scout Camp, there in New Mexico. I'm thinking it was a four-week
journey -- picked up the train in Grand Central Station, hit Chicago to switch
trains, ride a day and a night across America's open prairies, then arrive,
finally, in Cimaroncito, New Mexico.

We spent three, maybe four weeks there, at a Scout Ranch with rough bunks, ranch
food, horses, hiking, climbing -- just what a young American youth needs to
grow up. We ate buffalo beef, gave up a few pounds, learned about the mountains and
the real, true, West and its towering mountains.

One day was devoted to a saddle-hike of about ten miles, each way, plus a climb
(on horseback) to the summit of one of New Mexico's many mountains. What an
experience. Hour upon hour of troding through forests, up and down small
mountains, and finally to a 10,000-footer -- all to see the wreckage of a World
War Two bomber that had crashed on the peak. There, beside the bomber's
wreckage, was a small plaque listing the names of airmen who died three years
before.

On the return hike, as we neared the camp, the horses recognized the landscape,
and broke into a gallop. The rangers tried to halt them, but the horses sensed
home, and food -- and soon the trot turned into a full-time race. The whole
company of Scouts went racing across the meadow, hell-bent for home, for rest,
for food.

While the Scouts had lessons in riding, nobody had ever ridden a horse at full
gallop, and soon the rangers were keeping up with the crowd. Halfway across the
meadow my horse, now going at full gallop, tripped on a log and went face-down.
I figured it would be best if I got off, so the horse could recover, so it was
easy to launch myself over his head, and I flew for some ten feet before rolling
in the hay.

Neither the horse nor I were damaged much, so he got up, I re-mounted, and we
joined the race once again -- there were probably sixty or seventy riders that
day.

Later, a ranger really chewed me out for dismounting -- for permitting myself to
be thrown over the horse's front quarters. Hell, I thought I had done a good
thing, but obviously I hadn't become a full-fledged cowboy. He said I should
have stayed with the horse.

That was one of two-really important lessons I learned during that month-long
trip out west. On the way home, we had a layover in Chicago, so me and my
buddies, having discovered the burlie section of town, decided to turn our
uniforms inside-out and stuff the neckerchiefs into a pocket. Then we lined up
the ticket window -- and bought our very first ticket, ever, to a burlesque
show. I saw my very first naked woman that day. It was something I'll always
remember.

Which brings me back to the bronze casting of the cowboy -- pictured above. It
was part of the decoration at The Outback restaurant in Reading, North Avenue,
near the new shopping center. The place has several more castings, lots of large
paintings of the old west,and a menu that features western dinner.

So much for good memories.


August 5, 2016


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