Getter Done Gals


Saturday, July 17, 2010


By Julie Carter

Summer - when class reunions reign and people travel great distances to reunite with former classmates they hope they recognize after decades.

Not unlike family reunions, alumni gatherings bring together all ages of people from all demographics with one sure thing in common - time spent in a classroom in a land and time far away from present "life" in progress.
This year was my daughter's 20th class reunion and my 40th. The differences are as comical as the similarities are notable.
When my class stepped off the bus at the conclusion of our senior trip in June 1970, we had nothing on our minds except this perfect, exciting, dynamic future ahead of us. We were sure of it.
It didn't even remotely occur to us then that we might never see each other again or at best, rarely. At 18, we had no appreciation for the relationships we'd forged through years of school and related events.
And yet, placed in the same room 40 years later, it all so easily and quickly came flooding back. However, this time, it was through the eyes and emotions of adults who had seen enough of life, good and bad, to know how special each of us is in our own way.
The 20-year "youngsters" at 38 years of age were surprised at their lack of ability to "party like they used to." The 40-year crowd, fast approaching the new decade of 60- years-old, were well aware of their limitations and without mention of it, moved quickly to coffee and ice water after one drink.
The 20-year kids were scrutinizing each others' aging with comments such as "Remember Jan House? Well she fits her name now." Or "Remember how pretty Sissy Ahrens was? Well, she now paints her eyebrows on and in the wrong color, and Missy Little, the homely high school girl, she moved to Texas and came back a beauty queen."
The 40-year "kids" were, first, happy to be alive, and then very proud of how great we all looked. No one thought any differently, and all of us knew we were better now than we will be in 10 more years. So it's all good.
We didn't have to mention that we whitened our teeth, scheduled manicures, sorted through what to wear, got new hair cuts and fresh hair color, plucked chin hairs, and took our medications including ache-and-pain minimizers hoping for at least one good day.
Our class was always a little on the rowdy side with strong personalities and plenty of drive to be the best at whatever we were doing. Our class sponsor told us at the reunion that the reason he took us to Moab, Utah, and the Canyonlands National Park for our senior trip was because it was a place he knew we couldn't tear up.
It was refreshing to see that, even now, we are still a strong and determined group and oh so much fun. We are the same, except better. As one classmate noted, "Now, we are all grown up."
I liked being all grown up and I liked being with my classmates more now than ever. It was my first time to attend a class reunion or alumni event but it certainly won't be my last.
In a gymnasium full of 300 former Custer County High School alumni, I have to say, name tags are an excellent idea. While we are all aging well, we aren't necessarily aging recognizably.
I would like to remind people to use large letters when writing their name, we're old you know. See you next year, one year older.
Julie can be reached for comment at


 by Julie Carter
I lay deep in the dust, unseen and missing to the world. As the winds of time put layer upon layer of corral dirt over me, I slipped into history without notice.
Quietly, I remained in my unintended grave, enduring the seasons that came and then left - the long deep winters of driving frost permeating the soils, the warming sun of spring that brought soft living-giving rains and the gentle warmth of summer that delivered the sustaining harvests.
I saw both ends of a family generation make their living off the land near where I rested. As the older ones faded from the horizon, they made way for the young as they too changed, grew, and moved on in one fashion or another.
The circle of life, fueled by a never-ending source of time, continued.
This silent, stationary journey began when I fell from the pocket of a young cowboy easing into his teen years.
The buck deer engraved on my gold cover was the reason his grandmother selected me as a gift for him. He was so proud, feeling rich and elevated in status to own such a fine item - a pocket watch.
He braided a leather fob for me and would often sit and just stare at this treasure of his, flipping the cover open, closing it again. There he scratched his name, laying an eternal claim to me with the "brand" given to him by his parents. It simply read, "Blayke".
For the first couple years, we were inseparable. Then one day in the course of some of the usual cattle work that happened regularly in the family's old pole corrals, fate parted us.
The punchy young cowboy was riding a newly acquired bronc his dad had brought home from the sale barn.
While a little on the spooky side, the short-coupled sorrel, sporting one white sock on a hind leg, a snip of white on his nose and pig eyes that indicated some stubbornness, was the perfect horse for sorting in a corral.
Afternoon rain showers made the ground slick, and in the instant of a quick move by the sorrel to turn back a calf, all four hooves were simultaneously in the air. In a blur of motion, the horse fell hard to the ground, landing with thud on the corral floor.
The cowboy's quick instincts flashed a signal to his brain and he was able to kick loose from his saddle at the onset of the wreck. He hit the ground with a rush of air leaving his lungs, only to return in short gasps as he pulled himself to his feet.
It wasn't until a day later that he realized his gold pocket watch was missing. He returned to the corrals, kicked around in the area of the fall but he never saw me lying in the dirt where momentum had flung me.
A sadness for the loss registered in his heart and as years continued to tick away in the life of the cowboy, that day was moved to share the memories that recorded a sweeter time in his life.
Recently and some 25 years later, I was unearthed by another generation of that family who was cleaning the corrals. My face is still intact and my cover still has the name of the boy that scratched his mark there.
When he was told that I'd resurfaced, basically unscathed by the experience and the years, the cowboy retrieved the memories of that day and period in his life.
In recall, they erupted in Technicolor and were accompanied by emotions now felt deeper by a wiser adult that had seen a lot of country, done a lot of living.
I'll be glad when he has me back in his pocket. We have a lot of catching up to do. Time doesn't stand still, but timepieces can.
Real-life details provided by Blayke Cardenas. Julie can be reached for comment at


 by Julie Carter

It was black, floppy, completely misshapen and the brim had torn away from the crown in a few places. The hat band was long gone and so was the sweat band inside.
The boy was only 4-years-old, but already he identified his look with that sad looking little "cowboy" hat.
He'd outgrown his first one, the one with an actual shape and look of a cowboy hat. It didn't have time to wear out but then it also didn't get the high mileage that its successor endured.
I wasn't quite sure if he would ever part with that pathetic excuse for a cowboy hat but I vowed it would have a decent burial as soon as he gave it up.
Offers to kidnap it were considered, but I knew it would just come crawling home.
His hat and the way he wore it indicated much of his personality at each stage in his life.
There were not many days in his early years that he didn't have some sort of hat on his head.
The occasional cap sufficed when the wind made that a better choice.
At the onset of his teen years, a cap that stated an allegiance for a sports team or matched his camouflage wardrobe garnered equal time with the classic cowboy version.
Similar to the day he deemed he was too cool to allow his mother to cut his hair, and instead, insisted on a barber, the same professional touch is now required for the shaping of a new felt hat.
It has almost made me yearn for that original piece of limp felt that passed for a hat so long ago.
Giving credence to the priority of a hat in a cowboy's life, much has been written about the reverence required for it.
There is an aura of authority that comes with the man in a cowboy hat.
United States presidents have worn them, even when it was followed by the "all hat, no cattle" insult. The cowboy hat exudes power and macho like no other piece of clothing.
Those with the ability to do so, keep a special "wedding and funeral" hat, usually the once-in-a-lifetime buy off the top shelf.
While created to be, and remains so today, a functional, utilitarian piece of a cowboy's wardrobe, his hat is almost as individually identifying as his name.
The sport of rodeo produced a fashion in hats with event-specific creases in them.
A bull rider's hat has a completely different style to it than a roper's or a bronc rider's.
Ranchers, cattle buyers and stockmen also maintain a uniqueness of style when it comes to the style of their hats.
There is also the territory-specific look of cowboy hats.
Nevada buckaroos are clearly discernable from a cowboy working the brush in south Texas, or the hot plains of eastern New Mexico and West Texas.
Hats are endlessly useful. Horses have been known to drink from hats, as well as get swatted on the behind when needed or "fanned" with them after a successful bronc ride.
Passing the hat to collect money for a specific purpose is part of our culture yesterday, today.
A sweat-stained hat that will stay with you through rain, wind, snow and sun is a valuable tool.
It had earned its place in history with steadfast loyalty.
Women who have "cowboyed" enough to have their own sweat-stained hats are given all the room they need in a group of cowboys.
Cowboys of all ages are attached to their hats. They will get in a fight over them and at the same time, adhere to an age-old superstition that laying it on the bed brings all kinds of bad mojo.
Take a good look at the man and his hat. You'll find a relationship that parallels his standards in life.
And like the man that he is, it evolved over time, from the little boy notion of "good enough" to the desire for proper perfection.
Grab your hat, pull it down tight and hang in there for the ride.


by Julie Carter
It's the Fourth of July holiday and all roads lead to a rodeo arena somewhere.
As we honor America, our freedoms, and the price paid for both, I find myself also giving some reverent honor to the cowboy as well.
This particular holiday is his "Cowboy Christmas," the most lucrative run of rodeos for the season.
Rodeo rigs are progressively bigger, fancier, and technology has kicked rodeoing up a notch from the days of standing in a pay phone booth to enter a rodeo or find out when you drew up. While so much is different, much is still the same.
Rodeo roots run deep in the heart and soul of the American cowboy. It began as a good-natured competition among the working cowboys.
During more than a century, it has evolved to be a major league sport complete with television media coverage, sponsors and big money.
Today's rodeo, with the exception of the events themselves, resembles little of its beginnings on the open range. The cowboys have advanced to be defined athletes and fewer have ranch cowboy roots.
The addiction to the adrenalin remains the same as does the dedication to the competition.
One of the differences in the sport lies in the technology used to "phone home" reports from the rodeo (aka excuses, near death experiences at the bucking chutes, requests for money, etc.).
Instead of using a pay phone at the local honky tonk, the cowboy now sends a text message to a loved one's cell phone or an email from just about anywhere he is at the Advertisement time.
That's progress. And you will find that today's rodeo cowboy has no idea how anybody managed to get it done without all the current gadgets.
It has been said that rodeoing is an addiction and the only cure for it is more rodeo.
In two ever-popular songs, it is referred to as that "damned old rodeo." Back in the '60s, iconic Ian Tyson, a Canadian rodeo cowboy turned singer, penned a song called "Someday Soon."
The song lamented the love a rodeo cowboy has for the sport and the pain it causes those that love him. "He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me." The song stayed popular for decades with new recordings of it by Judy Collins, Lynn Anderson, Chrystal Gayle, Suzy Bogguss and Chris LeDoux.
Garth Brooks recorded a timeless song about the sport called simply "Rodeo." The lyrics sum it up about as well as any written.
Well, it's bulls and blood
It's dust and mud
It's the roar of a Sunday crowd
It's the white in his knuckles
The gold in the buckle
He'll win the next go 'round
It's boots and chaps
It's cowboy hats
It's spurs and latigo
It's the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo
She knows his love's in Tulsa
And she know he's gonna go
Well it ain't no woman flesh and blood
It's that damned old rodeo
Fourth of July rodeoing is defined by road-weary cowboys, tired horses, pickups filled with dirty clothes, fast-food wrappers and muddy boots.
A dashboard full of rumpled rodeo programs, Copenhagen cans, empty coffee cups, dusty sunglasses, gas receipts, a ball cap or two and a road map paints the classic scene.
For me, it wouldn't be the Fourth of July if I wasn't in the hot sun, beating rain or dusty wind waiting for the next rodeo event to move the entertainment along.
So that's what I do. However, now I carry a camera and put what I know of rodeo in print.
I don't suppose I'll ever be anywhere else but at a rodeo grounds somewhere on the Fourth of July. However, the option has crept into the recesses of my mind, only to be banished by the sounds of the National Anthem and the bucking horses kicking in the chutes in unison.
Let's rodeo!