Hitched and Hired
“I quit school in the ninth grade and hitchhiked to Bandera [from Bayside]. An old man in a little bobtail truck brings me to the Purple Cow Saloon, and it had them old swinging doors, just like in Western movies. A woman at the bar said, ‘Can we help you?’ And I said, ‘I was just wondering if any one of these ranches around here are hiring.’ And one of the drunks said, ‘Oh son, you’re too late. After Labor Day, they shut down.’ I no more than took a swallow of my Coke, then here comes this lady through those swinging doors and says, ‘I need a dude wrangler for three days at the Dixie Dude Ranch.’”
Confessions of a Rodeo Clown
“I’d been a clown since I was 16 years old— until I got married and my wife’s daddy did not like it. He said, ‘You can be a clown, but you’re going to get hurt, and we ain’t takin’ care of you.’ One of the worst things about my rodeo clowning was the slobber. Them bulls would be slinging their heads and slobber going everywhere. And you know I had my nice makeup on, and that damn slobber—it’s a wonder I’m alive today because I couldn’t see well.”
“I had fooled around with wagons on different ranches, and I really liked that wagon business. When I got to the Flying L [Ranch Resort], they had a chuckwagon. The man who was in charge said, ‘Oh, that wagon hasn’t been hooked up in 10 years.’ He said, ‘If you want to start driving it, we’ll do it.’ So, I started driving that wagon and taking 10 to 15 people. We had cowboy breakfasts out in the field. I got my own wagon in 1963, and I’ve been going since then.”
“I make stew and peach cobbler. Beans, chili, and biscuits and gravy—that was the real main thing cowboys ate. Everybody thinks they ate barbecue. That took too long to cook. These cattle drives, it’d be like 2,000 head of cattle and just 15 or 16 guys taking care of them. So they wouldn’t stop for lunch because it’s too much trouble. They’d basically eat jerky and stuff they’d carry in their saddlebags.”
“I was raised with real cowboys. The real good cowboys are honest. The only contract they had was a handshake. Back in them days, a handshake was a big deal. It don’t mean nothing now—it means you might catch something.”
Wild Wild West
“My first little acting gunfight deal was with Bob Hope. Before he died, he would do these TV narrated shows. The name of this program was, A New Look at Texas, or something, and they wanted to do some flashback scenes of how the Wild West was. I played gunfighter for lots of areas around here. Then I just quit, because, you know, it’s silly. But one of the boys wanted me to get back in, and he said, ‘Kelly, you won’t have to die. You just do the shootin.’”
Number of Stoplights:
San Antonio, 55 miles southeast
Cowboys on Main every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Bandera County Courthouse, 500 Main St.