El Ultimo Vaquero – The Last Cowboy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

I remember so many things about my youth and about growing up along the Rio Grande. I remember the open sky and the sweeping vistas of green fields and pastures, and the smell of the earth and the feel of the wind.

EL ULTIMO VAQUERO - THE LAST COWBOY

By Al Garcia

I remember so many things about my youth and about growing up along the Rio Grande.  I remember the open sky and the sweeping vistas of green fields and pastures, and the smell of the earth and the feel of the wind. 

I remember awakening to days brimming with promises and possibilities.  And I remember spending long, hot summer days as a young boy, trekking across open fields, canals and dried-out river beds, exploring the terrain for small creatures and all features that aroused the curiosity and inquisitiveness of the six or seven-year-old that I was.  This was my adventure, my safari into the unknown -- my quest to see the living, breathing world around me.  And, as a child, living in a small rural farm in Hargil, Texas, I learned to appreciate the days and the nights that defined my life, but most especially the time in between, when life, energy and force consumed me, and made the world around me magical, special and beautiful.

I also remember a man.  He was as tall as the sky was high.  He was as strong as Samson and his smile shinned brighter than the sun.  He was smarter than anyone I knew, and more courageous than the enemies he had fought in war.  I knew him well.  He was my dad.  And most of all, he was gentle and kind.

I remember dad with his hat and his boots, and his Levi jeans and western shirts.  He was a farmer, a rancher, a husband, a father, a friend to many – and he was a cowboy -- a vaquero and a caballero.  

He was only one of the many men like him, living in a place and in a time that challenged the spirit, the mind and the body.  And like the other men around him, he was patient, tolerant, tireless and driven.  He, like the others who toiled and worked the fields and tended to livestock, who roamed the ranges on horseback for white wealthy landowners, and who felt the pains and hardship of discrimination, segregation and bigotry that reigned across the Valley during the height of their existence – all shared one thing and one dream – a better life for their children, and the prospects of a Valley that would one day accept the color of their skin, the richness of their heritage, and the value of their lives.

The seasons have since come and gone, and with them has gone the strength and the character of a generation that inspired and motivated those of us who lived alongside them, and admired them, respected them, honored them, and most of all, loved them.  They were our fathers, our dads, our friends, our neighbors.  They were the dreamers and idealists who inspired and motivated, and helped change the Valley and the world around us.  They were the último vaqueros –  the last cowboys – living at a time and in a place that challenged their dignity and their pride, but also a time that exposed their courage, their bravery and their faith in tomorrow.

This is their story.  This is their legacy – the children they nurtured and loved, and the children who saw and felt their character, lived their truth, and believed in their dreams.  We are the children of the último vaqueros –  the last cowboys.  And we remember our fathers, our dads, our friends and our neighbors.  Their sweat, tears and blood is in the richness of the soil of our Valley along the Rio Grande, and their dreams, hopes and optimism is in the air and in the wind that blows across the Valley.

We are the children and the dreams of our fathers, and the legacy of hope that they helped to keep alive in the darkest of times and in the brightest of days. 

Here is the story of some of the último vaqueros –  the last cowboys, who helped to shape and mold the story of the Valley and the lives of those they loved.  They all led simple lives that defined and defied a nation in pain and in agony with itself.  They were ordinary men living in extraordinary times.  They were the unsung and unseen heroes of their generation.  And now is our time to say to them -- we hear you and we see you still.  Your dreams still live.


Submitted: May 28, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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