The Cowboy Code And The New California
October 17, 2003, 05:00 AM
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The roots and values of old California run deep within me. I can remember California before it became overwhelmed by openly hostile illegal aliens. Pictures of wide-open spaces and mile after mile of pristine beach pack family photo albums.

A few years ago, my mother gave me some books and papers from the California Historical Society. Those documents told of my grandfather's days in California during the early 1900s.

Granddad hired on with Henry Miller, a German immigrant who had arrived in San Francisco with $6, ultimately owned a million head of cattle and hundreds of thousands of sheep, and died worth $40 million (in 1916 dollars). According to lore, Miller could drive his cattle from Oregon to Mexico pasturing them on his own land all the way. And perhaps he could. At the peak of his career, he reportedly owned or controlled some 22,000 square miles.

Granddad started out as a cowpuncher. He worked his way up to become Miller's head cattle buyer.

When I was a young boy, on trips to my grandparent's house, my grandmother would make Dr. Pepper ice cream floats while my grandfather told me about the round-ups at Miller's Santa Rita Ranch in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Granddad took me to western movies and taught me how to ride a horse.

So for me, a native-born Californian, dismissive attitudes toward the Old West are particularly galling.

But I'll hand it to Rosalina Sondoval-Marin for talking straight.

When New York Times reporter Charlie LeDuff headed to Victorville, CA. earlier this summer to write his story titled "Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Ride Off to Missouri" [June 1, 2003] about the Rogers-Evans Museum closing and moving to Branson), he met Sondoval-Marin at the Chubasco Bar nursing a beer.

LeDuff, perhaps suspecting that the museum's relocation was a sad moment for Victorville, paused at the local saloon to get a first hand perspective.

Sondoval-Marin spoke up quickly.  "Roy Rogers? He doesn't mean anything. There's a revolution going on out there and it don't include no Roy Rogers or Bob Hope." (Hope was still alive at the time.)

Well….there you have it—an honest statement of how some Mexicans (especially those living in California illegally) view their country's quest to reclaim what they call Aztlan.

Sondoval-Marin didn't mince words. She didn't offer up any phony-baloney stuff like LULAC, the United League of Latin American Citizens  with the American flag pasted all over its home page. And she had the common sense not to insult us like the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund does by including "American" in its name.

Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys, whose records topped the charts for two decades and whose image adorned 2.5 billion boxes of Post cereal, is ancient history—among what LeDuff refers to as "the new immigrants"- in other words, illegal aliens.

Sondoval-Marin's attitude is a stellar example of one of my biggest gripes about the Mexican invasion. They'll come, live here, work here but when it comes to demonstrating enthusiasm for things American—forget it!

Late last spring, in a heated exchange chronicled in VDARE.COM, I was in the crosshairs of a couple of local MEChistas who masquerade by day as Tokay High School teachers. They called me some very rude names.

And, in my California gubernatorial campaign, I got my share of vile e-mail. Our adversaries can really string together four letter words!

Okay, abuse goes with the territory. This is, as the Soprano Family likes to say, "the life we have chosen."

But I cannot—will not!—permit anyone to diss my childhood heroes Rogers, Gene Autry or Hopalong Cassidy.

Throughout his life, Rogers was a true-blue American patriot. He sold millions of dollars of War Bonds during World War II. Rogers made countless USO tours with Trigger, his trusty horse. During one 20-day span visiting Texas bases, Rogers and Trigger put on 136 shows. Twenty-five years later, Rogers toured Vietnam. Throughout his life, Rogers and Evans worked tirelessly on behalf of numerous children's charities.   

When I was still very young—but old enough to think I knew everything to know about life— Granddad (who had actually been a cowboy, remember) gave me a copy of  Gene Autry's Cowboy Code.

Here it is:

  1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

  1. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

  1. He must always tell the truth.

  1. He must be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.

  1. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

  1. He must help people in distress.

  1. He must be a good worker.

  1. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.

  1. He must respect women, parents and his nation's laws.

  1. The Cowboy is a patriot.

In the unlikely event that I should one day find myself at the Chubasco Bar, I'll look for Sondoval-Marin. I'll explain to her about why Rogers and Autry are beloved American icons.

Then we'll talk about the Cowboy Code, with special emphasis on why #10—the "Cowboy is a Patriot"—should be as important to her as it is to me.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.