At the age of seven I wanted to be a cowboy. I had my boots, hat, six shot cap pistol, holster, jeans, black shirt trimmed in white and a bandana. I was all set. From behind pillow forts many Indians went to their happy hunting grounds and I must have killed my younger brother hundreds of times. When he went through his cowboy phase he got even.
The cowboy series on TV and radio became my early primer on the Wild West: Hopalong Cassidy, Wild Bill Hickok, The Cisco Kid, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and who could forget The Lone Ranger.
Saturdays were special times. The neighborhood "posse" would convene in a backyard and play at being cowboy. There were fast draw competions, broomstick horse races and chasing bad guys. Sometimes one of the neighborhood girls would show up and we'd show off by horsing around. Then the call for chow and we'd slope off to the nearest "ranch house." Toasted cheese never tasted as good.
When you were seven it was easy to dream about life in the West and how much you wanted to be like your idols. You thought you and the "posse" would go on forever and ride off into the sunset. It was not to be. About a year later the "posse" began to dwindle. Most joined the Cub Scouts. I was crushed. What could be more important than being a cowboy? I remember standing in a backyard with two others. We looked at each and walked away without saying anything. Back home I stood in front of my bedroom mirror. I drew my pistol and fired at my image.