"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, December 5, 2015

At The End Of My Ride

The unusual evergreen was just a sapling when I used to look for it each time we drove to Spokane. Well, maybe it was a bit more than a sapling, but not by much.  It was just about the same size as my favorite maple tree that grew in the front yard of my childhood home in the 1960’s. I am not certain what species the little evergreen was that sat along the highway. I just called it a pine tree. In reality, I’m not sure it was a pine. But it was unusual and noticeable because it had a crook in the middle of the trunk about 4 feet from the ground. It almost looked like someone could sit there comfortably in that little crook.  And when we drove by, I always used to imagine there was indeed, someone sitting there.

When I was a kid in the late 50’s and early 60’s, the road we now call Seltice Way was then the main highway to Spokane. This little tree sat in the treed area (One can’t call it a median because it was a much larger area than that) between the east and west lanes of the highway. Yep, back then we just called it the highway – it was Highway 10.  Later we got the “freeway”. I believe construction of the freeway started in the late 60’s. I am not entirely sure. But I do know construction of the interstate from Wallace to Spokane was more than a decade long process, occurring from the late 50’s to 1970. It wasn’t until our little Coeur d’Alene community became much more “sophisticated” - probably in the 80’s or 90’s - that we started calling the freeway by its official name: “I-90”. Yeah right, it will always be “the freeway” to me.
But I digress. Back to my story of that little evergreen that grew by the “highway to Spokane” when I was a kid. As I said, every time we drove this highway, I would look for that tree with the crook in it. When I saw it, I pretended someone was sitting there, waiting for me. Sometimes he was there with his guitar. Sometimes he just sat there waving at us and smiling when he saw us approaching. But he was always there. Who was this faithful person always waiting there for me? Why, it was Rowdy Yates!! Oh, come on! You know Rowdy! Handsome, young ramrod from the hit television show Rawhide!  Clint Eastwood, in “real life”. Rawhide was a popular series that aired from 1959 to 1966. 

Rowdy Yates
I think I have written about Rowdy before. I probably had the worst crush a young girl could ever have on Rowdy Yates. When I was about 5, every time the show would begin I would wait for the credits to roll and they would show each of the stars' faces from this hit series. Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) the trail boss; Wishbone (Paul Brinegar) the cook; Pete Nolan (Sheb Wooley) the singing scout who watched out for trouble; and of course Rowdy Yates, (Clint Eastwood) the ramrod…whatever that meant. I LOVED each of these actors (still do) but When Rowdy’s face appeared on the television screen, inevitably I would be there waiting to kiss that handsome man on the TV screen. YES! I am admitting that! Please remember I was 5. Later when I was a bit older, I would play in the yard, as well as Grandpa’s pasture, pretending Gil Favor was my dad, Pete Nolan was my Uncle Pete, and Wishbone was my grandpa! Of course Rowdy Yates was my husband! Together, we would drive those cows, then put our horses away and have a good meal at the end of the drive that Wishbone had prepared for us.

Rowdy Yates and Gil Favor
Anyway, I digress once again – back to the highway…and Rowdy Yates...with his guitar. Like I said, he was always there waiting for me. Well over the years, after I became an adult (sort of), every so often I had occasion to drive that old highway. That fond memory of course would come to my mind and I would look for that tree. But it had been so many years that things had changed; I couldn’t really remember the exact location. The trees and bushes had all grown up, dynamics changed. I never again found that young sapling with the crook in the trunk. I quit looking a long time ago. UNTIL YESTERDAY!!! I wasn't even looking for it, but all of a sudden I spotted that familiar, but unusual tree!

Pete Nolan and Wishbone
Driving back (heading east) from my husband’s doctor appointment the tree caught my eye! I wasn’t looking for it because I was convinced a long time ago that the crooked tree was long gone. But then, suddenly right  "out of the blue" there it was. The funny thing was, when I was a kid, I always found it driving west – on our way to Spokane! This time, after all the years of looking, I found the tree as we drove east.  It was of course much larger, having lived and grown more than 50 years. The crook was still there, but it had all grown together, much as an old man would garner a big, fat gut from all the years of eating improperly without enough exercise. There was no longer room there for anyone to ever find a seat to sit and wait for me. But OH! I was happy to have found that tree! And guess what???!!! Rowdy Yates was still there!! Standing this time, weathered a bit with age; but playing his guitar, smiling and singing as we drove by!  

"Cut 'em out, ride 'em in, ride 'em in, cut 'em out, cut 'em out, ride 'em  in, Rawhide!  My heart's calculatin', my true love will be waitin', be waitin' at the end of my ride."

by Ned Washington
Recorded in 1958 by Frankie Laine
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rawhide
Rollin' rollin' rollin', though the streams are swollen
keep them doggies rollin', Rawhide!
Through rain and wind and weather, sure bent for leather,
wishin' my gal was by my side.
All the things I'm missin', good viddies, love and kissin',
are waitin' at the end of my   ride.

Move 'em on, head 'em up, head 'em up, move 'em on,
move 'em on, head 'em up, Rawhide!
Cut 'em out, ride 'em in, ride 'em in, cut 'em out,
cut 'em out,ride 'em  in, Rawhide!
Keep movin' movin' movin', though they are disapprovin'
keep them doggies movin', Rawhide!
Don't try to understand them, just rope, throw and brand 'em, 
soon we'll be livin' high and wide.
My heart's calculatin', my true love will be waitin',
be waitin' at the end of my  ride.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rawhide


  1. Great story! As it happens, I have ordered a DVD set of Rawhide for a certain young lady (who loves old westerns) for Christmas. I'm sure she'll develop a crush on Rowdy with his guitar, too. LOL! I'll have to show her your post after Christmas, once she's started watching it.

  2. Haha...That's so great, Karla. She will love it! The whole family will! I'm not sure Rowdy ever had a guitar. I think that was mostly my imagination, but I will never forget a show when he sang a song. I think he was sitting at the end of the chuck wagon. Can't remember if anyone was singing with him. I do know Sheb Wooley was a singer before actor, and he may have sang from time to time. I need to start watching all of those again my self! Can't wait to hear what that young lady thinks!!!