The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

by law officers; Hamilton went to the electric chair; and the tall, good-looking
Fults got out of prison and died from cancer in 1993.
This interpretive work raises as many questions as it answers. In the pecking
order of criminals in the gangster era in America, Barrow, Hamilton, and Parker
stood high on the honored list. Fults was a minor figure. Can one conclude,
then, that Fults was duped at times by his more famous associates? Furthermore,
did Hamilton-but not Fults-get involved in a sexual triad with Bonnie and
Clyde? In addition, in the world of crime was the life of Fults anticlimactic after
the deaths of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker?
For some, few badmen, if any, in the gangster era can be seen as Robin Hood
bandits. For others, the viewpoint of the author makes sense: "Like many who
resort to crime and violence in the face of personal humiliation, they [Barrow
and Fults] viewed themselves as the spearhead of a noble cause, in the tradition
of Robin Hood or Jesse James-headstrong thoughts for two children of an
ever-darkening era" (p. 42).
Jamestown Community College HAROLDJ. WEISS JR.
Cowboys: Ranch Life Along the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. By Lawrence Clayton
(Austin: Eakin Press, 1997. Pp. xii+12o. Foreword, introduction, illustrations,
recipes, suggested reading, index. ISBN 1-57168-149-3. $14.95, paper.)
As a memorial to Watt Matthews, owner of the Lambshead Ranch who died at
98, author Lawrence Clayton opened this monograph on modern cowboys with
a description of a true cowboy funeral. The book is dedicated to Watt and the
cowboys of the area near the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. Short thumbnail
sketches and photos of over two dozen working cowboys make a real, personal
connection to the present day.
Cowboying in many ways is different from a century ago, but some things
don't change. They still ride horses to corral cattle in pastures where the grass is
stirrup high, but the horses may have been saddled at the barn and loaded into
trailers or trucks for the drive to the appropriate pasture. Sometimes ranchers
use a helicopter to locate herds for the cowboys on horseback and notify them
with an external loudspeaker. After a roundup, cattle and calves are vaccinated,
castrated, dehorned, branded, and sprayed for parasites. Modern cowboys are
certainly efficient!
An attitude among cowboys that apparently has not changed over many years
is that they love their intelligent horses and treat the cattle they herd with dis-
dain as stupid animals. They love their work and feel a real commitment to the
life. Even their social life reflects this. Pallbearers at funerals wear white western
shirts, Levis, and boots. Weddings carry a Western theme, and an afternoon of
fun may be a ranch rodeo. As for gear, contrary to the old cliche that good guys
wear white hats, these hardworking cowboys most often wear black felt Stetsons.
They use handmade saddles because factory saddles just will not hold up to the
strain of use. Photos of saddles, stirrups, bits, and spurs by Sonja Irwin Clayton
reveal the creativity of saddlemakers and cowboys.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed September 18, 2014.