Gene Autry was many things—singer, songwriter, actor, musician, and rodeo performer. He owned television station, several radio stations in Southern California, and a Major League Baseball team
from 1961 to 1997.
But it was the “Singing Cowboy’s” image as a movie and television star that captured my attention growing up in Gastonia. He was the first recording artist to bring country music to the silver screen with his signature songs “Back in the Saddle again” and “At Mail Call Today.” Most everyone will remembers his holiday recordings of “Frosty the Snowman,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and “Up on the House Top”. But the biggest hit was “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
One Christmas, my parents gave me a Gene Autry watch, my very first watch. He and his horse Champion were good guys who fought those bad guys of the wild, wild west and always came out on top. He was one of my heroes. There’s also a Gene Autry “Cowboy Code,” ten statements which are as good today as when they first came out. Take a gander at these:
1. The cowboy must never hit a smaller man or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. The cowboy must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and private habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.
I’m thinking that you might have your own personal Code of Conduct. A code for the ages is found in Exodus 20 and that Code is called The Ten Commandments. Another great code is found in The Sermon on the Mount. What are the markers of your life—the points of light and truth by which you live? For most of us, Faith, Family, and Friends are the foundations on which we stand.
The Cowboy Code could also apply to Cowgirls as well. So, next time I look with nostalgia at my Gene Autry watch, I’ll remind myself of the Cowboy Code, especially Number 4—Be gentle with
children, the elderly, and animals. And, I might add—be gentle with yourself.
So long for now, Partner, until next time, when, to quote a Gene Autry song, “I’m back in the saddle again, out where a friend is a friend.”
Written by Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO