When I was a kid in the early 1970s, my father went through an unfortunate period of listening to country music.  Which meant, when trapped in the car in those pre-Beats By Dre days, I had to listen to country music.

Most of it was rather unpleasant.  But for whatever reason, I grew to really enjoy the Statler Brothers.  I was a fan of “Flowers On the Wall” before it was discovered by Quentin Tarantino.  The song I really liked, though, was “Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?”  Even before I understood who Randolph Scott was and exactly what the Statlers were lamenting our society had lost, I felt a twinge of nostalgic yearning myself.  At least as much as such is possible for a ten-year-old.

Now that I am officially old, this song really resonates.

One of Scott’s Western contemporaries, Gene Autry, understood the responsibility he shouldered as one to whom millions of impressionable youngsters looked up to and admired.  Aware that these kids were keen to emulate his public persona, Autry came up with, and then promoted the Cowboy Code ― a list of ten rules which would help keep his admirers on the straight and narrow:

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

He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
He must always tell the truth.
He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
He must help people in distress.
He must be a good worker.
He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
The Cowboy is a patriot.
A person looking for a few guiding principles for living could do a lot worse.


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