He Should’ve Been a Cowboy

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I’ll warn you now, I’m going off on a tangent again.  I realize the Toby Keith video at the beginning is pretty good hint, but I don’t want you to read this whole thing wondering how I’m going to tie into something Jesusy.  I may do that before it’s over, who knows.  But, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.  So, now that the disclaimer is done, let’s get started.

In earlier posts, I’ve told you about my father and my grandfather on my mother’s side.  I’m not exactly sure why I’m drawn to tell stories about my family every so often.  It works out good for you, though.  You get to see the people who formed and influenced me, though I’d never blame them for the dark, twisted wreckage that passes for my mind and soul.

Today, I want to tell you about my father’s father, Dwight Henry Rieves.  Granddaddy was born in 1905, to Dr. James Taylor Rieves and his wife, Betty Diviney Rieves.  As a boy, he and his brothers roamed all over the south side of Greensboro.  Back then, folks said they were rambunctious.  Today, they’d be called juvenile delinquents.  He had a colorful childhood and no trip to Nana and Granddaddy’s was complete without a few stories.  He had an old red leather recliner and the best place in the world was sitting in his lap in that chair and listening to stories about him, his brothers and sisters.

He did a lot of things over the course of his life before settling down as a truck driver for Railway Express.  He did it for years, until he had a heart attack.  I don’t think he ever drove another mile after that; I know I never saw him get behind the wheel.  Here’s a picture of him in his prime:

The store he's standing in front of is in Mount Vernon Springs, North Carolina and, though it's not open anymore, it's still there.

He may have driven a truck most of his life, but what he wanted was to a be a cowboy.  He never told me that, but I believe that’s what he wanted.  I believe that because no one loved a good western more than my grandfather.  His favorite cowboy was William S. Hart, that’s him in the picture up at the top of the page.  When I was growing up in Greensboro, the Translux In-flite Theater showed soft-core porn and slasher flicks most of the week.  But, Saturday mornings, they showed westerns.  From the silent picture days of Hart and Tom Mix to the serials of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, it was cowboy heaven.  One Saturday, Dad and I took Granddaddy to watch them and he loved it.  I think he enjoyed playing cowboys with my brother and I as much as he did watching those old movies.  We were always the good guys and he was always Black Bart, complete with a black hat. I don’t know if he ever heard Toby Keith sing “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”, he died about the time it came out.  But the song could have been written about him; he would’ve loved it.