The Code of the West

My family in 1925 in the mountain community of Indian Hills, outside of Denver. They shared a cabin there when they weren't in their Denver homes.

Last week I finally got my desk sorted–again, although it isn’t cleaned yet.  Eraser shreds, dust from the open windows, crumbs, cat hair, cottonwood fluff, bits of yarn, all still linger here.  What really bothered me was the stacks of paper everywhere–print outs, receipts, folders that I kept moving from place to place.  After the garage sale bust of last weekend–never again!–there was even more stuff to be sorted, stored or given away.   All this organization took time, but it was purging!  Now I know where everything is again as well as what needs to be accomplished.
One benefit was finding a folder where I stuffed newspaper clippings that I wanted to think about.  One of them was a profile about the granddaughter of a Colorado pioneer family who had just turned 100.  She was a truly amazing woman…I say was, because just the day before I had read her obituary in the newspaper.  She died at 101.  Synchronicity!  Another article I found inspired the title of this blog posting.

The Code of the West has inspired a curriculum unit developed by the Ann Moore of Cherry Creek High School and is available from the Cherry Creek School District, a suburban district in the Denver Metro area where my children and one son-in-law attended school, my grandchildren attend now and my other son-in-law teaches.  The curriculum is titled, “Making a Difference: Cowboy Ethics in the Classroom.”  It is intended for middle school and high school students.

The key principles are good for life on the range, in business and on Wall Street.  After watching several documentaries about the recent financial collapse around the world, including the Bernie Madoff debacle, maybe the code has worldwide applications!   See what you think.  It’s very simple:

  • Live each day with courage
  • Take pride in your work
  • Always finish what you start
  • Do what has to be done
  • Be tough but fair
  • When you make a promise, keep it
  • Ride for the brand
  • Talk less and say more
  • Remember that some things aren’t for sale
  • Know where to draw the line

Happy trails to you!

5 thoughts on “The Code of the West

  1. What a great place this world would be if everyone lived by this code. It should be taught starting in grade school. I think it would make a real difference!

    And Mary-that photograph is so interesting! Do you know the circumstances surrounding it?

    • I do agree, Valerie! I think these are important values that have been missing far too long. As far as the photograph, I’m making an educated guess as far as its age and where it was taken. All I do know for certain is that my Great Aunt Margaret was born in Boulder, Colorado, probably in the late 1890s and her parents were early pioneers here. She believed strongly in educating her children and family in the botany and history of the area. From what my mother told me, she was always arranging hikes and other events to educate everyone. This may have been one of those events. I have another picture of my Ohio grandfather all decked out like a cowboy. I’m searching for to scan into my collection of family “cowboys (and cowgirls).”

  2. My mom used to talk about how no one in the country wore ripped clothing because they were dangerous around animals, equipment, and landscape features. I’m not sure wearing ripped clothing is a character flaw, but it explains why it was so important to people in the west not to dress that way. So I think they would also say to dress appropriately for the situation and environment. (Tell that to all those women in long dresses and corsets back in those days, right?)

    • Absolutely! No wonder women fainted! Those corsets with whale bones… Sheer torture! I would think the long dresses would be dangerous as well.

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