Rocky fancies himself a dude wrangler at the old Jolly Ranch. What’s a dude wrangler, you might ask? From Smith’s Dude Ranches and Ponies:
“[The dude wrangler] is keeping alive the last remnant of the old romantic West in the flesh, as it were. He is giving the cowboy a chance to keep his identity in part at least and, what is equally important, he is making a reason for the continued existence of the cow pony, or western horse.” (Smith, 1936)
“The dude wrangler, as the boss is called, has his crops just like other ranchers; but instead of critters (cattle), or horses, it is dudes. … many have turned to dudes as their main crop and either have let the animals go or just keep enough to meet requirements.” (Smith, 1936)
Dude wrangler tending to his “crops.”
As Smith goes on to describe, the dude wrangler’s role is difficult and fraught with challenges of commerce, authenticity, and customer service.
“The dude wrangler’s job is not an easy one and he takes a lot of punishment that he does not deserve, as a general rule. He has a great responsibility in many ways and if he is honest, on the job, and hopes to stay and build up a business, he has to give good value all the time. Competition is strong and the crop of dudes getting bigger and bigger, but what counts is the repeat business.
In the first place the dude wrangler must be true to the ideals of the West; he must be a square shooter and must give a dollar’s worth of goods for each dollar. Too many types of businesses these days just try to get by, and get it all the first throw, with no thoughts of the future except that they hope there will be enough customers to keep their rackets going on fresh stock. This doesn’t work in dude wrangling, and a dude ranch to succeed must give its guests what they pay for. They don’t want just a vacation in the country with a three-legged cayuse to bounce around on; they want a taste of the West as they have pictured it, and they want it both materially and in spirit. This is possible if the dude wrangler has brains and is square, and if he is wise he will look ahead and not back.”
The bold-faced sentence represents Rocky’s current area of focused investigation. What is the relationship between the authentic, local experience and one manufactured for the tourist economy. Sadly, it appears as though Blairmore is not succeeding well in either respect.
An authentic dude spotted in Crawford, Texas.