By Frank J. Buchman
“A cowboy’s physique changes in five decades.”
Fact came home to haunt when we pulled our chaps out of the old bull-riding-gear duffle bag and tried to put them on.
Aunt Lu had Ray Looper especially design and make us a pair of heavy leather chaps for our 16th birthday.
Many times we’d make requests to Lu for gifts. She always oblige, and continued doing so until passing. Lu didn’t have children of her own. So, we seemed to get Mom favors. Perhaps, one might say, Lu was our second mom.
The wise leather man measured the skinny teenager, wanna-be-cowboy, contributed knowledge and opinion, and made us our first and only pair of chaps.
Strong, high quality, rich-cream-colored leather is trimmed with complementing tannish-orange leather.
Moniker “Frank” has been carved out of that matching leather, and stitched onto the bottom of each legging flare.
Four-leaf-clovers, that didn’t bring cowboy luck, are accented by silver-conchos. They’re attached to three leg straps that fasten in the back of each leg with snaps.
A couple pictures in the bull riding, before we hit the ground, plainly verified the name for judges, if we would have just made the whistle.
When we became too scared to get on, the chaps were loaned to our best friend for a time. Wearing them, Dennis won money on several bulls and broncs. Luck didn’t come from shamrocks or name on the leggings. He’s always been a better cowboy.
Anyway, recently when we decided to wear our chaps, hoping to impress judges in ranch pleasure classes, the leggings wouldn’t fit. We’d outgrown them, gotten fat.
They were long enough, because we haven’t gotten taller. But, the cowboy-leg-protectors wouldn’t even come close to fitting around our legs and waist, no matter how hard we tried to “suck it all in.”
So, we took our “little” chaps over to John, and with shame, softly explained the dilemma. Grinning, he measured the fat ancient, still-wanna-be-cowboy.
Those old, strong, but hardened, pride-and-joy leggings were cleaned, and softened again. Inches of leather were added, and a little bit replaced, too.
The “new” chaps fit just fine. Doubtful our cowboy abilities improve.
Reminds us of Genesis 26:16: “You’ve become far too big.” And, one of our favorite often repeated readings: “A time to rip out, and another to mend.”