Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: May 14, 2018

“The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West” by John Branch

“The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West” by John Branchc.2018, W.W. Norton
$26.95 / $35.95 Canada
288 pages

Book review by Terri Schlichenmeyer.

You can’t take it with you.

People have tried for millennia to keep all their toys but eventually, there comes a time to step aside and pass the baton to the next person who needs a chance. It’s their turn, their time to take things and run. The tricky part, as in the new book “The Last Cowboys” by John Branch, is understanding when let go.

The seventh generation was coming up.

With thirteen children and numerous grandchildren, sixth-generation rancher Bill Wright knew that his family’s spread in Utah , near Zion National Park , would likely be passed to one of them someday. Meanwhile, working cattle, maintaining water reservoirs, it was a full-time business, but ranching was in Wright’s blood.

Once, though, for him, there was the rodeo.

That was the other thing Wright, a former bronc rider, had bestowed upon his sons: love of rodeo. His eldest boy, Cody, had reached high-level status as a bronc rider, and Cody’s brothers were moving up the ranks behind him. There was pride in that, not envy, and a dream for Cody that he might someday compete alongside his own sons.

But bronc riding is a hard way to make a living. For eight seconds, a rider must maintain balance, position, and form while astride a bucking, twisting, jumping horse. Points come from rider and horse, both; purses are cumulative and help rank the riders. Injuries are so common, they’re almost expected.

Says Branch, “The next ride might be a winner. Or it might be the last.”

While his sons criss-crossed the country each summer to ride in as many rodeos as possible, Wright cared for the ranch his family loved. He “wasn’t sure about all the talk on climate change” but he knew things weren’t like they used to be. Areas that once had plenty of grass were now drier. Grazing permits for federal lands were a tangle of rules. Ranching got harder and harder each year – but how could he sell a generations-old legacy?

In a way, “The Last Cowboys” is one of the most time-stretching books you’ll ever read.

Half of it is written in eight-second timelines, as author John Branch describes the skill, technique, and problems with staying on a rarely-ridden horse long enough to win what could be six-figure payouts. Though it’s difficult to read, Branch writes about how hard such a sport is on a man’s body, and how addicting it can be.

As it should, the other side of this book moseys through 150 years of ranch life. Branch describes beautiful, mountainous views; and dusty pastures often tied to bureaucracy and boundaries. This side gives readers a chance to dwell in the lushness while reading, with sinking feeling, about its dwindling appeal to newer generations.

 In the end, the answers are as complicated as are the rules for bronc riding and grazing rights, and readers who cherish the Old West shouldn’t wait to read about this New one. Start “The Last Cowboys,” and you’ll want to take it everywhere with you.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin

Childress finishes second in Greater Valley Conference

Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—Hannah Childress battled cramps in both feet to reach her first Greater Valley Conference girls singles final on Saturday, May 12 at Salem Tennis and Swim Club.

But the McNary senior couldn’t bring home the title, falling to three-time district champion Ceanne Elliott of West Albany 6-0, 6-1.

I think it would have been a lot more competitive if she would have been more fresh,” McNary head coach Mathew Osberg said.

After cruising to the semifinals, dropping just five games in three matches, to qualify for her fourth state tennis tournament, Childress defeated South Salem sophomore Abby Fedor 7-5, 6-2 Saturday morning to reach the finals.

The first set was really challenging,” Childress said. “Starting the second set, she (Fedor) was really motivated. But all the energy just dropped and I noticed she was getting more tired and frustrated so I picked up my game then and I hit a little bump when she won the second game and the rest I just really wanted to win. I’d put so much energy into that match and wanted to make it into the finals. I love how it’s my last year and I made it to the finals. It’s progress.”

Gina Munguia and Natalia Gonzalez, who didn’t begin playing together until the last match of the season, reached quarterfinals of the doubles bracket, where they lost to the eventual champions Avari Ridgway and Amy Gilliat of McMinnville 6-0, 6-0.

They really have a lot of communication on the court and move well together,” Osberg said of Munguia and Gonzalez. “I think both of them had their best matches. They kept being patient and kept the ball in play and tried to force errors from their opponents and it worked out.”

McNary senior Katherine Perez regrouped from losing in the first round to win four matches in a row, including a 5-7, 7-6, 6-0 victory over Hannah Leichty in the consolation finals.

In the boys tournament, McNary junior Alfredo Villarreal also rebounded after losing in the first round to reach the consolation finals, where he lost to Josiah Barkes of Sprague 6-1, 6-1. Villarreal shut out Rees Jones of South Salem 8-0 to get to the finals.

In practice, I’m just trying to get better everyday,” said Villareal, who only began playing tennis last season. “I’m not just out here just to take up time. I’m trying to get better and put in effort every day and that’s how I’ve got to the point I am right now. I think I still have a lot of potential and I still have a lot of room to improve so if I just keep working I’ll be able to go even farther next year.”

The 6A tennis state championships are May 17-19 at Babette Horenstein Tennis Center in Beaverton.

Childress, the No. 7 seed, has a bye in the first round and will get the winner of Olivia O’Halloran (Barlow) and Lucy Erickson (Sunset).

Budget includes support for several local efforts

Of the Keizertimes

Members of the Keizer Budget Committee were in a giving mood last week as a number of local organizations were granted additional funding or first-time funding in the city’s annual budget.

Three of the standouts were the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, the Keizer Cultural Center and a non-profit known as Keizer United. The Chamber and Keizer United were tentatively approved for additional funding, but will need to come back and present detailed plans to the city council prior to money being disbursed.

The Chamber’s typical annual support includes about $3,000 for a membership package, an advertisement in the group’s annual lifestyle directory and $2,500 for support Chamber employees supply in visitor services.

Last week, Chamber Executive Director Danielle Bethell and Chamber President Nate Bauer requested an additional allotment of $8,500 from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Keizer collects on hotel stays. The amount is 10 percent of what Keizer collects annually in TOT.

“The Chamber promotes the businesses, but also the community. We’re asking for some funds to help do that,” said Bauer.

Until 2011, the Chamber received 20 percent of the TOT collections, but an slow economic recovery combined with the need to prop up a new civic center while it gained a place in the event market meant money was used elsewhere.

Bethell said the Chamber intends to use the additional TOT money to help secure a new space on River Road North.

“The 1,000 people that we bring – awkwardly -– to our space in Keizer Station would double if we were on River Road. We need help to do that,” Bethell said.

Budget Committee members, which include city councilors and a citizen advisory group, approved the additional request for TOT dollars with the caveat that a more detailed plan was needed.

The same was true for Keizer United, a non-profit that is working to connect the varying efforts of many Keizer organizations and schools seeking volunteers, funding and in-kind support.

After a request for $2,000 in the last budget cycle met with concern, Meredith Mooney, a spokesperson for Keizer United, returned this year loaded for bear.

“We are asking for some financial support because Keizer United is repurposing its mission and vision, and we’ve more than doubled our representation at the table,” Mooney said.

Mooney said the group’s new mission includes being a neutral ground for collaborations to happen among other efforts from all sectors of the Keizer community. She also pre-sweetened the pot by securing a matching $2,000 grant from the Salem Leadership Foundation.

While Keizer United was approved for funding, a more detailed plan will need to be presented at the city council.

The committee also approved doubling financial support for the Keizer Cultural Center, the old school next to the Keizer Civic Center.

Leaders from the Keizer Art Association, Keizer Heritage Foundation, Keizer Homegrown Theater, Keizer Heritage Museum, and Keizer Community Library all turned out over the course of two nights to make their case for a $20,000 allocation to help support all five groups during the next fiscal year.

Linda Baker, founder of Keizer Homegrown, said a cultural center is something unique to the surrounding areas.

“The closet cultural centers are Lincoln City and Lakewood, and we are the only one that has the theater smack dab in the middle of town,” said Baker. “Arts money also stays in the community, 45 cents of every dollar stays in the local area. We’re looking at bringing something to the community not just asking for it.”

One point of concern was money from the city being put into the sinking fund for the building as a whole. Committee Member Ron Bersin wanted to see the tenants of the building build up that fund rather than seeing taxpayer money go into it. Nothing was set in stone, but representatives of the cultural center made verbal concessions.

Chris Erich, representing the Keizer Heritage Foundation which oversees the facility, said management is also investigating insurance plans to cover catastrophic expenses.

City Manager Chris Eppley said his support stemmed from almost purely pragmatic concerns.

“A cultural center provides an esoteric value to the community, but I support this because I am certain, if we don’t do this, that the organizations will fail and the city will inherit the building. At that point we either tear it down or it goes into disrepair,” Eppley said. “Under any scenario, doing something else is going to cost way more than the $20,000.”

Other projects that received special attention in the budget included: allocating $60,000 for an electronic readerboard for the Keizer Civic Center, the funding will come from a contingency fund dedicated to the civic center; a $2,000 increase in stipends for public art; $2,000 to replace the lights and wiring for the city’s Christmas tree; $6,000 for the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation after school programming; and $5,000 for the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative, which helps cover the costs of a program manager connecting the various organizations that reach out to the area’s homeless residents.