Unbridled Cowboy. By Joseph B. Fussell, edited by E.R. Fussell. Kirksville, Mo: Truman State University Press, 2008 Paperback Price:$19.95 ISBN:9781931112772 http://tsup.truman.edu
Joe, almost 80 when he died, lived a life fuller than most can image. Joe's astounding record, he tells you, is mostly true, and he'll let you know otherwise. Joe did not admire school and home chores despite a good family around Tyler and Kerens. Leaving his East Texas home as a teenager, Joe tromped Texas, the Plains, the mountains, the Southwest, California, and Mexico, got jobs, cowboyed, railroaded, worked livery, farmed, hoboed, got into scrapes, dipped on the other side of the law at times, sought revenge, went as an undercover Ranger once, chased an occasional woman, got himself further civilized and educated, and, yes, finally got himself a family, living a fairly quite and proper life.
At one point, he relates "I waged a one-man war just as I have related it here . I offer no apologies to anyone for what I did and I'm not trying to ease my conscience. I was reared in an environment where men settled their differences man-to-man, without the aid of so-called constituted law."
His descriptions of violence and law-breaking (his and others) are not salacious, but more matter
of fact. Unbridled Cowboy is a delightful, rambunctious read, a sort of memoir, but, well, sometimes, life is a kick in the pants. A great story, invitingly written, and genuine as morning served with coffee at a gingham tablecloth. E.R. edited "Gramps" autobiography for us, and that joy should be visited on anybody wishing a touch of warmth and compassion. You can learn much from the narrative, but buy it because it's a wonderful read.