From my earliest remembrances, I have loved horses – any size or breed, from derby runners to trotters and pacers, from draft horses to saddle horses, from Clydesdales to Shetlands. If it was equine, it had a place in my heart – quite unlike my next older brother.
He wanted nothing (better make that NOTHING) to do with anything equine. I knew this, of course, so imagine the kid sister’s delight when, upon finishing basic military training and reporting back for duty, he was assigned to the cavalry! The MULE pack, no less.
As a kid on Dad’s farm, I was delighted to drive the team no matter the purpose. Put me near a horse, and I was happy. I spent long summer days by myself playing “cowboys and Indians,” tearing through the orchard riding my non-existent horse, slapping my hip to make him run faster. A cowboy must be armed, of course, so Mom fashioned a holster for my toy cap gun, which could never be pointed at anyone, out of worn out denim overalls. Oh, the joys of a kid’s imagination.
When I learned about the Pony Express, I just switched gears. Instead of fighting Indians, I carried mail across the plains and mountains connecting east to west. I would switch horses at designated points and continue my ride to complete my required 250 miles in 24 hours – all within the fences of the orchard/cow pasture.
When I begged Dad for a pony, the answer was always the same: “No.” However, he did explain that, while he wouldn’t get me a pony, he would get me a saddle horse as soon as he deemed me big enough, old enough, to handle and be responsible for the animal. I was either 12 or 13 when he did get that saddle horse for me. The horse, named Trigger, of course, as I was a Roy Rogers fan, was green-broke. He would respond to the pull of the reins and would tolerate a saddle and rider. It was a good choice because his rider (me!) was also pretty green.
Back to the Pony Express. For many years I never gave it a thought other than my days of “riding” for them. Then last spring, on the return from San Diego, a restaurant we patronized in Utah placed interesting, informative brochures on the tables for the taking. That week’s issue was about the Pony Express.
This original ad which purportedly ran in a California newspaper got my attention: “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” Of the 183 riders, few were orphans. The youngest was 11 and the oldest in his mid 40s.
At first, it cost $5 a half-ounce for mail carried the 2,000 miles, but in just a year and a half that fee dropped to $1 per half- ounce. The business which was expected to make millionaires of its founders actually went broke, put out of business by the railroad and telegraph. Even in the 1860s, technology was the culprit.
I find today’s technology utterly mind-boggling. I can do mundane, ordinary procedures on the computer, like writing this column and sending it via email, but I find Smart Phones a true conundrum! In the winter I was tempted when I heard of some models being offered for only $10, obsolete but supposedly very usable.
I considered the monthly cost of service and decided this little cell phone I have is just fine. It was an “old” model they sell to “old model” users like me when I bought it, and I’ve never seen the necessity to upgrade. After all, old models belong together.
What peace there is in knowing that prayer, the original wireless connection, is not mind-boggling and never obsolete. It may seem very old fashioned, but it still works because our God has promised to be with us always, to listen to our heart issues and to continually care for us. Thank God.
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