Jewish Cowboys

            October 2013    
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Yiddle Joe
From Vest of Ft. Lauderdale, Oye!

By William Rabinowitz

Well howdy, to ya'all out there, fellow members of the Tribe and otherwise. Name's Yiddle Joe. That is the name I chose. You have to choose a name. I could have used my name William but then they would call me Willie and I don't feel like no Willie. It sounds like Lilly and I ain't no Lilly - the wife will verify that.

Nope, it was the wife who picked out the name while we was trying names on. I said Yiddle Jim and she who must be obeyed said, no it should be Yiddle Joe. Shabbat was not even close and I was not worrying about Ketubah rights yet, so on occasion I give heed. She was right of course. Who the heck was Yiddle Jim? Everybody, with gray hair knows who Little Joe was. So, I became Yiddle Joe.

Yup, if you are above a certain decade along the road to geriatrictude, you grew up watching Bonanza on T.V. You watched the story of the Cartwright family on their ranch, the Ponderosa, near Virginia City, Nevada.

Bonanza was the second longest running western TV series in American T.V. history. Gunsmoke was the first. Bonanza first aired September 12, 1959 and rocketed to popularity and fame. In all NBC aired 430 episodes over fourteen seasons. The last episode ran in 1973. Don't be too depressed. Bonanza still airs in syndication worldwide. I heer'd it remains very popular in Arab countries. That remains a might hard to understand given their feelings toward Jews.

Ya see, the Cartwright family was a sort of mixed marriage type of situation.

Paw - Ben Cartwright was played by Lorne Greene. Ben's oldest son, Adam Cartwright was played by Pernell Roberts. Ben's middle son, a big strapping guy they called Hoss was played by Dan Blocker. And... the baby of the family was Joseph. The called him "Little Joe" played by Michael Landon.

The problem, for those that love Bonanza and hate Jews, was that Lorne Greene's eral name was Lymon Chaim Green, a Jew from Ottawa, Canada. Little Joe was Eugene Maurice Orowitz, a Yid from Queens, N.Y.

A few full months back, the wife and I took a ride out to Markham Park near Sunshine, Florida - way, way west, almost into the swamps of the Ever-Glades in Broward County. We heard they had a dog park there and of course we were thinking of Norman, our little Cock-a-Tzu Dog. Sort of sounds like a chicken sneezing don't it? He doesn't get to run very far in our bird cage outback over the pool. Lately, Norman had taken to being very careful running around the bird cage looking up.

One day, awhile back, he spotted a grey squirrel perched on the outside, high above, on the rafters of the bird cage. He took off on one raging, barking jag to frighten the squirrel away from his territory. The squirrel took off at a run. Norman followed barking his head off and looking upward in total concentration on the squirrel. But, Norman forgot one thing; the swimming pool is not a rectangle. It is kidney shaped and with curves. Norman dashed down the side of the bird cage next to the swimming pool yapping at the squirrel. Before he knew what happened, he hit the bend in the pool and over he went - right into the pool. Rather humiliating for a ferocious 18 lbs Cock-a-Tzu pup defending his home against viciously squirrely intruders.

He doggie paddled to the concrete steps and clambered out. A hard, hard shake to get the water off and a look of pure sheepishness and humiliation was there. If a dog has a facial expression to tell how he felt, Norman's read easily. Sheila and I, once we knew that Norman was fine, laughed until we pished. Norman looked at us with the "what's so funny look" of resentment and soggily waddled off to dry. That evening, all three of us agreed, we need to find somewhere Norman can be let off the leash and out to run. We needed a doggie park.

Markham Park has a doggie run. It is a wonderful recreational area with biking, hiking, a lake, picnicking, jet skiing, a place to fly model airplanes and even a rifle range. We checked out the doggie park first and then the rest of the facilities. Way in the back of the park is the rifle range, so we rode through. They had trap and skeet ranges. They had a sporting clays course and a large covered 200 yard rifle/pistol range.

Just stopping by and rolling down the windows, it was unreal. Enormous kabooms of shotguns, the rattle of rifles and bangs of pistols pounded on the ears. Signs warned not to approach without eyes and ears. What they meant was that you needed eye and ear protection when you got to near where they were shooting. And there were lots of folks shooting.

We drove to the far end of the ranges and were about to make the loop back when something extraordinary caught my eye. They looked like something from out of the Old West. They wore cowboy hats, boots, complete outfits from the 1880's and even more. They all had holsters strapped to their sides, with two gun six shooters bulging out and lead bullets in the loops in the back. They wore belts around their middles with shotgun shells for the short coach shotguns some carried. Others were carrying lever action rifles. The outfits were creative and colorful. Even the women had pistols hanging from their waists.

You know I had to stop. Having grown up watching every western there was, heck, I even had a Daniel Boone, coonskin cap with an imitation raccoon tail hanging in the back. It was every kid's dream to be a cowboy. These folks were cowboys.

An elderly, friendly man complete in Western attire, boots to ten gallon hat, met me at the gate. He had a large red bandanna tied about his neck with a jaunty western knot to the side.

"Name's Ferocious Dan, only folks around here, now a days, call me Slow Poke Dan. He extended his hand. "Want to come in?" I took his hand and said my name is William, William Rabinowitz."

He was clearly country in his drawl and demeanor - I mean real country. He even was missing a few teeth. I thought of anti-Semitism. I had a whole story appear in my head about what might be appearing in his head. "What is a Jew doing here?" I imagined his thoughts. What I imagined, if it did, it never came out. Ferocious was a friendly as could be.

I stood there gawking for a full minute at...


William Rabinowitz lives in Boynton Beach, Florida with his wife Sheila and their little dog Norman.

He can be reached at:


from the October 2013 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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