A camp cook isn’t just a cook. His job has many tasks. The cowboys all depend on him. His face has many masks.
He’ll wake you up at 5:00 am to eat fried eggs and ham, then toss you two hot biscuits with some butter and some jam.
He’ll holler, “We ain’t got all day. Let’s move on up the trail; unless you think you’re special or a feelin’ mighty frail.”
The camp cook has a sewing box. He’ll mend a torn up shirt. He carries rolled up bandages to fix a cowboy’s hurt.
I’ve seen the cook set broken legs with ties and wooden splints. He doesn’t seem to mind their pain. I’ve never seen him wince.
The camp cook listens to a cowboy’s daily sad complaint, then tells him what a lonesome picture he has tried to paint.
Each cowboy gives the cook respect. His name they won’t defile. ‘Cuz no one likes their food messed with. He’d spoil it, then he’d smile.
At night he’ll tell the cowboys how each one’s a knucklehead. Yet, he’ll check the young men’s sleeping bags to see they’re safe in bed.
And when the men are all asleep the cook will reminisce. He’ll think about when he was young. Those days he sure does miss.
He’ll dream about the girl he loved. His life was not for her. A cowboy she could never love. Her life was jewels and fur.
His mind goes back to fixing food. Those cowboys sure can eat. For breakfast, maybe just this time, he’ll fix a little treat.
He’ll climb back in the wagon and his eyes will start to droop. But first he’ll thank the Good Lord that he’s still part of this group.