May 7, 2014

Hello Cowgirl in the Sand


American Cowgirls of the 1940's Here's a collection of unseen photographs of cowgirls were taken by LIFE photographers Nina Leen, Peter Stackpole and Cornell Capa between 1947-48 at the University of Arizona Rodeo and the opening of the Flying L Ranch in Texas, which included a celebratory cowgirl fashion event.






Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both....

- - John Keats: Ode On A Grecian Urn

Hello, cowgirl in the sand...
Is this place at your command?
Can I stay here for a while?
Can I see your sweet, sweet smile?

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 7, 2014 9:10 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Now there be some healthy women, and they earned the description with lots of respect attached. Down around my place we still have gals like that, and the healthy males to go along with 'em. By healthy I mean:


any questions?

Posted by: chasmatic at May 7, 2014 10:41 AM

It's part of the development of The Narrative, just like Katherine Hepburn wearing slacks and besting men 'in a man's world' in those 1930s movies. Take a look at photo number three, for example. We have a brunette wearing men's clothing and smoking a (Hand Rolled!)cigarette, just like a man! She even holds it like a man and has a bit of a mustache. Pretty butch even by modern standards.

The subtext is pretty clear.

Posted by: Lorne at May 7, 2014 11:17 AM

Reverse cowgurl.

Posted by: ghostsniper at May 7, 2014 2:23 PM

Lorne: I see where you made observations but I think you're off the mark a bit. Out west here the folks have to be a bit harder to make it. The weather itself can be fatal.

Any of the ranch girls I see around town have a bit of an edge to them. still obviously feminine and can be pretty but there is a subliminal vibe of can-do. There is no room in their value system for queers. They ain't spoon-fed and feather-pillowed that's for sure.

I'd say the subtext is pretty clear to you. You're the one putting the spin on it.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 7, 2014 5:16 PM

I thought the pic with the hand-rolled cig was charming. The gal is wearing work clothes. That's what people wear when they're ranching. A girl that can roll her own cigarettes can probably split wood for the stove and put the worm on her own hook. In some parts of the country, these are valuable traits.

Posted by: SteveS at May 7, 2014 8:06 PM

Is it just me, or are the cigarette girl's pants unzipped?

Posted by: drdave at May 7, 2014 9:13 PM

DrDave, she's wearing button fly jeans.

Posted by: Scott M at May 8, 2014 1:27 AM

I'm kinda intrigued by the photo below "Cigarette Girl". "Fence-Post Girl" is looking at something off-camera as she leans on a weathered fence post with her hand unflinching on top of the barbed wire.

And the Mexican ranch hand in the background looks at "Fence-Post Girl" with a look that I can't quite describe. Is he looking at her with disgust? Is she the "Princess of the Ranch" and unobtainable from his position in life?

Great finds on those pictures, Gerard. Thanks.

Posted by: azlibertarian at May 8, 2014 6:25 AM

Whatever was actually going on with 'cigarette girl', which we can't know, the subtext was supplied by the photographer
and by the editor who selected that particular photo for publication. An editor would also have selected the 'theme' for the article which was illustrated and supported by the photos.

Nothing goes into a publican like TIME or LIFE magazine 'just because.'

Posted by: Lorne at May 8, 2014 7:56 AM

Gerard, why did you drop that turd in amongst the nice photos? WTF does that LSD addled brain of Neil Young have to do with it anyway? Just beacuse when he was smoking pot and making up shit he happened to stumble upon the word "cowgirl"? Please remove that human dreck from these pages. Thank you. Doug

Posted by: Doug at May 9, 2014 6:03 AM

Alas, Doug, I just haven't learned to subject everyone's work to a political purity test before using it for my own purposes.

I'm deeply and abidingly sorry and will try to be more fascist and leftist in my politics from now on.


Posted by: vanderleun at May 9, 2014 9:24 AM

I see, it's "fascist" not to like Neil Young? Why, you're learning more from the real fascists every day!

I see, it's "fascist" not to like Neil Young? Why, you're learning more from the real fascists every day!

Posted by: Doug's Fan at May 9, 2014 10:40 AM

Actually one can learn a lot from "Nazi Germany at the height of the Marxist Leninest Stalinist Maoist Cultural Revolution led by Idi Amin in pants with sharp creases"

Posted by: vanderleun at May 9, 2014 10:53 AM

I prefer Suzy Bogguss's explanation:

Posted by: Clayton in Mississippi at May 9, 2014 1:57 PM

Nlow she's got the spirit!

Posted by: vanderleun at May 9, 2014 4:18 PM