318 Main Street • Smithfield, Virginia 23430

An Old Friend- Copper Plate Engraving by Lee Teter

2 inches by 2.5 inches image size Edition size 75 S/n Copperplate engravings
This small original print is 2 inches by 2.5 inches image size.

After digging out his old Colt 45, a pair of leather cuffs, chaps and saddle, he got out his memories.

Ivan Metzler was born in 1914. He was a cowboy. In his younger days he rode for a horse ranch that supplied the U.S. Cavalry as well as others who needed horse stock. He rode the western range "before the wire", as he called it. That was before the State`s lands were fenced; the only fences in the west were those put up around crops and homes plus a very few by ranchers who could afford such a convenience. At that time a man could ride a horse from one end of Wyoming to the other and not open a gate.

Ivan dug out a pile of photographs that he had taken while on the trail. There were pictures of a rope corral. The "cavy" (the riding horses needed by the cowboys) peered at us from the past . Chuck wagons, bedrolls, spurs, ropes and saddles glinted in the sun of nearly three quarters of a century ago.

At first Ivan was just showing us how things were done on the range so long ago but after a while he began to remember other things. He remembered the men and boys he rode with. In an old photo he pointed out the cowboy who had killed a man but was forgiven. Before the victim died he told bystanders he deserved to be shot for what he had said. The cowboy had only done what he had to do. The law felt different and put him in jail for a little while anyway. Ivan pointed to another picture. The young fellow on the bucking horse was a good cowboy. He was only about nineteen or twenty when he was killed by another horse who liked to buck. Ivan thought young guys liked the rough horses too much for their own good. His eyes crinkled into a smile as he said he still liked horses that had a little gumption to them. Ivan pointed out the cook and other hands in the old photos, then the boss and a big ol` fellow that never lasted out a drive from Lander to Rawlins. Just as well, said Ivan, since the big guy was pretty hard on the horses anyway. For a long time Ivan sat with my daughter and talked of a world much different than the one they now shared.

I sensed a little sadness creeping into his voice because as he told the story of the figures in the pictures he also told their end. This one was killed and that one died young or that one died old and another just disappeared and was never heard from again. It seemed his sadness was in having seen so many friends leave his life. His best friend, his wife, had passed on a short time earlier. He talked about her too. Finally, Ivan sat in the chair by the table and looked past the photographs and things of leather and steel. He visited moments of his life and people who had shared them. He was counting his treasures there in that old log cabin he called home. Ivan had lots of treasures.

It was plain to see Ivan valued his friends. He had made another in a matter of a few hours as he sat with my daughter and shared his past with her. During visits yet to come, her hero worship of the old cowboy would deepen into a permanent treasure in her own heart. Watching Ivan and my daughter made me realize that friends don`t weigh much and never change when they are carried around in our hearts.

The West is different now than when Ivan first rode in the Wyoming dust beneath those ancient sunsets. As he looked out the window I knew it would be wonderful to glimpse that world Ivan could still see, while he visited with old friends.
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