Friday, March 5, 2010

The Wyoming Way

I didn't grow up in Wyoming and, by all accounts, should have no claim to it. My mother should, as she moved there in 1979, the year I went away to college. My little sister should, because she spent her junior high and high school years there. My brother and nephew should, for various reasons. None of them live there anymore. But they all have true claims.

Me, on the other hand? The only times I lived in Wyoming was when I: worked in Laramie as a preschool teacher during the the summer of 1980 (oh, and as a maid at one of the local motels - how could I forget); then worked in Cheyenne in 1985-86 as a news reporter (one of the coolest jobs ever) - I had ten other jobs that year (paralegal, cocktail waitress, McDonalds cashier, to name a few....) (it was the recession and my mother said, don't let President Reagan know about you, or he'll include you in a speech and say "Look, there's plenty of jobs out there - there's one woman in Cheyenne, Wyoming who's had 11 jobs in three months!"); and then worked in Cheyenne again, in 1990, as a law clerk for a year. That's it.

No matter I wanted to move there permanently. No matter I only moved back to D.C. because of a job and a boy (no longer have either). No matter that I still have friends there - the kind of friends you have and remember for a lifetime. No matter that I cried - sobbed, really - driving down Pershing Avenue one day, as I realized I would be moving back to D.C., would not be staying in Cheyenne... No matter that Wyoming is, somehow, must be, in my DNA, because when I drive through it even today, and see that great expanse of land, or the antelope, or the Wind River Canyon, it does something to me that no other place does. It sends me back, perhaps, to something else.... another world...

No matter any of that. It isn't mine to claim. It isn't my politics (though I root for libertarianism). It isn't my upbringing (though I do have a pair of fancy cowboy boots). It isn't even my life philosophy (I need more people around).

Still, when I read this a.m. via an email from my mother that Dave Freudenthal, the Wyoming governor (who interviewed me, but did not hire me, for a paralegal job back in 1985) signed legislation Wednesday adopting an official cowboy code for all Wyoming citizens... well, I felt a little proud. And I wanted to put the creed up on a post-it note somewhere. So here it is.

Via this new code, Wyoming citizens are urged to "live courageously, take pride in their work, finish what they start, do what's necessary, be tough but fair, keep promises, ride for the brand, talk less and say more, remember that some things aren't for sale, and know where to draw the line."

Okay. I will.

It reminds me of the story - back in the 1980s, when Ed Herschler was governor of Wyoming - of how a national radio morning program decided to find out how governors get to work, how many of them have chauffeurs... So they called the various governor offices early in the a.m. to find out. When they called the Wyoming office, a gruff voice answered. "Hello," it said. "Uh, can we talk to the governor?" the radio guys said (snicker, snicker). "This is Ed," the voice said. Um... so they asked him how he had gotten to work that morning. "I drove," he said, slightly and simultaneously incredulous and perplexed. I mean, really. How else would he have gotten there?

Seems it was the Wyoming way.


Anonymous said...

Hi Beth,
Read your blog and I a Wyoming Native now living in Coeur d' Alene. I lived in Cheyenne.

When we lived in California and came to Cheyenne to see family, Gov. Mike Sullivan actually met with my 4th. grade son who had done his state report on Wyoming. My son and I walked down to the capitol and into the Governor's Office and met Gov. Sullivan. He actually sat down and looked at the entire report, read some of the entries and commented that he had learned a couple of new things about Wyoming. Then signed my son's state report and marked an A++ on the cover. My son took that report back to his teacher and showed the other students and he was the talk of the school. What an experience for a child.

Wyoming is a great place to live!
Thanks for the memories.

Coeur d' Alene, Idaho

Beth Bollinger said...

Hi, Amy. What a great story! I love it. That gives a total of three great stories about three Wyoming governors...

Ginny said...

One time I was on a Spring Break trip down to Denver (I was in school in Montana at the time) with a bunch of friends from all over the country. While in Denver, we stopped by the Capitol building there and admired it. On the way back north, we decided we might as well stop and check out the Wyoming Capitol building on our way through Cheyenne. Being from the area, and knowing how things worked in our part of the world, I mentioned we should stop and see the governor while we were there. My friends were convinced this simply would not work. Much to their surprise, we just walked right in, asked his secretary if the governor were busy, or if we could see him. Much to their surprise, we got to go right in. My friends got to meet Governor Freudenthal and we had a nice little conversation with him before heading back on our merry way.

Beth Bollinger said...

Exactly, Ginny. Thanks!