A Jewish cowboy

I photographed this years ago in the local museum in Independence, California. I know nothing about this guy, nor where “Hominy” is, except that this must have been the only Jewish cowboy in history. And he looks it—as if someone took a yeshiva bocher and put him in cowboy boots and a hat. (The photo is not a joke, by the way.)

This should have been in my book Jewish Sports Heroes that a friend gave me. And that book includes, as a sport, chess.

When I returned to the museum several years after I took this photo of a photo, it had disappeared. I was sad because I wanted to buy it.

57 Comments

  1. Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    There’s a Hominy, Oklahoma:

    https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Hominy,_Oklahoma

    It is evidently famous for being “home to a professional football team composed of Native American players.”

    • Posted September 4, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      I don’t know much about football, but from what they tell me having a team of Jim Thorpes wouldn’t be so bad 😉

  2. JezGrove
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Of course, “Down the Dustpipe” by Carl Groszman (and recorded by Status Quo) includes the line “There ain’t no room for a kosher cowboy in a town like New Orleans” and another reference to people who “don’t like the shape of my nose”.

  3. Morton Kaplan
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Actually, there Jewish cowboys in the pampas of
    Argentina.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Gauchos?

      • Doug
        Posted September 2, 2018 at 6:52 am | Permalink

        Jewish gauchos were called “Grouchos.”

        • Mike
          Posted September 2, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

          lol

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Well, since cowboys were routinely the rejects and dregs of society – criminals, the marginally insane, the thoroughly poor – then it’s hardly surprising that there were and are still cowboys representing the present-day dregs of their respective societies.
      Oh, “Hollywood” cowboys – well that is a different mythology.

  4. JB
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Why am I suddenly thinking of Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles?!

  5. Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Found a reference in Google books

    Challenge and Change: History of The Jews in America, Volume 1, pg. 69. Not much in there about the man himself but they use the image in conjunction with an unrelated shootout between a Rabbi and the president of a Synagogue over a prayer book.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=OWzLqrxj38gC&pg=PA69&lpg=PA69&dq=%22hominy%27s+famous+jewish+champion%22&source=bl&ots=BEglXgXfzu&sig=v2eUiMCpm2x477VtTMhA8WS42jw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjl6MPezJrdAhWpilQKHdwbBqoQ6AEwAHoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22hominy's%20famous%20jewish%20champion%22&f=false

    • Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that shootout was between Rabbi Moses May and Abraham Waldman of Beth Israel Ccongregation here in Portland. I came across it some years ago when I wrote Following A River, the history of Congregation Neveh Shalom, which broke off from Beth Israel.

      When I asked Rabbi Stampfer, who hired me, why he wanted an ex-Jesuit rather than a Jew to write the history, he replied that he would never be able to find a Jewish member of his congregation who wouldn’t have some axe or other to grind. A wise man.

      • BJ
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Excellent story.

    • Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for citing this information about Jews in American history. (And, thank you to PCC(E)for talking about a famous Jewish cowboy.) There would not be a United States of America if a Jewish gentleman had not been one of the few prime financial brokers of the revolution. A great deal of his own money went into this venture, for which he and his family never were paid back. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haym_Salomon

      • Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        And now we know why you have a predilection for cowboy boots!!

    • Posted September 11, 2018 at 3:36 am | Permalink

      I remember Jerry posting this before 🙂
      But no name – ‘famous’ but so famous that no one wrote his name? I suppose he was more of an act type thing? Would a cowboy wear specs?

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    If you were going to find a “cowboy” it would probably be in Hominy, Oklahoma. It’s about 150 miles south of here, Wichita, Kansas. A little more than 2 hrs. drive. Town of about 3500 pop. Still lots of horses and horse ranches down in Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is home of the Cowboy Hall of Fame just in case you did not know. They use to hold the National Finals Rodeo down there but then moved on to bigger money in Vegas.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I should also report, my father-in-law, Charley E. Lehmann, was an actual cowboy in his younger days. He was born in Eureaks, KS, in 1921. Besides being in Rodeo, he also rounded up cattle on horseback in Kansas back in the day.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    This Kinkster feller here begs to differ:

    https://i0.wp.com/royshall.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/kinky-friedman-2.jpeg?fit=900%2C750&ssl=1

    • sshort
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      I saw Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder review in Fort Worth, ‘76, I believe. Huge show. Can’t recall how many bands. Went almost four hours. Joan Baez surprise special guest, doin a duet with Bob. But I still tell people the highlight of the show was Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. Great band.

      His family owns a ranch outside of Kerrville, Texas. Met him in the Austin airport a couple of years ago, all in black, chomping on a cigar. His flight was delayed and I got to talk with him an hour or so. A real raconteur, and can spin a yarn.

      He wrote some eponymous detective stories as well. Very funny guy.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Ayup. Damn fine satirical detective novelist, too, you ask me. The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover is a personal favorite.

        • sshort
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the recco. Putting on my list.

        • Merilee
          Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

          He always kept the kitty litter box in the shower in his trailer…

  8. Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    And it looks like there’s a copy for sale here:

    https://www.projectb.com/products/jewish-cowboy-vintage-photograph

  9. Merilee
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    http://www.pressreader.com/canada/edmonton-journal/20130905/281608123105976
    I read about Moises “Two-Guns” Cohen, who was a Canadian gun-slinger in China, in a book (whose name escapes me now) about 20 years ago. I can just hear his mother: “My son the gun-slinger; he’s way over in China, you know.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      A Jewish Canadian gunslinger in China?

      Only in America, as the saying goes. 🙂

    • Glenda Palmer
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      I also read the book about 20 years ago. The biography is Two Gun Cohen by Daniel Levy and is the unlikely story of a Polish born Jewish lad who grows up to have the most amazing travels and adventures. Made even more interesting for me because I was familiar will all the Canadian locations he was at. Enjoyed the book very much. I see it can be purchased through Amazon and it would still a great read.

      • Merilee
        Posted September 1, 2018 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

        I think the book I’m thinking of,Glenda, was mainly about China, but Cohen featured in it. Wasn’t he originally from the Canadian prairies?

  10. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Actually, in the late 19th century there were quite a LOT of African-American cowboys, which in effect got written out of history when the John Wayne image became popular.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      A lotta Buffalo Soldiers went on to find a home, home on the range, if memory serves.

      • Posted September 11, 2018 at 3:38 am | Permalink

        Give me a home
        Where the buffalo roam –
        & I’ll show you a house with a very messy carpet…

  11. Merilee
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    https://owlcation.com/humanities/Morris-Two-Gun-Cohen-The-Uncrowned-Jewish-King-of-China
    More about Moishe.

  12. Merilee
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Have hiked the previously named Negro Bill’s Canyon trail many times. Bill was a drover of cattle.

    https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2017/10/12/negro-bill-canyon-renamed-grandstaff-canyon-by-federal-board/

  13. Merilee
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    ✔️✔️

  14. Jeffrey Shallit
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    There were other Jewish cowboys.

    Read Harriet Rochlin’s book, “Pioneer Jews”.

  15. Jenny Haniver
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Jewish cowboys in the Wild West? Of course. One “Tough Guy Levi” even wrote “I’m a Yiddish Cowboy.” Here’s the song, coupled with old footage of a “Buffalo Bill Parade”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjFxt0JsFgM. Quite a catchy tune, and humorous in a number of ways.

    Wyatt Earp’s wife was Jewish, and he’s buried in a Jewish cemetary.

    Here’s some info on Jim Levy, an Irish-Jewish gunslinger https://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-jimlevy/.

    This is a fascinating 1/2hr. video: “Jewish Cowboys in the Old West: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyjDYFwLPyw and begins with an account of Jews in South America gradually moving northward to escape the encroaching Spanish Inquisition, which had been imported to the new world and was ferreting out Jews.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Alas, “I’m a Yiddish Cowboy” was not written by a real Yiddish cowboy. The lyrics were written by Edgar Leslie, who a Tin Pan Alley lyricist, who I think was Jewish; but it was a novelty song.

    • KD33
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Lots of interesting info I’d never seen before. Thanks!

  16. Joseph Heled
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    And there is of course Flying High …

    • freiner
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I’m never one not to appreciate an Airplane clip, but … Hank Greenberg, Sid Luckman, Sandy Koufax … What’s lacking in quantity starts to get made up in quality. Oops, now have Barney Ross and Red Auerbach on the line.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      There was Hank Greenberg, the hall-of-fame slugger for the Detroit Tigers, known as “the Hebrew Hammer.” And, of course, the incomparable Dodgers’ left-handed hurler Sandy Koufax (who famously declined to pitch a World Series game on Yom Kippur).

      And for a while in the first half of the 20th century, the boxing world was rife with Jewish champions, from heavyweight Max Baer, to lightweights Benny Leonard and Barney Ross, to light heavyweight “Slapsie Maxie” Rosenbloom.

  17. Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

  18. Blue
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    in re “I was sad because I wanted to buy it,”
    then perhaps you may wanna buy something
    o’this now instead ?! https://goo.gl/Gncem3

    Blue

  19. Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    What about Kinki Friedman and the Texas Jewboys?

    rz

  20. FB
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_gauchos

    Google “jewish gauchos” to see photos.

  21. Jon Gallant
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    This is no more anomalous than the Japanese branch of my own family. After starting out with a pushcart in the part of Tokyo called the Ginzberg, they moved on to automobile manufacture and developed the Mitsubishi Galant.

  22. John Conoboy
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about cowboys, but there were a number of German-Jewish merchants on the Santa Fe Trail in the mid-1800s. Prominent Jews included Abraham Staab, the Seligman brothers, and the Spiegelbergs. They not only were involved in trading back and forth between Santa Fe and Missouri, but established businesses in Las Vegas, New Mexico and in Santa Fe. One Jew, Solomon Bibo, who was born in Germany, was elected governor of Acoma Pueblo in the late 1880s.

  23. Posted September 1, 2018 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    He probably works on the Bar Mitzvah Ranch.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      +1

  24. BJ
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Israel has had a good crop of cowboys over the years: https://www.israel21c.org/israels-lonesome-cowboys/

    • BJ
      Posted September 1, 2018 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Their mothers tell me they’re nice Jewish boys, each and every one of them 🙂

  25. Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I think it was in the recent Sinquefield Cup that the claim was made by one of the commentators that a long chess game used as much energy as 3 rounds of boxing. As a patzer myself, I know how physically draining chess is. & of course, the top chess players do have fitness regimes to keep them up to speed. Games can last 7 hours in a sitting, so you need some form of stamina.

    Rather interestingly, given what I think is the historical over-representation of Jews in the elite of chess players, I know of only one in the current top 10 who is Jewish – Levon Aronian. I suspect this is statistically unusual since at least WWII.

  26. KD33
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Most informative comment section ever …

  27. Jenny Haniver
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    I recall reading a wonderful (true) story about an Apache who worked for a Jewish merchant somewhere in Arizona in the late 19th century. The merchant taught the Apache some Yiddish, and the Apache grew fond of galloping around town on his horse crying “Oy gevalt! Oy gevalt!”

    And here’s a Jewish Indian chief! Don Solomono https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/don-solomono-jewish-indian-chief/.

  28. Posted September 4, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of one of my favourite episodes of _The Simpsons_ (“Lisa’s Substitute”)


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