Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

November 9, 2013

Wisdom from the West: Cowboy poet at Kinsloe House

By Deanna Kirk
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — A touch of the wild west came to Kinsloe House Wednesday, a bit like Lonesome Dove meets Atlanta society ladies in Gone with the Wind.

Jim Cathey, cowboy poet, and his wife Stella were guests of Clara Hickerson, who was in charge of the program. Long time family friends, both Catheys grew up in Dublin, both went to Texas A&M.

“We drove through Marlin 100 times, but never dreamed we’d live there,” Jim Cathey said of his now-40-year home.

Cathey has had a passionate interest in poetry since his retirement in 2007. He is an all-around champion of the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, which is run on the same model as a real rodeo. He is also a veteran of many poetry gatherings in Alpine, Mabank, and across the Lone Star State. His technique of poetry recitation is in high demand for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies. The Kinsloe program did honor Veterans, and featured patriotic decorations, as well as patriotic music played with finesse by Margie Talkington.

“I never considered doing Cowboy poetry, until my brother-in-law asked me to read some cowboy poems at a fundraiser breakfast in Mabank,” Cathey said. “I thought reading the poems would be boring, so I memorized them.”

Cathey has now written over 100 poems, and memorized many of them. Listening to him, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself somewhere on a trailride, long, long ago, listening to stories around a campfire.

“Our theme is Veterans Day, and we need to always honor them,” he said. “We owe them a great debt. These are men and women who put their life on the line ... We not only owe a great debt of gratitude to our veterans, but also to our men and women in active service today.”

After the Pledge of Allegiance was said, Cathey recited “Ragged Old Flag,” a poem written by Johnny Cash. He followed it with a poem he wrote called “America’s Heroes.”

Cathey described how the cowboy era began in the late 1800’s, after the Civil War. Himself Scotch-Irish, he talked about how many Scotch and Irish immigrants came to America, but there weren’t lots of jobs. Those immigrants had to move West in search of opportunities, and that’s where many cowboys came from.

“They loved music, were great storytellers, and loved to put things to rhyme,” he said.

Cathey penned a poem for Kinsloe House to commemorate the occasion of his visit. It states, in part,



“The Pioneer Women of Navarro County

Throughout history were a part

of building this beautiful city

while preserving it’s mem’ry and heart.



“And now, the women of today

Keep the heritage alive.

For the traditions of Kinsloe House

Are surely destined to survive.”



All women (and several men) gave rapt attention to Cathey, wearing goose bumps on their arms during “Ragged Old Flag,” and guffawing out loud during “The Bra,” and everything in between.

“Cowboy poems usually start out ‘This is a true story,’” he said. “Then will amend by saying, ‘Except for the parts I made up.’”

  —————

Deanna Kirk may be reached by email at dkirk@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com