- Historic Sites
Headin’ for the (Almost) Last Roundup
Organizers held an old-fashioned cattle drive to commemorate the cowboy's role in winning the West, but, as they say, nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
February/March 1978 | Volume 29, Issue 2
Still, last or not, it was real enough, and for those who took part it was redolent of other days, as Paul Dean, a columnist for the Arizona Republic noted: “Tin cups by the Sierra Club. Canteen water cooled in a Coleman. A Taiwan air mattress beneath a sleeping bag. But neither drive nor drovers should be sold one limp short for the way they are, and the way they are portraying that it was. Coffee is still campfire and 40 percent grounds and called ‘Arbuckle,’ although it has been 40 years since Arbuckle Bros, became Maxwell House.… Stampedes continue to be beef against horseflesh, with odds on the beef for the first hundred yards. A bandana is no Scottsdale ascot but a sun visor, dust mask, towel, blindfold, hat tie, bandage, water filter, sling, calf halter, and, but not on this drive, a shroud to cover dead faces. And the majority of hands on this move are men, cowmen with beef-jerky muscles on barbed-wire bones.”
Altogether, it was a brave attempt to recapture the past, and if it didn’t work out quite as hoped, Overmeyer and his compatriots might have found consolation in a phrase someone once scribbled on the men’s-room wall of a San Francisco saloon: “Nostalgia,” he wrote, “ain’t what it used to be.”