- Rob Houghton
The Story of Tom Blasingame: American Cowboy
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
“Two days after Christmas in 1989, he dismounted his horse, Ruidosa, stretched out on the grass, folded his arms across his chest, and died.”
Tom Blasingame was born in Waxahachie in 1898. He worked 73 years as a cowboy. At 91, he was still working at the JA Ranch south of Amarillo, Texas. And then he died.
As some of you know, I lived in Texas when I was younger and I can still remember the legend of Tom Blasingame. His name somehow always popped up during a card game or a weekend getaway at a ranch. He was always there in spirit it seemed. Every cowboy said they knew him. But it seemed that no one really knew if Tom was a fictional character or real cowboy.
Good friend Ross Newland, a guest on my weekly podcast show, sent me a tweet just yesterday out of nowhere referencing Tom Blasingame’s unique death in 1989. How could Ross have known? He lives in South America. Life is strange.
I write this partly because I cannot seem to get Tom Blasingame’s life story out of my head. I think it’s because we just don’t make men like this anymore. People now seem so small compared to Tom.
Something tells me he had the ‘secret to life’ all figured out. Tom had the last laugh. I wonder what was going through his head while he lay on the grass seeing his life pass before him. Probably a cattle stampede or maybe telling exaggerated Indian stories around a campfire to a younger generation of cowboys.
What does this have to with anything? It means that we all have to be mindful of working in a job or a profession that is from the heart. It means plying your trade at something you truly love and are passionate about. Because someday it will be you dismounting the proverbial horse for the last time.
Did Tom die with massive real estate holdings or a big stock market portfolio? I don’t know for sure. But I suspect he died with not more than a nickel in his pocket. And then he smiled as he passed into the next life. That’s the way I want to go. With a nickel in my pocket and a smile on my face.