Monday, March 30, 2015

A Cowgirl's Life

Connie Douglas was born September 26, 1901, in Eagle Pass, Texas.  Her father was a lawyer and she wanted to follow in his footsteps.  Her mother's father, Alfred Wallace, introduced his only grandchild to horses before she was able to sit up by herself and at five he gave her a horse.  She never lost that love for horses and they played a big part in her life.

She studied speech at Texas Women's university, earning a degree, then enrolled at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, one of the first women admitted to study law.  However, her dream of becoming a lawyer was not to be.  The Great Depression hit and she left school to help support her family.

She started work as a speech and English teacher in San Antonio and got a part time job at a stable teaching girls to ride horses.  While working at the school she started the first pep squad.  Then in 1936 she started work at Thomas Jefferson High School and where she started another pep squad, which proved to be very popular.  The girls were dressed in blue flannel skirts, red satin shirts, blue bolero jackets, and wore pear grey Stetson hats with boots.  They each carried a lasso, attached at the skirt waistband with a loop.  She brought in an Englishman, Johnny Reagan, who was a trick rope artist, to work with the girls.  The squad was named the Lassos.

Imagine 128 girls coming out on the field during halftime, twirling their ropes and performing before an enthusiastic crowd.  Before long they were performing at all the major events in San Antonio.  What a sight that must have been.

In 1936 she joined the equestrian program at Camp Waldmar in Hunt, Texas, where she continued to teach girls to ride.  There she met Jack Reeves, a cowboy brought in to take care of the horses.  With their mutual love of horses they became great friends and in 1942 they were married.

They were, by all accounts, quite happy with their very busy life.  The Camp was not always open.  When not in session they managed ranches for Lyndon Baines Johnson, watching over 10,000 acres with sheep and cattle.  Jack died in 1985.

Connie continued her active life, which was not without peril.  She suffered many a fall from a horse with subsequent injuries, some serious.  A few years before her death one fall fractured her thigh.  It didn't stop her from continuing her riding.  She also wrote a book about her husband, Jack.  It was titled I Married a Cowboy: Half Century with Girls and Horses at Camp Waldmar which was published in 1995.  I believe it is still available.

She became the oldest member of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.  She surprised many people when she rode her horse for the induction ceremony.  She continued riding whenever she could.  But in 2003 she suffered another fall.  This time she fractured her neck and died a short time later.  She was 101 years old.

Connie's motto was:  Always saddle your own horse. 

What an inspiration to anyone who has ever heard of her.  Connie Douglas Reeves, I salute you.  And I sincerely wish I'd had the opportunity to ride beside you at some point in our lives.

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