Mr. James L. Powell accepted the Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman’s Award of Honor in Midland last week and some of the greatest stories of West Texas were shared.
I first met Mr. Powell on a prescribed burn south of San Angelo and the man is just cool. He is humble, gracious, hard-working, not to mention, a legend. He even has his own chapter in the Texas Cattle Barons book. But in my book, he is right up there with John Wayne and other cowboy heroes.
The following is a story he told while at the 20th Fall Gatherin’.
“WWII was underway and all the cowboys who were in their 20s had been drafted if they hadn’t already enlisted. We were rounding cattle in Reagan and Crockett County. It encompassed about 64 sections. The corrals where they loaded the cattle on the train were right in the city limits of Big Lake. Back then we gathered the calves and weaned them as we worked a pasture. We had all the calves grouped in a four-section pasture leading in to the corrals. Now keep in mind it was just myself, my dad, and the foreman on that place and three boys that my dad got out of school that day. We were handling about 400 head of fresh weaned calves, and we had started mov
ing those calves up the fenceline. We had them grouped up on the north fenceline about a mile or so from the pens, and about the time they got those calves to the corrals, the train came by. That engineer blew his whistle three or four times, and there was no way in the world we could hold those calves together. They went between us and under us and before we knew it they were scattered all over that pasture again. I know if my father could have caught that engineer, he would have talked to him about that.”