Saturday, July 21, 2012
The King of Cowgirls: Lucyle Richards and her lost loves.
This collection had been offered on a couple of Internet auctions and apparently never found a home, and when I saw the remnants of her own personal scrapbook, spread out like miscellany, I also saw important historic artifacts being offered to an audience unable to appreciate the items in front of them. I felt impulsively that I had to bring the last vestiges of her life home and find a suitable venue for them. Somebody needs to write a screenplay about this iconoclast who was not only ahead of her time, but she was unique in human history. Understand, I knew nothing about her… but soon realized what a catch I had made… and began to be mesmerized by this amazing human being. Not unlike the seventeen husbands she netted during her stunning life.
That’s right. Seventeen. And amazingly, that is not the most incredible thing about her. She was a female air acrobat and war hero in WWII, a member of the Women Air Force Service Pilots, flying bombers over the Atlantic to England. She was a woman rodeo performer, competing in bronc riding, bull dogging, and trick riding. She was touted as “the prettiest and best dressed cowgirl in America” and performed in the 101 Wild West Show, hundreds of rodeos around the country, and unbelievably, married seventeen times. Now guys, THAT’S a redneck girl!
In the pile of stuff was a clipping from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, with an article about the love her life, the man who taught her to fly, T. J. Richards, her (first?) husband who was killed in a plane crash near Dallas while training an Army Air Corpsman, during WWII. A rodeo performer himself, Richards was a real deal cowboy, and succumbed to Lucyle’s pitch for a trade, where she would teach him to trick ride, if he would teach her to fly. Richards soon bailed out from the deal, when he saw how daring she was, saying she would never make a good pilot. She later proved otherwise, and showed him a thing or two, but he never became a trick rider because his life was cut short while serving our Country.
Lucyle certainly looked hard trying to replace him, or perhaps his memory, but never found another one like him. In fact her luck was terrible and she actually had to shoot and kill one of them, in self defense. Charges were not even filed, and Lucyle Richards Roberts lived the life of a Western Star and eventually became an icon of the American West.
Lucyle had to have set or broken numerous records for female rodeo performers, if not number of marriages. She was training riders and horses into her old age, claiming she would probably not quit until some horse killed her. When asked if she had the chance, would she do all over again, she replied, “I’d probably just do more of it!” She was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1987 and passed away, full of vinegar at a ripe old age of 86 in 1995. Even today, Lucyle Richards has few imitators or equals.
So in this time of national tragedy, I thought it was a good time to introduce you to a couple of true American Heroes.