Pecos Bill Supercowboy

Pecos Bill was the ultimate Texas cowboy. He was the strongest and meanest of them all, and could ride anything. The first tall tales about him were published in 1916, and collected in a book in 1923. The author, Edward O’Reilly, claimed that these were part of the oral tradition of southwestern cowboys, but they were actually fakelore, not folklore.

Pecos Bill became so popular that other writers added stories and variants of the stories.  He was featured in Disney films in 1948 and 1995.

Pecos Bill was the youngest of a family of eighteen children. He was a prodigy, starting to talk before he was a month old.  He wrestled with bear cubs and other animals before he could walk. While his family was journeying west, young Bill bounced off the back of the wagon while they were crossing the Pecos River.  He was swept away, but did not drown because he taught himself to swim.  When he finally reached the shore, he was too far from his family to catch up. A coyote adopted him and raised him with her pups. When he was sixteen, his older brother found him and convinced him that he was a human being.

Pecos Bill roamed the Southwest. One day, he was accosted by a fifteen-foot rattle snake. The snake struck, but Bill’s skin was so tough that the fangs could not penetrate his bare feet. Bill beat up the snake and forced it to become his lasso.  Bill became a cowboy, and is credited for introducing the lasso and the practice of branding to help cowboys get their job done.

When a cougar attacked Bill, the intrepid cowboy beat it up until it was as tame as a kitten.   Bill put his saddle on the cougar and rode it.  This unusual mount earned Pecos Bill the respect of anyone he met.  He also had a horse named Widow-Maker, which only he could ride.

In Kansas, Bill decided he needed a bigger challenge.  He rode biggest tornado he could find. The tornado was unable to buck him off, so it rained out from under him, releasing so much water that it washed out the Grand Canyon.  Bill’s many feats of skill became famous, and other people copied them.  That’s how rodeos got started.

Pecos Bill’s true love was Slue-foot Sue, who was just about as tough as he was. The first time he saw her, she was riding a catfish down the Rio Grande, shooting a pattern in the clouds with her six-shooter. He fell head over heels in love, and proposed on the spot. They were married the next day. Sue was all dressed up in a white dress with a huge bustle.

Right after they were married, Sue insisted on riding Widow-Maker. Bill tried to talk her out of it, but she had made up her mind. Sue was so eager to prove that she could ride the horse that she did not bother changing her clothes, but mounted him in her wedding dress. Widow-Maker not at all impressed by Sue, who was taking up way too much of his master’s time and attention. He bucked the hardest he had ever bucked, and managed to throw Sue high in the air.

She would have died from the fall, but she landed on her bustle, and bounced up again, higher and higher, until she hit her head on the moon. She kept bouncing and bouncing for days. Finally, Pecos Bill shot the bustle off her, and she landed on the ground. “We’ve been married less than a day,” Sue screamed, “and you’re shooting at me already!” She stomped off, leaving poor Bill broken-hearted. He married many women after Sue, but none of them captured his heart.

When Pecos Bill was an old man, a tenderfoot from Boston swaggered into a bar. This dude was all dressed up in a fancy cowboy suit with lizard skin boots and ten-gallon hat without a spot on it, not even a sweat stain. This ridiculous sight was too much for Pecos Bill. He started to laugh and laugh and laugh.  He finally lay down and laughed himself to death.