He may not be a Florida native, but he's got cowboy in his blood ... a kinship that stretches from his Oklahoma cattle roots to a general affection for the cracker cowboy heritage of Florida.. . His poetry describes the Florida that "most folks hurry past." He laments saddles made out of plastic now, "a bunch of steers on the internet," recalls a horse "born to race who could stand for hours, hitched to one place," and tells of the Florida night, "soft and damp through the longleaf pine" where "you pitch your camp in fading light." -- The Peace River Farmer & Rancher, January 1999
Hillsborough County writer Don Looper's book of poetry, "Lament of the Cracker Cowboy: Rhymes and Reflections from the Florida Cattle Country," recalls Florida cowboy traditions and the background of the state's cattle industry -- the oldest in America... Florida had the beginnings of a cattle industry by the end of the 16th Century. -- Get Up and GO Magazine, June 1999
From the Author
When I moved to Florida 10 years ago, I was intrigued by the State's beef cattle industry. Florida, I found, was in the top three eastern states in beef cow numbers and the top 15 nationally. Florida's beef industry was the oldest and the youngest of any state, oldest because it preceded Texas and the rest and youngest because of the progress achieved in just the last half century. Florida enacted a fence law just 50 years ago, the last state do so, and the beef industry has made giant strides in that time. Finally, having studied Oklahoma history rather than Florida history in the ninth grade, I was unaware of the magnitude of the cowman's influence on the political and military history of Florida, even the Civil War.
On a more personal level, I was struck by the historical ties between Florida and my home state. Towns I knew as a boy in Oklahoma -- Seminole, Wewoka, Bowlegs -- had Florida Indian names. The removal of Seminoles to the West is a well-known story, but most people don't realize that some western Indians were exiled to Florida in the 19th Century. Geronimo and his band of Apaches were removed to Florida in the 1880's before being remanded to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where the old chief died after several years. Undoubtedly the most unpopular import from Oklahoma was the screwworm, which cowmen believe entered Florida with shipments of dust bowl cattle in the 1930's.
For these reasons I am writing about the Florida cowboy. Others are working the same ground, of course. But the Florida cattle story is still not well known, in the state or elsewhere. I hope that my writings will inform, and further that they might achieve the goal of most writers, to entertain.
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