Shades Of The West

by Ted Gray

Shades Of The West

Over a Hund´erd Collected Stories of ´Ted Gray´

Are cowboys just natural born story-tellers? Maybe it´s the countless hours spent around a campfire swapping tales about the independent, sometimes wild, individuals that are drawn to the cowboying and ranching way of life that make cowboys such good spinners of yarns. Whether an innate or an acquired talent, everyone agrees that Ted Gray is blessed with it.

In this collection of over a hundred of what Gray calls "stories," we have his memoir of more than 50 years in the saddle combined with fascinating glimpses into the lives, deeds, and misdeeds of a remarkable array of "characters." Set in the Big Bend country of West Texas, Gray´s stories cover the gamut of the cowboy´s life, from roping to roundups, from bulls to broken bones, from butchering camp meat to roping elk, and from raw, pitching broncs to fine, well-trained cutting horses.

The "characters" that inhabit these pages are at times so wild and engage in such outlandish behavior that the reader must occasionally remind himself that these are real people and real events and not the fictional creations of a Hollywood screenplay. Many of the stories told here are very funny, some are tragic, but all of them teach us something about people.

We certainly learn a lot about Ted Gray in their telling: the extraordinary strength of his belief in hard work, loyalty, friendship, honesty, and being a good neighbor. He has enjoyed the wonderful bonds of lifelong friendship with men like Dick Riddle, Nicasio Ramirez, Lupe Ramirez and Jerome Dees. His loyalty to the Kokernots for whom he worked many years and the importance he places upon being a good neighbor are evident in many of the stories. Over and over Gray reveals his admiration for those who know their profession well and can demonstrate great skill at it. His greatest compliment to any man is, "He can do it all, and get it done right."

"Shades of the West" is a memoir with a special foreword by Elmer Kelton. Ted Gray grew up around Jacksboro, Texas, but as a teenager in the 1930s moved to the Big Bend country of West Texas to seek his fortune as a cowboy. After 50 years in the saddle, he is now retired and lives in Alpine, Texas, with his wife, Addie. Ted now enjoys occasionally appearing as a speaker at cowboy gatherings where he can exercise his considerable talents as a story-teller.


Gray´s book will entertain, educate, and delight anyone interested in cowboys and ranching in the Southwest, particularly those interested in the Big Bend country of far West Texas.

Elmer Kelton

"This book reads like a campfire session. The voice of the natural story-teller shines through..."


Great Book! Jeannette Miller on August 26, 2013

Loved it for the interesting stories about the old West. It gives a real good picture of the life & times of the people who lived & worked in West Texas. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Big Bend area.,//p>


"Nicasio Ramirez was one incredibly tough cowboy. After dallying, he looked down at his hand and saw that the thumb had been severed by the rope and was just hanging on by some skin. While still in his saddle Nick pulled out his pocket knife, stretched the skin over the saddle horn, sliced off the dangling part and rode on."

from "The Roping Cowboys"

"If you´ve been to a Marathon (Texas) goat roping and the World´s Fair, there isn´t much else to see."

from "Bear Hollis"

"We came back across the railroad and parked in front of the pool hall. As we got out of the car, there was a dog trotting over by the feed store. Big Jim fired his six shooter at the dog across the main street just to move the dog along, he said. Jim put his gun back in his belt and we went into the pool hall as if nothing had happened. Alpine (Texas) was a little western in those days."

from "Big Jim Henderson"

About the Author

Ted Gray grew up around Jacksboro, Texas, but as a teenager in the 1930s moved to the Big Bend country of West Texas to seek his fortune as a cowboy. He moved up the ladder to become a ranch manager and eventually bought, leased and operated several ranches of his own. Ted enjoyed occasionally appearing as a speaker at cowboy gatherings where he exercised his considerable talents as a story-teller.

As a young man, he fell in love with the ways of the West and the style of ranching that had been pioneered by the early-day settlers of Texas and Mexico.
Mr. Gray relished the beauty of the Big Bend, its bright skies and long vistas, but most of all he was at home working a herd of cattle, milling in a cloud of dust, smelling the burning hair of a calf being branded, and listening to the sound made by a favorite horse in a long lope to the back side.
For exemplifying the cowboy and the cowboy way of life, he was awarded the Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman´s Award by the Haley Library and History Center in Midland. He was also honored with the Working Cowboy Award by the National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration in Lubbock.
Mr. Gray was responsible for two books, "The Last Campfire" and "Shades of the West: A Cowboy´s Memories." He was proud of both books and sought to fill them with inspiration for young men combined with ample dollops of cowboy philosophy and humor.
Mr. Gray leased, managed or owned in excess of 300,000 acres in five West Texas counties.

Longtime West Texan rancher Ted Gray Sr. died Monday, March 14, 2011, at his home in Alpine. He was 85.

ISBN Binding Pages Retail
978-0-9657985-3-2 Hardback 276 $34.95
978-0-9657985-4-9 Trade Paper 276 $18.95

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