I know I was supposed to be "Annie Oakley". I believe it all began when I was about three. I know when I was in kindergarten I always wanted to wear my cowboy boots. My Mom was accommodating by cutting my bangs short and putting the rest of my hair in braids. I owned a cowgirl skirt with a matching vest and it seemed to go perfectly with my cowgirl shirt.
Our play time, way back then, consisted of playing cowboys and Indians. We tried to copy what we witnessed on the Saturday morning television shows. You know the ones, "Sky King" with his daughter, Penny, flying around in the Songbird. There was "My Friend Flicka", "The Roy Rogers Show" with Dale Evans. "The Lone Ranger" with his friend, Tonto, and of course, "Annie Oakley".
I didn't understand much about her at the time, but I knew I liked her hair, western clothes and that she always turned out to be the heroine. I was lucky that my mom went along with my fantasy, so in the mind of a six year old, I felt a small piece of Annie's bravery and attitude.
When I was in second grade, my parents announced that our family would be moving from Albion, NE to Los Angeles, CA. I truly thought I had just been transported to heaven. I had heard about the gold rush and had conjured up in my mind, that it must still be going on. I pictured living with the cowboys and cowgirls out west and certainly my attire would finally fit in with everyone else in California.
We made the move and I realized my vision was not quite like I had expected, but never the less, I continued with my plan to be Annie Oakley. Moving to Los Angeles in 1957 was a total cultural shock for our family, especially my father. My dad had been a Lutheran pastor only in the mid-west and now he was ministering to people in sandals, shorts and flowered casual shirts. Dad was also trying to keep his cool while trying to navigate the freeways while Mom read the map. Not a pleasant venture I can assure you.
Our family home was the destination for a number of relatives and friends due to living quite close to Disneyland. I loved it when we had visitors because then I could wear my favorite cowgirl outfit and escort our vacationers to Disneyland. I felt it was my park and I could show everyone the best places to go.
My parents bought my older brother a Tennessee Walker palomino horse, Regis. They boarded the horse at a place where a number of the famous horses that were ridden in the Rose Parade in Pasadena stayed. Sometimes even I got to ride one of the smaller ponies. My dream come true.
I am no longer "Annie" but I still feel the excitement and bravery of her ventures in my heart.