Pam’s Pictorama Post: This great photo postcard appealed to the latent cowgirl in me. I know very little about these things so I don’t know if this nice fringed outfit is real or costume – even her nifty boots have fringe. She wears it with aplomb and a good bit of attitude, riding crop in hand. Undeniably she is an indoor cowgirl here on a living room carpet and in front of a curtained window. Her kerchief and hat are both at jaunty angles.
While I have never been on horseback (nor have I ever resided on a farm, let alone a ranch) I had an early enthusiasm for a fantasy version of them as evidenced by my being an early and avid adopter of the Jane West toys.
There was something endlessly satisfying about the sturdy plastic, jointed limbs. She had a cowgirl outfit molded to her body and heavy rubbery accessories. She was made to stand with some authority (unlike my beloved Barbies who of course had feet designed for perpetual, fashionable high heels) and somehow the fact that she was cast entirely in blue plastic did not detract from her appearance. Jane had a wonderful palomino horse which she could sit astride on.
In my otherwise Barbie-oriented childhood it is a bit hard in retrospect to know what the cowgirl thing was about. Unlike Barbie’s adventures (my Barbie was named for Jo in Little Women and she was a globe trotting journalist), I do not remember the play I dreamed up for her.
Notably Jane did not need a cowboy equivalent of Ken, at least mine did not. In my world she stood on her own and didn’t even deign to date GI Joe – my Barbie’s fallback companion. I believe she is a head taller than both.
My mother was horse-y as a young woman. I am not sure how she started riding, but I know that not coming from a wealthy family she worked mucking stalls along with her childhood friend Jackie so they were able to ride. I gather Mom was mad about horses until one day while they were riding her friend was badly thrown onto a fence. Luckily for her the fence was old and just gave under her otherwise he back would have been broken. It left mom skittish about riding and although my older sister had a few desultory riding lessons I never had the chance to even start.
As a teenager a good friend gave me an excellent vintage Annie Oakley jacket of the softest butterscotch colored suede which she found in her attic. As a very little girls she and her mom had had matching jackets! It was much beloved by me and I wore it until it literally fell to pieces. This was perhaps my best personal cowgirl moment. It was as close as I was to come. (During the pandemic I also read all of the volumes of the Ranch Girls series. A post that touches on them can be found here.)
I came across a Jane West doll several years ago and snatched her up for my toy collection. It felt good to have Jane in the house again and she lives on my shelf, ever ready for some cowgirl action.