Windy gets a Diploma


   “Before we begin our regular commencement tonight,” said combined elementary/high school principal Jim Albertson, “we have a special award to present. Will Windy Wilson please come up here on the stage with us?”

  Windy looked up at the stage in the gymnasium and all he saw were black choir robes and smiles. He looked at his fellow spectators and all he saw were grins and people sitting down.

   “Windy?” said Jim. Windy walked up to the stage and shook hands with the principal. “Put this on.”

  Windy draped a black robe around himself and put the mortarboard on his head.

   Albertson pulled a piece of paper from his shirt pocket.

   “Alphonse Wilson, it is the judgment of your community and friends that no one has ever worked harder for an honorary doctor’s degree. Am I right on that?”

   The young graduates clapped and hooted, and so did the audience. Windy looked at the floor and blushed right through his grey beard.

   “We can’t give you an honorary doctorate here because we don’t have one. But your neighbors discovered that you only lacked one class to graduate from high school, and we can do something about that.”

   “Alphonse Wilson … known to all as Windy … this school … these young graduates … and all your friends and neighbors are proud to bestow upon you an honorary high school diploma.”

   Jim placed a ribbon with a medal hanging from it around Windy’s neck and handed him a rolled-up certificate.

   Not too many aging cowboy camp cooks and philosophers receive standing ovations, but then, there’s nothing very ordinary about Windy Wilson and we all know that.


Brought to you by Saddle Up: A Cowboy’s Guide to Writing, by Slim Randles, now available at


Newspaper columnist Slim Randles, who writes the weekly Home Country column, took home two New Mexico Book Awards in 2011. His advice book for young people, “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right,” took first place in the self-help category, and “Sweetgrass Mornings” won in the biography/memoirs category. Randles lives and works in Albuquerque. Home Country reaches 3 million hometown newspaper readers each week

Slim Randles learned mule packing from Gene Burkhart and Slim Nivens. He learned mustanging and wild burro catching from Hap Pierce. He learned horse shoeing from Rocky Earick. He learned horse training from Dick Johnson and Joe Cabral. He learned humility from the mules of the eastern High Sierra. Randles lives in Albuquerque.

Randles has written newspaper stories, magazine articles and book, both fiction and nonfiction. His column appeared in New Mexico Magazine for many years and was a popular columnist for the Anchorage Daily News and the Albuquerque Journal, and now writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country,” which appears in several hundred newspapers across the country.


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