Old Vaquero Sayings

“There is a fine line between catching an outlaw and becoming one.”



“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” —Benjamin Franklin

“A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” —Emily Dickinson

“I cast my lot in with a soldier, and where he was, was home to me.” —Martha Summerhayes, author of Vanished Arizona

In 1908, Martha Summerhayes published Vanished Arizona: Recollections of the Army Life of a New England Woman. Her memoir remains one of the most forthright and honest autobiographies of a military wife’s life on the Western frontier. Bob Boze Bell

“The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to miss the train before.” —G.K. Chesterton

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” —Mark Twain

“You have evidently found it difficult to leave out anything. Good writing means leaving out a lot.”  —Rich Kent of Houghton Mifflin Publishing, to Stuart Lake on August 29, 1930 on Lake’s finished manuscript of Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” —Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For, By and About Groucho Marx


During the Great Depression, Groucho Marx rivaled Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Mae West and Bob Hope as one of America’s great comedians and humorists. The Marx Brothers’ film Go West (1940) is still considered a classic of Western comedy.


“Railroad trains are such magnificent objects we commonly mistake them for Destiny.” —E.B. White, One Man’s Meat

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  —Arthur Conan Doyle

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”  —Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Hurried and worried until we’re buried, and there’s no curtain call, Life’s a very funny proposition after all.”  —George M. Cohan

Clara Barret sits with her dog and cat at her family’s Oklahoma ranch, circa 1903-1904. Frank E. Downs, Florence E. D. Muzzy Scrapbook, NYPL Digital Collection

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