My Heroes (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

This month, I was struggling with writer’s block and asked for ideas on my Facebook page. The response was overwhelming and one of the suggestions was to write about my heroes.

One of my biggest heroes growing up was my grandfather. Most of us love John Wayne, the cowboy. Well, my grandfather was that cowboy in real life. When I was young and out of school during the summers, I got to spend a lot of time with him on the ranch. I would ask him to tell me stories and he would tell me about some wild bull roping or doctoring a yearling with screwworms. He always had a story about a wild wreck they got into. That was great entertainment for me because the stories were true and my grandfather was larger than life.

Poppa died two days before I qualified for my first NFR in 1995. That was very hard for me, but even harder for my dad. My dad had been in the pasture with him since he was a little boy. They were best friends and so in tune with each other they would finish each other’s sentences. They were like an extension of each other.

I was looking at photo of my grandfather yesterday and it brought back to me what a great man he was. He didn’t try to be cool, he didn’t have to try, he just was. He was soft spoken, but there was never any doubt he could put any situation right, if necessary. All his dealings were done by handshake.

My grandfather and our life on the ranch, inspired my latest venture. Jennifer and I have partnered with Carroll Original Wear and designed a line of jackets, vests, chaps and other functional clothing for ranch work. STS Ranch Wear will be available in retail stores by September 1st and we’re finding that major farm and western stores are excited to carry it.

The biggest life lesson I learned from my grandfather is to be real and true to yourself. Be who you are and proud of that. That’s what I want to teach my children. You don’t have to be a cowboy in my family, but whatever they choose to do, I want them to have those traits. That’s what was passed down to me.

Until next time, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line. If there’s something you would like me to write about, drop me an email at

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