Editors Note: I’ve often mentioned Jack Ratliff as the other Baca County Wanderer when writing about Orville Ewing. If you search online for Jack Ratliff will also find numerous postcards such as the one below which he sold during his travels. We are fortunate to be able to post the following below from his granddaughter Kathryn Ratliff Benes.
For those of you who read the stories of my Grandfather and Grandmother Ratliff, I wanted to post a picture of my grandfather when he was in his late 80s. It’s difficult for us in the 21st Century to understand the “wandering heart” of many old-time cowboys who grew up in the 1800s. In his younger days he had been a range rider for the large JJ/Prairie Cattle Company. And, even after he married my Grandmother and had my dad and aunt, he often was away from home trading horses and increasing the ranch herd. It was in their blood to be out riding the range, and always hard to settle down to some type of domesticated life. There’s a song by one of my favorite Colorado cowboy singers, Bill Barwick (now passed), that I believe reflects the spiritual relationship of these old-time cowboys who never really could settle down with the people they loved at home. It’s title is Caroline in the Sunset, (I hope this link works on this post) and I believe, although miles apart, that my grandfather continued to love my grandmother, and that she made a promise to wait for him until he was ready to settle down. I hope you love this song as much as I do.
In his last interview (that I’m aware of), published in an Oklahoma Sunday news magazine, Granddad said, “Well, now I’ll tell you, I don’t regret this life I’ve led. I would probably do it again if things worked out the same way. I’ve had a lot of fun and I’ve learned a whole lot about human nature….But I do miss my family. Yeah, I really do,”