One warm summer night in 1930, only months before his 18th birthday, Ira saddled his horse while the family slept. He carried with him a bag of necessities, a bedroll and a buck rifle. He stuffed his saddlebags with minor provisions and filled his canteen with fresh water. Without so much as a farewell note, he mounted his favorite horse and rode away comfortably on his father’s handmade saddle.

Ira stayed away for two months that summer, seeing America saddle-side like men may have done thirty years earlier. He notified his mother and father when he had made it as far as Kansas, telling them that he was safe and would be boarding with an Aunt until he felt it was time to move on again. He worked odd jobs as a ranch hand or handy man until, two weeks after he sent word to them, his parents showed up on the doorstep to drag him home by the ear, screaming at him all the way home about the special saddle that he had stolen.

The Cowboy Ira Leroy True
The Cowboy Ira Leroy True

Although he continued his life responsibly in Baker County, Oregon, the restlessness that Ira felt from a very young age did not subside within him and slept like a houseguest inside of his soul who just wouldn’t leave.

Ira received the call to serve his country in World War II when he was 27 years old. Excited to live out what he saw as an adventure, he sold all of his belongings and prepared to appease the restlessness at last.

After reporting for duty in Portland, Ira ran through a battery of physical tests and found himself ever anxious and ready to travel. While his desires had less to do with a proud sense of patriotism than it had to do with seeing the world, he understood that the two were part and parcel. Much to his dismay, a previous bout of Tuberculosis that he had as a child kept him from chasing adventure across the ocean – and out of the war – which could very well have inadvertently saved his life.

Ira returned to Eastern Oregon to nothing of ownership and, while that may have depressed him initially, it came to free him in some way. He was attached to nothing and that’s just what held him down. Ironically, understanding that seemed to root him in his life and Ira stayed put, working odd jobs locally for many years.

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