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Audio Recording Leaving Farming Behind

Leaving Farming Behind

About this Item


  • Leaving Farming Behind


  • Wheelock, Chuck (Narrator)
  • Marshall, Howard W. (Interviewer)

Created / Published

  • April 27, 1980


  • -  Farming
  • -  Activities
  • -  Reed (Read) Ranch
  • -  Buckarooing
  • -  Ethnography
  • -  Interviews


  • Ethnography
  • Interviews


  • -  Chuck Wheelock, born on a farm in Kansas, talks about moving west and choosing to become a buckaroo.
  • -  Chuck Wheelock was born in eastern Kansas in 1933 and joined the Navy shortly after World War II while still in his teens. In this selection he explains that Kansas farming did not agree with him. After his discharge from the Navy, he stayed in California. He was taken by the romance of the cowboy and eventually drifted across the Sierra Nevadas and started working on ranches. One of his tutors was Frank Loveland, a foreman on the McCleary ranches for many years. In time, Wheelock became a buckaroo and has worked on Nevada and Oregon ranches for over twenty years. He is married. His wife Lola's voice may be heard in the background of this selection, commenting that Chuck hates machine grease even more than farm dirt.
  • -  The folklife project team first got acquainted with Wheelock in the summer of 1978 when he was working on the Ninety-Six Ranch. He was a picturesque figure with a moustache, tall western boots, and a long pheasant feather decorating his hat. Several of the taped interviews include unexplained references to the meaning of a feather in a hat; the connotations appear to involve sexual prowess or activity.
  • -  Fieldworker Dick Ahlborn struck up a friendship with Wheelock and wrote the following passage in his fieldnotes after a long conversation on July 26: Perhaps the finest compliment I received in the 3 weeks [of my visit] was when Chuck showed me his new hat, and told me he only wore it for very special occasions. Then he put it on for the rest of the interview, and was wearing it when I left.
  • -  When Ahlborn prepared the Smithsonian exhibition Buckaroos in Paradise, he was able to repay the compliment. The centerpiece of the exhibit was a simulated line camp cabin or bunkhouse, inhabited by a mannequin resembling Wheelock and wearing his old outfit, including turquoise-colored boots and the hat with the pheasant feather.
  • -  We observed considerable variation in cowboy costume in the valley, and noticed that some men dressed differently at different times. Jack Young, a seed salesman who lives in the valley, told me that he had noted a fashion for "old-timey" garb among some of the buckaroos on the larger ranches, including ones outside the valley. He was inclined to read aspects of the costume as emblematic, noting that no one really needed large "jinglebob" spurs. Although I never made a serious survey, I formed the impression that many who grew up in Nevada, including Les, wore less display-oriented outfits. I wondered if men like Wheelock, who had adopted the life and were often hired hands, might not be more likely to dress the part. Kim Shelten's film The Highly Exalted portrays the mustachioed, footloose, self-consciously "professional" cowboys who circulate among the West's large ranches; it was filmed on the IL Ranch near Elko, Nevada, in 1982. (The fifty-two-minute film was released in 1984 and is available from the filmmaker: Kim Shelten, 450 29th Street, San Francisco, California 94131.)


  • Audio

Call Number/Physical Location

  • AFC 1991/021: NV80-HM-R16

Source Collection

  • Paradise Valley Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1991/021)


  • American Folklife Center

Digital Id

Online Format

  • audio

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.) or any other restrictions in the material in this collection, except as noted below. Users should keep in mind that the Library of Congress is providing access to these materials strictly for educational and research purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other holders of rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. See our Legal Notices and Privacy and Publicity Rights for additional information and restrictions.

The American Folklife Center and the professional fieldworkers who carry out these projects feel a strong ethical responsibility to the people they have visited and who have consented to have their lives documented for the historical record. The Center asks that researchers approach the materials in this collection with respect for the culture and sensibilities of the people whose lives, ideas, and creativity are documented here. Researchers are also reminded that privacy and publicity rights may pertain to certain uses of this material.

The Buckaroos in Paradise collection includes copy photographs of numerous historical still photographs, works of art, and other objects that are owned by the families or individuals identified in bibliographic records for those objects. The collection also includes audio and video interviews with individuals who consented to the inclusion of these selections here.

Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these collection materials should contact the Folklife Reading Room for assistance.

Credit line

Paradise Valley Folklife Project collection, 1978-1982 (AFC 1991/021), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Wheelock, Chuck, and Howard W Marshall. Leaving Farming Behind. 1980. Audio.

APA citation style:

Wheelock, C. & Marshall, H. W. (1980) Leaving Farming Behind. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Wheelock, Chuck, and Howard W Marshall. Leaving Farming Behind. 1980. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.