30 December

The Cowboy In The Bedroom (Name Him?)

by Jon Katz

We found a cowboy on the wall today in our bedroom, he is here to stay. I’d welcome some help in figuring out what to name him.

Our bedroom up on the second floor has always been a bit of an orphan. Until this year, it had no heat or storm windows, and on the coldest nights, we had to retreat downstairs to the living room to sleep by the wood stoves, as the farmers who built the house might have done a couple of hundred years ago.

Last winter, we put in a baseboard heater and got some flannel electric blankets. We give thanks for both almost every night this time of year.

Busy mice scamper through the walls at night, (I listen to them at night) new storm windows have checked the wind blowing in from the pasture, but there are still flies giving birth almost daily and of course, the occasional bat zooming over head.

An uninsulated storage room nearby makes all kinds of sounds at night, neither of us really wants to know where they are coming from.

And on a hot summer day with a strong sun, the room roasts. Fans help.

Still, it is our bedroom and we love it, and Maria has put her laser like focus in doing for the bedroom what she did for every room downstairs – infuse it with color and warmth and light. Here we go, the scrapers are out, the hard work starts in a few days.

Soon, we’ll go to the hardware store and start sampling and mixing colors. I think this will take months, Maria thinks it will take a few weeks. She is a true obsessive, and when she locks in on a project, she is a force of nature, unstoppable and undistractable.

I just do what I’m told and provide what support I can.

Maria is thinking of painting the room a warm and cozy sage green, sounds good to me. She pulled the outer later off of one wall – people used to just lay one layer on another – and we were startled to find a cowboy/rodeo theme a couple of layers down.

Some children, probably boys, must have lived in this room at one time.

Some soft spots will need plastering, Maria is good at this, and I also love this obsessive and repetitive work. We spent months restoring the walls and rooms downstairs when we moved in.

We love the cowboy we found on the first scraped wall, we decided he is going to be preserved, we’ll paint all around him and honor the history and story of the farm. I’m thinking of calling him Rex, but am open to your ideas. I’d love your advice, and I’ll send the winner a signed copy of one of my books.

More later.


  1. I have 2 name suggestions. Good old fashioned Tex. The other one is Jack as in Jack Burns from Edward Abbey’s book The Brave Cowboy which the movie Lonely Are The Brave starring Kirk Douglas is based on. Great author, book and movie! Of course Tex is a perfect cowboy name too! The “new” bedroom sounds wonderful!

  2. “Shane” springs to mind and I would mount a frame around him. I’d also look for his horse. Love the sage green.

  3. I’d name the cowboy “Lash” after Lash LaRue. (I watched every cowboy movie made in the 1940s in my little town of McMinnville, TN.)

  4. Hi Jon,
    I think that cowboy’s name is Calvin! I don’t know why, but that bounced into my thoughts, “Cal” for short and ‘Cally’ to his mama and girlfriend. There seems to be a story coming!

  5. He seems so steadfast and resolute, maintaining his presence all this time, waiting to be revealed. Something like the name Sojourner Truth comes to mind (albeit different gender, different hero’s journey), but doesn’t Stalwart sound like a confident wallpaper cowboy’s name? Imagine the house’s history that he’s witnessed, the stories he could tell…

  6. Hi John,

    There must be something about this cowboy and his name, because before I read your name idea, I thought of Max, awfully close to your Rex. Maybe the children who lived there called him something like that, or were named so themselves.

    What a nice surprise from the past. I’m glad the cowboy was uncovered by people who appreciate him.

  7. Jock-a-mo is a fine name for a wallpaper cowboy, and I want an autographed copy of your book!

    There are as many guesses about the meaning of this song as there are versions of it: Jock-a-mo means “brother John,” or “jokester,” or “Giacomo;” Jock-a-mo fin a ney means “kiss my ass,” or “John is dead”; Iko means “I go,” or “pay attention,” or “gold,” or “hiking around”; the words come from French, or Yoruba, or Italian…

    copied and pasted from:

    Ignore the part about John’d dead, pls, no harm meant.

    All the best for 2019!

    1. Jock-A-Mo is our dog’s name, and we love it (and him!) Thanks for the background info on his name. He is indeed, a jokester.

  8. Oh, I am going to enjoy following your progress on this! We have restored several rooms in our old farmhouse as well and I can identify with the layers of wallpaper, uninsulated rooms, hidden stories of previous occupants, and mysterious sounds at night. I appreciate you sharing with us as it lets me know we are not the only ones to experience these alarming things. Since your bedroom likely was a little boy’s room at one time, I might name the cowboy “Rowdy”, in honor of Rowdy Yates from the Rawhide TV show. And I would love to have another signed copy of one of your books!

  9. “GUSTO” for dear little Gus, who lived his short life with such gusto, despite his debilitating illness.

  10. If I look to the right of “Rex”, I see a horse or cow with a cocked foreleg. You might want to try to scrape this part of the wallpaper into existence?

  11. I know you already picked a winner, but I like the name Dusty. Riding the trails and participating in rodeos is dusty business, as is refurbishing rooms in old houses.

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