Mad Jack Hanks: Tales from the O-NO Ranch 6-4-12 | TheFencePost.com

Mad Jack Hanks: Tales from the O-NO Ranch 6-4-12

Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

Everybody, well almost everyone, smoked when I was a kid growing up. My dad, my uncles and some of my aunts also smoked. It was a pleasurable thing to do. My bro and I would sneak a cigarette every now and then from one of the above and slip off to become real men.

At 16 I began to smoke full time as a lot of the kids did. I did hide it from the coaches at school and some of the teachers. (They knew – of course they did.) In the 60s the surgeon general came out with a report that flatly stated that smoking was hazardous to one’s health. My brother in laws, my brother and my dad had already quit for the most part.

At 30 when son Andy was born I did not smoke in the house. I never was a heavy smoker. I loved those cigarettes. A cup of coffee in the morning without a smoke was sinful. When I decided to change my lifestyle from sales person to cowboy, of course I had to smoke. You saw those Marlboro ads just like I did. Cowboys smoked no two ways about it. I even got so confident that I would “roll my own” on occasion. That’s what real cowboys do. They got that Bull Durham tag hangin’ out of their shirt pocket.

I heard about that Marlboro cowboy dying from lung cancer. I began to hear of and see folks that I knew die and die hard from smoking and it began to scare me. I cut back to just four or five smokes a day.

Some 21 years ago I was over at the Flying M Ranch outside of Gunnison, Colo., for a couple of days to help my friend Wade work some of his cows. After dinner one night I left the main house and started back up the hill to the bunk house and stopped to light a smoke. It was a cold night and the stars were out as bright as could be. My God what a beautiful sight! I took a couple of drags off the smoke and started up the hill. All of a sudden I couldn’t get my breath in that thin cold night air.

It was the smokes. I knew exactly what my problem was. I was a 50-year-old man who had smoked off and on for over 34 years. I threw my smokes away and to this day I have not had a smoke of any kind between my lips.

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Was it hard? Whoa!, children it was hard but sometimes we have to do things that are hard on us.

My friend, dear friend, J.L., down in Texas sits in his wheel chair with the hoses shoved up his nose to get oxygen so he can continue to live. I and the rest of his family begged him all through the years to give up his smokes. Two, sometimes three packs a day or more stained his fingers and filled his lungs with crud. I visited with him this morning and it’s difficult to listen to him in that condition. His brother who quit smoking years ago died from lung cancer in his 40s. My friend Jerry, who would come out to the Texas ranch on occasion and help me rope and doctor wheat pasture cattle died a couple of years ago. His dad died in his 60s from lung cancer.

“I really need to quit these Jack,” said Jerry all those years ago. He didn’t. I’m tellin’ ya guys and girls, if you are a smoker heed my warning. “If smoking don’t kill ya, at some point and time you will feel so bad, you might wish you were dead!”

I know, I know, I had that uncle that died at 93 and he smoked from the age of 14 until he died. If I were a betting man I would bet that you can’t do what my uncle did. It’s hard to quit but with every drag of your smoke part of your life goes up in the air with that drifting little cloud of crud.

Take care of yourself, set a good example, stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and I’ll c y’all, all y’all.