Originally published as "How Neal Got His First Pair Of Boots" in Humpty Dumpty's Magazine, this delightful children's story is by John Lyle Shimek. Not surprisingly, it deals with how Neal gets his first pair of boots. It appears under its current (spoiler-free) title in "Sunny and Gay", a compilation published in 1960 (2nd hardcover edition 1964, LOC number 60-12936) as the first in their series "The Best of Children's Literature" (a title which turns out to be less of a spoiler than some wishful thinking or good advertising).

I found the book while waiting to eat brunch with some Columbus Everythingians at the Starliner Diner, and replying to my earnest and probably-insane-sounding queries about the book's cost, the waiter told me I could have it. I was so impressed! Anyhow, for your reading enjoyment, here's the original story, sans illustrations.

Neal was a little cowboy who wanted to be like big cowboys. He wanted to do what big cowboys do. He wanted to have something that all big cowboys have.

"All the big cowboys have boots, and I want boots, too," Neal said.

Neal wanted some cowboy boots. Over and over he said, "Father, when may I have cowboy boots?"

Father said, "Cowboy boots are got cowboys who have cows. When you have a cow, you may have some cowboy boots."

Neal said, "I do not have a cow, but I have a good little pony. I do not have cowboy boots, but I can ride like a cowboy."

One day when Neal went for a ride on his pony, he saw something. Neal looked and looked. "What is that?" he thought. He and his pony went to find out. What Neal saw was a little calf. The calf went "M-a-a, m-a-a, m-a-a." It wanted some help. Neal said, "I can not help you, but Father can. I know where he is at work. He will stop his work and come back with me to get you." Neal went to find his father. His pony ran fast.

Neal and his father went back to get the little calf. Neal went on his pony. Father went on his big horse. Father looked at the calf and said, "She wants something to eat. I will put her on my horse with me, and we will take her home."

The calf went, "M-a-a, m-a-a."

"Neal, it is good that you found the calf when you did," said Father.

Neal and his father went home with the little calf. Neal gave the little calf something to eat. He made a friend of the calf. Father looked at the little calf, and he looked at Neal. Then he said something that made Neal a happy little cowboy.

Father said, "You found the calf, Neal, so she is yours." Neal was so happy that he jumped up and down.

"Now I have a cow!" he said. "Now I can have cowboy boots!"

Father laughed and laughed. "Yes, you have a cow," said Father. "The calf is a very little cow, so you may have very little boots. I will get some cowboy boots for you when I go to the store."

Father jumped on his horse and went to the store. He found some cowboy boots for Neal. Neal put on the boots and jumped up and down and around and around.

He was very happy about the boots. He was very happy about his cow.

The other cowboys looked at Neal with his calf and his new boots. "Look at Neal," they said. "He has a cow and some cowboy boots. He is a big cowboy now."


I have no idea whether this story is associated with the actual CowboyNeal of slashdot fame, or if it somehow shaped his youth. No assumptions should be made on this count, unless you know more about his taste in footwear than I.

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