This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Phoenix, Arizona and the Code of the West

The Code of the West still lives in Phoenix, Arizona. It is, of course, more of a guideline than a code, and it's unwritten, but it's understood by men of honor. If you're a history fan, you know that the Code of the West is simply a modern version of the old Chivalry Code of Knights of Old. It's how a man behaves towards other men, women, and yes, animals.

The West was a dangerous place, and mostly people had to learn to get along with their neighbors in those wide-open spaces. The Sheriff might come in, a-blazing his six-shooters, but it might take a while.

I moved to Phoenix when I was a teenager, and I've met many men of honor. In fact, many women know the code, too, and are women of honor. And these people recognize each other, and tip their hats (or lift their visors, if you prefer) figuratively.

If, for some reason, you missed learning about the Code of the West, here are some of its main points:

• A  Western man's word is his bond. When a man says that he will do something, he will. Otherwise, he won't promise. All the contracts in the world, and the signatures, will make no difference. He will look you in the eye, shake your hand, and you can count on him.

• A Western man shows respect. He respects boundaries, fence lines, and expects the same. Good fences make good neighbors in the west. Cheating, lying, and stealing are for those who don't respect the code.

• A Western man does no harm. He doesn't start fights. He doesn't hurt women, or children. He doesn't abuse his horse. He will defend, but never attack.

As you can see, it's a chivalry code. It's a mode of behavior that marks the Knight, the gentleman, the cowboy. And, no, not everyone in the west follows the code. But I have met many people who do, and I tip my hat to them.
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