When my Dad was young he wanted to be a cowboy. It could have been the fact that he went to see cowboy movies every week. Or the fact that he had his picture taken as one from the traveling photographer. But I think it was because he ate lunch with them.
My dad's favorite stories to tell were about growing up in Burbank, California. Burbank was really Hollywood. Not the city, but where the movies were made. My dad spent his childhood days riding his bike around the hills of Burbank, swimming in the river (I couldn't ever figure out where exactly this river went to), and shooting his bow and arrows and his Daisy Red Rider BB gun at his friends.
They would take off early in the morning and head for the hills above the movie studios and have an all out war. Some were the cowboys and some were the Indians. The trees surrounding the area produced tiny hard green seeds that they would use in place of BB's in their guns. He said they hurt like the dickens.
After they tired of killing each other they made their way on their bikes over to the movie studios. I'm pretty sure his Uncle Al is the one who let them in. Uncle Al worked as a security guard for a major movie studio. I can't remember which one. I didn't know this for years until I met Al's best friend who worked there with him. Uncle Al couldn't talk most of my life because he contracted Guillain Barre in the 70's. The stories he must have know.
Anyways, my dad and his friends would sneak in about lunch time and would get in line with the rest of the studio's actors for lunch. They would sit with the actors and talk to them. Can you imagine having that kind of nerve? Well that was my Dad. He wasn't shy.
So he didn't really eat lunch with real cowboys, but that was the best he could do at the time.
I remember him telling me about the time he saw The Duke, aka John Wayne, at a restaurant in Malibu. He was much older then. I can't remember if he talked to him, but I bet he did. He probably said something like this, "Hey Duke, you probably don't remember me, but I used to eat at the studio with you when I was 9."
The Duke probably replied, "Sure, I remember you. How could I forget that head of curly red hair?"