I greatly enjoy watching Western television shows and movies.

So on this extremely hot and humid day, I’m taking a break, getting a nice, cold drink, and watching one of my favorite Western television shows, “The Big Valley.” It’s right up there with “The Rifleman,” “Daniel Boone,” “Ponderosa” and “The Virginian.”

In shows like these and Western movies, filmmakers have portrayed the legend of the Taming of the Wild West. The romanticized stories of the settling of the Western Frontier have been popular for generations. As children, we like to play “cowboys and Indians.” And viewers of all ages have a fondness for the past when actual cowboys, American Indians and outlaws roamed the Western Plains. These stories invigorate our adventurous spirit.

All Western films entertain. It seems each story carries a different message or action about the days of the cowboy. The cowboys pride, his suffering and his traditions, are all etched on his face. The cowboy destroys the greedy, dangerous villain and then rides off into the sunset with true joy and fulfillment.

The Old West, although a life filled with backbreaking work, plenty of dirt, bigotry and greed, captured the imagination of people everywhere. Cowboy fever captivated my father and I. Every Friday night we went to the theater to see the westerns. At 8 years old, I saw only a world of adventure, self-reliance and daring. Since the earliest times of westerns, the “good guy” was always the hero besting the “bad guy.” In those days the outlaws were cut down one by one and justice prevailed. There was always a happy ending. Even today the beautiful horses, the cowboy’s exuberance, wildness, courage and independence enthrall us.

Exciting tales of cowboy life and sad songs became part of American folklore.

The bold horsemen, on their powerful and beloved horses, galloped far and free across the wide grasslands. Outlaws were depicted as a band of filthy, hopelessly corrupt doomed men. American Indians always dressed in full regalia. Many exciting battles between the three groups. We have seen detailed scenes of the building of the great railroad that brought civilization to the West. We have feared for wagon trains snaking along uncharted territory. Scene’s throbbed with dramatic intensity. The killing of the diseased cattle is hard to forget.

By the late 1880s, the open range was nearly gone. Railroads extended all the way to the West Coast, therefore, the roundups and long trail drives were no longer needed. Towns grew quieter as churches and schools began to outnumber saloons and gambling halls. Cowboys won fame in the days of the Western Frontier.

A cowboy poet once remarked, “We are a reminder of something in danger of being lost.” The cowboy of the Old West is certainly a part of the world’s legends, but he is not in danger of being forgotten. Somewhere there is a cowboy ready and eager to ride the trail again.

— Zaffie Hadiaris of Saco is the host of “Zaffie,” a weekly television talk show on Channel 3 Biddeford public access. It can also be seen at biddefordmaine.org. Contact Hadiaris at [email protected]