OKC to NYC: the Abernathy Kids.

you can find more historical road warriors on the Road Eternal.


Billyburg hipsters on fixies: consider yourselves outswagged. Image via LoC

By the ages of 10 and 6 respectively, Bud and Temple Abernathy had sought out and captured a level of coolness that you will never achieve. 

Born at the turn of the 20th century in Oklahoma, Louis “Bud” and Temple “Temple” Abernathy pretty much followed directly in their dad’s early-bloomer footsteps. (At 11, Jack Abernathy was a Texas cowboy driving cattle 500 miles to market. Not exactly a paper route.)

In 1907, their mother died. Dad by this time had been appointed a U.S. Marshall and was off capturing wolves elsewhere. This left Bud and Temple to their own devices. And that was enough…

1909 saw the boys making a test run from their home in Frederick, OK to Santa Fe to see the NM governor’s new mansion. Two weeks, alone, on horseback. Bud was nine and Temple was five—barely out of Baby Einstein years.

Once back in OK they planned to set back out in the other direction: east, to New York City, to meet up with everyone’s fave President Ted as he returned from Africa and Europe. Mission accomplished in 1910: coverage from no less than the Times followed their progress up the eastern seaboard. Upon reaching NY, they got their sucker dad to buy them a car to drive back to OK, again unaccompanied. (Their ponies took the train home.)

In 1911, someone with too much cashish posted a $10,000 prize for the boys if they made the horseback ride from NY to SF in sixty days. They made it — in sixty-two. No college fund for Bud and Temple.

1913: the Indian bike seen above took the brothers on the run to NYC again. “Two Young Tourists” is a rather underwhelming way to describe the joyride of two minors halfway across the country, Easy Rider style. Apparently there were plans to take their wandering abroad, but like so many Americans, they never got those passports and took that ride. European tour: cancelled.

That was their last celebrity-flavored journey. The kids grew up, settled in Texas: Bud became a lawyer, Temple got into oil. By the time they died in the latter part of the 20th century, their Bieber-style fame days became a weird movie (starring the brother-in-law from Breaking Bad) but have otherwise been lost to time.

So they didn’t quite go Magellan after a promising start. But these two got in the habit of hitting the road before they even hit grade school. Think of how much ground they covered so quickly. And then think: what’s keeping you from the same?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s