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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Genuine gentleman had 'that cowboy state of mind'
By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff Writer
Published October 12, 2007
Steve "Cowboy" Pownall, 66, always wore a cowboy hat. People always mistook him for Eddie Rabbit or Merle Haggard - he even signed a couple autographs.
SEFFNER - When everyone else flocked to 1957 Chevy Impalas, Steve "Cowboy" Pownall" bought a '58.
He restored it from top to bottom. Like a baby in the womb, he knew what he would name it long before it was drivable: Lavender Blue, after the song by Sammy Turner.
With its gleaming paint job and cowboy etchings in the rear glass, Lavender Blue won countless trophies at car shows. Mr. Pownall would put spark plugs in the tail pipes and blow out blue flames.
He didn't tow it or keep it under wraps until special occasions - he drove it everywhere.
A classic car. Reliable, traditional, but a little unusual.
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Mr. Pownall had a presence of his own - 6 feet 1, lanky, forever in a cowboy hat. He didn't try to be flashy, his family said. In fact, he was downright quiet.
But people routinely thought Mr. Pownall was a glitzy music star like Merle Haggard or Eddie Rabbit. A couple of times, he signed autographs.
"He was as genuine as a cowboy," said his son-in-law, Cory Clark. "He always had that cowboy state of mind."
His family was with him Saturday when he died, after battling lung disease. He was 66.
In the Army, Mr. Pownall worked as a mechanic. Later, he was a plumber and a pipe fitter for the local union. He lived on the same land in Seffner for 38 years - 2 acres covered with azaleas.
A Democrat who read the newspaper each day, Mr. Pownall flew the Confederate flag in tribute to his great-grandfather, who fought in the Civil War. He was proud of his heritage, even when people said the flag wasn't politically correct.
He was strict and traditional at home, said his two daughters, LaDonna Clark and Luanna Bachmann. And he liked them to behave like old-fashioned, feminine ladies.
"He just liked a woman who knows how to take care of herself and makes an effort to look nice for her partner," said LaDonna Clark.
He appreciated when women had their toenails painted and wore nice shoes. And women loved him right back, always lining up to two step at Kelly's Hideaway in Seffner.
He liked traditional country music, Western movies, NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Sr. He smoked cigarettes. He drank coffee, but not much alcohol. He didn't line dance, and his slow dances with ladies were proper and respectful.
He said ma'am and sir and please and thank you. And always - always - howdy.