Some people get their cues for living from the people around them. Some get their cues from down inside.

Harry Sherman is of the "down inside" variety.You don't become the only black person in Malad, Idaho, a rodeo buff from South Carolina and the lead guitarist in a Utah country band by letting other people call your shots.

In short, Sherman's no facsimile; he's an American original.

"I think if anybody in the band takes this cowboy thing seriously, it's me," Sherman laughs. "I mean this is very unusual for me to be talking to somebody without my hat on."

Sherman came west 11 years ago to visit a friend, liked the place, and stayed on. He attended Utah State University, took a job with the Forest Service, but you only need hear him play one riff on the guitar to see his heart's in his music.

"I think our band really started to make sense after Harry joined it," says Jim Holmes, bass guitarist for the Amador Brothers Band. "I like to play bass off the leads, and Harry's great to follow. He knows all the country licks, but some nights he'll sound more bluesy, some nights more rock. It's fun working with him."

Before moving west, Sherman played in an up-and-coming Southern R&B band. And from time to time he still returns to the South for a visit. But his family and friends know he's Marlboro Country now.

And how do his black friends react?

"They never give me a hard time," he says, "but they are curious about how I ended up doing what I do. The way I see it, I like horses, I live in the country, so I play country music. It all seems to fit."

Along the way Sherman has made other individual statements, such as joining the LDS Church and marrying the prettiest girl in Oneida County, Idaho. But as he says, it all seems to fit.

When asked to name his favorite singer, for instance, Sherman singles out Alan Jackson, one of country music's "new traditionalists."

"I like his music very much," Sherman says, "but what I really like is his hat."

*****

Ruth Maughan

In many ways, Ruth Maughan - the mayor of Wellsville - is Cache Valley.

She grew up amid the barnyards and hayfields, married the great-grandson of the valley's first pioneer and raised a son to play football for the Utah State Aggies.

Welcome to Cache County.

On the other hand, you won't find a hint of the quaint and antiquated "Wellsville accent" in her speech; her style is uptown, and her travels have given her perspective and sophistication.

In short, she's a self-made woman, one who's kept the country charm and laced it with a little worldly savvy.

It may be one reason she's mayor today.

"The thing you learn in this job," she says, "is that people in Wellsville are quick to let you know when things aren't going well, but they're also quick to tell you when you're doing a good job. The truth is I've never enjoyed the politics, but I do enjoy the service. And so far being mayor has been a very positive service experience."

Wellsville is the oldest community in Cache Valley, with one of the most elderly populations. Part of the challenge for Maughan is providing services and growth without "nicking" the elderly for more money than they can spare. Creeping urbanization and development are also concerns.

"I think Wellsville can maintain its individuality - its rural flavor - and still progress," says the mayor. "The setting here is beautiful, with the nearby mountains, and we have to keep things like that in mind."

Future projects include work on a new sewer system and some beautification projects.

Maughan would never bill herself as a woman activist ("I've never thought that it was my turn because I'm female"), but she does bill herself as a person willing to chip in, do her part and give a little back to the town that made her what she is.

"There are so many people willing to be volunteers here," she says, "from the beautification committee to the firemen and EMTs. People want to help."

And Ruth Maughan believes in sharing the load. Her husband Richard is participating in Desert Storm, then there are the needs of children and relatives and her other duties, so she's pulling at least her share - in style and substance.

And, it should be added, doing it "her way" in style and substance.

*****

Bruce Keyes

In this era of news specialists, Bruce Keyes of the Box Elder News & Journal is a throwback: He's the complete newshound.

Need a headline? An editorial? A humor column? A photo? Need someone to crank up the presses? Call Bruce. He's a general practitioner who makes house calls.

"Bruce has dedicated his life to this job," says Charles C. Claybaugh, publisher of the Brigham City paper. "He works 60 hours a week, never shows a bias, covers everything. He's the body and soul of our newspaper and one of the finest newspaper people in the state. And he's his own man. I mean he's battling cancer right now and I can't even make the guy take time off."

Keyes (rhymes with "wise") came to the News & Journal 33 years ago after a stint in the Navy and a journalism degree from the University of Utah. Born in Ogden and raised off and on in Brigham City, Keyes found the opening at the News & Journal to be just his cup of tea.

"I'm small-town by nature," he says. "And after the Navy I decided I wasn't going to get a job where people could tell me what to wear and what to eat."

For 33 years no one has.

Says J. Chris Larson, journalism teacher at Box Elder High: "Bruce is the voice of Brigham City. Mayors come and go, but his `Pow-Wow' column keeps going strong. He ought to be the role model for every young journalist. Teachers should point to him and say, `That's what a newspaperman is like.' "

Although Keyes is much too busy to sit down and reminisce for more than a minute or two, a hasty calculation reveals - at 70 stories a week - he's written and published more than 100,000 newspaper articles. He's taken thousands of photos and gone through more paper than anyone this side of the Kleenex tissue company.

And he's learned some valuable lessons.

Lesson One: "Covering the sports beat is more fun than covering school board meetings . . . unless your team loses all the time."

Lesson Two: "If you don't have credibility, you don't have anything."

Lesson Three: "The nature of a small-town weekly is that you know everybody, so things can get personal. I had a mother in my office not long ago. She was crying. She said if I published her name for DUI it would harm her children. It was very hard to look her in the eye and say I just couldn't allow myself to start making exceptions."

As for that business about cancer, we've played it down because Keyes plays it down. The prognosis is good, however, likely because Keyes confronts the disease head-on with characteristic drive and humor.

When he first lost his hair to chemotherapy, for example, he considered a wig.

"I put one on, looked in the mirror and said to my wife, `I look like Grandma Moses.' She said `Wait until they cut it and style it for you.' They cut it and styled it. `Now I looked like Grandpa Moses,' I said. So these days I wear hats - usually this hat my son got me from Yugoslavia."

But if Keyes has to keep his hat on all the time now, Brighamites don't mind a bit. They've had their hats off to him for three decades.