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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Arizona Events

If you missed out on the Wickenburg Rodeo Days, here is another chance to catch a rodeo live and in-person on March 8 below. But we'll start off with March 1st since that is the beginning of this month and you better hurry or you'll miss it.

Mar l - Line Dance on the London Bridge at Lake Havasu city. They want to see if they can put a maximum number of line dancers on the bridge and set a record. Shucks, that's going on right now! They better hurry or they're gonna get all wet from the rain.

Mar 4 - Author Robin Pinto will be lecturing about Arizona's Civilian Conservation Corps and other stuff. The CCC was an FDR program before and during WWII where it fell apart since no one was available to join up. I had a half-dozen older brothers who joined and worked on canals in Utah. Make that one or two brothers. Will be held at the Pueblo Grande Museum on east Washington Street, Phoenix.

Mar 5-8 - Shakespeare at the Herberger Theater in Phoenix. Enough said.

Mar 6-8 - Fountain Hills Tour d'Artistes in Fountain Hills, AZ. Studio tours where you can observe the creative process firsthand or secondhand, if you want.

Mar 6-8 - The Rodeo mentioned above. Roots N' Boots in Queen Creek, a suburb of Phoenix and Mesa and Gilbert and maybe a few others. This is a PRCA event where grown men (and possibly ladies) try to ride horses and bulls and the kids ride little lambs a divey and maybe pigs and chickens. Some ladies will do barrel racing after all the beer is drank. A good time will be had by all.

Mar 14 - Apache Leap Mining Festival in Superior, AZ. A superior festival of demonstrations in drilling and mucking and etc. Bring your Chihuahua and enter it in the Chihuahua race or bring all of Chihuahua from Old Mexico, too. Everybody's welcome.

Mar 16-21 There's a New Sheriff in Town in Kingman, the birthplace of Bob Boze Bell and the hometown of Andy Devine. Heidi Osselaer will discuss the early women of Arizona law enforcement at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, 400 West Beale Street. How exciting can that get?

And a teaser in April:

Apr 11 - Yuma Tunes and Tacos in Yuma, AZ. A competition for the best taco. Hot stuff on a hot day!

My thanks to Highroads Magazine and AAA Arizona. The Ides of March are coming!





Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Anniversary

I sure seems like a long time since we stood before the preacher and he pronounced us man and wife. Well, it is a long time, say 43 years of married bliss (tsk, tsk), many miles we've traveled together and many exciting times have passed down the drain of life.

My Rules for a Long and Happy Marriage:

1. The husband is never right and concedes every time.
2. The wife is NEVER wrong. As long as she thinks that, everything is calm.
3. Back seat driving is just fine, as long as the husband says: It's that way, all right, and continues to the destination.
4. Never criticize your wife's cooking.
5. Never complain about her shopping. It's a necessary outlet to relieve the stress of being wrong.
6. Never mention money or overspending and always suggest she put the money in her account. 
7. Always suggest going out for dinner. She will get tired of restaurant food and start cooking again.
8. Don't forget to tell her she looks pretty in her new dress, even though it might be a little off kilter.
 9. Her relatives are just fine to visit over Christmas while the man's are never going to step foot in this house.
10. Don't forget, she is NEVER wrong.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Horse Named Buck That Didn't

There were many cowboys and people of different stripe that have owned or ridden horses at one time or another. Many of them have been atop horses they never paid much attention to, like hopping on a horse for a short excursion to check out a neighbor's cattle or a pleasure ride down to the river for a picnic. And then there are those who have known a horse since birth, fed him, and cared for him during his lifetime.

My father used to own a horse or two, mainly as a team pulling a plow or a wagon with a load of hay as he worked on the the farms he owned or leased back when he was a farmer. But when I came along he had moved past that life and became a leather worker, working in his small shop making shoes and repairing harness and any leather jobs that came along. He and my mother also owned and operated a small hamburger stand that they would open up on holidays and other times when they felt like they could make a dollar or two. The Fourth of July was always great for selling hot dogs and burgers. But, I'm getting away from horses.

What got me started was a short story by J. Frank Dobie, I Remember Buck. Buck was his horse from the time it was brought into the world until it passed away. He knew Buck like he was his brother or closer. Buck was cunning, aware of his surroundings, and was a great cow horse. And Buck was always alert when it came to the rider as he showed one day when the rider had a mishap and was thrown off. Well, Buck could turn on a dime which he did, stopping in mid-turn and letting the rider disentangle himself. I would say Buck was a fine horse and would always be remembered even though some humans would be forgotten.

Another great story from Mr. Dobie.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Guns and a River

This is a partial re-run of an article I posted on November 26, 2009, entitled Books.

By the Gun, a collection of short stories by Richard Matheson and published in 1994 by Berkley, had some exciting and brutal stories but that's what you would expect from the title. The one about the sixteen-year-old taking some cattle to market, but couldn't cross some land without giving up some of them in payment was especially good. And the first one in the book about a city boy going west to make a name for himself was also worth the time it took to read it. Mr. Matheson is the author of Journal of the Gun Years (a Spur Award winner) and The Gunfight. He writes sci-fi novels, too, like The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and others in the horror and sci-fi genre, and more westerns and movies and TV.

Another book from my shelf is Reminiscing Along the Sweetwater by Ruth Beebe, published in 1974 by Johnson Publishing Company, Boulder, CO. This particular one is autographed by Ms. Beebe, and I don't know from what used book store I procured it. The author gives some history of the area and enumerates the farmers and ranchers along the river and its tributaries from the first settlers to the present day (1974), giving an abbreviated history of each rancher. A valuable tool for researchers, historians, and writers in my humble opinion.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cheap Reading

The other books I procured on the recent antique store venture were:

1. Western Writers of America 14 Spurs, edited by Will Henry, a collection of fiction by Spur Award Winners published in 1958. They include stories by Bill Gulick, Will Henry, Dorothy M. Johnson, John Prebble, S. Omar Barker, and others.

2. Give Your Heart to the Hawks, by Winfred Blevins, a tribute to the Mountain Men, published by Avon in 1976. A non-fiction paperback.

3. Wild Pitch, by A. B. Guthrie, Jr., published by the Popular Library,, 1973. First time in paperback. Another classic of life in the West, featuring a small-town sheriff with the guts and the intelligence to run circles around a city detective (it says on the back cover).

4. After the Bugles, by Elmer Kelton, published by Ballantine Books in the First Edition, 1967, a paperback. Now it was over. The war was won. Texas no longer belonged to Mexico. Josh Buckalew still couldn't really believe it was over. ....  And there were problems---renegades looking for a gun to steal, Comanches, burned homes. ....  But the real battle was still to be won. (From the back cover)

Each time I enter one of these stores, I promise myself not to buy any books because I have too many on hand as it is. I will not buy any books....I will not buy any books...I will not buy any books next time. No, dadburnit, I won't. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rummaging Arround in an Antique Store

I was rummaging around in an antique store, looking at about every thing on the shelves, the stands, the walls, and the floor as I passed through. I sure wasn't looking for anything in particular. It was the wife, she had something in mind as we went our separate ways up and down the aisles.Voila! I was standing in front of an old wire book rack, my mind blank, when it dawned on me! I was staring at some old western pocketbooks by various authors like Max Brand and Luke Short and others. Whoopee! I had ran across something I liked and I latched on to a half dozen of the books. I was particularly thrilled with one of them, The Western Writers of America Present The Pick of the Roundup, edited by Stephen Payne. It is an Avon paperback published in 1963, a collection of short stories by some of the members of the WWA at the time, including Bill Burchardt, William R. Cox, Max Evans, Ann Ahlswede, John L. Shelley, Lucia Moore, Fred Grove, T. V. Olsen, ELMER KELTON, and Richard Wormser.

I couldn't wait to get back home and read a story or two, and I jumped right on Max Evans' The Far Cry. This is a story of the lone rancher who takes his small herd of cattle up to the mesa where the better grass grows. He no sooner makes it to the top than he sees the clouds beginning to gang up and turn black, promising rain. He and horse head back down to the flat, hoping to reach home before it starts pouring, but the storm turns into a tornado and they have to fight through it, all the time worrying about his wife and kids, if the barn is still standing, did she turn off the windmill, is the corral and the house still there, and did they make it to the cellar in time? The story is not very long, but it kept my attention until the end as it describes the trials and tribulations the man and his horse have to endure on their ride across the flats filled with worry. And what did he find when they finally reach home? You'll have to read the story to find that out because I'm just too stubborn to let the cat out of the bag.

By the way, the wife left the store empty-handed for the first time that I can remember. Hooray!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Movie: The Homesman

The Homesman with Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank was quite an epic of another sort and may be considered by some (my wife) a downer. Hilary Swank takes on an assignment to take three looney women to Iowa for shipment further east. She sets out but runs across a man sitting on a horse with a rope around his neck (Tommy Lee Jones), and she frees him after he says he will do anything she says and that means escorting her and the women to their destination.

The further progress they make, the more of a downer it becomes with the Pawnees and getting lost and one of the women running away and what-all. It makes for good dramatic entertainment with Jones and Swank doing a great job of acting and the cinemaphotography is excellent with the landscape bare and bleak, a warning to be on the lookout, adding another dimension to the movie.

I thought the acting was great and the movie just fine. Everyone connected with it deserves the awards to be received. Even Meryl Streep had a part in it, and she always does a fantastic job.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

In the Beginning there Was.......

HALLAM. Lucas Hallam, an old coot of a cowboy, er, ex-cowboy, if there is such a thing, big and tough as nails, turned private eye, first launched onto the world in 1984 by L. J. Washburn. I'm glad I haven't read any of the other Hallam stories and novels; I like to start at the beginning of a character's story, so I don't get lost in the later ones that come along. This one appears in the book Hallam Collection,1920's Lucas Hallam Mystery stories, along with The Blue Burro, Ladysmith, and Hollywood Flesh of 2011.

Lucas Hallam, movie bit-player and private eye, is hired by Anthony Rose to find his girlfriend, Carmen Delgado and help him get rid of a curse put on by Carmen's mother. Right off, he has to beat up Rose's driver before he even knows why they want him to work for them. This Anthony Rose owns a gambling ship that's moored just outside the County limits off the shores of Los Angeles. It turns out there is another gambler, Freddy Stone, who owns another gambling ship and is involved in the disappearance of Carmen, perhaps. All Hallam has to do is find Carmen, and on the way he runs into murder, mayhem, and a pretty actress, as he visits both ships, a couple of apartment houses and the movie studio where he is working on a film. He must plug some of the henchmen of both gamblers and fight off others trying to protect their bosses. He conks a half-dozen or so on the head, laying them out cold and getting them out of the way as he goes about his business before wrapping up the case.

This story provided entertainment and a few laughs as I read it, and I would say that L. J. Washburn  did a wonderful job in creating Hallam and a terrific job of writing to bring this character to life, A hearty well done.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bloody Dawn by Thomas Goodrich

Bloody Dawn, The Story of the Lawrence Massacre, by Thomas Goodrich, published by the Kent State University Press, was in the third printing when I bought it. It tells the story through detailed research of the raid on Lawrence, Kansas, in the 1860's during the Civil War. This raid was very uncivil and conducted by Quantrill with a force of 400 men. Arriving in Lawrence practically undetected, they proceeded to decimate the town with very little opposition.

This raid was the Missouri bushwhackers answer to all the raids by the Jayhawkers on the border with Missouri. The jayhawkers were regularly going into the border towns and killing, stealing, and setting fire to the buildings and crops of the Missourians, because the bushwhackers were doing the same to Kansas all in the name of slavery-anti-slavery. Kansas was determined not to become a slave State and helped the black people escape with the Underground Railroad. And the people of Missouri accepted slavery and were upset by the Kansas politicians freeing the slaves. So, the cross-border raids continued right up into the Civil War. Quantrill finally got together around 400 men and sneaked into Kansas and was going to put an end to the raids on Missouri.

The account in the book details the house-by-house slaughter and burning of the houses of the influential Kansans who were blamed most for the dastardly and cowardly attacks across the border.
It was a bloody and gory attack with the Lawrence men being shot, knifed, and burned to death, and some of the women were casualties, too. There was advance notice of Quantrill, but due to mix-ups and plain sloppiness of the men in charge, Lawrence didn't get the message until it was too late. There were about 150 casualties and about 50% of the houses burned. Of course, the people of Lawrence who were left in the militia and the Federal troops took off on the trail of Quantrill after the disaster but couldn't quite catch up with the main body due to the tactics of Quantrill, and he escaped, never to be heard of again, practically.  There were bushwhackers who came back into Missouri later up the Sni Valley supposedly led by Quantrill after General Order No. 11 was put forth by General Ewing. This order had the troops clearing out all the people along the border in Missouri and they chased "Old Pap", General Price, and his Rebel troops out of Missouri, too, after having almost reached St. Louis.

Quantrill was wounded in one of the last battles of the Civil War in Kentucky, dying a month or so later at the age of twenty-seven.

I was a little bored by some of the book as the author enumerated the different men killed and how they died. It took several chapters to cover that. The narrative skips back and forth between the years that made it a little confusing in the beginning. Despite this, I enjoyed reading about the raid, even though it was bloody, and recommend it to those who are interested in Kansas and Missouri history and the Civil War, not to mention Quantrill. There was very little said about John Brown, but he was a little earlier, and I'm sure his anti-slavery stance may have carried over to the raid on Lawrence.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Short Western Stories - Killing Trail

Charles Gramlich has written this collection of short stories which includes the following shorts:

Killing Trail
Showdown at Wild Briar
Powder Burn
Once Upon a Time with the Dead

And also a couple of short essays.

Col Colman's choice was Showdown at Wild Briar as he states in his blog Col's Criminal Library where he reviewed the book. I also liked that story, but I choose Killing Trail as my favorite because it is a little longer and a more detailed plot and more characters (at least, to me). Charles explains his writing of this story in one of the essays, why he wrote it and what it is based on (Louis L'Amour) and uses his great imagination to compose the story.

Well, I liked the other stories, too. There is plenty of action and suspense to keep me glued to the pages in each of them. And I just wanted to add my two cents to the mix and let you know where I stand. And Mr. Gramlich's book about his beer drinking feats is a fun read, too.