Sunday, October 4, 2009

Early Background

The second interview was with Lacey McMurry of the Uintah Basin Standard (printed September 21), who asked me a few questions about my background and the book, The Stranger from the Valley.

A more detailed background is included here. My family lived in Altonah, Utah, until 1942 when we moved to the big city of Murray, a suburb of Salt Lake City. My father (born in 1883) first moved to Altonah in 1917, staying there only a couple of years, before moving on to LaPoint, another small town in the Uintah Basin. Butch Casssidy and the gang camped in Brown's Hole on the Green River, and I used to hear tales about them traveling to and from the Hole, not all true, or maybe none of them were true, but he was popular even in the 1930's among the local townfolks. He was like Robin Hood to them from the way they told some of his exploits. And this is another factor that probably played its part in my writing westerns.

The family relocated to Huntington around 1928 or '29, then moved back to Altonah in late 1930 or '31. I was born not long after, and the depression ended, some say. My young years were abundant with the western culture and the Indians. Playing cowboys and Indians was about as popular as twittering is today. Or playing a variation of that game, somebody would be Butch Cassidy and another kid the Outlaw. And along came the movies, the cowboy movies the most popular with the locals. I can hear the grownups groan now when a non-cowboy film was on the schedule.

The grade school in Altonah was a nice brick building with four classrooms, one used as a lunch room, and there were two grades in each of the other rooms. My class through the fourth grade had about eight to twelve students. One teacher taught both grades in each classroom, and I can still remember a couple of them, Norma Turpin (4th grade), Miss Davenport, Miss Dubois.

I've often wondered what my life would have been like if we had never moved to the big city.

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