Sunday, February 24, 2013

Autobiography of Billy the Kid

This book, The Autobiography of Billy the Kid, by Ralph Estes is interesting in that it tells Billy's story from the Kid's viewpoint. Of course he didn't kill in cold blood those twenty-one men attributed to him or was it twenty-seven or only fifteen. Not guilty, although he does say he killed two or three that needed killing as a result of the Lincoln County War in New Mexico.  The family had moved from Wichita to Silver City, New Mexico, because of his mother's consumption and she got along well for awhile, but it finally killed her. And Henry McArty (later known as Billy the Kid) was relocated to a family named Brown. It didn't take long for him to get in trouble for stealing and he escaped from jail and left for parts unknown at about thirteen years of age. And the story of Billy the Kid begins according to the author.

He ended up in Arizona where he had to kill a man who was on top of him beating him in the face, a bully that picked on him all the time. He took out for New Mexico again where he hoped to get a job herding cattle, since he always wanted to be a cowboy. His stepfather's last name was Antrim, and Billy was called that on occasion. I would tell you how he became Billy the Kid from Henry McArty, but it will better if you read it and more interesting than me telling you.

Most of the book focuses on the Lincoln County war between the McSween people and the Dolan gang. Billy is one of the "Regulators" on the McSween side, actually working on the side of the law. But the law is fuzzy there, since the Dolan gang seem never to get arrested and has the U. S. Army on their side. Billy is the only person indicted in the Chapman murder and he writes to Governor Lew Wallace saying he will be a witness for release from the indictment. Wallace writes him a letter and they are included in the Appendices along with other pertinent content about the Lincoln War. There is never any complaining by Billy about the indictment or other events, so we don't get into his mind in this regard. He doesn't mention all the newspaper articles or wanted posters either. Billy is an easy-going, mostly happy type who gets acquainted with many senoritas and falls in love with one named Mary. And that's where Pat Garrett catches him and kills him. 

Ralph Estes does the Kid justice, at least to my way of thinking, in telling this story and adds to the lore of the Kid. A fine, entertatining, short read of eighty-one pages.

This is an e-book that came out in October 2012 by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA).     

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Old Movie Time, The Lucky Texan

The Lucky Texan stars John Wayne, George Hayes, Yakima Canutt, and Barbara Sheldon. It opens up with Hayes (Jake) digging a rock out of a horse's hoof and John Wayne (Jerry Mason) coming back to town. Hayes owns the blacksmith shop and he gets a letter from his granddaughter (Barbara Sheldon) that she's coming back also. The rock from the horse's hoof is picked up by Wayne and he notices a chunk of gold in it, and Hayes, of course knows exactly where it come from because the horse's owner told him where he had been. Gold in the creek, 12 miles from town. They take some of it to the Assayer, Harris, the same one who stole most of Hayes cattle from the ranch. And he steals the deed to Hayes' ranch by having him sign a piece of paper he says is a receipt for the gold. 

Jake pays off the mortgage to the blacksmith shop with gold and the sheriff's son kills the banker for the gold. Jake is thrown in jail for the dastardly deed. Betty (Sheldon) shows up at the ranch when Jerry (Wayne) goes to get money to bail Jake out. Wayne goes into town and confronts the sheriff's son about the money he came into and a fist fight ensues, The outlaw escapes and heads to the creek with Wayne after him. Enter a bit of Charlie Chaplin comedy as the outlaw surfs down the creek with Wayne surfing on his tail. Wayne cuts him off and takes him back to town and Jake is released from jail.

The Assayer, Harris and Joe, his employee, follow Jake (Hayes) to see where the gold is coming from and end up shooting Jake and try to steal a canteen of gold from the back of Jakes's mule. Joe tries to get the gold untied from the jackass, but in a hilarious sequence, chases the burro around and Joe has to give up. The mule takes off and the canteen falls to the ground. Harris and Joe head back to town.

Jake wakes up with his dog Frankie and tells Frankie to go get Jerry. Jerry finds the canteen, tells Jake to remain hiden and heads to town to file claims on the gold sites. Jerry gets arrested when Harris and Joe tell the sheriff that Jerry was stealing the gold. Jerry gets locked up where he remains until a judge shows up the next morning. Betty visits Jerry and he tells her to keep Jake hidden and tell him to come to town in the morning.

Jake shows up in women's clothes and no one knows who the lady is. He/she tells the judge that Harris and Joe are the real outlaws and they jump out of a window and take off. Jerry and Jake follow them in a comedy finish. Harris and Joe hop on a motorized railroad flat car, Jake in a tin-lizzy and Jerry on his horse. Harris and Joe are caught and a fight ensues with Jerry and Jake winning. The final scenes show Betty marrying Jerry and kissing her.

This was another 1934 black and white film (with an occasional dark break) that I enjoyed watching and got a kick out of the car chase finale.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Little Behind

I'm a little behind in my reading and blogging, like I have a couple of Writer's Digest mags, two or three True West and American Cowboys I haven't been able to read yet, not counting the books in my pending box. This has all come about because of some more duties that I took on in a volunteer thing and it has kept me fairly busy.

Upcoming though are some book signings in March at the Tucson Book Festival on the ninth and then I'll be at a Methodist Church Yard and Vendor sale on the 16th, which I think will be good due to the number of expected buyers that'll be wandering through.

And I have couple of book reviews for the blog that'll be coming up before too long.

I wish you all a HAPPY PRESIDENT'S DAY and hope Valentine Day was a hit, too.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cowboy Heroes of the Southwest

I want to thank Jim Olson for writing this book that gives some broader notoriety to these Cowboy Heroes, some of whom I had never heard of but are pretty well-known in rodeo and ranching circles. Take John Wayne and Louis "Louie" Johnson. John Wayne is known throughout the world as an actor and ranch owner, but his partner, Louie Johnson, may not have been so famous. Mr. Johnson seems to have taught the cotton business to "Duke," but I don't recall ever reading anything about it until Mr. Olson wrote about the partnership in his book. And some of the other Heroes are Eddie Chavez, Don Kimble, Earl Thode, Jim Olson's wife - Bobbi Jeen Olson, an interesting story there, William Zivic the Western Artist, Pete Phelps, Pablo Osuna, JW Brooks - the Hat Maker, Jack Penrod, C. P. Honeycutt, and the list goes on.

These short biographies portray men and women of action and love for the Western way of life. They include Rodeo Champions, Ranchers and Champion Ropers, hard workers and fun-loving cowboys, as well as actresses, Women Champions of the Rodeo, horse trainers, and about everything else pertaining to the Western way of life, cowboys and ranching, etc.

A well-written and mighty fine, needed book.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Old Movie Time, Wildfire

Wildfire is a 1945 oater starring Bob Steele as Happy Hay and Sterling Holloway as Alkali Jones. It opens with three men trying to kill the wild horse, Wildfire, blaming it for stealing all the horses in the valley. Wildfire gets wounded in the left front leg and Happy Hay and Alkali Jones show up just in time to save Wildfire. Since they are on their way to sell some horses, they just happen to have a horse sling on hand and lift Wildfire off the ground while they fix up the injury and make a friend for life. They take their horses into town to sell and are accused of stealing two pintos in the group by one of Fanning's gang. But Happy has a bill of sale and the Sheriff lets him go. And along comes Judy (Virginia Maples) and steals the two pintos right out of the stable. Happy and Alkali follow her and catch up at her ranch where she explains she just wanted to talk to Happy about all the horse-stealing and says Fanning is trying to steal her ranch out from under her.

But, hold on, they have to get rid of Happy and Alkali and two men are sent to kill them. Poor Alkali gets shot in the side and is lying on the ground when Wildfire comes to his rescue and he is able to get away. Happy heads to town where he finds his horses have been stolen. Well that fires up the good men and riles up the bad men (Fanning and his gang), and some of them head for Judy's ranch where they think they have Happy cornered. But Happy climbs over the wall and heads for his horse and finds that the outlaws have chased it away. And who shows up but Wildfire. Happy climbs on and heads to town and the Judge. The Judge turns the tables on Happy and is going to have him thrown in jail, but Happy talks him into a trip to Fanning's place where they find the stolen horses and some mad horse thieves.

After the shoot out and the big fight, Happy and Alkali win the day and Judy marries the Sheriff, Wildfire is left to roam the wilds with his horses, and everyone lives happily ever after.

I've always like Bob Steele's movies. They are usually action-packed with a little music and a good supporting cast. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Wild Bunch at Robbers Roost

Ron Scheer just ran a fine review of the movie, The Wild Bunch (1969), which is here:, dated Tuesday, January 29, 2013. I saw that movie in 1969 or 1970 when I was stationed in Japan and thought it was a rip-roaring, horse-snortin', shoot 'em up, which I considered to be one of the finest Westerns I had seen.

This post today, though, has nothing to do with the movie, since it is my thoughts of the book entitled The Wild Bunch at Robbers Roost, by Pearl Baker. Pearl Baker lived in the area of the Robber's Roost and her family knew many of the residents of the Roost (I've heard this place called Rustler's Roost, also). In fact, as the back cover-fold says: "She [Mrs. Baker] is particularly suited to the subject in this book since her family's ranch, where she was taken two years after she was born, was right in the heart of the Robbers Roost country. The Roost was part of the ranch, in fact, and the Wild Bunch had departed only a short time before as the West became civilized."

The book starts off with a description of the country and then gets into the stories of the criminals that lived there off and on, like Elzy Lay, Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid (Harvey Longabaugh), Orion "Kid" Curry (or Harvey Logan at times), "Flat Nose" George Curry, Gunplay Maxwell, Peep O'Day, Sliver Tip, and Indian Ed to name a few of the robbers who lived at or passed through the Roost on their way to Telluride or a stage robbery or a bank holdup in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana or Nevada.  

This book is the "completely revised and certain new material added by the author" version published in 1971. Robbers Roost is located in the area where the Green River runs into the Colorado River southeast of Moab, Utah, above the Dirty Devil River. Each chapter of the book takes two or three characters and tells their story of cattle and horse rustling, stage coach and train robberies, and some bank holdups, posse chases, etc. I mention posses because my Uncle Oscar Beebe (a deputy sheriff in Price) is mentioned as a member of the one of the posses on the trail of Joe Walker where many shots were fired when they thought they had him cornered but no one was hit. Pearl Baker remarks about this marksmanship, saying they had no intention of hitting anyone. Butch Cassidy, the leader of the Wild Bunch, never killed anybody and lived a fairly long life.

About Butch Cassidy, the author states that he returned to the U.S. from South America and died in 1936 or 1937 in the northwest. She cites the family of Butch and a couple other sources regarding this.

I found the stories of the individuals to be fascinating, but some of them were killed too early.

The book was first published in 1965 and Sam Peckinpah may have gotten the idea for the movie from it, but I have no knowledge of that, although some members of the Wild Bunch went to Mexico for one reason or another.

The front cover: