Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Hard Time Bunch

The Hard Time Bunch is a Doubleday Western by Clifton Adams published in 1973. I just read James Reasoner's post yesterday with his review of The Colonel's Lady by Adams and agree with what he had to say about Mr. Adams being a gritty writer of the hard-boiled variety. In The Hard Time Bunch Adams has another fine western with grit and humor. Frank Beeler is out of a job having quit as a Deputy Marshal in the Indian Territory and is half-looking for something else that would support him and his on-again, off-again romance with his old true love, Elizabeth Stans. He found it as a hunting guide for two dude Easterners who wanted to go hunting in the Indian Territory. Although the two decimated a flock of wild turkeys just to continue on with their deadly games, that wasn't exactly what they were looking for as they moved further into the Territory.

The Hard Time Bunch was just a few farm boys who were in hard times and took up robbing trains to feather their nests. However, they weren't very good at it and after a failed attempt, a bounty was put on their heads. Known as the Brannon Bunch, the gang was made up of two Brannon brothers, another farmer named Rafe Jackson and an Indian named Johnny Coyotesong. And when the hunting party runs into these outlaws, the story gets interesting and more complex. The two dudes, Warren Conmy and Ben Sutter, and their hired help Duane Keating and Humphrey O'Toole, were not exactly "dudes", all being dead shots and expert in the use of firearms. Along with them was Conmy's pretty wife Verna, adding a bit of mystery and romance to the plot. The "dudes" game now becomes one of who can kill the Brannon bunch. Frank Beeler sees what's coming and wants out and joins the Brannons and becomes an object for the killers to hunt down, too, in their little game.

As the story winds down to its bitter end, they all get caught up in a Creek funeral as one of the Creeks agrees to help his old friend, Beeler, hide out with the Brannons in their camp while the funeral goes on and on and on to its unexpected conclusion.

This novel was only 161 pages long and read easy and fast and I liked it (as I do about all of them).

Enjoy Memorial Day and drive carefully if you're leaving town on the road!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Some Arizona Events

This event runs through June 1, 2014, at the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg, AZ, and complements the "Cowgirl Up" Artist exhibition. It is the third annual "Cowgirls with a Camera" exhibit featuring the photos of talented women photographers in the Western genre, from mustangs to working horses, ranch life to rodeo, and the stunning landscapes of the American West.

Running through May 31 is "Ghost Towns of Arizona", photography of Kurt Wenner at the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix. More than 40 photos of Arizona ghost towns taken between 1996 and 2006.

May 31: Blue Ribbon Horse Show at the Phoenix-Horse Lovers Park. Halter, English and Western pleasure, trail and more.  Mount up and take a ride to this exhibit.

June 8: 34th Annual Territorial Days Arts and Crafts - Courthouse Plaza, Prescott, across the street from the famed Whiskey Row.

June 13th: 2nd Friday Night's Out in Mesa, AZ, Sci-Fi Friday, on the sidewalk on Main Street. I will be selling my books here. Don't miss this one.

(Thanks to Sun Life Magazine for the events listed, except for the last one.).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Wild Cow Tales

This book of short stories, Wild Cow Tales, by Ben K. Green, was interesting and funny, even hilarious in places. Mr. Green's tales were written in a straight-forward style as he relates some of the wildest cow chases I've read about. As an independent rancher near Weatherford, Texas, he was hired by fellow ranchers and others to round up some of the wildest cattle to be found anywhere. In one of the tales, he tells his troubles rounding up a herd of cows in the Rocky Mountains for a bank that was taking over the herd because the Scottish owner owed the bank some money on a loan. The Scot didn't exactly want "that skinny little excuse for a cowboy" to push his cattle off his ranch and Ben had to battle him, too, on top of the ornery steers.

In another one, Ben was hired to round up a small herd of the meanest and wildest long horns in an out of the way town in southwestern Texas. Though only eight or ten of 'em, he had one of the toughest jobs he'd ever had catching and keeping these animals out of the brush and thickets where they usually could find peace and quiet in their daily routine. This was one of the best instances that rope is a cowboy's best friend and the long, sharp horns are one of the worst . He was horned on a leg, cutting a gash that caused Ben do to some quaint doctoring of the wound and wasn't anything I'd heard of before.

And there's a story about a young boy that helped him out with a small herd of the critters, and at the end of the book thee are some real short episodes he relates while herding and handling cattle, one about some cows reading a morning paper, and another tyring to head off a wild calf that ran into a schoolhouse. All very funny and exciting. Mr. Green is a writer that rode the trail and enjoyed his work. A real cattle man doing what he liked to do and his writing isn't so bad either.

This book was published by the University of Nebraska Press  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Territorial News

Since I received such an outstanding ovation for my previous post about the Territorial News, I thought I would run another one. This edition has Chapter 3 of The Captivity of the Oatman Girls by R. B. Stratton on the front page and continues further into the paper. Also on the lead article is 'Indian Massacre' on the West-bound Stage. This is about a stage robbery west of Wickenburg, AZ, in 1871. The robbers were dressed up as Indians it was thought and was "one of the bloodiest deeds ever committed in Arizona."

Another article was about Ned Huddleston, horse thief and cattle rustler, who turns out to be none other than Isom Dart of Brown's Park fame and an acquaintance of Butch Cassidy during the time  Cassidy was in Brown's Park. This article says he was killed by Tom Horn, who plugged him as he was coming out of his cabin one October 1900.

There is an article about a Gunfight in Fort Worth, which I found interesting. The big fight was between Luke Short and Jim Courtright. The dispute was over the "protection" offered to Short by Mister Courtright and Short said he didn't need it, so they tried to kill each other in front of the Shooting Gallery Saloon. Short won and Courtright was killed. Short got off, the judge ruled justified self-defense at the trial..

A full-page ad lures visitors to Florence, AZ, with the Chapel of the Gila short history in the center of the page. The Chapel was constructed in 1870 and subsequently renamed the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church. One of the ads is for "The only indoor fast draw shooting range in the U S." Florence is an interesting little town, home of the State Prison and not far from the "Casa Grande" ruins and museum. Have a nice visit.

The paper is still available for $29.95 a year.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Not About Raccoons

I ran across this book at a Used Book store and bought it thinking it had to be some sort of western about a Hell and Damnation preacher. Was I surprised when I began reading it and found out it was the story of a young Baptist in early Kentucky who had a lasting effect on the Baptist religion and revealing to them the faults in their take on it. The book is Raccoon John Smith, written by Louis Cochran whose "maternal grandfather was also a preacher and a lifelong advocate of 'Christian unity' after the manner of Raccoon John Smith" it says in the author bio on the back inside flap of the cover.

I continued reading until the end, not that it was a subject that appealed to me much, but since I invested a whole simoleon in it, I would read it no matter how boring it was. Well, it wasn't really boring overall as I followed Raccoon John Smith around the towns and churches in Kentucky in the early 1800's. Although it isn't a traditional shoot-em-up, Kentucky at that time was on the edge of the frontier and there was an episode early on about the killings and unsocial-like behavior of the Harpe gang.

Young John found out early on with urging from his family and others that he was a member of the Elect, having had a revelation and was further urged to set his sights on becoming a preacher. As he learned more about the Bible and the Baptists, he had other revelations that convinced him that the Baptists was not considering the full facts of the Bible. He met several preachers like Barton Stone and David Fall, who thought pretty close to the way he did, and as time goes on, he was booted from several churches as a heretic and Reformist, not being able to change enough people from their deep-seated beliefs and Calvinist ways. The narrative is pretty dull in places to me as John gets married, raises a family and has a couple of the kids die and his house catches fire and wipes out some of them. But John recovers, keeps preaching, gets remarried and has more kids. He was called upon to preach in homes, churches, barns, and oversee weddings by the hundreds, sometimes doing ten in a day. 

John meets Alexander Campbell and becomes a "disciple", believing that baptism by immersion and the Bible are all that is necessary for a Christian to be a good Christian. As time struggles on, he attends a meeting of the Disciples of Christ and the Church of Christ believers and they become united in a loose conformance to the same principles of faith and consider themselves "Unified."

From reading the book, I learned again some of the problems of the various religious sects and will continue to see that there will never be a total re-unification into just one Church of Christians. There is just too much politics and power involved for those in power to relinquish even in the Name of God.

For the most part, I thought the book was just fine and written in language easily understood.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

O. Henry

This month's header sketch is O. Henry (William Sidney Porter). I hope I didn't mess it up too much.
O. Henry (Porter) lived from 9-11-1862 to 6-5-1910.
American writer famous for his stories with surprise endings.
Born in Greensboro, NC, died in NYC from cirrhosis, diabetes and an enlarged heart.
Buried in Asheville, NC.
Moved to Texas in 1881, LaSalle County (hill country, I presume).
During his life he was a draftsman, pharmacist, bank teller, and journalist, in addition to being a writer. He played the guitar and mandolin and sang.
As a bank teller he embezzled some money (why? I don't know. He needed it, I guess.) When the law came calling, he left for New Orleans and Honduras. He returned to Austin to be with his wife, who was dying from TB, and surrendered. He was given a five-year sentence, but spent three years in jail where he worked as the prison's pharmacist.
Mister Porter liked his "porter" and was a heavy drinker.
He wrote many stories and submitted them for publication, and many were published. He wrote about ordinary people, clerks, policemen, waitresses, etc. Some of his best were contained in the Cabbages and Kings collection. A couple of his best known were The Gift of the Magi and The Ransom of Red Chief. I liked both of those, laughing at Ransom and being sad with Magi and both had surprise endings.

This info taken from Wikipedia about Mr. Porter, where you can get a more detailed description of his life and works and how he chose his pseudonym, O. Henry.