Sunday, November 29, 2009

Books of the West

I thought I had read a book entitled Memoirs of a Lawman, but there I go thinking again. I began looking through it to determine the true facts of the case, and decided I hadn't read it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has purchased a book because it sounds like something you need or want and find out you've already read it. Anyway, the book is edited by Wilson Rockwell and published in 1962 by Sage Books, Denver.and is one of those I've had for a long time, picked up at a used book store along the line.

It's adapted from the writings of C. W. (Doc) Shores, the Sheriff of Gunnison, Colorado, at the beginning, and follows his exploits through to the end of his lawman's career as Salt Lake City's Chief of Police. Doc Shores was born in Michigan in 1844 and died in 1934 in Denver. He was a bullwhacker, a hunter, a buffalo hunter. While working for the railroad, he trailed the outlaws through the west and brought them back to face justice. I can't wait to get into it further to follow him on the trail and off as he delivers the lawbreakers to justice. A tough lawman and a straight shooter who gets his man.

A book I have read and thoroughly enjoyed was We Pointed Them North, Recollections of a Cowpuncher, by E. C. Abbott ("Teddy Blue") and Helena Huntington Smith, with drawings by Nick Eggenhofer. It was first copyrighted in 1939 by Farrar  Rinehart, Inc., and this particular edition is an 8th printing by the University of Oklahoma Press, 1986. E. C Abbot, known as "Teddy Blue," was a cowpuncher in Montana and trailed the longhorns from Texas in the 1870's and -80's. Tells you why he did it and how.  

Thursday, November 26, 2009


HAPPY THANKSGIVING to those readers in the U.S. and Canada, and to those who don't celebrate it, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Our family group will be celebrating turkey day at the Rustler's Roost Restaurant at the Pointe, South Mountain, here in Phoenix, a great place for Thanksgiving dinner. We've ordered two turkeys for the meal, which will be more than enough, and the Roost provides the turkeys and everything else. 

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.

Another book from my small and inadequate library is Reminiscing Along the Sweetwater, by Ruth Beebe published in 1974 by Johnson Publishing Company, Boulder, Colorado. This particular one is autographed by Ms. Beebe, and I don't know from what used book store I procured it. In 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, giving an abbreviated history of each rancher. A valuable tool for researchers and historians, in my estimation, and writers.

There are several pictures of western art in the October 2008 edition of True West mag as it covers the Charlie Russell Art Trail and an article entitled Big Country Big Art, if you are interested in the art of the west.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Frontier Times Mag, 1968

I was file-diving over the past few days and came up with a Frontier Times magazine of January 1968. I thought I had given away these old magazines before I became interested in writing, but evidently this one was still here. It was published by Western Publications, Inc., in Austin, TX, and is Vol. No. 42, No. l, New Series No. 51, Pat Wagner, Editor, and Joe Austell Small, Publisher, cost 35 cents.

It contains true stories of the old west, and this issue has The Canyon Springs Robbery, Fastest Gun in Phoenix, "Git Fer Vegas, Cowboy!", Billy the Kid's Last Christmas, and An Irishman in Indian Country, and others, including a couple of Tumbleweeds three-panel comic strips. It appears similar to the present day True West mag and for all I know, may be it's forerunner or not

I never got around to reading it, or the ones I gave away, but I'm certainly going to dive into this one in my spare time. One of the book reviews is about the Spanish Naval Center in San Blas in Mexico, a very active port for the support of California in its early years. San Blas has not been prominent in the history of California, at least in the material I've read about it, but played an important part according to the review. I will be interested in reading the volume, if I can get a hold of it.

But before that I'll read The Fastest Gun in Phoenix by Maurice Kildare. This man was Henry Garfias, who at 23 pinned on a law badge and became the man who tamed Phoenix in 1874. The article begins with him confronting a free-for-all in a saloon on Whiskey Row where he kills one man and wounds another and goes on to solve stage coach robberies and rounds up the Valenzuela gang. A tough lawman to be sure. He was injured in a horse accident and died a few days later in 1896. In 1874 the population of Phoenix was about 1,500 and now its close to two million (1.6 in 2007).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The TV and Them

I do write something beside westerns occasionally, usually caused by the course in writing I'm taking from the  Bishop Literary Service of nearby Youngtown, AZ, like this short piece.

Some people are addicted to the TV, turn it on the minute they hit the door, but never concentrate fully on it with other things going on.

Every time we visit my friend and his wife, the TV is blasting away, not at a reasonable volume but loud enough that it makes it difficult to carry on a conversation. The TV is playing sports, music or military programs, and once in a great while a history presentation, but seldom the news. In fact, I've never seen the News on in there house.

But, anyway, we were invited over last Friday night (my wife and I) for a get-together and a sandwich of some kind, and they were "watching" the Army training the Green Berets. The lady of the house tunes these programs out mostly, and it's primarily her husband's program.

I asked the barbecue-er what he was cooking tonight, and he replied, "Army burgers. You ever had one?"

"Probably, but not by that name. What the heck are Army burgers?" I asked.

He was intent on watching some soldiers jump over obstacles and didn't hear me.

"Jim!" yelled his wife. "Switch the station to some nice music for a change. Don't you get tired watching those GI's all the time?"

"What are Army burgers?" I asked again, after he changed stations.

"That's the way we cooked thim in the Army. A donkey, some sputterbutt, and two pieces of a bag-it."

His wife interrupted to tell him that, "They're singing our song. Wama-wama-wamoo-oo," she sang.

And he joined in with her and so did my wife. I just shook my head.

And so went the night, but he did get around to telling me about the Army burgers later, when they were watching the infrequent historical piece about the Egyptian pyramids.

He said, "They look similar to the base of one of those pyramids and are about as heavy, too. They throw on the grill some donkey (patties), squirt the barbecue juice, and catsup, mustard stuff (sputterbutt) on the patties, and shovel it in between two pieces of bag-it (buns). It's mighty tasty. If we hadn't have had cork-du-soley tonight, you could have tasted them.

We went home with me wondering what the hell cork-du-soley was, even though I had eaten some of it. His wife probably watched one of them French cooking programs.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Empty mind and an excerpt

Just ran across a blog entitled Ramblings of a Raconteur written by Rebecca Ryals Russell who said she has finished her NaNoWriMo project, see at

My mind is drawing blanks this morning on writing the blog. I thought I would pick out a book and say something about it, then I thought, no, I've already done that the last few times. So, on to something else. I guess I could start off by doing an excerpt from a new novel that I'm working on, like this one (not a NaNoWriMo):

"Never mind," I said. "We'll do it some other time. What direction did the rustlers take? This is a big country."

"They stole them from the main herd over there," Zeke, said, pointing to some cattle grazing peacefully, "and took off to the northeast for a ways, then headed northwest to the canyons. We lost them in the rocks at the edge of the gulches. I think it was Indians that stole them, Utes would be my guess, but can't tell for sure."

I stared at him as he spoke, trying to tell if he was lying, but there was nothing except a turning away of his eyes from my face for a split second. Could be a habit or it could be the reflection of a lie.

"Anything else you want to know?" asked Zeke.

"We better get back to town before it gets too late," I said.

"That's the best idea I've heard all day," said Julie, and she took off at a lope with Zeke and me trying to catch up.

A few hours later, I was sitting on the Jesperson front porch steps, Julie beside me, and telling her what a great cook she was. Mr. Jesperson and Zeke were in chairs, partially hidden in the shadows. The sun had gone down, and a full moon had slid over the cliffs from the northeast, casting its gray light over everything but Jesperson and Zeke in the shade of the porch roof.

"That roast beef was the best I ever ate," I said to Julie, "tender and easy to slide a knife through, and seasoned just right. Thanks for inviting me."

"If it had been up to me," said Jesperson with a touch of anger in his voice, "you wouldn't be here."

"I wouldn't be here anyway if the sheriff hadn't locked me up," I replied. "It's funny isn't it? An old man is killed, another cowboy shot, a cowboy dead from a slit throat, some talk about missing gold and missing cattle. I don't know what to make of it."

"Oh, Jimmy, I don't want to talk about it tonight," said Julie, watching me. "Won't it keep until tomorrow?"

"There's more," I said. "A pretty girl with a jealous sheriff as a bodyguard, an overprotective father, a couple of Indians. Anyone else? I ask myself." Before anyone could say anything, I continued, "A man in prison in Colorado for robbing a bank, his son the cowboy with the sore throat, two aged criminals, one dead, gold, and missing bank money. It gets more complicated all the time. And there's the sheriff who's supposed to be catching the outlaws, but has time to act as bodyguard for a beautiful woman."

"You talk too much, Snyder," said Zeke. [Note: Zeke is the sheriff.]

"Just laying it out for all to see," I said. "Is there some reason I shouldn't talk about it?"

"Lots of reasons," said Mr. Jesperson. "In the first place, I don't want to hear it, and in the second, this is man talk and should be between men, and in the third place, you're probably wrong about everything anyway, so please change the subject."

"You heard him, Snyder, stop talking about Grady and whatever, or I'll lock you up again for disturbing the peace," said the sheriff.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Flaming Gorge Country

By golly! This picture in the header isn't quite so big as the house. It's a drawing of one of the gravesites in Tombstone, AZ, that was imprinted on a magnet that is stuck on my file cabinet.

The book, Flaming Gorge Country, by Dick and Vivian Dunham, was copyrighted in 1947 under the title Our Strip of Land by the Dunhams, and in 1977 was copyrighted by Richard R. Dunham as Flaming Gorge Country, The Story of Daggett County, Utah. It has illustrations and photographs, and is where Brown's Park (or Hole) is located, in the northeast corner of the State bordering Colorado on the east and Wyoming on the north. The Flaming Gorge Lake on the Green River is in Wyoming and Utah. The Green River runs south then swings to the east and in to Colorado above Ladore Canyon. The lake dam is in Red Canyon on the river after turning east in Utah. Brown's Park is an area along the river in Utah and Colorado before it turns south through Ladore Canyon.

Some of the notorious figures that hid out in or passed through Brown's Park were Tom Horn, Harry Tracy, Matt Warner, Tom McArty, Isom Dart, Butch Cassidy, and others.

And this book is a great exposition of the history of the county, 384 pages with index. If you've never visited Flaming Gorge, you have an experience wating for you, whether it's fishing, hiking, camping, beaching, or what have you, or just passing through. It's a beautiful lake in a great setting.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

They called him Bill - Just Buffalo Bill.

Before we get started on the blog, I better explain the photo in the header. Egad, the size of it! It would choke a Clydesdale! First of all, I tried to reduce the size, but it didn't work, so it'll be this way until I throw up something else. This is a picture of the Lot Powell house taken in 1994 and had been vacant for years. It's located in Altonah, Utah, or what was Altonah in the '30's. All the buildings on the main road have been torn down because the land was returned to the Indians, as I understand it. However, there is a single-wide home in the old schoolyard. My oldest sister was married in this log cabin by Bishop Powell in 1929 and she and her husband lived up the road about two or three miles north from here, raising cattle, sheep, horses, etc., on the "ranch."

Now, on to the blog:  The Title lines above are from the poem by F. P. Livingston, The Great Scout, and this is a description of the book, Life and Adventues of "Buffalo Bill", by Colonel William F. Cody, copyright 1939 by Mrs. "Johnny" Baker, Lookout Mountain, Golden Colorado and printed in the U.S.A. by The Smith-Brooks Printing Co., Denver, Colorado. It is the Autobiography of Buffalo Bill Cody with an introduction by Cody and a Preface by William Lightfoot Visscher written in Chicago, January 25, 1917. After the Preface is a listing of Chapters with a short synopsis of each under the title, Autobiography of Buffalo Bill, and then it's on to the manuscript itself. It begins with his childhood and then continues on through his exploits and times of the wild west show to Chapter XXIV, The End of the Trail, with many illustrations. Right from the "horse's mouth," as they say, all in Buffalo Bill's words. In it, he explains how he come by the name, "Buffalo Bill," if you have forgotten or would like to read it again. You name it, he's done it, from trapping on the Chugwater, fighting the Indians (hostiles, he calls them), hunting buffalo, and the entertainment business, a busy and varied life, and an interesting book, sold by the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum, Alt. 7375 Ft, Lookout Mt. Colorado. I paid $12.50 for it at a used book store or an antique store sometime ago, who knows where or when.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Exploration of the Colorado River

Many of you have read J. W. Powell's The Exploration of the Colorado River and its Canyons. I thought it would be a dull text-like exposition, but started reading it a few years ago and found it to be an exciting story as Major Powell, with one arm, climbs all over the various cliffs and inclines along the river. The book is a reprinting by Dover Publications, Inc. of New York, containing 250 illustrations and photographs, and a map, first published in 1961 by Dover.

Major Powell sets out in May of 1869 with nine men to explore the last open space on the map of the country. Three men mutiny before it's over and leave the party and are murdered by the Indians. Nobody knew what it was going to be like when they started out, but they found treacherous canyons with walls 5,000 feet high, hunger, turbulent and smooth waters, and battles with the water no one thought possible before it was over. He describes the geographic, geologic, and seismic details of the landscape, plus the vegetation and animal life as they make their way down the thousand-mile long river.

It's a common-place thing these days to run the rapids of the Colorado with tour guides and all, but on this initial exploration there were no guides to tell what was coming up next and would they survive the grueling rapids in their oar-powered boats? A dangerous undertaking and six men survived.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle

Continuing our "skim-overs," here is Katie Lee's book, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, first published by Katydid Books and Records, Jerome, AZ, in 1976. This edition is a 6x9 paperback, third printing (revised) 1985, and is autographed by Katie Lee. The front cover says it is a history of the American cowboy in song, story and verse, and the back cover has a small photo of Katie Lee with a short bio and overview of the book.

Wikipedia also has a bio on Katie Lee, born 1919 in Tucson, resides in Jerome, has written two other books, Sandstone Seduction and All My Rivers Are Gone. It says that Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle is a study of the music, stories and poetry of the American Cowboy.

It's a book for the student of the West and anyone else who is interested in the cowboy's music and its origin among the cactus, sagebrush and cedar trees, trailing a herd of cattle and in the bunkhouse. The book contains a number of cowboy songs and verses with illustrations by William Moyers, and is extensively researched. Katie Lee's official website is Take a look at her flash presentation on the site.

A couple of articles appear in the Salt Lake Tribune ( this morning of interest to the western way of life:

1. Shaping the Western Tradition, which is about the history of a hatmaking store started by Brigham Young and his personal hatmaker in 1853and is still in use, being closed for a time in the 1980's.

2. Roundup: Only 'brave spirits' need apply: The annual roundup of the buffalo on Antelope Island.

3. Heber City Cowboy Poetry and Buckaroo Fair, Nov 3 to 8. Includes a series of documentaries on the vaqueros.