Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Wanna Be a Cowboy

I wanna be a cowboy and I left home at fifteen to become one. This story by Ross Santee, Cowboy, illustrated by the author, was first printed in 1928 and reprinted in 1964 by ACE BOOKS, INC. It's the story of a young kid that leaves home to become a cowboy and he never looks back, at least not for three years when he finally gets around to sending his mother a letter. During that time he's done a lot of job hunting, traveling miles between ranches to see if anyone's hiring. Finally, he shows up at a ranch and stays awhile, washing dishes, feeding the chickens, etc., until they finally let him ride a bronc. He ends up on his rear end on the ground with both hands full of dirt. But he is determined to show them that he is destined for this type work and hangs in there. He becomes good enough to be hired on as the wrangler at twenty bucks a month and he goes on to become a full-fledged cowpuncher. He started out from East Texas and ends up in Arizona and along the way he has some exciting times working at different places and meeting new cowmen.

In my estimation, this novel was one of the best I've read on cowboy-ing. It is written in the first person using the language and dialects of the times. "A splendid book which must take its place as a genuine classic of the genre..." says the LA Times, and I can't disagree with that. It's serious, funny, dramatic, and full of wranglin' and cowpunching as the kid, called "Button", makes his way across the West. He meets some great cowboys and some not so great, with tales about and from most of them.  It kept my interest from the first page to the last of the 160 in the book. For instance, he finally gets around to attending his first "baile" (dance) put on in town by the miners, where there is only room for twelve people to dance at a time, and between the girls and the crowding, you can guess what happens. I had a good laugh from it.

If I could write half as good as Mr. Santee, I wouldn't have to worry about getting published.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Book Status

I'm sure everyone is on tenterhooks just waiting for the release of my latest novel, O'Shaughnessy's New Deputy. It won't be much longer. I'm in the process of giving it a final read now and then I will decide on a cover for it. Et Voila! Before you know it, there it is. Here's a little peek at it from Chapter 3:

      I strapped on the gun rigging after loading the pistol while standing on the store landing and carried the rest of the ammunition in the brown, paper bag that Abe had stuffed it in.

     I walked to the Sheriff's office and told O'Shaughnessy, "I'll take the job, but only if I can get twenty-five dollars a month, which seems only fair since I have to drop everything and leave town again."

     O'Shaughnessy was sitting at his desk and raised his head a notch, giving me that twisted look with one eye closed, running his eye from my head to my waist and back to my face. I thought he was going to tell me to get the Hell out of his office.

     "Tom, you haven't had a lick of experience with the law, but since this is jist a one-time job, I don't see why I can't make it twenty-two fifty a month, even though it's going to put a crimp in my budget. Let me dig out a badge and deputize you to make it legal."

     He rummaged through the top right-hand desk drawer and pulled out an extra badge. Walking around the desk, he told me, "Raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, Tom Anderson, will uphold the laws of the Territory of Utah, so help me God."

     I raised my hand and when I finished repeating the Oath, he looked me in the eye, winked, smiled, and said, "That was the short version and all that's necessary."

     He pinned the badge to my left shirtfront pocket, saying, "There, you're an official deputy until further notice unless you think the pay ain't fair."

     O'Shaughnessy stepped back, eyed the star, and grabbed my right hand and gave it a good shake.

     "Shucks, Sheriff, it ain't just the pay that ain't fair. It's because I just got home after two years and haven't had time to catch up on anything. And . . ."

     "That's why I tole you you're the only one around here that I thought would do it. The whole town is counting on us to bring those thieves to justice, Tom, and git back their money," said O'Shaughnessy. "Here's your chance to look good in the eyes of the town and that pretty store clerk, too." He smiled and looked at the new acquisition hanging from my waist. "I see you procured a shootin' arn, brand new, and mighty fine lookin', too. I hope you know how to use it."

     I just shook my head up and down. I could tell he was anxious to get on with it by the way he gazed at me, looking straight in my eye now.

     "Look, those men from the Church should be showing up this week and you can get goin' on the trail of those outlaws. Until then, you don't have to do any arrestin' or anything. Just let me know where you'll be so I can connect you with those fellers."

     I turned my eyes away from his and said, "Well, I'll be at my farm, Sheriff. I need to do some things around there to get ready."   

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Old Man Reminiscing

"Old Jake Hanlon", "Hoss Thief Jake Hanlon", or plain "Jake Hanlon" is old, decrepit, cantankerous, shifty, connivin', and near useless in this novel by Jack Schaefer, author of Shane, originally published by Dell in 1967 and printed again by Laurel Leaf Library in 1974.

Old Jake has been practically banished from his town in New Mexico and is spending his last days at an old, abandoned ranch house of the Triple X where he worked for years before it folded. His old boss, Harper, delivers some supplies to Jake about once a month, but Jake has nothing but time to re-live his life in memories. He sits on the edge of the mesa and ganders at the the new four-lane highway passing through the country and recalls some of his experiences and loathes the passing of the old ways.

The author captures the end-of-life of this old cowboy who loved the wild mustangs more than life itself in this interesting story. That's why he is living in the old, broken down, adobe ranch house with the partial roof and sagging window frames with no front door hanging on the frame, a reflection of himself in it. The mustangs got him in trouble with the law and he was driven out to the ranch to spend his final days instead of going to jail.

"A magnificent tribute to a vanishing breed of men and horses" says one reviewer on the back cover and I have to agree with that. It is 155 pages long and illustrated by Lorence Borklund.

Oh, yes, the name of it is Mavericks.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Hangman's Coming

A child grows up to be a killer, no, he's worse than a killer, he's a thief, rapist, and any other bad thing you can think of in this desperate and downright despicable human. It wasn't his fault because his mother died from pneumonia not too long after his birth and his father turned into a boozer with no regard for his child. His father had a good job in the mine before getting injured in a mine accident and lost his job and that added to his frustration and he drank even more if that was possible. He turned the baby over to a woman with a houseful of brats already and the baby had no chance of becoming a normal citizen. Harlow Mackelprang, had to fight for everything he ever got in life or he stole it, even the food to keep him alive. So you see, what else would a kid like that become besides a killer.

And now, he is going to his final act in life in Gallows for a Gunman, in Rod Miller's novel published by Kensington Publishing Co., A Pinnacle Book, put out in Nov 2005.

Harlow Mackelprang has to leave the little town of Los Santos because of his murder of the bank teller and a farmer. When the law catches up with him he has become the leader of a gang of outlaws and they are in the act of another dastardly deed in his hometown. He wasn't too smart about picking friends or places to rob and he's caught and thrown in the Los Santos jail. He is scheduled to hang tomorrow morning. Except for a man named Sweeney who is locked up a cell away from Harlow in the darkest part of the jail, there is no one else in the jail other than the lawmen. Mr. Mackelprang has several visitors come to the jail to offer their last words, among whom are the woman of ill-repute, Althea; the hangman; the preacher; and the bank manager. They all have some choice thoughts and words to pass on to him, but the most interesting to me was the preacher who gets asked some questions by Sweeney. The preacher is trying to redeem Harlow by quoting verses from the Bible, but Sweeney keeps interrupting and asks his own questions using verses from the Bible. I thought it was pretty funny, serious stuff. All the people coming to see him want Harlow to explain his misdeeds and apologize for them, but he doesn't exactly do that. The hangman's point for coming to the jail is to measure the prisoner, which he does, and reveals some of his background to the reader. It's practically a treatise on the art of hanging a human, a little morbid to be sure.

After Harlow is led out to the scaffold his father comes to clean up the jail and empty the slop buckets and talks about his own wasted life.

Gallows for a Gunman was an interesting and entertaining story and I'll be watching for other novels by Mr. Miller.   

Sunday, September 8, 2013

It Was a Case of Mistaken Identity

Yep, that's what it was, mistaken identity when Melody Jones and his partner, George, rides into the town of Payneville in this 1945 movie, Along Came Jones, starring Gary Cooper (Melody Jones), William Demarest (George Fury), Dan Duryea (Monte Jarrod), and Loretta Young (Cherry de Longpre) and others. Jones and Fury ended up in Payneville because they took a wrong turn on the trail four or five hundred miles back where they should have turned south instead of north.

This Monte Jarrod had just robbed a stagecoach and shot one of the men. The law and posse were after him, the Express man was after him, and the townspeople who wanted to collect the ree-ward were after him. Everyone in Payneville thought that Melody Jones was Monte Jarrod and George Fury was his Uncle Roscoe unbeknownst to the newcomers. Cherry de Longpre jumps into the action by saving their lives and getting them out of town to her cabin in the desert, where she also has hidden the wounded Monte Jarrod.

Cherry heads them on their way to the south after Jones falls in love with her, so she can get her boyfriend Jarrod out to the north with no posse on the trail. But Jones and Fury don't fall for it and come back to her place where most of the action takes place, with a couple side trips into town. And Jarrod returns to get the money ($42,000) he stole and the girl.

By the time everything gets sorted out there is the shootout between the posse and the Jarrod gang with Jones and Cherry in the barn with Fury who hs been shot out in the desert by Jarrod and discovered by Cherry. The bungling gun-handler Jones grabs a pistol and shoots it out with Jarrod. Jones gets shot two or three times before Cherry shoots Jarrod. All ends well as Jones kisses Cherry in her living room. and gives her the reward moola.

This movie was a comedy Western and there are plenty of humor spread throughout. I have never cared too much for Dan Duryea with his long straight hair always flopping around, but it was controlled pretty much by the hat he wore in this one. Loretta Young was always a fine actress and Gary Cooper was pretty funny in his role. I had a good time watching it on Turner Classic Movies. "[It] was adapted by Nunnally Johnson from the novel Useless Cowboy by Alan LeMay and directed by Stuart Heisler" as said on Wikipedia..

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Will Henry's Cassidy Novel

I've been reading the Bantam Edition, Reissued Nov 1991, a pocket book of Will Henry's Alias Butch Cassidy story. This Butch Cassidy novel is different than the others I've read in that it concentrates on the young years and the introduction to the outlaw life of the protagonist and gives more detail. The other Cassidy books cover his life in its entirety from birth to death in South America or was it the U.S.?

This one starts with the Parker family's move to Circleville in Central Utah and Butch's introduction to the "famous" outlaw Mike Cassidy. Young George LeRoy Parker is attracted to the old outlaw who takes him under his wing and introduces him to the life of an outlaw, not in practice except for teaching him to shoot a pistol, but through mostly talk. These two finally get around to the action part by planning to rob the bank in Panguitch which goes haywire when they actually are in the process of the robbery. The robbery falls apart when Dan Parker, George LeRoy's younger brother breaks in on it, and all three have to hightail it out of Panguitch empty-handed. And there is further trouble when the law pays a visit to the Parker ranch that night and the ole outlaw plugs one of the deputies and is shot in return in the ribs. Mike hauls out of the ranch on snowy night with that gunshot to the rib area, and when LeRoy finds out from all the blood in the snow and on the ground that he was wounded he takes out after him. Mike shoots and kills another deputy who came upon them in their lair waiting for Mike's wound to heal up enough to ride on.

The two outlaws, the old, grizzled veteran Mike and the young, smart, strong farmboy who is now wanted by the law end up in Robber's Roost, of course. LeRoy is introduced as Mike's nephew, George LeRoy Cassidy, to the owlhoots at the Roost and meets Matt Warner, aka Williard Christiansen already known by George LeRoy as a childhood friend. There's a personality clash between the two and it breaks out at Dandy Crossing where they get into a tussle, creating bad blood.

Young "Kid" Cassidy plays it alone for a few years going straight until he ends up at Telluride and gets hooked into a deal with the McCarty brothers, the well-known bank, train and stage robbers. This deal goes bad, too, and George LeRoy has to leave town with George McCarty, the big, slow-witted brother. They travel to Brown's Hole, the famous robber hangout. Dan Parker, the pesky brother of Cassidy shows up and Cassidy has to tell him a "big one" to get rid of him along with Brother George McCarty while Tom McCarty, Cassidy, Matt Warner, Elzy Lay, and Bob McCarty proceed with the planning for the robbery of the DRG railway in Grand Junction, CO.  So much for going straight.

In my reading of it, I'm only about 30 pages from the end, so I don't know how it ends up. We'll just have to finish it together, and we'll all know.

Will Henry is one of my favorites, and True West says "[he's] a born storyteller, a man strengthened with the uncommon melody of language, a literary outrider using his bent to describe in fiction the West that was." Sold American! My feelings exactly. Henry puts words together like no other in my mind, melding them into a great story, not only this one but all his writings (that I've read) in my estimation. This one is NOT one of those put'er down kind, at least I couldn't stay away from it but for only short periods. It was 217 pages of slam-bang action in the old style, i.e., dialect, made-up words, strong descriptions of acton, etc.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Header/Upcoming Events in AZ

(Header pic is my sketch of Mark Twain.)

The Fall season of events in Arizona is about to begin. Make your travel plans to attend one or more or all of the events for Great Fun, Excitement, and Educational Experiences.

Sep 6-8 - Route 66 Days Charity Car Show, Flagstaff. Enjoy the High Country and see a bunch of old cars that aren't ready for the trash pile yet.

Sep 7 thru Dec 22 - The Last of the Great Expeditions: Navajo Country in the 1930's, Smold Museum, 147 N. Arizona Ave, Prescott. A pile of educational material from the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition (1933-38). Gasp, gasp! So much educational stuff! Whew-ee.

Sep 14 - Native American Art Auction at Ganado at the Hubbell Trading Post, an experience in itself. Takes you back to those days.

Sep 14 - Riding the Rim Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Prescott at the Phippen Museum. Fine poetry, fine fun, fine readings and fine singing.

Sep 21 - Fall Gathering, Prescott. Live cowboy music, live chow down at a Western barbecue, and other fine, live activities.

Sep 21 - Iris Rhizome Sale, Tucson The Iris Society offers thousands of rhizome and potted Irishmen (No, that's Iris) for sale at Harlow Gardens, 5620 E. Pima St. Potted Irishmen, HAHAHAHA!

Sep 27-28 - Standin' on the Corner Fesitval, Winslow, at the Standin' on the Corner Park. Music, Arts, Crafts, and a fire truck-tug competition. Imagine that! How they goin' to git them tugboats into thet park? (Chuckle, chuckle)

Sep 28 - Fiesta Sahuarita, Sahuarita, a beautiful small town in Southern AZ. 19th annual birthday celebration with music, games, etc. A fine little place to have a fine little fiesta and a fine little margarita or two.

Through October 20 - Trappings of the American West  at the Phippen Museum in Prescott. Featuring more than 80 artists from 14 States. Wow-ee! Lotsa pikchers to luk at and chuse frum.

See ya thair or thar or there!

(Thanks to the AAA Magazine, Highroads for these dates and events.)