Sunday, August 15, 2010

Remembering Cowboys

Born near the ranch of Will Roger’s parents and in a time before Oklahoma was a state, my Grandpa was a wanna be cowboy. He stood like John Wayne, and the two men in their youths did resemble each other in looks. He saw to it that I had fringed vests, double holsters with toy six shooters, cow girl hats, and he wanted me to be rodeo princess and lead the parade someday. (I never did.)He and my Gran belonged to a Saddle Club, wore matching shirts, had matching saddle blankets with brown and sage pom poms, road in parades and lived in the home town of the 100 year old Inter-State Rodeo (Coffeyville, Kansas).

One of my mother’s biggest arguments with her dad was when I was in eighth grade. Grandpa wanted to buy me a pair of $100 cowboy boots for my birthday when I needed so many other things plus she wanted me to put the cowboy stuff aside. My heart still aches for those boots, and my body now aches for the good legs to wear them!

It was hard not to adore boots and hats and the squeak of a good leather saddle when the favorite TV shows then were The Virginian, Bonanza, and Wagon Train. Why, even one of the most popular after-shaves, called English Leather, smelled rugged and earthy like a pair of well used leather work gloves. Every night I went to bed dreaming of straddling a broad-backed horse and racing across the plains. In my dreams, the horse never hit a prairie dog hole, came upon a rattler, or even threw me on my behind.

When I learned western writer Dusty Richards had a new book out called Writing the West, I wondered why I never wanted to write a western, although I had read a few. Did I need another book on writing? No, but something about this book appealed to me. I ordered it, and I haven’t been sorry. It is both an entertaining and informative read whether you are wanting to write a western or not.

Richards’s tone is casual and easy, but he knows his stuff. He has published 65 or so books in 20 years and won the Golden Spur award, an award for western fiction that ranks up there with the Oscars for actors. While his writing tips are aimed at western writing, any writer will benefit from the lessons Richards teaches in this book. He tackles dialogue, writing scenes, plot, internalization, sense of place and other nuts and bolts of writing. Richards gives very specific examples that are easy to follow; he shows samples of poor writing and then turns around to show exactly how it can be improved. Strewn among the facts and lessons are tiny tidbits like when the tumbleweed came to Kansas, ethic background of the cowboys of the West, the demise of the redheaded green parrot, and why trees of the plains lean a certain direction.

Richards doesn’t leave the reader with only his own words for reference either. The second part of the book calls in experts like Jory Sherman, Jodi Thomas and others to toss out pointers for writing the romantic western, young adult western, and stories about the mountain men who broke open the West. By the time I had finished reading Writing the West, I began to think maybe I had better return to my yesteryears, gather up some tack, shoulder a saddle, don a pair of Wranglers or Levis and head out to the plains…figuratively speaking, of course! Is that Tumbling Tumbleweed I hear on my Sons of the Pioneers CD right now?

Readers can find this great book at or order it from the publisher High Hill Press at I guarantee that neither readers nor writers will be disappointed in this impressive book by a skillful storyteller.

Another Dusty

A few years ago we visited the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson. DH thought it sounded hokey. While I never ask to do much in Branson, I really wanted to see this! It was worth every dime. Seeing those pictures and memorabilia, the jeep Nelly Belle, Dale’s favorite skirts all spiced up with ric rac, and things like Roy Rogers lunch boxes from my childhood was a trip down memory lane for sure. Then after seeing the museum, we went into a small theater to hear Dusty, Roy and Dale’s son, sing old favorite western songs. I cried when I heard Cool Water and Back in the Saddle Again.

I just recently learned this museum is no longer open, although I don’t know why. However Dusty Rogers and his son Dustin Roy Rogers have a new show in another theater in Branson. I hope they still sing Happy Trails—and I bet they do!


Susan said...

Oh Bookie, I used to love Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. So glad you got to go to that museum. Sad to hear it's no longer open. Guess it hit the Happy Trails. Susan

Wanda Lee said...

Wonderful post on remembering cowboys!

Thanks for sharing this trip to the museum with us!..,

~Oh do also come by and enjoy this week's delightful; 'Tuesday And Wednesday Teatime In Blogland'!..,

.., Please come and join us for our weekly blog tea parties; for my 44th, 'Tuesday Tea For Two', my 35th, 'Wednesday Tea For Me And Thee', as well as for my shared meme with my dear friend Pam for our 16th, 'Teapot And Tea Things Tuesday'; there are many new delights that await you this week!

..,We always love having you join us and we thank you very much for also joining us in the past!..,

*We;(Pam and I both, respectively);we both work full time as self-employed persons and we sincerely apologize when we are unable to get back to you as soon as we would prefer!..,Your blog posts are always so wonderful!

Have a marvelous week! ~ Hope to see you soon dear lady!

Cheers and hugs from wanda Lee..,

BECKY said...

Hey Claudia! How are you doing this week? You haven't posted as often as usual. Hope you're doing okay!