A Kinship with the Old West

J.Lence

Read all the way through this post for information on a giveaway

Hello, Julie Lence here.  I remember many childhood Sunday afternoons watching John Wayne battle outlaws and Indians on the television screen. Most often, his character lived on a sprawling ranch. Sometimes he doled out his own form of justice from the saddle or a jail cell. Confidant and with a swagger in his step, it’s because of him I have a deep love for anything western. But growing up in upstate New York didn’t provide a lot of opportunity to learn about the cowboy way of life. A friend of the family owned horses. His daughters rode in local parades and competed in rodeo-type events at local fairs, but that’s the closest I came to anything western. Then, several years later, the hubby was assigned to Cheyenne Mountain Air Station in Colorado and I found myself in 7th Heaven!

From Pikes Peak to mining for gold in Cripple Creek to ranches outfitted with cowboys, Colorado is not only rich in history, the state has some of the most breathtaking views. More importantly, Colorado has given me something else; plenty of stores and antique shops to browse. Until the hubby and I came west, I always had this restless feeling potbelliedstoveforP&Pblogwhen it came to decorating my home. Something was missing. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I had a nice painting of a cabin situated beneath the mountains. I had color schemes and knick-knacks, but something wasn’t quite right. The things I had didn’t define me, until I stepped foot in Old Colorado City and discovered exactly what I had been missing—everything to do with horses and the west.

It took several years of scouring and shopping, but today I have western prints, replicas of stagecoaches and covered wagons, pottery, blankets and porcelain horses. Sage grows wild in my back yard. Wagon wheels adorn the four corners and the greeting sign near my door is of a cowboy leading a packhorse through the desert. The only thing I lack and really want, and don’t know what the heck I would do with, is a real wagon to put in the yard. Every time I see one, I joke with the hubby to hitch it to the back of the truck and bring it home. Most likely, if he did, the squirrels would build a home for themselves in the bed. But hey, a girl can dream.

As I mentioned, Colorado houses many stores and quaint shops for me to find my next treasure. We also have several western themed museums. Some are state run and some privately run. One such ‘touristy’ museum isn’t too far from me. I like to visit when I can because this museum houses two of the things I hold dear from the old west.

 

potbelliedstoveontrainforP&PblogPotbellied Stoves— Benjamin Franklin is credited with inventing the pot belly stove. A cute appliance used to heat a room, the pot belly stove is made from cast iron and has a bulge in the middle, hence the name. The stove was mainly found in the mercantile or school house, and later on train cars. Some potbellies were equipped with a shelf to boil a pot of coffee or to cook a pot of stew. Franklin is also credited with inventing a large cast iron box that was set on top of the hearth and used for cooking. If I could, I’d fill the house with several of them. Not for the heat they provided, but to add to my collection of all things western.

Stagecoaches—The first of the Concord stagecoaches was built in 1827 by the Abbot ConcordstageforP&PblogDowning Company and weighed more than 2,000 pounds. The Concord had a reputation for being comfortable and sturdy. Each coach built was given a number by the Abbot Downing Company, and used leather strap braces beneath the coach instead of a spring suspension to create a swinging motion verses a jostling, up-and-down motion. At the front and back of the coach, leather boots held luggage and mail. The top of the stage also held luggage, and more than a dozen people if needed. The inside bore three seats of leather and could hold up to nine passengers. Those who sat on the middle seat had no back support and had to hold onto leather straps suspended from the ceiling. Curtains at the windows were also fashioned from leather and rolled up and down.

Both the potbellied stove and the stagecoach are featured in my work, Debra’s Bandit. Debra manages Revolving Point’s mercantile. She uses the potbellied stove daily to provide coffee and tea for her customers while they shop or spend a few extra minutes chatting with her. The stagecoach brings newcomers to the fire-stricken city weekly. One new arrival in particular has Gage running for cover every time he encounters the husband-hunting Jessie Kane. No way in hell is he going to end up with her noose around his neck.

 

Excerpt from Debra’s Bandit:

Debra's_BanditWith the icy sensations continuing to prick the back of his neck, Gage ushered Jessie across the thoroughfare and up the steps to the boardwalk.

“So this is Revolving Point,” she said, looking around at the empty lots lining both sides of the street. “It’s not much.”

“Had more businesses last year. Saloons. A couple of hotels. The fire burned them to the ground.” He assessed the street ahead of them. Deserted, except for Earl at the far end of town. He’d brought the stage to a halt in front of the livery and now climbed down from the driver’s box. “Folks like it this way. Quiet.”

“You don’t?” She arched a brow.

“Got a bed to sleep in and food to eat.” And Debra to fuss over me. His gut wrenched at that and he turned his attention to the plate glass window they passed—Miller’s. He peered over the swinging doors and saw the doves still sat at tables talking. He’d spent his first night in town with Trudy seeing to a need. Then he’d learned Debra was here and had ceased any further involvement with Miller’s girls.

Debra won’t be fussing over me much longer. A week at most. Then he wouldn’t see her again for a long time.

“Mayor Randall told me about the fire in the wire he sent me. You must be one of the people he mentioned who didn’t flee, who stayed behind to save your home and help rebuild.” Jessie’s comment intruded on his thoughts as they stepped off the boardwalk and crossed the intersection.

“Irishmen are doing most of the rebuilding.” He’d learned long ago never to reveal anything about himself to a stranger. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t pry into someone else’s affairs. Man or woman, he preferred to know about those who crossed his path. Especially when someone raised his suspicions as Jessie’s smile had outside the telegraph and mail. Even now, calculation still lingered in her eyes, and with no ring on her finger, he concluded she searched for a husband. “Where are you from?”

“Virginia.”

“You’re a long way from home.” Gage ushered her up the steps to the next boardwalk, the sound of voices and a fiddle playing wafting toward him from the eatery at the next intersection. “What do your folks think about you coming all this way by yourself?”

“They’re dead. There’s no one but me.” She looked up at him, her eyes soft. “I hope to rectify that with this job the mayor has given me. I want a home of my own. I couldn’t hold onto Pa’s farm. The work and taxes were too much. If I save the money I earn, I can hire those Irishmen you mentioned to build something for me here in town.”

And find someone else for your husband while they do

 

Debra’s Bandit is available in both print and e-book format.  You can order your very own copy from Amazon by clicking on the book cover image above.

Thank you, fillies, for having me as a guest on your blog today. It is always a pleasure to visit with you and your readers. As an added bonus for your readers visiting with me today, I am giving away three e-book copies of Debra’s Bandit.

Julie

Guest Blogger
Updated: January 14, 2015 — 10:36 pm

19 Comments

  1. I, too love everything cowboy and western related. I don’t live in Colorado but I am only one state away in Nebraska! However I do get to visit often as our daughter now lives in the mountains. I enjoy every minute that I get to spend in Colorado!

  2. Great post. I love your theme for decorating and your book sounds really good.

  3. Something about those westerns…my mother-in-law loved musicals, and my husband knows all the words to many of them by default. In my house, dad controlled the televisions, and it was westerns all the way!

  4. Love those great westerns and those beautiful mountains! Thank you for your interesting post.

  5. Hi Connie: Originally, the hubby and I are from NY. But when it came time to retire, the choice to come back to Colorado where he had been stationed with the Air Force was a no-brainer. We love it here, and now the kiddo is into exploring all the lakes for fishing.

  6. Hi Janine: Glad you like my decorating. It took many years and lots of shopping, but I finally have just about everything I want. Except for that wagon, lol.

  7. Hi Sherri: Next to westerns, musicals are my favorite. I really like the style from the 40’s and 50’s. There’s something magical about that whole ear. To this day, Vera-Ellen is my absolute favorite dancer, with Gene Kelly a close second. I could watch her all day long and never get tired.

    When I was young, as long as Dad was up, he, too, controlled the television. Mom didn’t care too much, though she did have a few favorite shows. Mostly, my brothers and sister and me got to watch what we wanted since Dad went to bed early due to he woke early for work.

    Thanks for chatting with me today!

  8. Hi Melanie:
    Glad you liked the post. So long as the clouds aren’t down, I see Pikes Peak and a good portion of the Front Range every day from my front porch. Thank you for joining me today!

  9. Hello Fillies:
    Thank you so much for having me as your guest today. I always enjoy hanging out with you ladies!

  10. I love westerns and especially John Wayne. I grew up with an iron stove that was heated with coal. It was a Warm Morning.

  11. I love westerns, I grew up watching them on TV and my father read westerns all the time so maybe that is why I like them so much today, they are my favorite read. I grew up on a small farm in the country but we didn’t have any horses or anything like that. I have never lived it the west or have I ever traveled there just in my books. I do travel there a lot in books. A girl can dream can’t she.

  12. Thanks for being here today! What a great post! One of the farm houses I lives in as a kid had a potbelly stove. It was one of the best things ever to have in a old house. I found it especially comforting on those mornings when it was cold and snowy coming in to a hot fire. I wish I had one in my home today!

  13. Hello, a nice article and cover. I love the photo’s. All the best with your book.

  14. Hi Julie, Welcome back to P&P! We’re so happy to have you. I’d love to see your house. I’ll bet it’s something else. I’ve longed to collect more western things for mine, but can’t seem to find what I want. I’d love to have an old trunk to use as a coffee table or maybe store quilts in, a real saddle in the corner of my living room, western blankets lying around. But, I doubt if I ever get those. I’ll just continue to write them into my stories. I do hope you get that wagon in your yard one day. That would be cool.

    Congratulations on the new book! It looks great. Any hero by the name of Gage is sure to be a winner. Love that name. Wishing you tons of success!

  15. Your home sounds like a wonderful place to live in. You must have had so much fun collecting everything.

  16. We heated with a potbelly stove for a few years, I think it worked better that the old Ben Franklin we had previously! I would enjoy reading Debra’s Bandit.
    dkstevensneAToutlookDoTCoM

  17. Hello Ladies: Thank you so much for the comments! I apologize for responding so late. Friday was a hectic day.
    Those who had a potbelly stoves, I am so jealous. I would love to have one, not to heat, but to stow in a corner and just enjoy looking at it. I do that sometimes with my prints.

    While I was raised a city girl, I would have loved the chance to stay on a farm or a ranch with some horses in the pasture. When the hubby and I retired to Colorado, there was a ranch for sale not too far outside of town. While the hubby isn’t a ‘horse’ person, he offered to live there, but I turned it down. I didn’t like the looks of the house.

    As for western decor; my home is a mixture of modern day, western and southwestern, with a tad bit of the hubby’s stuff. It took me years to find prints, replicas of wagons and stagecoaches, the right southwestern pottery, ceramic horses, Christmas tree ornaments, etc. I scoured western catalogs, stores in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, touristy places. Nowadays, the stores and items I loved in Old Colorado City have drastically changed. There are some western items, but chincy workmanship. Mostly, the stores sell the coffee mugs and Pikes Peak Tee shirts. Then again, when I do see something I like, I have to stop and think, ‘where am I going to put it?’ Sadly, the hubby and kiddo have taken over the basement with their fishing and camping gear, lol.

    Thank you for chatting with me. Everyone have a great
    weekend ladies!

    PS: Linda, I love the name, Gage, too. I got it from the 70’s television show Emergency. The character was Johnny Gage.

  18. Julie, you always do such interesting posts. I’m glad I found you here so I can share.

  19. Our paths have been similar. I was born and raised in Northern NY on Lake Champlain. My husband was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain for 3 years and it was our best assignment. Loved it there and wish we could have retired there. We do love the West, the mountains and history. Grew up in the Adirondacks, loved the Rockies, and now live in the Smokeys. Grew up in an historic area and now live in the oldest town in TN. We go back out west whenever we get a chance and will be heading there in May. We will be primarily in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Don’t think we will be seeing much of Colorado. If we have time and are close enough, we may swim through Mesa Verde, a favorite.

    Sorry I got here so late. Busy celebrating my birthday.

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