In the late 1800s at the tail end of the Gilded Age, the wealthy began having what they called “Poverty Parties.” They mostly provided entertainment for the snooty rich where they could poke fun of the poor and call it “all in good fun.” Believe me, the poor were having no fun.
One such party was at the home of D.W. Tripp in Athens, Pennsylvannia. Guests were instructed to wear flour sack clothes, no jewelry, and speak in dialect.
Here’s a portion of the invitation and it’s very difficult to read:
“Every womin what kums must ware a Poverty dress and apern, er something ekelly erpropriate, an leave her poodle dorg to hum.”
Fines were assessed for dressing too fine, having cigars in a man’s pocket, slicking his hair down, walking with a cane, etc. The party was a fundraiser and the money went toward building a new church.
The food consisted of corn meal mush served with an abundance of cream and sugar, brown and white bread sandwiches, apple and pumpkin pie, donuts and cookies. The table was bare. No tablecloth or napkins and the guests ate from tin plates and drank coffee from tin cups.
These parties established even a greater divide between the classes. These parties came at a time of great inequality. Immigrants were suffering and dying as well as black Americans. I’m sure they had a different view of these parties.
One snooty woman wrote an article in the 1905 copy of Bright Ideas for Entertaining that stressed that the tinware was always “borrowed” for the party. She wanted to make sure no one thought the rich would actually “own” any.
Yet, later on into the 1920s, one woman wrote that Poverty Parties should be used to shine a light on the less fortunate instead of making fun of them and that the guests should perform some real service to help the poor.
Southern fraternities and sororities carried over this form of entertainment well into the 1950s. Then they added unemployment parties where they stood in a bread line to get coffee and donuts.
I had never heard of these until I ran across an article a month or so back. My parents suffered through severe poverty and didn’t think it was much of a party.
What are your thoughts? Have you heard of these? What do you think about the subject?
Oh, and I plan to release a collection of short stories next month. My first attempt at self-publishing. It’ll be in both print and ebook. This isn’t up for sale yet. Soon, my little darlings.
Though some writers set their stories in real locations, a lot of us create our own settings. That has been the case for my books, and yet every new locale I create is inspired by places I’ve been. For the past seven years, I’ve been writing in mainly one location — Blue Falls, Texas. Blue Falls was inspired by several real towns throughout the Texas Hill Country. The downtown shopping district was modeled after Fredericksburg; the lake was based on Lake Marble Falls; and the Blue Falls Music Hall was based on the the oldest dance hall in Texas in Gruene.
Yellowstone River running through the Paradise Valley. By Warrenfish at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Though I still have one Blue Falls book still set to release next January, I’m fully immersed in creating a new setting for a new series for a new publisher. In my Once Upon a Western series for Tule Publishing, I’ve created the small tourist town of Logan Springs, Montana (I evidently like towns based on bodies of water). It’s set in the real Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone National Park, a simply stunning valley that stretches out between the Absaroka and Gallatin mountain ranges. And once again, I’ve used bits and pieces of real-life inspiration to create Logan Springs. It’s one part Gardiner, Montana, the northern gateway community to Yellowstone National Park; one part West Yellowstone, which as its name suggests is the western gateway to the park; and one part Chico Hot Springs, which is in the Paradise Valley and home to a hot springs resort that gave me the idea to have the main family in my series, the McQueens, own a hot springs resort as well as an expansive ranching operation. As with these real world locales, the Yellowstone River runs through my fictional one.
Even though my main setting is fictional, I do have my characters visit real towns. For instance, my Blue Falls characters would make trips to cities such as San Antonio and Austin. In the Once Upon a Western series, the characters go to Livingston, which is the town where travelers exit I-90 to head south to Yellowstone. It’s also the nearest place for such things as a hospital, which is where the hero of my second story in this series is a doctor. Livingston is a charming little town with some neat western history. In the first book in this series, Her Cowboy Prince which comes out in June of this year, I have a scene where the hero and heroine have dinner in Livingston and he tells her some of the history of the building where the restaurant is located. Though their dining location is fictional, I borrowed some real history from the real Murray Hotel, which saw the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane as guests.
I like the freedom of creating my own town but being able to pepper it with real-life details. As a reader, do you like fictional or real locales?
I’ve spent many hours the last few weeks combing through digital editions of old newspapers from Pendleton, Oregon.
As I was browsing through the news on one front page, a headline caught my eye.
Buzz Wagon Proves Too Much for Ted
The first thought that popped into my head was “what’s a buzz wagon?” The second was “who’s Ted?”
If, like me, you haven’t been exposed to the early 20th century slang term, a buzz wagon is what some people used to refer to an automobile. (Presumably from the noise emitted from those early vehicles.)
On a lovely June day in 1912, a cowboy named Ted and another cowpuncher brought 300 head of horses to Pendleton to sell.
According to the newspaper, Ted could ride anything that had two ears and a tail, but the “golderned buzz wagon” was too much for the buckaroo to handle.
While they waited around town the evening before they were to set to sell the horses, Ted and his fellow cowpuncher wandered down to the Pendleton Round-Up grounds to see what amusements they might find.
What they found was an automobile left sitting in the arena, unattended, while members of the Elks club tried out teams for an upcoming chariot race (wouldn’t that be fun to see?).
The two cowboys thought the seats of the auto looked inviting, so they slid in to watch the proceedings. After a while, Ted landed on the brilliant idea of taking the auto for a spin. Although he’d never been in an automobile before, let alone drove one, he asked his friend to get out and give the car a crank to start it.
The car started but ol’ cowboy Ted found he couldn’t control the “red devil” as it traveled across the track of the arena. He whipped the wheel one way then the other, touched every button and pulled every lever to no avail. The auto stopped when he bashed into a pole at full speed.
When the owner of the car arrived on the scene, Ted offered to buy the man a new automobile. The owner thought he could have the auto repaired and they settled on $25 payment.
Ted declared he was through with man’s inventions, much preferring a bucking horse than the unpredictability of a “buzz wagon.”
To find out more about the happenings in Pendleton during 1912, be sure to attend the Petticoat Ballon April 12 on Facebook! The fun begins at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) and runs until 2 p.m. Guest authors, games, giveaways, and details about my latest Pendleton Petticoats book, Quinn, will be shared!
Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you’re all set up to have a fabulous week ahead. I’m looking forward to the release of the latest in my Blue Falls, Texas series from Harlequin Western Romance this Thursday. Well, Thursday marks the release of the ebook version; the paperback follows the next Tuesday, March 6. Here’s the blurb for Twins for the Rancher, which I have to say has the most adorable cover.
MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE
Rancher Adam Hartley knows that big rewards mean big risks. His plan to expand the family business in Blue Falls, Texas, is a good one. Unfortunately, someone else beat him to it—and bought the old abandoned restaurant he’d been eyeing. Yep, a beautiful newcomer just stole his dream…and his heart, too.
Except single mom Lauren Shayne knows that love is dangerous. Love almost destroyed her business and her reputation, and she won’t ever make that mistake again. So why is she so attracted to Adam? The drop-dead-sexy cowboy seems determined to win over Lauren and her adorable twin babies…but how can she be with him if she’s not sure she can trust him?
This is the fourth book within the series that features one of the five adopted Hartley siblings. I’ve loved really exploring this unique family made up of three brothers and two sisters, none of whom are blood related. But that doesn’t make them any less family. They tease each other like any brothers and sisters. And they have each other’s backs like no one else. And despite all the teasing, nobody is happier when one of them finds true love. I was called to write this because I’m always so interested in the concept of family being something you create instead of something you’re born to.
Oh, and if you happen to be a fan of the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond was the inspiration for my heroine, Lauren, who is known as the Brazos Baker.
I had a cool experience when the cover of this book was revealed. The mother of the little girl in the blue dress contacted me to say that was her happy baby on the cover. She’s just as cute as a button, isn’t she?
As some of you may know, Harlequin is ceasing publication of the Western Romance line in June. Since the last of the Hartley siblings’ books was due to come out in August, for a while that book’s fate was up in the air. I found out last week that Harlequin will be launching a new program in 2019 to publish these orphaned books. My book, tentatively titled Texas Cowboy, Be Mine, will be out in January 2019. It’s my last contracted book for Harlequin, but I’ll be continuing to write western romance stories with Tule Publishing. I recently turned in my first book to them and have been working with them on cover images. The book is with the editor now, but as soon as I know when it’s set to debut, I’ll no doubt be yelling it from the rooftops (aka social media, this blog, my newsletter, etc.). Speaking of my newsletter, if you’d like to sign up for periodic updates from yours truly, it’s a simple sign-up here.
Want to Win?
To celebrate this week’s release of Twins for the Rancher, I’ll be giving away two signed paperback copies of the book to two commenters today. Since both of my main characters are the entrepreneurial business types, let me know if you’ve either started a business or, if not, what type of business you would love to start if you could.
Erica Vetsch here. Thank you so much to the P&P ladies for inviting me to join you again! I love visiting with you all. That being said, I am on vacation today…sitting in a car, driving the 1700 miles back to frigid Minnesota from beautiful sunny Florida where I was visiting my awesome parents. I will most-likely be unable to respond personally to your messages until I get into my hotel room for the evening, so please, bear with me!
Using Historical Figures in Your Fiction
Have you ever read a novel that used an historical figure as one of the characters? Was it fun for you to ‘recognize’ a character and see the author’s portrayal of how they might have been in a given set of circumstances? Did the character ring true to what you knew about them?
I love stories that have cameo appearances by historical figures, especially famous cowboys and lawmen and outlaws of the Old West, or presidents, soldiers, and personalities of the Civil War, but when I read one and I see things that are glaringly off with an historical figure’s portrayal, I tend to cringe and put the book down for something else.
So how does an author go about using real people in their novels? Can you use a real person in fiction legally? Are there any rules?
First, it is certainly legal to use historical figures in your fiction. Writing about Richard the Lionheart or Wyatt Earp won’t get you into any trouble, even if you mischaracterize them or portray them in a less than glowing light. (FYI, writing about current public figures has different laws about slander, libel, and image copyright, so research those laws if you want to write contemporary fiction. Even flattering treatments of people who are alive and kicking can land you in a legal tangle.) Second, writing about historical figures doesn’t have any ‘rules’ per se, but there are some guidelines that I try to follow that will endear you to readers of historical fiction.
Learn the basic facts and personality of the character by reading history books, watching documentaries, and if possible, reading primary sources such as diaries, autobiographies, and first-hand newspaper accounts. (No matter which historical figure you use, there will be a reader or two out there who is an ‘expert’ on that character and jealously guards their canon. As much as possible, try to get the history correct—or you might hear about it later!) Some things that might be important to consider are: the character’s family situation, how they make decisions, attitudes and philosophies about social issues, familiar catchphrases or gestures (Think Teddy Roosevelt and “Bully!”) etc. You will also be able to create dialogue that feels authentic if you can read their own words and get a sense of their speech patterns and cadences from reading primary sources.
Create a timeline of the character’s life, paying particular attention to the time and setting of your story. If you are going to include an historical figure in a fictional situation, make sure they weren’t demonstrably elsewhere in real life. For example, if your scene takes place in St. Louis on November 19, 1863 and you have President Lincoln show up, EEEK! Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address on that day and couldn’t possibly have been in Missouri at that time.
Stay true to the things you know about the character. Lincoln was tall, skeletal, with a dry wit. George Armstrong Custer was ambitious, overconfident, with a near-obsessive devotion to his wife. Clara Barton was a shy child, a determined crusader, and an autocratic leader. Readers will respond to an historical figure in your fiction that ‘feels’ like the character they already know.
When in doubt, err on the side of historical accuracy. Many people read historical fiction in order to learn while they read. Often, readers will take as gospel what they read of historical events and people in fiction, relying on the author to do the research and present it in a truthful way. Sometimes, you want or need an historical figure to do something in your story that you can’t authenticate through research. That’s fine, but be sure that you are staying within the bounds of historical accuracy when you do. (Unless you’re obviously writing a spoof piece like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.) If you include a fictional variation that might be misconstrued, use an author note to explain to the reader what is factual and what is fictional.
An example from my own work is the story A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas. I used several historical figures from Dodge City who would be familiar to readers of western fiction. Because they were used fictitiously, I wanted to make certain that readers understood which characters were historical and which were fictional, and which characteristics for real people I had manufactured for the sake of the story. I included an Author’s Note so that readers would feel I was ‘playing fair’ and not misleading them with inaccurate historical information. Here’s that Author’s Note as it appeared in the beginning of the book:
Author’s Note: While most of the characters in this story are fictitious, the characters of Charlie Basset, Luke Short, and Bat Masterson are taken from the annals of Dodge City history. I have tried to stay true to the historical record, with one noted exception: Bat Masterson’s proclivity for keeping printed material stacked in his office is fictional and entirely of my own creation.
In my story, it was important that a piece of paper get lost in the sheriff’s office. Since Bat Masterson was the sheriff during the setting of my story, I needed him to be a bit of a paper hoarder. But I also wanted to be clear to the reader that I had no historical facts that would indicate that he was an office slob. J Hence the author’s note.
Questions for you!
If you are a writer, have you ever included historical figures in your fiction? If so, who?
If you’re a reader, do you have a favorite novel that included an appearance by an historical figure?
Answer in the comments below to be entered to win a copy of my newest release, 7 Brides for 7 Texas Rangers!
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Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!
Settings are very important to me in my stories and when I can, I go to visit the land. I stand, close my eyes and listen to what the wind tells me. Often I hear voices long past whispering in the breeze and I know this is what I’m supposed to write.
In the back of The Cowboy Who Came Calling, I explain that everything I put in the story is historical fact. I think readers want to know that.
This story is set in the small town of Santa Anna, Texas in the central part of the state. Both the town and the nearby mountain were named for the Comanche war chief, Santanna. He was an important chief and the first of his tribe to visit Washington, D.C. There, he saw what his people were up against and began advocating for peace. He was struck down and died in a cholera epidemic in 1849.
Here are the Santa Anna Mountains in the distance. Not very high at all. Most probably wouldn’t even call them a mountain range.
This monument was erected by the state to mark the site of Camp Colorado. It was part of a line of forts built in the 1800s to protect settlers against the Indians. There wasn’t anything left when I last visited here. It’s on private land now. Luke McClain joins a gang who use the old fort as a hideout in my story.
The town (only 8 miles from Coleman, TX) was never very large and today the population is a little over a thousand people. Here is a very old building and an old crumbling wall.
The picture below shows the thick vegetation and in the distance, the ridge of Santa Anna Mountains above the treeline.
Below is Bead Mountain that I mention in the story is actually a sacred Indian burial ground. When it rains, colorful beads wash down the sides. It’s actually reputed to be haunted.
Okay, that’s a quick look at my setting. I apologize for the poor quality pictures.
Here’s your question: How often do you look on the map for the place a story is set when you’re reading? Do you feel cheated just a bit when you find it’s a made-up place? I’m giving away four copies (winner’s choice of print or ebook) of The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Comment to enter the drawing.
I’m so excited to be here on Petticoats & Pistols today! What a wonderful group of women who all love cowboys as much as I do. Thank you for having me here, ladies!
A couple of years ago I had a dream about five brothers who ran a ranch with their dad. In this dream I saw the oldest brother was a wounded Army veteran returning home, there was a veterinarian, a charmer, a very cynical man burned by love, and a rebel cowboy. I even saw their assorted girlfriends or wives. The only anomaly was that the dream ended with a fashion show in which they all participated. (That was my day job insinuating itself into my cowboy dream!)
When I woke up from the dream, it was still so vivid in my mind I had to write it all down. And it stuck with me so much I knew I had to turn it into a book. Or rather, five books.
The first book in the series about a wounded rancher debuts this month, published by Harlequin. I’m so very excited that “A Family for the Rancher” is finally here. This quote from Pinnochio has been running through my mind all week: “I’m a real boy!” Well, for me now “It’s a real book!”
I’m a fifth generation Texan, so I’ve got the Old West running deep in my veins. I was born and raised in El Paso, which is THE farthest west you can go in Texas. Among my ancestors are a Texas Ranger and a spy for Robert E. Lee. Future stories? You better believe it.
I live in Dallas now, practically at the base of Southfork Ranch. Remember J.R., Bobby, Sue Ellen, and Pam? It’s still a thrill every time I drive by that house, and the theme song runs on continuous loop in my head.
I guess my love of cowboys has been with me all my life. I love sweet tea, bluebonnets, cowboy boots, and western hats. Heck, the Resistol Hat factory is practically around the corner from my house! Cowboys have a code of honor bone deep, one they live their entire lives by. They’re good to their mommas, their sweethearts, and their animals.
Perhaps John Wayne said it best: “A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.” My Sullivan brothers follow that creed.
For the Cowboys to Grooms series I took the story to Montana. Where else could I write about vast open lands, soaring mountains, sunny summer days, and cold winter days where the hero and heroine are snowbound in a log cabin for days on end?
My husband and I spent some time in Montana a few years ago, and I just fell in love with the whole state. Crystal clear water, abundant wildlife, and cowboys! In fact, the scene in which Kelsey sees a bear while kissing Nash was inspired by my first bear sighting on that trip.
As I write, I have to visualize the characters, so Pinterest is my best friend. If you’d like to see who my inspiration is for each of the five Sullivan brothers, here’s a link to my board: https://tinyurl.com/ycrflp2
Oh, and since I also love weddings, I couldn’t resist writing a little twist into the last scene of each book—it’s what determines which brother’s book comes next in the Cowboys to Grooms series!
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Nash Sullivan doesn’t need help from anyone. Not his father, not his brothers and sure as heck not from a physical therapist—even a darn feisty one like Kelsey Summers. He lost his leg during his overseas deployment and he just wants to be left alone. Besides, the last thing a woman like Kelsey needs is half a man.
Single mom Kelsey knows all too well that the scars on the inside run the deepest. She needs to move on from her own tragic past, but the Sullivan ranch is starting to feel a little too much like home. And she can’t stop thinking about her wounded—and gorgeous—patient. Could Nash be the cure for her own broken heart?
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If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of “A Family for the Rancher” (Kindle ebook or autographed print book – winner’s choice), let me know who your favorite cowboys are (old or new), and why. I’d love to chat with you here on Petticoats & Pistols!
Thanks for welcoming me back to Petticoats & Pistols!
I have a new story to talk about, one very close to my heart.
My father took me to pow wows when I was a child. I can still remember the sun blazing down on my head, the salty sweetness of buttered corn, and dancers in ornamental dress swaying to the drumbeat. My father greeted many of his friends from among the gathered tribes. In this way, I suppose he captured something of the heritage he’d been denied. Dad, was half Native American, but never knew his father. He took after that side of his bloodline and as a result suffered from the prejudices of others. Orphaned at age 14, he took to the road and eventually landed among my mother’s relatives. My parents’ romance was the stuff of novels.
My father passed to me an abhorrence of injustice, and this often makes its way into my fiction. Montana Gold, my western historical romance series, focuses on the Irish in America. Nowadays we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and it’s hard to understand that Irish immigrants were once despised.
Many fled Ireland’s potato famine only to die on the journey to America. Packed like sardines into ‘coffin ships,’ they had to endure a four-week journey in deplorable conditions. Those who lived arrived on American shores disease-ridden and hungry. They met with hostility from those suspicious of the newcomers’ Catholic faith and angry that they would take away jobs or rely upon the public coffer. The job market could not keep up with the influx, and many Irish immigrants wound up in the Five Points slum of Manhattan. The residents crammed into cheap housing built above a filled-in collection pond which had been polluted by commercial enterprises. Sickness and death followed. Street gangs flourished amid all the vices of desperation, and crime grew rampant.
When Bryanna married, she counted herself fortunate to leave the slum behind. Hardship dogged her, however. Her husband died, forcing her to go into service. She is unjustly accused as Cheyenne Sunrise opens. Bry’s trials continue, leaving her with a burning question. Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Her search for an answer occupies her throughout the story and is finally satisfied.
I found it intriguing to contrast negative sentiment against the Irish with the prevailing attitude against Native Americans. Nick Laramie, the hero of the story, is the son of a Cheyenne woman and a French trapper who have both died. Nick struggles to survive despite the prejudice that plagues him. His feeling that he doesn’t fully belong to either of his parents’ worlds and his yearning to belong echo my father’s.
Nick takes on work as a trail guide for the wagon train carrying Bry to her brother’s ranch in Montana Territory to start a new life. They are attracted to one another, but neither wants a romance. After her disastrous marriage, Bry doesn’t need another man to break her spirit, and Nick has no intention of bringing a woman into the pain of his life. After dire circumstances throw them together, each must learn that true peace comes only from trusting in God.
More About Cheyenne Sunrise
Can a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her?
Young Irish widow Bry Brennan doesn’t want another husband to break her spirit. When she and her brother Con join a wagon train headed to Montana Territory, Bry ignores her fascination with Nick Laramie, the handsome trail guide. Nick lives in an uneasy truce between the settlers and his mother’s tribe without fully fitting in among either. With no intention of dragging a woman into his troubles, he stifles his yearning for Bry.
The perilous journey throws the two together, leaving Bry no choice but to trust Nick with her life. Can she also trust him with her heart? Answering that riddle forces Bry to confront her unresolved questions about God’s love. Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Cheyenne Sunrise explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.
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About Janalyn Voigt
Janalyn Voigt is a multi-genre, best-selling novelist who has books available in the western historical romance and epic fantasy genres. An inspirational, motivational, and practical speaker, Janalyn has presented at the Northwest Christian Writers’ Renewal Conference and Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference. She has also spoken for local writing groups, book events, and libraries. Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary and holds memberships in ACFW and Northwest Christian Writers Association. For more information, go to: Janalyn Voigt.
I’m celebrating the launch of Cheyenne Sunrise with a giveaway drawing for winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire, Celtic and Cheyenne flute music CDs, or a $30 gift card. Click on the image below to enter.
We’re very happy to have multi-published author Charlene Raddon come to visit. Writing is in her blood and she pens some mighty good stories. Authors, if you’re in need of a cover, check out her Silver Sage link at the bottom. Please make her welcome.
Since the heroine in my latest book, Divine Gamble, dealt faro for a living, I had to do a good deal of research on 19th Century games of chance.
Thanks to TV and old western movies, most people (like me) believed poker to be THE game of the times. Instead, it was faro. An honest faro game is as close as you can get to an “even money” game, meaning your odds of winning are nearly the same as for the house. Before the end of the century, however, card sharks figured out how to cheat even at faro.
Faro (for Pharoah, from an old French playing card design) was played with a standard pack of 52 cards. First played in France and England, faro became particularly popular in the U.S. In the movie Tombstone (1993) Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) plays faro, but the game wasn’t depicted entirely accurate. In Wyatt Earp (1994) Wyatt (Kevin Costner) and his brothers deal faro using the right layout, but still do not play 100% correctly.
The term “bucking the tiger” is said to have come from early card backs that featured a drawing of a Bengal tiger. “Twisting the tiger’s tail” is another euphemism for playing faro. Many gambling parlors were often referred to as “tiger alley” or “tiger town.” Brag, another popular saloon game of the time, which later evolved into 5-card draw poker or “Draw”.
Draw, also called “bluff poker” or “bluff,” was a rarity on the frontier until the late 1870s.
One person was designated the “banker” and an indeterminate number of players could be admitted. The faro table was typically oval, covered with green baize, and had a cutout for the banker. A board was placed on top of the table with one suit of cards (traditionally the suit of spades) pasted to it in numerical order, representing a standardized betting “layout”. Each player laid his stake on one of the 13 cards on the layout. Players could place multiple bets and could bet on multiple cards simultaneously by placing their bet between cards or on specific card edges. Players also had the choice of betting on the “high card” bar located at the top of the layout.
A deck of cards was shuffled and placed inside a “dealing box”, a mechanical device also known as a “shoe“, which was used to prevent manipulations of the draw by the banker and intended to assure players of a fair game.
The first card in the dealing box was called the “soda” and was “burned off”, leaving 51 cards in play. The dealer then drew two cards: the first was called the “banker’s card” and was placed on the right side of the dealing box. The next card after the banker’s card was called the carte anglaise (English card) or simply the “player’s card”, and it was placed on the left of the shoe.
The banker’s card was the “losing card”; regardless of its suit, all bets placed on the layout’s card that had the same denomination as the banker’s card were lost by the players and won by the bank. The player’s card was the “winning card”. All bets placed on the card that had that denomination were returned to the players with a 1 to 1 (even money) payout by the bank (e.g., a dollar bet won a dollar). A “high card” bet won if the player’s card had a higher value than the banker’s card. The dealer settled all bets after each two cards drawn. This allowed players to bet before drawing the next two cards. Bets that neither won nor lost remained on the table, and could be picked up or changed by the player prior to the next draw.
A player could reverse the intent of his bet by placing a hexagonal (6-sided) token called a “copper” on it. Some histories said a penny was sometimes used in place of a copper. This was known as “coppering” the bet, and reversed the meaning of the win/loss piles for that bet.
When only three cards remained in the dealing box, the dealer would “call the turn”, which was a special type of bet that occurred at the end of each round. The object now was to predict the exact order that the 3 remaining cards, Bankers, Players, and the final card called the Hock, would be drawn. The player’s odds here were 5 to 1, while a successful bet paid off at 4 to 1 (or 1 to 1 if there were a pair among the three, known as a “cat-hop”). This provided one of the dealer’s few advantages in faro. If it happened that the three remaining cards were all the same, there would be no final bet, as the outcome was not in question.
A device, called a “casekeep” was employed to assist the players and prevent dealer cheating by counting cards. The casekeep resembled an abacus, with one spindle for each card denomination, with four counters on each spindle. As a card was played, either winning or losing, one of four counters would be moved to indicate that a card of that denomination had been played. This allowed players to plan their bets by keeping track of what cards remained available in the dealing box. The operator of the casekeep, such as the heroine in my book Divine Gamble, is called the “casekeeper”, or colloquially in the American West, the “coffin driver”.
Certain advantages were reserved to the banker: if he drew a doublet, that is, two equal cards, he won half of the stakes upon the card which equaled the doublet. In a fair game, this provided the only “house edge”. If the banker drew the last card of the pack, he was exempt from doubling the stakes deposited on that card. These and the advantage from the odds on the turn bet provided a slight financial advantage to the dealer or house.
Other popular games of chance in wild west saloons were “Beat the Dealer” or “High Dice”, a quick and simple game. This was often played right on the bar with the barkeep as the dealer.
Then there was “Under and Over” (or “High/Low” or “Hi & Lo” or “Lucky Number 7”), a popular party game for three to six players played with a dice tray and 2 dice in a shaker cup.
“Chuck-a-Luck”, aka “Sweat”, Sweat Cloth”, “Birdcage”, “Chucker Luck”, “Chuck” or “Big Six” is an old game originating in England. This was played with a dice cup and 3 dice. Because of cheating, the use of a heavy welded metal birdcage device became the standard for the game.
Grand Hazard (not to be confused with Hazard) was a more advanced for of Chuck-a-Luck, with a more sophisticated layout allowing for the simple 1 through 6 “chuck bets”.
Hazard was played with two dice and was the ancestor of the modern dice game, craps.
Monte Bank was a popular card game of the early 19th Century, particularly in the Southwest and mining camps in Northern California.
In Divine Gamble, a mistake made long ago has put Maisy Macoubrie in a killer’s crosshairs. Her only hope is to run. Yet, her chances are slim of surviving alone.
The Preacher, a bounty hunter known for bringing men in alive, finds his own face on a wanted poster—dead or alive—for a crime he didn’t commit. He knows who the real killer is, but trying to prove it could be the last thing he ever does.
United in battle against a common enemy, can Maisy and The Preacher find love and solace in each other? Can they win the biggest gamble of their lives?
Are you a gambler? Have you ever visited a casino? Or have you read a book where they did? Charlene is giving away one digital copy of Divine Gamble to one commenter.
Charlene Raddon is an award-winning author of western historical romance novels and a book cover artist. Originally published by Kensington Books, she is now an Indie author. You can find her at:
Hello to everyone at Petticoats and Pistols! Thank you so much for inviting me to stop by to talk about my new book, Luckiest Cowboy of All, coming out next Tuesday.
This book has gotten rave reviews at both Publisher’s Weekly and RT Reviews and from my amazing readers on Goodreads. To say I’m excited about it would be an understatement.
The Luckiest Cowboy of All is the third and final book in the Happy, Texas trilogy, following Toughest Cowboy in Texas and Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas. Although it’s part of a series, it’s a stand alone book that can be read without reading the first two.
AND—I love that word because it means there’s more to come—this is a two-for-one book. After you read Luckiest Cowboy of All, you are only half finished with the book. My good friend, Sara Richardson’s book Hometown Cowboy, is included. It’s Jessa Mae and Lance Cortez’s story. She’s a small town veterinarian and he’s a big-time rodeo star.
Voices in my head….
Jace Dawson has waited patiently for his turn to tell me his story, and I loved having him sitting behind me in the recliner telling me all about his life while I wrote it. I have a plaque on the wall of my office that reads: I know the voices in my head are not real but they have really great ideas.
That saying became very real during the time I was privileged to spend with Jace. He’d fallen in love with Carlene back when they were in high school and had even entertained notions that someday they might be together forever. But after graduation her father got transferred and she went with him. She’d promised to keep in touch but she hadn’t and her old aunt, who still lived in Happy, wouldn’t give him a bit of information.
Now it’s almost a decade later and Carlene has taken a teaching job back in Happy at the elementary school. One look at her daughter and Jace knows immediately that the child is his and he’s pretty angry that Carlene didn’t even tell him that she was pregnant.
Secret Baby/Second Chance
The secret baby/second chance trope has been done so often that I knew when I started writing this story; it had to touch my readers emotions to keep their attention. I hope I’ve done that and that they travel with Jace through his battle with giving up his bachelorhood and doing what his heart is telling him. And that they experience Carlene’s reluctance in listening to her heart—when she fears that Jace is only doing “the right thing” in wanting a relationship with her. How could he love her after she deceived him?
Secondary Story Threads
There’s a secondary story thread that began in Toughest Cowboy in Texas and continued through Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas. It’s about the Dawsons’ grandmother, Hope, and a past love from her youth. It wraps up in Jace and Carlene’s story as this trilogy comes to an end.
I hope that when you finish Sara and my stories that you sigh and wish for more! If so, don’t put your reading glasses away and keep your cowboy boots close by because there are more cowboys on the way. Cowboy Bold debuts the first book in the Longhorn Canyon series in May. Cowboy Honor, the second book, will arrive in September and then Cowboy Brave will finish the series in January of 2019.
I’ll give away a signed copy of Luckiest Cowboy in Texas to one person who comments on today’s post. Tell me, what makes you go from merely taking a look at a book to putting it in your cart to take home? Cover? Back blurb? Those first few sentences on page one?
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist. The author of more than eighty published books, she’s also the three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a Bookseller’s Best Award, and a Montlake Diamond Award. Carolyn and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, as well as what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she’s not writing, Carolyn likes to sit in her gorgeous backyard with her two tomcats, Chester Fat Boy and Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, and watch them protect the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Visit her at http://www.carolynbrownbooks.com.