Is it just me or have good manners gone the way of trail drives? I have three grandchildren working summer jobs and I’m appalled at the stories they tell about customer rudeness.
It didn’t always used to be that way. Back in the Old West, manners ruled. A cowboy might have been rough around the edges and whooped-it-up on occasion, but he also knew his Ps and Qs. To show you what I mean, let’s compare today’s manners with those of the past.
Hitting the Trail: Navigating some of today’s roads is like steering through a metal stampede. It’s every man/woman for his/her self. Cars ride on your tail and cut you off. To stay on the defense, today’s drivers must contend with drunkenness, speeding and texting—and that ain’t all. If this doesn’t make you long for the good ole days, I don’t know what will.
The Cowboy Way: When riding a horse, a cowboy would never think of cutting between another rider and the herd. Nor would he ride in such a way as to interfere with another man’s vision. Crossing in front of another without a polite, “Excuse me” would not have been tolerated. As for riding drunk; that would have gotten a wrangler fired on the spot.
Please and Thank You: Recently I saw a young man hold a restaurant door open for a young woman. Instead of saying thank you, she chewed him out. Oh, me, oh, my. What is the world coming to?
The Cowboy Way: The first man coming to a gate was expected to open it for the others. Everyone passing through would say thank you. Holding a door open for a lady went without saying, as did tipping his hat and saying a polite, “Howdy, ma’am.” Back in the old days, a cowboy might have gotten a smile from the lady, but he sure wouldn’t have gotten a tongue-lashing.
Cell Phones: I could probably rattle on about poor cell phone manners, but for me, loud talking is the worst offense. During a recent visit to the emergency room, I was privy to every patient’s medical condition and more.
The Cowboy Way: Those early cowboys didn’t have cell phones, of course, which is probably a good thing; A ringing phone would have startled the cattle and maybe even the horses. John Wayne wasn’t talking about cell phones when he said, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much,” but that’s not bad advice. Especially in the ER.
So what do you think? Are good manners a thing of the past or are they still very much alive?
To help celebrate, we decided to share some of our favorite words
to live by–cowboy style!
So pull up a log to sit on, prop yer feet by the fire,
and consider the wisdom of the West ~
Kathryn’s Favorites: (It’s so hard to choose only five! There are so many good ones.)
1. Before you go into a canyon, know how you’ll get out. 2. Never straddle a fence. Build one, or tear it down. 3. You can’t tell how good a man or a watermelon is till you thump’em. 4. If you want to stay single, look for the perfect woman. 5. A mail-order marriage is trickier’n braidin’ a mule’s tail.
1. You don’t have to attend every argument to which you are invited. 2. Too little temptation can lead to virtue. 3. If you come home with a hair on your vest, you better have a horse to match. 4. Love your enemies, but keep your gun oiled. 5. Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite words to live by?
Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card
(in celebration of our 10 years here!)
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giant birthday bash giveaway. You can find all the details along with the entry form HERE.
Running from trouble, Maggie McCary signs up to be a mail-order bride.
She doesn’t intend to actually marry…but one sensational kiss changes her mind!
Just a reminder, there are three fillies participating in a pair of BookSweeps contests this month. The contest is only open for another few days, so if you want a chance to win some great summer reads, now’s the time to enter.
In the Inspirational Category, Margaret and I have books included.
Linda is included in the American Historical grouping.
All you have to do to enter is follow us on either Amazon or BookBub. Pretty painless. I’m giving away my RITA nominated novella, The Husband Maneuver. Margaret is giving away her new book A Match Made in Texas, and Linda is giving away The Heart of a Texas Cowboy.
Click either graphic to be taken to the contest site for those groups or click here to go to the host site for all the contest groups.
The more authors you follow, the greater your chance of winning.
Grand Prize – Kindle Fire and all the books in the overall promotion (including the other categories of historical romance such as Regency, Scottish, etc.)
First Prize – All the books in the Christian Historical Romance or American category
Second Prize – $25 gift card to the book store of your choice
One other last chance for today only (May 31).
No Other Will Do On Sale!
The first book in the Ladies of Harper’s Station series is on sale just in time to prepare you for the release of Heart on the Line (book 2) next week.
Emma and Malachi’s story can be downloaded for only $2.99 (or less – Amazon’s price has been as low as $1.99) for the entire month of May. Grab a copy or email a copy to a friend while you still can for this low price.
As I told you last month, I’m writing a new series based in Texas and I’ve been studying maps. Texas sure does have some odd, charming and altogether weird or funny town names. Here’re just a couple that caught my eye.
Cut and Shoot, Texas Believe it or not, this town name was the result of a church fight. No one really knows what the dispute was about. Some say it was over the new steeple; others say there was a disagreement as to who should preach there. Still others insist that church member land claims was to blame.
Whatever the reason, the altercation was about to turn violent. A small boy at the scene declared he was going to take up a tactical position and “cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes.”
Later, after the matter was taken to court, the judge asked a witness where the confrontation had taken place. Since the town didn‘t have a name the witness described the location the best way he knew how. “I suppose you could call it the place where they had the cutting and shooting scrape,” he said, and the name stuck.
Ding Dong, Texas (which just happens to be in Bell County)
As the saying goes, if you find yourself in Ding Dong, you had to be looking for it. Two early residents Zulis Bell and his nephew Berth ran a general store and hired a local painter named C.C. Hoover to make a sign for their business.
Hoover illustrated the sign with two bells inscribed with the owners’ names, and then wrote “Ding Dong” on the bells. No one remembered the Bells but they sure did remember Ding Dong and the name stuck.
Jot-Em-Down, Texas This is a small unincorporated community in Delta County, Texas, United States.
The town’s name comes from the name of a fictional store in the Lum and Abner radio show, which aired in the 30s and 40s.
Dime Box, Texas The name originated from the practice of leaving a dime in the box at Brown’s Mill to have a letter delivered. The practice stopped when a post office was opened in 1877.
The following town isn’t in Texas but I just love the name—and of course the love story.
Total Wreck, Arizona Total Wreck was discovered by John L. Dillon in 1879. He named it such because he thought the ledge the mine was on looked like a total wreck. A man once got into a shooting at Total Wreck and survived because the bullet lodged in a stack of love letters he had in his jacket. He later married the girl who wrote the letters!
What is the strangest named town you ever visited?
For me it would have to be Monkey Eyebrow, Arizona.
“How come no one ever told me that kissin’
is even more fun that fighting a bear?”-A Lady Like Sarah
Want to know more about Sarah? The eBook is now only $1.99
I picked up an interesting book at a swap meet titled 1001 Most-asked Questions About the American West by Harry E. Chrisman. The book is out of print but there are a few left on Amazon. I bet you didn’t know there were that many questions to ask about cowboys. Here are some samples from the book:
Did Indians have any special word to describe the covered wagons they saw on the plains?
They called them “teepees on wheels.”
So many western people say “howdy” when they meet you on the street. Where did the term originate?
Howdy is short for “How-do-you-do?” You don’t have to tell the inquirer how you feel, for he doesn’t care anyway! A cowboy once advised a friend never to say “Howdy” to a talkative, glib Easterner whom they both knew. “Why not?” the second cowboy asked. “Because he’ll tell you,” came the answer.
Is there any record of a woman riding in a cattle stampede?
Old cowboy Anderson from Sequin, Texas told of seeing a lady ride side-saddle being swept into a longhorn stampede. He wrote: “Seeing the cattle gaining, that woman swung herself astride and pulled off a race that beat anything I ever saw.” This is what they called riding “clothespin” style.
Was marijuana used to any extent in the settlement of the Old West?
Marijuana was not used as a drug. However one Western expert has noted that even Bibles and wagon covers were often made from the Devil’s weed, in addition to some of the clothing the pioneers wore and the hemp rope they used.
What was a “pitcher and catcher hotel” in the early West?
It has nothing to do with baseball. A pitcher was what they called the washbowl, and the catcher (or thundermug) was the chamber pot. Margaret here: Whoever thought up the name thundermug must have had a real problem.
What was the usual bounty offered for an outlaw when the posters read, “Wanted, dead or alive.”
$500 would bring a man in dead or alive. That was a lot of money back in the 1870-80s.
What did the term “grubline gossip” mean?
Cowboys laid off during the winter months would ride from ranch to ranch looking for odd jobs. In exchange for free food they reported whatever news they heard on their travels and this was called grubline gossip.
What were the worst factors pioneers had to contend with?
Blizzards, Indians, fleas, snakes, cholera, small pox, diphtheria, lice, bedbugs, prairie fire, falls into deep wells, accidents from livestock, cyclones, runaway horses, stampedes, heat sunstroke, silence of the plains and loneliness. Many women thought the latter two the worst.
What would have been the worst
factor for you?
Working undercover is no job for a lady, but one thing is certain;
Come hell or high water, Jennifer Layne always gets her man!
This past week I wrote a scene in which my cowboy hero was forced to sit in a formal parlor. It was during the 19th century age of clutter which meant the front room was filled to capacity with ornate furniture, needlepoint cushions, framed photographs, musical instruments, and enough froufrou to create a dusting nightmare. The poor man in my story couldn’t move without knocking over a beaded fringed lamp or a delicate music box. Worse, he had to trust his six foot two bulk to a spindly chair since no “sincere” furniture existed.
Parlors Were Never Designed for Comfort
A proper parlor had one purpose and one purpose alone; to showcase a woman’s gentility to all who entered.
In his book Domesticated Americans Russell Lynes describes the parlor as a chamber of horrors for children. “It (the parlor) set husband against wife, daughter against father and swain against maiden.” It also took a lump out of the family budget.
A Hostess Must Avoid Any Allusion to the Age, Personal Defects or Ill-manners of Guests
No one really knew how to act in a parlor and this unleashed a steady stream of articles and books on the subject. Not only were people counseled on how to enter a parlor without “Jiggling their bodies” but how to leave it. Phrases, such as”What-d-ye call it,” “Thingummy,” “What’s his name,” or any such substitutes for a proper name or place were to be avoided at all costs.
The Ladies Indispensable Assistant explained the rules of exiting in great detail. “Don’t stand hammering and fumbling, and saying ‘Well I guess I must be going.’ When you are ready go at once.”
Parlor rules existed for every possible situation, even courting. Never was a man to sit with his “arms akimbo” or strike an awkward pose. Nor was he to enter a parlor without the lady’s invitation.
God Made Weather to Give Us Something to Talk About
Visitors were cautioned against talking about religion, politics, disease, dress or, heaven forbid, one’s self. Cookbook and etiquette writer Miss Leslie wrote that inquiring about a hostess’s children was to be done “with discretion.” Saying that a son “was the very image of his father,” could be offensive if the father was not a handsome man. Even then the visitor could be treading on ice if “the mother was vain and wished the children to look like her.”
Several things happened to make the parlor with its endless rules fall out of favor. Women were admitted to college and soon after entered the work force. No longer was a woman judged by her parlor but rather by her contributions to society.
The westward movement should also receive credit for putting sanity into the home. Though some pioneer women tried to carry the tradition westward, many soon learned the folly of such ways—much to their husbands’ gratitude.
Not all parlors died a quiet death. Some lingered into the twentieth century. As a child, I remember our next door neighbor’s parlor—and yes, that’s what she called it. Everything in it including the lampshades was covered in plastic which made a crinkling sound if you wiggled. Did any of you spend time in such a room?
Working Undercover is no Job for a Lady!
Click cover to pre-order book 1 in Margaret’s exciting new series
Ah, the automobile. What would we do without it? The car I most remember is a battered old ’61 white Valiant with a stick shift. The clunker almost caused me to gave birth and file for a divorce on the same night. That’s because my husband steadfastly refuses to drive over the speed limit. No thanks to him, I missed giving birth in that auto by mere seconds.
The reason I have cars on my mind this month is because of my new book, Waiting for Morning, a historical romance set in Arizona Territory in 1896. The hero, Dr. Caleb Fairbanks introduces the Last Chance Ranch cowhands to his beloved gas-powered “horseless carriage,” Bertha. When Caleb and backfiring Bertha incite gunfire from former dance hall girl, Molly Hatfield, the handsome doctor barely escapes with his life. Little does he know that his troubles have only just begun.
Today, cars are blamed for everything from global warming to funding terrorism through oil dependency. It might surprise you to learn that it wasn’t that long ago that the old gray mare was held responsible for the social and economic ills of the world.
In 1908, it was estimated that New York City alone would save more than a million dollars a year by banning horses from its streets. That’s how much it cost back then to clean up the tons of manure clogging the roadways each year.
A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense.
Horses were also blamed for traffic congestion, accidents, diseases and, of all things, noise pollution. Hooves clattering on cobblestones were said to aggravate nervous systems. Even Benjamin Franklin complained about the “thundering of coaches, chariots, chaises, waggons, drays and the whole fraternity of noise” that assailed the ears of Philadelphia residents.
The first automobiles to drive west were driven by insurance salesmen and land agents. When an attorney in a small Texas town rose to leave during an important trial, he practically emptied the courtroom. Jurors, witnesses and spectators all wanted to see his two-cylinder Maxwell. An irate judge pounded his gavel and ordered the autorist to “Drive the contraption a mile out of town where there are no horses and permit everyone to look it over so the court can resume its regular business.”
As with all technology, outlaws were quick to see the advantage of automobiles. The auto allowed for a quick get-away and would keep going long after a horse gave out. This left local sheriffs at a disadvantage.
Youths hopped on the auto band-wagon long before their elders and many ceased driving the family springboards entirely. Frontier lawmen suddenly found themselves issuing stern warnings, not to outlaws, but to racing youths.
Remember: When everything’s coming your way,
you’re in the wrong lane.
The automobile was supposed to make the world a safer, saner, quieter and healthier place. That’s something to think about the next time you’re stuck in traffic. But take heart: the safer, quieter, more economical Robot Car is here.
To celebrate the publication of my book, my publisher is running a fun contest. To enter all you have to do is write a paragraph or two about the car that played a part in your life’s story and send to:
The following is a short except from Dawn Comes Early. Eleanor owns the Last Chance Ranch. Robert proposes to her yearly, but has never mentioned the word love. This is a good thing—a very good thing. Because even an old hand like Eleanor can’t protect her heart forever.
Miss Margaret is giving away a copy of her book,
so speak up or forever hold your peace!
(Your choice: print or eBook!)
Excerpt 1 — Dawn Comes Early
Robert picked out a clear sandy spot and knelt on one knee. He pulled off his hat and held it to his chest. Most men his age would be at least half bald but not him. His silver hair was just as full and lush as that of a much younger man.
Eleanor gazed down at Robert. “Must you be so dramatic?”
“It’s my proposal. I can be as dramatic as I please.”
“Very well. If you insist.”
He cleared his throat and his pale blue eyes held hers. “Will you, Eleanor Walker, do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
Each year on her birthday he proposed marriage and each year she turned him down—and for good reason. Arizona Territory community property laws would make Robert half owner of her ranch. Her painful divorce taught her the folly of shared ownership and she had no intention of making the same mistake twice.
“How long have we been doing this, Robert?”
“Fourteen, fifteen years,” he said. “But like I’ve told you many times, I’m a patient man.”
“I’m not sure that patient is the right word,” she said. “In any case, the answer is no.” No surprises, there.
Her answer hung between them for several moments before he rose and brushed the sand off his trouser leg. “Same time, same place next year.”
Miss Phyliss is giving away a copy of Give Me a Texas Ranger, so be sure to leave a comment!
In my story, One Woman, One Ranger for our anthology,Give Me a Texas Ranger, I used factual events of Mickey and Frenchy McCormick and how they were forced into marriage. I took that tidbit of history and turned it around where my Texas Ranger, Hayden McGraw, is faced with a similar situation. As a matter of fact, McGraw’s character was developed from a real life crusty ol’ Texas Ranger in the Texas Panhandle in the late 1800’s.
Please note that I am using some quotes from the book, but also leaving parts out, so you won’t find every single word of these excerpts in the story.
Excerpt 2 –– “One Woman, One Ranger” in Give Me A Texas Ranger
Not only was he tired, hungry, and dirty, but technically, Hayden McGraw guessed he was still on suspension with the Texas Rangers. The last thing he needed was to become involved in the quarrel that seemed to be brewing in Buffalo Springs, Texas. It wasn’t any of his concern … yet.
First Lieutenant McGraw finds a place to quench his thirst where he walks right into the middle of a room full of grumpy towns folks, including an old toad named Baldy, waiting on the Justice of the Peace to commence a meeting …
“Where’s that dern justice of the peace anyways?” A boisterous voice boomed. “He called this meeting.”
“Probably at Molly Lou’s showing off his new book of marriage licenses, trying to make the gamblers and dancehall girls see the error of their ways,” Mr. Baldy answered. “He says you’ve gotta get hitched if you’re livin’ without benefit of clergy–“
“What in the heck is that supposed to mean?” A woman, not so lady like, spouted.
“Means everybody in Newman County has gotta get legit. No marriage license, no beddin’.” Baldy’s eyes narrowed, brows knitted together. “I’m jest quotin’ the JP.”
It doesn’t take long for McGraw to encounter the feisty, beautiful Patience Eleanor Stevenson, who has come to town to fight for the rights of the ladies who work in Molly Lou’s, her drinking establishment across the creek. She enters the saloon mad as a peeled rattler ….
“Women have rights, and we’re nobody’s have to! We don’t have to do anything, just because a man tells us to do so.”
The bully of a sheriff takes umbrage at her attitude and threatens to arrest her if she doesn’t leave. Unfortunately, Hayden can see how things are unraveling. The sheriff attempts to physically remove her, but comes up on the losing end of the stick … she punches him accidentally.
Before Hayden can blink the sheriff tries to arrest her, but the towns folks would just as soon see her hanged. Suddenly, the Texas Ranger is faced with … A beautiful woman with a noose around her neck, no proof he is a Texas Ranger, and a pompous-ass of a sheriff with hangin’ on his mind. Ranger McGraw, being the senior law enforcer, tries to take custody of her….
Sheriff Oldham smirked in a gottcha way. “And, I reckon you don’t even know her name.”
Having a knack for remembering details to a flaw, McGraw says, “Patience Eleanor Stevenson.” He pushed his Stetson back with his thumb. “But, I call her Puddin’ Cake.” He turned to Ella, and said, “Don’t I, wife?”
If looks could kill, Ella’s face would be on every Wanted Poster between the Canadian and the Rio Grande….
“Miss Stevenson, uh Mrs. McGraw.” … “Uh, I’m Wilson Scott, Newman County JP. This won’t take long. Reckon we gotta get the formalities out of the way.” He opened a black ledger. “If you’ll both sign here, then all I’ll need is the fee and your union will be duly recorded as required by law.”
“Can’t this wait? The misses and I are tired and hungry. And, I want to clear up the matter of the Warrant.”
“No, sir.“ The JP stood his ground.
“Nope, Ranger. This needs tending to … now!” Sheriff Oldham interjected.
“Gotcha fee right here.” Dixie (one of Ella’s employees) pulled a stringed bag from between her breasts and began counting out coins.
Reluctantly, Hayden signs his name to the ledger.
Ella folded her arms across her chest and tapped her foot, resisting the JP’s demands. As if it were Hayden’s fault, she furrowed her brow and sent him a go to blue blazes look which scathed all the way to his toes and back again.
“It’s them or me.” Hayden nodded toward the Sheriff and Baldy, who now held the noose.
Almost knocking the JP off the porch, she seized the ledger. In an exquisite script, Ella scrolled her name across the paper. She shared her frown with Dixie, as she handed over the fee.
Dixie raised an eyebrow and shrugged her shoulders. “Should I let them hang you?”