One of the reasons I started writing westerns was being thoroughly addicted to television westerns in the fifties and sixties and seventies. I loved them all, but I certainly had my favorites: “The Virginian”, “Rawhide”, “Wagon Train,” “Cimarron Strip,” “Have Gun, Will Travel,” and on and on. Of course I also liked “Bonanza” and “The Big Valley” and other family oriented westerns, but the ones that really appealed to me featured the lone tough hero with a well-concealed heart of gold. He’s the hero I wrote in my westerns, including the one published in September, “The Lawman.” He’s the hero I truly love.
One trivia answer: the most popular genre on television during the 1950’s and 1960’s was westerns. There were several hundred western series during those decades. In checking a list of series for this blog, I found some that entirely escaped me. “Bordertown,” for one. “Brave Eagle” for another. And then “The Californians.”
I have mourned their loss. Oh, a few producers have tried. There was the “Magnificent Seven” that had a brief run. And the “Young Riders”. But none had the impact and staying power of their predecessors. I fumed and fussed, and finally had to be satisfied with Encore’s Western Channel where I’ve happily indulged in the nostalgia of “The Virginian”, “Gunsmoke”, and the enigmatic Paladin.
I was going to blog about something else today, but then on Saturday, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Cracker Barrel (I go only once a year to get country ham and their wonderful cheesy hashbrowns because that’s about all my body should have in one year). Now Saturday is not a good day to go. Everyone in Memphis goes on Saturday morning, and there’s always a waiting time. Waiting times mean browsing. Browsing means sales. It always does for me, anyway, because it’s a great place to find some oddity that’s great for a gift basket or dirty Santa gift or little token of appreciation to someone.
I found the mother lode this time: an entire rack of collections of old western television series. Among them was a CD with the first season of “Wanted: Dead or Alive” with Steve McQueen. All 36 episodes. My fingers itched to grab all the series, but I disciplined my self and only took the McQueen series. Now if “Rawhide” had been there, I would have been in real trouble. Still, I might have to check back next week. Minus the country ham.
In any event, I don’t know if you all remember “Wanted: Dead and Alive.” Steve McQueen played Josh Randall, a moody bounty hunter who used a Winchester sawed-off shotgun. He was a man of few words who gave half – or even all – of his reward money to charity, then disappeared. I remember him as being absolutely relentless in pursuit of a wanted man but protective of children and women. I’m sure he had a secret somewhere, but I’ll have to listen to the series to discover it. I might add I was/am a huge Steve McQueen fan. Maybe it was the smoldering blue eyes. Or the quirky grin. Or the laconic aloneness.
Now I look forward to hosting a “Wanted” Dead or Alive” marathon and inviting my niece and grandnieces, all of whom I’ve addicted to westerns as well.
And I had to share my find with you, just in case you share my obsession and have a Cracker Barrel nearby. Thirty six episodes for $12.99. There were also seasons of “The Virginian,” “Wagon Train,” “Bonanza” and “The Rifleman.” And then there was a three-CD library of episodes from a variety of western series.
What is your favorite western from the past? And why? And do you mourn, as I do, their absence from the small – or maybe not quite so small – screen today?
Listed below are the upcoming releases from our talented writers here at the junction. To purchase any of these fine books, just click on the book covers. And to learn more about the authors, click on thier names.
Sensible, settled, steady – and not Sadie Lassiter…
Eli Reynolds knows what he wants in a wife, and the flighty Texas girl couldn’t be further from the mark. Eli has his nine-year-old sister’s welfare to consider – Penny deserves a mother who will give her proper care. But when bad weather strands Eli and Sadie together, he sees a new side to her character. She’s rash – but also resourceful. Instead of discipline, she has diligent faith. Her housekeeping skills are lacking, but she’s filled with humor and sweetness. She may not be a “proper” wife, but to save her reputation – and to take a chance on happiness he’d never expected to find – Eli will take her as his bride.
Ruby Denby Rumford endured her monstrous husband’s abuse until death—by self-defense—did them part. Now she and her daughters seek a new beginning in Dutchman’s Creek, Colorado, but will her dark past stay buried? With an obligation to uphold the laws of prohibition and an undercover persona in place, U.S. Deputy Marshal Ethan Beaudry comes to town ready to end a shady bootlegging ring. He doesn’t expect to find beautiful, mysterious Ruby involved—or be forced to choose between duty to the law and this forbidden passion.
What makes a hero? For me, I think Willie Nelson said it all when he sang these words: My heroes have always been cowboys, and they still are it seems.
I’ve always loved cowboys. As a little girl, I wanted to marry Michael Landon’s character from Bonanza; Little Joe. I would have settled for Adam. Even Hoss. I loved John Wayne, Sam Elliot and Robert Redford in a cowboy hat.
What makes a cowboy a hero? On the outside, it starts with a swagger, the tilt of a hat, a grin that melts our hearts. But it is more about who they are. It’s Little Joe, smiling and cute, always trying to save the damsel. It’s Hoss, with his good character and strong convictions. It’s Adam, a little more suave, knowing what to say and sometimes getting taken by surprise.
John Wayne, sometimes a reluctant hero, but always a hero. Sam Elliot, well, I just always thought he was cute with that smile of his. Robert Redford. Need I say more?
Today’s cowboys are just as cute, although the movie world is sadly in need of a John Wayne, a Robert Redford or a Sam Elliot. The music world has Tim McGraw, and who doesn’t think it’s just the cowboy in him? And of course there is George Strait, with his smile and those famous Wrangler jeans. Amazing Race has our favorite McCoy brothers. They’re the real deal.
Before Amazing Race, after Amazing Race and during Amazing Race, Jet and Cord McCoy are cowboys. They’re country and proud of it. Cord is a bull rider who is known for always smiling.
I do love bull riders. They are the embodiment of the old west. They put their hand on their heart and pledge allegiance to the flag. They’ll bow their heads and pray for a friend. They get bucked off, kicked, stepped on and yet, they keep getting on the bull. With broken bones, dislocated shoulders, concussions and broken ribs, they ride bulls. They put a whole new spin on the term, ‘walk it off.’
Wyatt Johnson, the hero from my January Love Inspired, THE COWBOY’S FAMILY, showed up in my August 2010 release, The Cowboy’s Sweetheart. He was a secondary character but as soon as he showed up with his two little girls, I loved him. He was broken, hurting, and in need of a good woman to heal his heart. I knew from the moment he pulled up in his moving van that his story would be next. Sometimes a hero shows up, begging for a story.
That’s the easy part, when the character shows up and you realize they need a story. And then comes creating the story. Who is the character? What does he need? Who does he need?
Of course Wyatt Johnson had to be a cowboy. But he also needed those cowboy hero qualities. Like John Wayne, he would be reluctant. Like Hoss, he would want to do the right thing. Like Robert Redford, he just looks good in a cowboy hat and jeans.
A good hero puts self aside and rescues the heroine, even when she doesn’t realize she needs rescuing. And the heroine, in the words of Julie Roberts’ PRETTY WOMAN character, “she rescues him right back.”
Rachel Waters is just such a heroine for Wyatt Johnson. She’s a pastor’s daughter, loyal almost to a fault, and willing to put her own heart on the line for Wyatt and his two little girls.
So, all of you cowboy fans, tell me what it is you love about cowboys and who are some of the cowboys you think of when you think ‘hero’? Two lucky commenters will win an autographed copy of THE COWBOY’S FAMILY.
In 1847, Colonel Samuel Walker, Army commander and a Texas Ranger in John C. Hays’ company, approached Sam Colt to make a new, stronger, more powerful revolver. Colt took the order–but had no factory. He turned to Eli Whitney, Jr., son of the famous inventor of the cotton gin, who had a factory in Connecticut where the order was completed and shipped by mid-1847.
Named the “Walker” for the Colonel, this single action, six shot, black powder revolver was 15 ½” long and weighed–are you ready–4 pounds, 8 ounces! Unloaded! Add the lead balls, wadding, etc. and you’re close to 5 pounds. That’s as much as one of those big bottles of wine. Try gripping that and holding it steady at arms length.
Can you even imagine shooting that thing, let alone hauling a couple of them around all the time? Though Hollywood shows the Colt Walker as a belt gun, the Texas Rangers and the mounted troops under Walker’s command during the Mexican-American War, and on the Texas frontier, carried the Colt Walker in saddle holsters.
Just to give you a visual, in the pic on the right, Josey Wales holds a Colt Walker in his left hand and a Colt 1860 Army in his right.
In the picture on the left, character Augustus McCrae of LonesomeDove, is holstering his Colt Walker. See how long it is compared to Robert Duvall’s torso?
[Both of these pictures are from The Internet Movie Firearms Database, www.imfdb.org. It’s a great site!]
With an effective range of 100 yards, the 1867 Walker could be loaded with as much powder as some muskets, making it the most powerful revolver of its day. In fact, it was more powerful than most modern pistols. The black powder Walker Colt is regarded by some experts as the most powerful commercially manufactured repeating handgun from 1847 until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935.
“It proved to be a revolver of such size, weight, and heft that Colt was reputed to have said, “It would take a Texan to shoot it.” Walker wrote in 1847 that the gun was “as effective as a common rifle at 100 yards and superior to a musket even at 200.” Far more powerful than the earlier Patersons, this gun quickly became legendary. For those who could afford it, the Walker Colt was a symbol of strength, authority and great financial means.
“Total production of the original Walker was about 1,100, a thousand of which were ordered by the U.S. Ordnance Department. The Walker was the first revolver ever purchased by the Army, and soldiers’ inexperience with a revolver resulted in a lot of “burst cylinders,” meaning all six chambers fired at the same time.” [http://americanhistory.si.edu/militaryhistory/collection/object.asp?ID=820]
The Colt Walker was quickly followed by the Colt Dragoon series of revolvers, which only improved on a very good thing.
Saturday will bring Miss Brenda Minton to the Junction and the Fillies are beside themselves.
Miss Brenda has a the best kind of topic…..what makes a hero. Lordy, lordy my list is short and sweet! It’s all in how the man treats others, especially the ladies. Hee-hee!
While she’s here Miss Brenda will talk about her new book called THE COWBOY’S FAMILY. Just looking at the cover makes my heart melt. And you’ll be delighted to know that Miss Brenda is giving away two autographed copies to two lucky people who leave a comment. I know you’ll want to be one of the winners.
So get your lazy bones out of bed on Saturday and saddle up. We’d love to have you ride along with us.
I’ve wanted to blog about the historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming for a several months now. My husband and I stayed there last September when we traveled to Wyoming for research and then on to Denver for my brother’s birthday. October got away from me with my oldest son’s wedding, then I had a December first deadline. Christmas came, then The Outlaw’s Return released in February. There’s been lots of stuff to talk about, so I put the Plains Hotel on hold. The time has come to give this quaint old hotel a bit of attention.
In its day, it was quite extraordinary. Built in 1911, the hotel came into existence just a few decades after Cheyenne’s rambunctious beginnings. The idea for a luxury hotel was first arose at a meeting of the Industrial Club in December 1909. By February of the next year, financing had been arranged and William DuBois was hired as the architect, and in March a contract was awarded. Construction began in June 1910 and it was completed in March 2011 for $250,000.
Those are the dry details. The fun begins with the hotel’s grand opening. It was attended by oil tycoons, cattle barons, Army officers in dress uniform, and women in the finest fashions of the day. A good time was no doubt had by all . . . except the man who married a bride named Rosie. The story alleges that Rosie caught her new husband with a prostitute, shot them both dead and then turned the gun on herself. Rumor has it Rosie’s ghost walks about the second floor.
I wish I’d known the story when my husband and I checked in. We were on the second floor and I’d have kept my eyes out for her!
Rosie would have provided an interesting memory, but the hotel didn’t need ghosts to grab my attention. I was focused on the beautiful stained glass ceiling, the sweeping stairs and a host of things that reminded me of a scene in Wyoming Lawman that takes place in a fictional Cheyenne hotel. I could picture my characters seated just as I described in the second chapter. Deputy Wiley and Pearl Oliver felt alive as we walked around the lobby. It was almost the same as seeing Rosie.
Over the years, many celebrities have stayed at the Plains. Hollywood has visited while making movies, and so have Presidents. Among the famous visitors were Presidents Truman, Nixon and Reagan, and actors Jimmy Stewart, Karl Malden and Ricardo Montalban. I can’t hear Ricardo Montalban’s name without thinking of Fantasy Island, and in a way that’s where I was . . . my own island of the past, though it wasn’t a historically pure experience. Instead of the gentle clop of horses on cobblestone streets, we heard car horns and ambulance sirens through the open window. And instead of reading by lamplight, we turned on the TV and munched on microwave popcorn.
We had a wonderful time. I hope to go back sometime!
Twenty five years ago when I first started writing, my goal was to become a successful author. I wanted to be able to quit my real estate job and write full time. Fortunately, with my husband still working, I was able to make that happen fairly quickly.
Still, when I finally sold my first book after months of trying and numerous rejections, I earned the whopping sum of four thousand dollars–not much money for a year and a half of working ten hours a day! But I never lost faith. I thought, “I can do this. I know I can.”
I think one of the toughest things about being an author is continuing to believe in yourself. Insecurities swamp you. Is this book any good? Is this book as good as the last one? Will my readers like it? Will the publisher renew my contract?
After twenty five years, those questions remain. It’s only sheer force of will that keeps a writer pounding the keyboard, sheer determination that keeps an author from quitting.
So when I hit the New York Times printed list(as opposed to the extended list, which I had been on a number of times), it was the kind of validation that keeps a writer going.
Someone must like these books, I thought, Ohmygod, it’s really selling! It was a thrill to get that phone call–a notification that usually comes late on a Wednesday night. That Wednesday, I didn’t get any call so I figured any chance I had was past.
Then early Thursday morning, my agent phoned. “AGAINST THE FIRE made the list! You’re on the New York Times!”
It’s a real moment for an author, the thrill of a lifetime. I had made the Times list last year for RULES BRIDE, one of my Victorian Historicals, but this was different.
In Dev and Lark’s story, AGAINST THE LAW, three of Dev’s friends show up to help him rescue Lark’s missing four-year-old niece. Trace, Johnnie, and Jake were such amazing guys I knew I had to tell their stories.
Fortunately, Mira agreed, and in November, AGAINST THE STORM, Trace Rawlin’s story, is scheduled to hit the bookshelves.
I’m hoping by the time readers finish the Raines Brothers Trilogy, they’ll be wanting more of the yummy AGAINST men and their sexy ladies, and that they’ll be watching for AGAINST THE STORM.
For any of you who have been following my posts about the true story of Pocahontas — a true American heroine — this is the last in a series of three. For anyone who has not been following the story, or who want to go back and read through the earlier posts so that this make more sense, here are the links:
Please note: I will be away from home on the day this posts and I won’t even be close to a computer. It will be days before I’m able to look at your posts, but I will do so as soon as I’m able.
As we have already learned, Pocahontas was too young to have a romance with John Smith. We also learned that John Smith was adopted into Powhatan society. In my last post I showed that she was abducted by the English and forced to live with them. According to Pocahontas — who confided this to her sister — she was raped and was pregnant. It is believed, however, that she was not married to the man who did this to her…Thomas. Instead she was married to a man who could prove to be useful to the Colony if he could obtain secrets from the Powhatan people to turn those secrets to profit. Note again, her son’s name was Thomas, not John. Here below is the final installment of this story.
“According to …sacred oral history, the Native people of the New World possessed the knowledge of how to cuure and process tobacco successfully. The Spanish gained this knowledge from the Native communities they had subdued.” THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS. Eventually, because of Rolfe’s marriage to Pocahontas, the prists of the tribe gave him their secret in how to cure tobacco. The result was that Rolfe’s tobacco — grown on Powhatan land and cultivated by the Powhatan priests — put the Spanish taste and flavor to shame. At last! He was a success. The Colony was a success! Suddenly refinancing the Virgina Company became a reality and the financial worries were finally over. However, oral history also points out that the efforts of the Powhatan priests had the opposite effect of what they had hoped. Instead of the English embracing the Powhatan people as brothers, it appeared that the new success unleashed an extraordinary rash of greed. Tobacco became the gold of the New World. More Powhatan lands were trespassed, more killing ensued. More of the American Indian people became enslaved by the newly “successful” newcomers.
But back in the Colony, it was time to go back to England. The infamous Captain Samuel Argall (who had abducted and kidnapped Pocahontas) captained the ship that was to take Rolfe, Pocahontas, their son and members of the Powhatan tribe to England. The reasons for the trip were many: finances were needed to refinance Jamestown, merchants needed to talk to the colonists, but perhaps the most important reason for going was that public approval was needed in order to secure the colony. Pocahontas provided a means to “show” the English people that the people of Jamestown and the natives were on friendly terms. Pocahontas’s sister, Mattachanna and her husband accompanied Pocahontas to England, as did several other Powhatan people. It appeared that with so many of her own couuntrymen surrounding her that there would be safety in numbers. Wisemen, however, advised Wahunsenaca not to let his daughter go, saying that she would never return. But how could he stop it? He considered a rescue too risky. In the end, Pocahontas went to England.
It was in England that Pocahontas’s eyes were opened to the truth. Up to that time Pocahontas was being used as a pawn might be used in a game of chess. But Pocahontas was far from being a chess piece. She was a flesh and blood heroine. Anyway, it was here that she met John Smith again and learned that he was not dead. Moreover she discovered that he had utterly betrayed her father and her people because he had taken a solemn oath to her people to represent them to the English and that he would bring the English under the power of the Powhatan. She learned he had never intended to honor his word, that he had used her father and her people to simply get what he wanted. Pocahontas was outraged and she vented her rage toward Smith at their meeting. Understand, she was not angry because of any lost love or any young girl crush on the man. Rather she had been alerted to the truth: that this mad-man had betrayed her father and her people. It is known that with horror, Pocahontas learned what John Smith’s true intentions had been toward her people — had always been: to take their lives, their lands and everything they held dear. Pocahontas longed to go home and inform her father of all she had learned. She intended to do exactly that. Unfortunately, she let that be known to the wrong people.
The whole party set sail back to England in the spring of 1617 with Samuel Argall again as the captain of the ship. That evening Pocahontas, Rolfe and Argall dined in the captain’s chamber. “Pocahontas quickly became ill. She returned to her quarter by herself, sick to her stomach, and vomited. She told Mattachanna that the English must have put something in her food. Mattachana and Uttamattamakin tried to care for Pocahontas in her sudden illness. As Pocahontas began to convulse, Mattachanna went to get Rolfe. When they returned, Pocahontas had died.” — THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS. They hadn’t even attained open sea yet. They were still in the river. Rolfe immediately asked to be taken to Gravesend, where he buried Pocahontas and left Thomas there for his English relatives to take. Rolfe never saw him again.
Upon returning to the New World, Mattachanna and her husband, the high priest, Uttamattamakin, reported to Chief Powhatan Wahunsenaca the events in England, including the murder of his daughter. It is from this account that the oral history has been passed down from generation to generation. But who killed her and why? Again, from the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, “Rolfe and the Virginia Company associates ascertained that Pocahontas knew that Smith had lied to her father and that some English businessmen were behind a scheme to remove her father from his throne and take the land from the Powhatan people. This justified the decision by the English colonists not to take Pocahontas back to her homeland…Certain people believed that Pocahontas would endanger the English settlement, especially because she had new insights into the political strategy of the English colonists to break down the Powhatan structure, so they plotted to murder her.”
Again, from the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, “…Dale, Rolfe, and Whitaker had close ties to each other. All three had major roles in what happened in Pocahontas’s life after she was abducted. Dale eventually took custody of Pocahontas after Argall took her to Jamestown. Whitaker maintained Pocahontas’s house arrest and surveillance. All three sought to convert Pocahontas to Christianity. Rolfe married Pocahontas. Dale provided a large tract of land for Rolfe to grow tobacco. A Dale-Rolfe-Whitaker trio comprising agreements and pacts is not out of the realm of possibility, but … sacred oral history does not reveal who or how many persons were behind her murder. We believe it is most likely that more than one person was involved.”
So ends my story of the abduction and murder of a true heroine. A heroine because she tried to unite two different peoples. A heroine because she endured much in an effort to help her people. She did it with little complaint, though it goes without saying that she yearned for the company of her own people, her own little son and the husband of her heart, Kocoum.
It’s not exactly the Disney or fairytale story that we’ve all been spoon-fed I’m afraid. But it’s an honest view. It shows the courage and persistence of a young woman who did all she could to help her father and her people. And to this end, she is a true American heroine.
I believe that the purpose of history is to show what causes created what effects. In an honest report of history, once can easily see what effects were created and thus use history as a real education. As they say “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Of course one has to presuppose that your history is being told truthfully, and not rewritten versions of an event that will further along some small vested interest. So what can we learn from this true story of a brave heroine?
I’ll give you my thoughts on the subject, and perhaps you can give me yours. The mistakes that I see that Wahunsenaca (Pocahontas’s father) made were: 1) He didn’t get to know the Englishman’s views of ethics (or lack thereof), supposing instead that all peoples valued the same thing; 2) He sought to placate evil instead of confronting it and eradicating it when he had a chance of winning against it; and 3) One cannot easily placate greed and evil. It seems to feed on itself. To me such greed is vampire-like — one can never do enough. It’s as though your good deeds disappear into a vacuum — a “ho-hum — what else can you do for me,” attitude. The arrogance and snobbery of the criminally insane is beyond belief. And as far as Pocahontas, herself, I’d say that one could learn that one shouldn’t say too much to those who have raped you.
Well, there you have it. What do you think? It’s doubtful Hollywood would make a movie of this story, though I wish that they would. But this is the story that has been passed down from generation to generation amongst the Powhatan people and their various tribes, specifically the Mattaponi. For further information, I would highly recommend the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS by Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Custalow and Angela L. Daniel “Silver Star.” Read it for yourself and come to your own conclusions. It is a story or oral tradition. It is not a made-up story.
So come on in and let me know your thoughts. Is there anything you can think of that can be learned from this “history lesson”? Because I’ll be away from home, it might take me a while to read all your comments, but believe me I will as soon as I’m able. And don’t forget to purchase your copy of SENECA SURRENDER today.