So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen~Tanya Hanson

Okay, I know the good-bye is from The Sound of Music, one of my favorite movies, and definitely not a Western, but it so fits. It’s time to let all y’all know I’m riding off into the sunset.

I have decided to step back from the computer and help with family things. My mother-in-law and Hub’s younger sister are facing serious health problems, and I never know when I’m needed next.

But there’s family fun, too.

I child-care Her Royal Highness every Friday. Be still my heart.And I am a very loud cheerleader for my grandsons. My five-year old grand-angel is busy with T-ball.

My ten-year old grand-darling has flag football going on when he’s not helping me at the horse rescue.But this is so hard. I’ve had nine years in this wonderful corral. Oh, how giddy I was, getting invited to be a filly…You all saw my daughter’s wedding–now she has two little ones. You traveled with me on a city-slicker wagon train trip in Wyoming, and peeped at glowing aspen during a Colorado fall…watched me ride a horse on a Bandera TX ranch, and rode up and down a glacier with me in the Canadian Rockies, saw how Hawaii and its cowboys tie into the mainland West.

You’ve “visited” Parker Ranch on the Big Island with me, and suspected my crush on Doc Holliday…

I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting just about all of the fillies despite the miles between. And Charlene Sands (a founding filly who just left the corral last month) will always be my dearest friend, muse, mentor, and shining star. Kinda fitting, her and me heading down new trails together at just about the same time.

Here’s us shopping for our grandbabies at the last Romance Writers of America convention.
In closing, I must thank each and every one of you for your comments and support. I wish you all the greatest blessings our generous Lord can bestow. I’ll possibly be back as a guest in Winter 2018, touting a future Christmas story.

And today, I’m giving away three PDF copies of my latest, the HEARTS CROSSING RANCH anthology, containing all eight of the contemporary inspirational novellas about a Colorado ranching family and their city-slicker wagon trains. Oh, and of course their love stories and happy endings. The antho includes the never-before published finale, Cross Your Heart.

So don’t forget to leave a comment and check back tomorrow to see which three names get pulled from the Stetson. Please and thank you.

Vaya con Dios…see ya around the ranch!

 

Summer Brides~Tanya Hanson

For me, summer means weddings, especially June. Now, let’s climb my family tree:

Once upon a time, a handsome Illinois schoolmaster married a debutante from across the Mississippi River. Paper Japanese lanterns glowed. Years before, the bride’s grandpa had marched with General William Tecumseh Sherman. She is said to have weighed a whole 98 pounds full-term with child. Of their eight kids, (the oldest was presciently named Octavia!) one would become a preacherman.

About this same time, in the heartland, a Kansas farmer fell in love with a pretty, feisty neighbor from a nearby homestead. (I’m said to look like her.) He died from a ruptured appendix far too soon in their marriage, leaving behind a brood of their own kids and several adopted orphans.

Exactly one century ago, the farmer’s daughter married the preacherman, who had been assigned to the nearby country church after seminary. She gave up art school to marry.  Over the next decade, she gave him a half-dozen children.  After a time, the preacher took a congregation on the West Coast.  Mostly he needed sunshine and warm weather for his health.  His kids enjoyed the beach. All were excellent students.  His wife (my brilliant gramma and personal hero) brought the family through the Great Depression with class, grace, and without complaint.

During the Second World War, their oldest daughter, a schoolteacher too, married her sailor.  (She’d had a crush on him since high school. He signed her yearbook fairly lame: To a nice quiet girl, but admitted later on he’d been interested in her too.)   She longed to wear her mama’s wedding gown, but everything fell to shreds when unwrapped.  In her hair the bride wore the only surviving finery–a little bunch of silk flowers.

Forty three years ago this summer, their daughter, also a schoolteacher, married her fireman on a hot August afternoon.  (Strapless and sleeveless bridal gowns not acceptable then.)   The locket she wore came from her grandfather’s grandmother!  Two kids and four grandkids later, their love story is still going on.

Summertime blessings to you and yours!

 

My Last Trip to Hearts Crossing Ranch~Tanya Hanson

 

My eight-novella inspirational series is now compiled in one big anthology, at Pelican Book Group, including the never-published finale, Cross Your Heart. Each of the eight Martin siblings of Hearts Crossing Ranch in Mountain Cove Colorado, has a story of heartbreak and triumph, success or lost faith, sickness or health, and finds a western-style happily-ever after. (Even their widowed matriarch Elaine finds love again!)

My May post showed how a real-life wagon train trip inspired the entire series, but it was my husband’s 2008 cancer battle that led me down the inspirational road. (God be praised, he is now cured.)

Below is a nutshell synopsis about each of the stories.

  1. Hearts Crossing Ranch~ Losing her father to a drunk driver has shattered Christy Forrest’s faith and hope. Going solo on the city slicker wagon trip her dad had planned before his death gets her alongside a handsome wagon master. But the last thing she needs is a faith-filled cowboy…

Kenn Martin, himself jaded by a woman’s betrayal, realizes he could heal his heart with the lovely landscape architect—if Christy gives them the chance.

  1. Redeeming Daisy~ The ranch’s large-animal vet Pike Martin should steer clear from bad-girl Daisy Densmore, the woman who broke his brother Kenn’s heart, but something about her wounded soul can’t be ignored.

Broken and humiliated by bad decisions, Daisy has no choice but to fall back to Mountain Cove…and literally into Pike’s arms when he saves her from herself.

  1. Sanctuary~ Cancer survivor and ranch foreman Hooper Martin doesn’t dare fall in love again. The single dad has been through loss and a horrific physical struggle. But meeting Mallie Cameron at Kenn and Christy’s wedding lets him know love can bloom again

But Mallie is battling an incurable brain tumor and won’t get involved…

(My husband battled the same horrific cancer as Hooper’s, and Mallie is based on my daughter’s beloved sorority sister who left us in 2012 and tore out my heart. Even when you know it’s going to happen, nothing prepares you for when it does.)

  1. Right to Bragg~ Nanny and paralegal Tiffany Vickers has been disowned by her own family, and the guilt wants to drown her. Coming to work for attorney Rachel Martin is starting to give her a sense of family again.

Accountant and cowboy Bragg Martin, himself bearing guilt for faking tests during his star-athlete turn, knows in his heart that he and Tiffany could be a perfect couple in spite of everything. And then Daisy’s ex-husband puts the move on…

It’s Christmas, though, the time of hope and love.

  1. Soul Food~ Kelley Martin has no qualms about being a vegetarian in cattle country, but her failed restaurant brings her back home. She realizes the value of roots and family. Chuck cook on a Hearts Crossing wagon train gets her up close with geneticist Jason Easterday, a self-acclaimed vagabond. How can she get him to stick around?
  1. Angel Child~ Graphic artist and cowboy Scott Martin holds himself back from falling for his high school art teacher. Of course they’re adults now and it’s perfectly acceptable. But Mary Grace holds herself back. Not many men, not even a committed Christian like Scott, will accept her severely disabled little son…
  1. Seeing Daylight~ When her Army husband returns safely from his long deployment in the Middle East, attorney Rachel Martin knows they’ll make it. Until he dies in a foolish mishap. Meeting Brayton Metcalf doesn’t make life any better. He keeps secrets, too, and bears the burden of causing his wife’s death.
  1. The Finale, not available as a singleton: Cross Your Heart~ The youngest Martin, Chelsea has grown up, but nobody takes her seriously despite her college degree and travels abroad. Will her older siblings always consider her a baby? Or will they accept her commitment as an environmental scientist? Saving a wounded horse to prove her maturity is a start. Until she runs into her college love. Once a spoiled surfer with tons of money, Dutton Morse’s new heritage threatens to derail their reunion from the start: he’s an oil man…

I enjoyed writing my “ride” through the trails of Hearts Crossing Ranch and hope you do, too.

Wagon-training around the Tetons~Tanya Hanson

 

                                                            

A while back,  I and my hubby T.L., brother-in-law Timmy and sis Roberta (l-r in the pic above) had the experience of a lifetime, taking a wagon train around the Tetons with an amazing group, Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventures headed by wagonmaster Jeff Warburton out of Jackson, Wyoming. He’s a true cowboy and a gentleman and guested here in Wildflower Junction not long after we got back.

Anyway, this fantastic trip helped inspire my eight-novella series Hearts Crossing Ranch, about the lives and loves of eight siblings of a Colorado working ranch that also runs city slicker wagon trains. The entire series–including the never-before-published finale about the baby sister Chelsea–has been compiled in one big anthology, available next month, and available for pre-order.

 

Anyway….We spent four days circling the Tetons through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest bordering Yellowstone bear country. We didn’t see any bear– likely the thundering horses skeered ’em away.

We got our start in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

First stop on the bus taking us to the wagons were photo-ops of the Grand lady herself..followed by her neighbor Mount Moran reflected perfectly in a oxbow lake.

These scenes were practically perfection in itself..but all breath stopped when we reached The Wagons.

 There was nothing quite like chuck wagon cooking in the open mountain air.

Pulling our wagons were magnificent draft horses, Percherons and Belgians. They are named in teams, such as Lady and Tramp, Gun and Smoke, Sandy and Sage, Jack and Jill. The first name is always the horse on the left. These glorious beasts are capable of pulling up to 4,000 pounds as a team, and they love to work. In winter, they lead sleighs to the elk refuge outside Jackson.                                                              

While the wagons do have rubber tires and padded benches, the gravel roads are nothing like a modern freeway. Most times our route was called the “cowboy rollercoaster.”

Most of our hard-working, helpful cowpokes were college students working for the summer. I promise you they remembered everybody’s name from the get-go. No question was too dumb.

 

 

I think everybody’s favorite “crew member” was Buddy, probably the cutest dog ever. He accompanied every trail ride after following the draft horses from camp to camp…he romped in every stream and lake, caught mice, and totally stole everybody’s heart. Jeff says, Buddy’s pretty disgusted to become a backyard dog after the summertime.

Our tents were comfy—all sleeping essentials are provided–, and there was nothing so fine as a cup of Arbuckle’s to warm us up on a chilly evening.  After supper—cowboy potatoes, Indian frybread, and raspberry butter are among our favorites—we gathered around the campfire for Jeff’s tall tales, historical accounts of the Old West, legends, guitar strumming, cowboy poetry and songs, S’mores, and delicious Dutch oven desserts such as peach cobbler and cherry chocolate cake always served to the ladies first.

One of the nicest parts of the meals was Jeff leading us in a blessing first. Nobody had to join in…but seems like everybody did.

 

Days were full of Wyoming wildflowers, lakes and pine trees reaching for the clouds.   Nights after the camp quieted down were almost beyond description: the stars are endless, multi-layered, sparkling on forever and ever amen. What a sight.                                                   

But the most fun of all was riding horses!  Folks either rode, hiked, or wagonned it to the next camp each day.   My favorite mount was Copper. You can see her ears in the photo below–I’m astride and taking a pic of my hubby, ahead in the red ball cap.

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Our last day, the Pony Express rode through camp and brought us all mail.

Me and mine, well, we had the time of our life.

 

As Jeff said when we left, “There’s always be a campfire burnin’ for ya here in Wyomin.”

 

Yep. I’m feeling the warmth right now.

Sigh.

 

Can Horses Fly? How About Hearts?~Tanya Hanson and a Giveaway!

Eadweard Muybridge, born Edward Muggeridge in Kingston-upon-Thames, London, (April 30, 1820) became an American icon. How? By inventing the motion picture! When I first read about him years ago, I knew someday, somehow, he would be a character in one of my books—and he finally did, in my latest release, When Hearts Fly. (I’m giving an e-copy away today to one commenter, so please leave some words behind before you ride off.)

What made him stand out to me? Well, first of all, was the name change. I grew up with such an odd name myself, I would never have made it worse. But when he came to America in 1850, Edward Muggeridge spelled it Eadweard Muybridge because he believed the archaic spellings were truer to his Old English roots.

However, he took “Helois” as his professional name as a photographic artist in San Francisco where he earned a stellar reputation. In a traveling darkroom, he produced breathtaking landscapes of the West, most famously Yosemite and Alaska.

At thirty, Muybridge suffered a head injury in a stagecoach accident. Changes in his behavior and vision alarmed his friends. It is believed now the accident damaged his frontal cortex, an explanation for his increasingly eccentric behavior…

…which culminated in the cold-blooded, shot-through-the-heart murder of his wife Flora’s lover in 1874. He had become convinced her baby had been fathered by Major Harry Larkins. Although his lawyers used the stagecoach injury in an insanity defense, the jurors didn’t buy it. Nonetheless, they did acquit Muybridge on the grounds of justifiable homicide.

(His penchant for killing an adulterous male is a plot point in my novella, when my hero’s past behavior with Muybridge’s fictional niece is misconstrued.)

The early 1870’s saw the rise of Muybridge’s place in history. Railroad tycoon, former California governor, and soon-to-be-founder of a great University, Leland Stanford hired Eadweard to settle a bet.

A fiery controversy blazed at this time: was there ever a moment in a horse’s gait when all four hooves left the ground? Prevailing attitudes claimed NO—if horses were meant to fly God would have given them wings.

But Stanford believed differently and wanted Muybridge to capture the moment. However, the moment happened too fast for the human eye to see.

During some five years of experiments at Stanford’s farm in Palo Alto, California, Muybridge’s primitive results did show a horse “in flight” but the results did not survive. Finally, he and Stanford were ready to face the crowds. In June, 1878, at a racetrack at the farm, Muybridge set up 12 cameras with strings tripping the shutters  to capture the images against a screen. In front of enthusiastic spectators, a horse named Sallie Gardener proved four feet off the ground.

The achievement was featured in the October 1878 issue of Scientific American.

In 1883, Muybridge went to the University of Pennsylvania to continue his photographic studies of animals—and humans, some nude!—in motion. He had access to the veterinary college and the local zoo. And unclothed athletes as well.

His invention, the zoopraxiscope, showed images on a rotating glass plate projected against a screen. However, the images on the scope, about the size of a dinner plate, had to be drawn on. At that time, they were not his actual photographs. He toured the country and Europe giving demonstrations of “motion pictures.”

Muybridge’s techniques inspired Thomas Edison back then, and still inspire artists and film makers today. He died of cancer in 1904.

Are you a fan of motion pictures? What’s your favorite movie Western?

Blurb:

Innkeeper Cordy Meeker wants a cowboy all her own and to head to the mountains to find him. But she faces financial ruin thanks to her late gambler brother and a hopeless winter of no paying guests. With the bank threatening foreclosure, she needs help fast.

On his way to his family’s holdings in Colorado, British nobleman Hawk Shockley lands in Paradise, Nebraska on a whim, robbed and penniless. Concocting a money-making scheme with the beautiful Cordy is easy, and giving his heart easier, but a woman has gotten him into a pickle before. So…when Eadweard Muybridge threatens to come to town, will a last-minute wedding make things better? Or worse?

Excerpt:

Cordy tightened the shawl so she didn’t scream. But cry, never that. No man would ever make her cry again. Not even the foolish banker. Never. Not after Lambert Truefitt. In some way, she would outwit Mr. Pelikan and his ilk at the bank. True, she hadn’t had a guest for weeks. True, her Sunday chicken dinners were wildly popular. But also true, locals hurried home after church before it snowed again.

So bills had mounted. She and her horses had to eat. The mercantile allowed her to pay down her debt of nine dollars and twenty cents two bits at a time.

Clancy. She clenched her fists. A trudge to the cemetery would be muddy, but the urge to kick her brother’s headstone wouldn’t be stifled. Finally, anger outranked grief, relief, and guilt. On her way to the tiny vestibule where she kept her rubber boots, the little counter bell clanged. But she didn’t hurry. With her present luck, it would be Sheriff Pelton arresting her on behalf of her felonious brother, and she couldn’t afford bail. Finally she called out on the fourth ring.

“I’ll be right with you.” Then she tripped on a boot, stumbled, flailed.

And landed in the arms of a man just in time to break her fall. His warmth scented from the outdoors snuggled around her. Cordy managed to toss her arms around his neck. He held her panting form against his mighty chest.

Then her breath stopped. The sight of him heated her blood. Here he was, as if stepping out from a dream. Her Wild West cowboy, with his Stetson and scruffy cheeks and lake-blue eyes she wanted to drown in.

“Are you all right?” His voice rumbled from his chest to her ear. A drawl mixed with someplace else.

“Yes.” She saddened when he broke contact and set her down. He kept hold of her hand, and she practically fell in love on the spot. “I’m fine. Thank you.”

“I am Keaton Shockley.” He touched his brim and removed his Stetson. Weather and leather ruffled his rugged coffee-brown hair. “And I’d like to let a room. I must find C. Meeker, proprietor.”

Her heart flipped inside itself. Not only a paying customer, but a handsome one. Oh, and how magnificently that duster tightened around his shoulder muscles when he moved.

“You have found her. I’m Miss Cordelia Meeker. Welcome to my inn.” She held out her hand. Adding the Miss risked her appearing a stuffy spinster, but it was a surefire way to inform him she was unmarried. “But do call me Cordy.” There.

“Do call me Hawk.”

“Hawk?” Oh, so…cowboy!

She sparked to her toes when they touched. He raised the hand he held, slowly, then placed it against his warm lips. “Keaton supposedly means where hawks fly.”

 

 

Oh, the Scandalous Bicycle~Tanya Hanson

Howdy all. Several years ago, I had the time of my life at my publisher’s retreat at the Silver Spur Ranch in Bandera, Texas. It was here I met fellow author Stacey Coverstone. Despite living on opposite coasts, we have been in touch ever since, with our love of horses and grandkids. However, when I searched through my files for a picture of us in Bandera, I discovered that my photos ran mostly with the ranch’s “pet” Longhorns.

But I digress: a few months ago, Stacey invited me to be part of an anthology of romances based on the modes of transportation in the Wild West, and JOURNEY OF THE HEART was born. The multi-author collection released a few days ago, and I’m giving one PDF copy away, so don’t forget to leave a comment and check back tomorrow. Each of the stories takes you on a wonderful ride through the West! I picked the bicycle.

Anyway, next time you go for a bike ride, remind yourself of one more battle our foremothers fought for us. All over America in the 1890’s, bicycle sales boomed, bike trails were blazed, and “wheelmen clubs” sprouted up everywhere. (In fact, two brothers who owned a bike shop in Dayton Ohio started fiddling around with the technology for another project. Orville and Wilbur Wright)

But notice I wrote “wheelMEN.” Indeed, early bicycles were nearly impossible for women to ride, with pedals attached to front wheels as large as five feet in diameter.

But the “safety bicycles” of the late 1870’s bloomed with possibility. The two wheels were the same size,  and a chain drive connected the rear wheel with pedal power.

Of course “real” wheelmen snorted that the new design was for old men and women.

Well, little did they know.

The Safety bicycle helped women assert themselves. Because now, they could get out of the house and around town on their own, manage their own routes and travels. They didn’t need the expense of a horse, or the complication of a buggy. Bicycles became nicknamed “freedom machines” because a woman could leave her own neighborhood easily and all by herself. Oh, the humanity.

In 1896, Susan B. Anthony proclaimed that cycling had done more to emancipate woman than anything else, ever.

So…the scandals began. Not only was the status quo threatened with women broadening their horizons, but they also left their restrictive Victorian garb behind. For shame! Their elaborate clothing—tight corsets, long layers of petticoats and skirts not to mention the occasional hoop, high necks and tight sleeves impeded freedom and movement. So—gasp, “bifurcated” garments and bloomers (loose trousery things gathered at the ankle) burst forth.

But the threat to prim, proper Victorian appearance wasn’t scandal enough. Bicycle riding became virtually immoral. Not only were woman shedding their proscribed roles of dignified femininity, but also, bike riding—gasp—meant spreading the female legs to straddle a saddle (seat). Of course, stimulation and arousal had to be inevitable, men claimed, bringing about a woman’s complete depravity. She would far too easily be led into infidelity or prostitution. As for “maidens,” any peritoneal stimulation (blush) would be painful and cause debilitating “polypoid growths.”

The solution, prescribed by doctors: the “hygienic saddle” with no padding and plenty of open spaces, to prohibit the womanly zone making contact and thereby thwarting orgasm. Furthermore, tall upright handlebars were designed to reduce the angle of her sitting, for the same reason.

The howls of masculine protest didn’t stop there. Rough roads would also damage kidneys and livers, male doctors claimed. Without any doubt (or proof), damp weather and chilly temperatures would most certainly result in miserable and off-kilter menses.

Finally in 1895, the Mississippi Valley Medical Congress caved, and approved cycling as an excellent form of exercise for both genders. The hold-up now—the all-male delegation refused to approve bifurcated garments, although no medical reason could be found.

Hmmm.

All of this lent itself well to my rebellious heroine, Sarah, who had been nicknamed Sorry as a child. (Hence the title “Sorry.”) Raised by her dour minister-uncle and his obedient wife, Sarah has no choice but to search for freedom all her own. Taking on a temporary job in Truckee, California, as a bicycle-riding “messenger boy” for the telegraph office lands her into deep scandal. As well as the arms of our handsome hero Zaccheus, himself a reluctant preacher on a course he didn’t choose.

       How about you? What is the most scandalous thing you’ve ever done? Are you a bike rider? When did you get your first bike? Let me hear from you today.

Many thanks to Stacey and the other authors, Anne Carrole (our visitor last weekend), Melissa Lynne Blue, Debora Dennis, Karen J. Hasley, Linda LaRoque (whom I also met in Bandera) and Jacqui Nelson. We all hope you enjoy our romp through the West.

Here’s the excerpt when Sarah meets Zac.

Her breath came swift from hot lungs as her legs pedaled far and away. Sinews stretched, bones strengthened against the ruts in the road. She was flying, free as a bird. A woman on the loose wearing trousers and earning a respectable wage while doing it. Mercy, she was the luckiest woman alive. Bicycles weren’t nicknamed ‘freedom machines” for nothing!

Even with the looming threat of another Waldo Dellgood lecture, she laughed like a naughty child, Sierra wind on her teeth. Would her uncle even dare use words like virginity? So enraptured was she with freedom, with nature, with dreaming up polite ways to annoy her uncle that she didn’t notice the man in front of her on the road, walking his horse toward the trail to the Donners’ legendary camp. Until it was almost too late.

Oh, dear heavens! Her heart pounded, and nerves thrashed beneath her skin. Would they collide? With a squeal, she jammed her right hand lever to set the spoon brakes, skidded through a generous pile of gravel, screeched to a halt with barely three feet to spare before smacking into him.

Her eyes closed both in relief and mortification as she hopped off her bicycle and caught her breath. “I’m sorry,” she breathed into the wind around them, raised her eyes to his face. A very fine-looking face, truth be told.

“I’m Zac,” he said with a grin and touched the brim of his Stetson.

Confusion rumbled through her. “I meant I’m sorry for nearly colliding with you.”

His mouth opened to reveal a set of startlingly white teeth. For that matter, his face was startlingly handsome. Dark hair, a ruche of curls across his shoulders. Her breath hitched again, but she settled herself. Sarah Rittenhouse did not need a man and would not be turned by a fetching masculine visage.

He held out his hand, and because Mama, Aunt Min, and even the disagreeable Uncle Waldo had drilled good manners into her, she placed hers in it. And sparked to her toes.

His grin widened further. “And I meant that I know you’re Sorry. Sorry the Messenger Boy. I’ve heard of you.”

Anger pounded through her. “Boy? I’m a messenger girl. Woman, thank you very much. And an honorably employed one.” She ground her teeth, eyed him from top to toe and up again. Her heart pittered and she gulped, then flapped the notion away with angry hands at her split skirt. “And you’re a gossipmonger like all the rest. Simply because I’m a female on a bicycle. Which every woman should be allowed to ride free and clear. There is absolutely no threat to my, to my nethers. To think I regretted almost running you down. Good day to you, Zac!”

He gave her a slow smile.

Her breath hitched. When you see him, you’ll know.

No!

With a flounce, Sarah stepped aboard her bicycle, so atremble she nearly lost her balance, and headed to work a full thirty minutes early.

Game Day! ~ Tanya Hanson

Football enters our homestead every August with our family’s Fantasy League. My team Wild Thang usually ends the season in last place. Mostly I like the smack-talk. We culminate things with a big Chili Cook-off on Super Bowl Sunday, and following this post, you’ll find the recipe I am entering this year. In the meantime, here’s some fun football facts.

Early leather helmets were replaced by plastic ones in the 1950’s
This early helmet with its nose guard is kinda Hannibal Lechter-y.

Anyway, back to the game. Beginning in 1827, Harvard started holding the “Bloody Monday” mob game between freshmen and sophomores–a mash-up of soccer and rugby that kind of presaged modern football’s violent nature. While there were certainly competitions using balls among our country’s first nations, today’s American football got its start from Europe’s historic soccer and rugby games.

Early balls were round, reminiscent of rugby, leather and laces over inflated pig bladders. In 1875, the egg-shaped ball was introduced.

In November 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played the first recognizable football game, although the ball was round. By the 1880’s, Yale’s great rugby star Walter Camp morphed the game into what we know today as football. He developed the line of scrimmage and “downs” and helped legitimize interference—otherwise known as blocking and highly illegal in rugby. Teams had been limited to 20 players in 1873.

Walter Camp (1859-1925), the Father of American Football

Later college coaches such as Knute Rockne and Glen “Pop” Warner helped introduce the forward pass. Football’s popularity grew and grew, with fierce rivalries between colleges, and popular “bowl’” games developed. The “Big Game” between Stanford and University of California at Berkeley in 1892 has long been considered the West’s first big face-off.

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Upon the development of professional teams, paying players for their time and talents was considered unsportsmanlike. William “Pudge” Heffelfinger (1867-1954) became the first professional player in America in November 1892 by accepting $500 from a Pittsburgh ball club. In 1897, the Latrobe Athletic Association became the first pro team to complete an entire  competitive season.

Pudge Heffelfinger (1867-1954)

The 1932 National Football League playoff game was the first to introduce hashmarks and was played indoors due to Chicago’s grim weather that winter. In 1946–the same year Jackie Robinson made baseball history–two of his teammates from UCLA, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, became the first African American players in the NFL.

Woody Strode, Jackie Robinson, and Kenny Washington pictured together on the 1939 UCLA team. All three made sports history.
Early padding looks like gramma’s quilt.

The first Super Bowl took place in January 1967 and my hubs—just a kid—was in attendance! Now we’re getting ready for our big game day shindig. Not long ago he and I went to the football exhibition presented by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library~it was full of great info and lots of photo ops.

How about you? Any football lovers out there? Anybody ever enter a chili-cook-off?

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Here’s my easy-peasy chili recipe. I promise you it’s good.

Rancho Taco Crocko

2 pounds ground beef or turkey (I use turkey), cooked.

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 ½ cups water

1 can (15 oz) chili beans

1 can (15 oz) corn, or a bag of frozen corn

1 can (15 oz) jalapeno pinto beans. Best to drain these. You can use regular pintos but we like spice around here.

1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes

1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes—recommend a southwest version that includes green chilies or similar additives. Do not drain.

1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies

I envelope ranch dressing mix. This is the secret ingredient.

(I will be adding pickled jalapenos, too.

Dump into crockpot (mine is shaped like a football LOL), and mix well, cook on high for a while stirring occasionally, then set to warm. Serves about 8, makes about 2 quarts. Calories unknown.

 

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When it rains it pours….I have two books coming out later this month. Details next time.