THE BALLAD OF THE ALAMO–LEARNING HISTORY THROUGH SONGS #2 BY CHERYL PIERSON

Hi everyone! In the first post of this series (The Battle of New Orleans—Learning History Through Songs #1) I mentioned that these ballad-type tunes were popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s, with Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton being two of the best-known singers of this type of songs.

The Battle of New Orleans was penned by an Arkansas school principal, Jimmy Driftwood, who wrote it in the hopes of making learning more fun for his students.

But what about The Ballad of the Alamo?

This theme was written by Ukrainian-born composer Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin (May 10, 1894 – November 11, 1979). He was a Hollywood film score composer and conductor. According to “Lyrics”, he is considered “one of the giants of Hollywood movie music.” Though he was musically trained in Russia, he is best known for his westerns, a genre “where his expansive, muscular style had its greatest impact.” Tiomkin received 22 Academy Award nominations and won four Oscars, also according to “Lyrics”.

Dimitri Tiomkin

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38069784

I can see why! He also wrote The Green Leaves of Summer (also from the John Wayne BATJAC production of THE ALAMO, as well as the theme for the movie Do Not Forsake Me from the movie HIGH NOON, and among other favorites, the theme song for Rawhide!

Tiomkin had a way of putting sweeping musical scores together with some “killer” lyrics—and with Marty Robbins recording The Ballad of the Alamo, it was a sure-fire winner! Though this song has been covered by other artists, and inspired other songs about the Alamo as well, the original Marty Robbins version is incomparable. Recorded in 1960, it became a “crossover” hit, spending 13 weeks on the pop charts and ranked high at #34, at one point.

THE BALLAD OF THE ALAMO–Marty Robbins

Imagine, telling the entire story of the Alamo in one story-song. With its haunting melody combined with unforgettable lyrics, this piece stands tall among these songs that teach history through music.

“In the southern part of Texas/Near the town of San Antone/ There’s a fortress all in ruins that the weeds have overgrown…”

The words go on to describe what’s left of the battle scene briefly and the men who were there, as they “…answer to that roll call in the sky.”

Switching gears to what actually happened, the next verse takes us to the action:  “Back in 1836/Houston said to Travis/Get some volunteers and go/Fortify the Alamo…”

The story is told in full—how Santa Anna called for surrender and Travis “answered with a shell—and a rousin’ Rebel yell.” Santa Anna issues his decree: “ ‘Play Degüello,’ he roared/ I will show them no quarter/Every one will be put to the sword!”

I still get chills at this line: “One hundred and eighty-five/Holdin’ back five thousand…” The days are counted off to mark time quickly, and then the sad fact that the “…troops that were comin’/ Never came, never came, never came…”

FALL OF THE ALAMO by Robert J. Onderdonk

By Robert Jenkins Onderdonk – 1. transferred from en.wikipedia, original is at the Texas State Archives2. A Glimpse of History in Modern San Antonio., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7843901

Of course, we know how the story ends. But Tiomkin brings the lyrics full circle when he starts the final verse with the same lines as the first verse, then diverges and lets us see what the cowboy sees, as if we are there with him.

In the southern part of Texas

Near the town of San Antone

Like a statue on a pinto

Rides a cowboy all alone,

And he sees the cattle grazing where a century before

Santa Anna’s guns were blazin’ and the cannons used to roar

And his eyes turn sorta misty,

And his heart begins to glow,

And he takes his hat off slowly…

 

To the men of Alamo.

To the thirteen days of glory

At the siege of Alamo…

 

Here’s the YOUTUBE link if you would like to hear this wonderful retelling of this battle. I can’t even imagine having to perform this in a concert setting as I’m sure Marty Robbins had to do quite often. It’s very difficult to sing, though the logical progression of events make the words easy to remember.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyu3OIn5A00

http://<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/Eyu3OIn5A00″ title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Here’s a favorite memory. When my son was in elementary school in fourth grade, his teacher called me one night to tell me that when they’d started talking about the battle of the Alamo in class in history, Casey seemed to already know all about it. She said, “Well, what do you know about it, Casey?” Having heard this song about a million and one times in the car, he said, “Back in 1836, Houston said to Travis…Get some volunteers and go fortify the Alamo!” After some questioning, she was amazed that he remembered so much, and it sure brought a smile to my face.

Have you ever been to the Alamo? We went one year, and it’s one of the most moving places I’ve ever been. You can definitely feel the presence of those men who fought and died there.

THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS–LEARNING HISTORY THROUGH SONGS #1 by Cheryl Pierson

When I was growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, “story songs” were very popular. Even though radio stations had their “3-minute limit” for song length back then, there were some exceptions. And many of these songs were amazingly concise, able to tell the story, and also evoke emotion from the listener. It didn’t hurt to have a catchy melody to keep us all tuned in, or to be certain we’d run out and buy a 45 single record to have for our very own!

Many of these ballads were connected to movies—whether the theme or other music that was used in conjunction with a movie release.

Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton were two of the most prolific balladeers of those times, and two of my favorite singers. I’m not sure in this case what came first—the “chicken or the egg”—because I was just a tyke when many of these songs gained popularity, so of course, I loved those singers and the songs, as well.

One of the most popular songs of this type was The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton. If you’ve ever tried to sing along, you will know this is NOT the easiest song to perform!

The importance of the Battle of New Orleans (January 8, 1815) was not in the outcome of the War of 1812, but in the morale of the American forces as they were able to push back the British and keep them from gaining control of a major American port. This song contains the “high points” and is fun to sing (or TRY to sing!)—and easier to remember than memorizing names and dates from a history book. It was the battle the propelled Major General Andrew Jackson to national fame, and the last major battle of the war of 1812.

The song was written by Jimmy Driftwood, and received the Grammy for Best Song of the Year (1959) and Best C&W Song. Who was Jimmy Driftwood, you ask? According to Wikipedia, here’s the scoop on the melody and the lyrics, and a school principal who wanted to make learning history more interesting:

The melody is based on a well-known American fiddle tune “The 8th of January,” which was the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Jimmy Driftwood, a school principal in Arkansas with a passion for history, set an account of the battle to this music in an attempt to get students interested in learning history. It seemed to work, and Driftwood became well known in the region for his historical songs. He was “discovered” in the late 1950s by Don Warden, and eventually was given a recording contract by RCA, for whom he recorded 12 songs in 1958, including “The Battle of New Orleans.”

The Battle of New Orleans has been covered by many other artists, including Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, but none achieved the level of success that Johnny Horton’s version did. With a rasp in his voice, a twinkle in his eye, and his enthusiasm for the song, it’s easy to understand why The Battle of New Orleans skyrocketed, where it spent six weeks at number one on the popular charts, and ten weeks at the top spot on the country charts!

“The Battle Of New Orleans”

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

We looked down the river and we seen the British come
And there must have been a hunnerd of ’em beatin on the drum
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales ‘n’ didn’t say a thing

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Old Hickory said we could take ’em by surprise
If we didn’t fire our muskets till we looked ’em in the eye
We held our fire ’till we seed their faces well
Then we opened up the squirrel guns and really gave em
Well we

Fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

We fired our cannon till the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round
We filled his head with cannonballs and powered his behind
And when we touched the powder off the gator lost his mind

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4
Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4
Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4

This song is included (of course!) in the 1960 album by Johnny Horton called Johnny Horton Makes History, containing all his other story-songs about different actual historical events and those that “might have been”—a wonderful collection.

Here’s a video of Johnny Horton performing his chart-topping song, and having a little fun with it. Do you remember this song? Does anyone love these story-songs like I do?

https://youtu.be/mjXM6x_0KZk

LOVE LETTERS AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES by CHERYL PIERSON

Ah, those wonderful love letters! Don’t we love reading them? I must admit I have an affinity for love letters because of the insights they give us into the past, and the people who lived then.

With Valentine’s Day just passed, and my 42nd wedding anniversary just celebrated on the 10th, love letters are something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Probably because of the time of year, but also because, as authors, we have to use letters and notes in our writing to “get the message” across that perhaps our characters might not be able to speak aloud.

 

My hubby is, like many men, not sentimental. He wouldn’t care if I never got him another Valentine’s Day or anniversary card, but they mean a lot to me—so we exchange them every year. (I do have to add that there might be hope, because he sent me a dozen red roses and a box of candy–along with a very sentimental note–for our anniversary!) I suspect that, through the years past right down to the present, most men didn’t and don’t make flowery love speeches from their hearts, or even write their innermost thoughts and feelings in cards and letters.

 

One of the most poignant love letters I know of is the famous letter written by Union Army Major Sullivan Ballou, just before the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 where he died at the age of 32. Married only 6 years, he left behind two small sons and his wife, Sarah. The letter he wrote to Sarah days before he was killed is one that speaks poignantly of his guilt at having to choose between his duty to country and duty to family. Ken Burns used a shortened version of the letter in his series, The Civil War—and its contents are unforgettable, and so powerful it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.

                                                                           SULLIVAN BALLOU

In part, it reads:

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

I had to come up with a love letter, of sorts, for my 2017 novel, Sabrina, part of the 4-book set entitled MAIL-ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. Oh, nothing to beautiful as this letter penned by a soldier marching to his inevitable death, but a letter that had to convince Sabrina to leave her wealthy lifestyle in Philadelphia and come West to Indian Territory!

Sabrina and her three older sisters (Lola, written by Celia Yeary; Belle, written by Jacquie Rogers; Lizzy, written by Livia J. Washburn; and Sabrina, my character) have to have mail-order arrangements in order to get out of the fix they’re in with a step-father who plans to sell them to the highest bidder—and they don’t have much time to do it. When Sabrina receives two proposals on the same day, she counts her lucky stars that she’s able to compare the two letters and has a choice between the two men who have written her—something many women of the day did not have.

She’s safely with the man she’s chosen now, Cameron Fraser, but she’s remembering the day she received the letters and why she made the decision she did. Take a look:

She’d answered ads from both Cameron Fraser and David Mason. Ironically, she’d received offers from both men on the same day. That had been a blessing, as she was able to compare their responses immediately.

Mr. Mason had written one page, in sprawling wide script.

“I have need of a wife to help me raise my four children I was left with after my sainted Amelia passed on last year. Your help will be appreciated. And I will do right by you. I hope you are a willing worker and a good cook. Can you make good cornbread? That is a must in our home…”

She’d opened Mr. Mason’s letter first, and tucked it back into the envelope quickly. She’d hoped she’d managed to keep the revulsion from her face when her oldest sister, Lola, had come hurrying through the door. Lola was five years older, and Sabrina could never manage to keep a secret from her, no matter how she tried.

“Well?” Lola had asked, pinning Sabrina with “the look” that Sabrina dreaded.

“I haven’t read them,” Sabrina said defiantly.

“Bree. You know we have to get out of here—the sooner the better. We don’t have much time.”

Here’s the difference, and why she chose Cam. He wanted her for more than making cornbread!

Lola had turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. That’s how Sabrina knew her oldest sister was angry—or hurt. Maybe both.

She’d sighed, and begun to open the letter from Mr. Cameron Fraser. And before she’d read the entire first page of his two-page missive, she knew her decision was made.

 

Dear Miss Remington,

Thank you for your very kind response to the ad I placed for a bride. I felt out of place to do such a thing, but your answer made me glad I did so, after all.

I know that Indian Territory may seem uncivilized and wild to a well-bred lady such as yourself, who has grown up in the cultured, genteel society of the East, but I assure you, I will do everything in my power to welcome you. In no time at all, I hope you’ll come to think of the Territory as your home.

My family owns a fairly large cattle ranch in Indian Territory. I wanted to assure you that, although the ranch itself is somewhat isolated, we are close enough to Briartown to travel there frequently for supplies.

You will be safe here, Miss Remington, and cherished. You will be well-treated, and I promise you here and now, I will never raise a hand to you.

If it is your will, and I hope it will be, I am willing to be a good and loving father to any children we may have—and a good and loving husband to you.

The sky here is the bluest you’ve ever seen. The water is the freshest and coldest. And I hope you will come to love the open range as much as we Frasers do.

I await your arrival in Ft. Smith. I will meet you there, where we’ll be legally married in a civil ceremony before we travel together to the ranch. Enclosed, you will find a financial draft for your passage and travel expenses.

Sincerely,

Cameron James Fraser

 Something about the underlying feeling of the words Cam had written spoke to Sabrina. That he’d taken time to describe—even briefly—how he felt about his ranch made her know that he cared about her feelings—not just about what skills she might bring to the marriage table.

I see it, too, don’t you? He loves the land and his life, and wants her to share it with him. I wonder if women who were forced to take this route looked for these types of things—I know I would. And Sabrina is a bit of an adventurer, so going to Indian Territory would not hold her back. Adventure awaited!

Have you ever received a love letter that meant the world to you? I’ve had a few in my lifetime, and they’re tucked away in my desk and my heart! If you would like to share, we’d love to hear about your love letters—it’s that time of the year—love is in the air!

 

Here’s the blurb for MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS–buy link below!

Boxed set of four full-length mail order bride novels.

Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…

LIZZY: Livia J. Washburn
Elizabeth Remington’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to become a mail-order bride. With her cat, Fulton, Lizzy flees to Alaska—only to discover the man she’s to marry is not who she thought he was! Now, she must protect herself from the biggest danger of all—her own heart. Handsome Flint McKinnon has signed his soul away to her step-father, hasn’t he? He’s chased Lizzy across the continent, but can she believe him when he says he loves her?

BELLE: Jacquie Rogers
Belle Remington must marry someone before the dangerous Neville Fenster catches up with her. She hightails it out of Philadelphia to the wilds of Idaho Territory to become a bootmaker’s bride, but when she arrives in Oreana, she discovers her groom has been murdered! Now, handsome, inebriated rancher Cord Callahan insists on fulfilling the marriage contract himself. Belle is beautiful and smart as a whip. But she has a secret. When Fenster shows up, can Cord protect the woman he wants to love forever?

SABRINA: Cheryl Pierson
Impulsive Sabrina Remington, the youngest, weds a man she knows her family would disapprove of. Though Cameron Fraser’s family owns a ranch in lawless Indian Territory, he’s made his way in the world with a gun, living barely on the right side of the law. With everything on the line as Bloodworth and his henchmen close in, will Cam be able to protect Sabrina from the desperate man who means to kidnap her for his own wicked purposes?

LOLA: Celia Yeary
Sensible Lola Remington, the eldest of the four sisters, must be certain the others are on their way to safety before she can think of fleeing Philadelphia herself. With the help of a local bridal agency, Lola finds the perfect husband for herself—in the wild countryside of Texas. Jack Rains owns a ranch and he’s in need of a bride—and children, of course! But just when Lola starts to believe there might be a future for them, she discovers a hidden letter from another woman…Jack’s first wife.

Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. At only .99 for the Kindle edition, this is a STEAL!  Here’s the link!

http://tinyurl.com/y8cmb4m8

PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS WEBSITE: http://www.prairierosepublications.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cherokeegirl57

DID COWBOYS EAT CHICKEN FRIED STEAK? by Cheryl Pierson

Many years ago when my mother-in-law came to visit us in Oklahoma all the way from her native West Virginia, the thing she loved best about my home state was CHICKEN FRIED STEAK! Mom had never had it before, and it never dawned on me that someone might not have ever eaten that wonderful delicacy. When we took her out to eat, she asked “What’s the best thing on the menu?” I told her “Chicken Fried Steak.” We both ordered it. I don’t think she ordered anything else the entire time she stayed with us–around 10 days, after I had my first baby–whenever we went out to eat after she tasted Chicken Fried Steak. 
 
I wonder if cowboys ever ate this? I know they ate a lot of beans and so on, but gosh, I really think this had to come from the trail drives or ranches “back in the day”–it is WONDERFUL. It’s one of the foods that’s common, and that we are known for in this part of the USA.  In fact, it’s part of the official STATE MEAL OF OKLAHOMA, as of 1988! (WHO KNEW?) My mom never made it often, but maybe it was because she knew if she did, it would be all I’d ever want to eat
 
I found this great recipe online for Chicken Fried Steak BITES that looks wonderful–whether you’re entertaining or just want something different and good for yourself and family members. 
 
 
Chicken Fried Steak Bites 
 
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 25 minutes 
Cooking Level: Intermediate 
 
The secret to true “chicken fried steak” is frying beef in cooking oil that was previously used to fry chicken. If you use fresh oil, it is considered “country fried” with less authentic flavor. The same batter recipe and method we’ve given below can be used to fry up some chicken breasts for lunch before cooking for the party for improved pre-party satisfaction. 
 
Fried Steak:
 
Ingredients 
 
• 2 lb. cube steak, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces 
• 4 cups canola oil Batter 
• 1/2 cup milk 
• 1 egg 
• 2 cups all-purpose flour 
• 1-1/2 tablespoon seasoned salt 
• 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper 
 
Directions 
 
1. Prepare a paper towel-lined plate for finished steak pieces and set aside. 
2. Heat oil in a deep cast iron skillet over high heat until the temperature reaches 350F, then reduce to medium. Note: if not using a thermometer, test the temperature of the oil by sticking the end of a bamboo skewer into it. When the indicated temperature range is reached, the end of the bamboo will sizzle, then reduce heat to medium. 
3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg and milk for batter until well mixed. 
4. In a shallow dish such as a pie plate, combine the dry batter ingredients well. 
5. Dredge each piece of steak in flour mixture, dip into the egg mixture, the roll in flour mixture again to coat well. 
6. Shake off excess flour, then place into the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. 
7. Remove cooked pieces to plate and allow to rest for 2 minutes before serving. 
 
Gravy:
 
Ingredients
 
• 2 tablespoons bacon drippings 
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
• 3/4 teaspoon salt 
• 3/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper 
• 3-1/2 cups whole milk 
 
Directions
 
1. Melt bacon grease in an 8-inch iron skillet over medium heat. 
2. Brown the flour in the bacon grease along with the salt, and pepper, whisking constantly until golden in color, about 5-7 minutes. 
3. Gradually add 3 cups of milk a little at a time, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Add more milk as necessary to keep from becoming too thick. 
4. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve. 
 
Tip: Gravy can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight or frozen. Allow to defrost overnight in fridge before use, and heat slowly in the microwave stirring at 30-second intervals or over low heat on the stovetop. Add more milk as necessary to achieve desired consistency. 
 
 
I will definitely be making this, and it looked so great I just had to share. I’m thinking my cowboy ancestors must have had this delectable dish many times! 

A FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORY AND A GIVEAWAY–by CHERYL PIERSON

 

Hi everyone! I’m kicking off our week of Book Scootin’ Holiday Favorites with a giveaway and a great recipe to go along with my favorite holiday memory! Hope you enjoy hearing about how my cousin and I “run into some trouble” when we were kids, and why it’s my favorite holiday memory now. I’m giving away a copy of GAMBLING ON A COWBOY to a lucky commenter, and there is a wonderful recipe for Milky Way Cake coming up in this post as well, so please read on, and be sure to leave a comment!

When I was a little girl, I begged my parents for a sister—or even a BROTHER—just someone that I could have to play with. My sisters were 12 and 10 when I was born, so by the time I was in first grade, my oldest sister was off to college, and two years later, my middle sister followed. I had a lot of friends, but it wasn’t the same as having a little sister or brother—and that was what I wanted.

 

Mom was the eldest of eleven children in her family. I think she was really tired by the time I came along—she was 35 when I was born and had two older daughters entering new phases of their lives that were so different than mine. When I mentioned a younger sibling (which was very often!) she’d say, “You have a lot of cousins! You have a lot of friends! I just don’t know about a little brother or sister, Cheryl.”

This is my 12th birthday. I was surrounded by friends as we celebrated, ate, and just had a wonderful time. But I still wanted my own little brother or sister! Yep, there’s my cousin Julia sitting to my left!

I had to be content with my friends and cousins as the younger sibling never materialized. Even after I asked SANTA for one, I still didn’t get one, or a pony, either.

But Mom was right about my cousins and friends. I had many, many cousins that were about my age and always saw one another on the big holidays, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.

Here are just SOME of my cousins! I’m not in this picture, but my cousin Julia is–she’s front and center, 5th from the left-hand side. My middle sister, Karen, is 2nd from the left.

Those were the holidays when ALL my cousins and aunts and uncles gathered, and to me, that was almost as wonderful as getting up on Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought.

My favorite Christmas memory happened one Christmas Day when we’d all gathered at my grandparents’ house for Christmas dinner. We’d driven down there after getting up early to open gifts, packing the car, and excitedly getting on the road. I was beyond thrilled, because my cousin Julia was going to be there. With her belonging to a military family, they weren’t always able to make to these  gatherings, but this year, they would be there! And though we usually managed to spend a week at each other’s houses in the summer, that had been so long—especially for a 10-year-old lonely little girl!

Julia was a few months older than I, and we were always “partners in crime” when we were able to get together. When she happened to spot an entire package of Milky Way candy bars in the refrigerator and whispered to me “There are SIX of them!” I knew we had to get those candy bars and have them all to ourselves. But how? Julia had three younger siblings at the time, and of course, there were MANY other cousins  there. It had to just be the two of us, or we might be discovered.

We made our plan, got into the kitchen, and slipped that bag of Milky Ways out of the refrigerator and under Julia’s coat. Then, out we went through the backdoor. There were some marvelous woods behind Granny and Granddad’s house…if we could just get out there and get hidden before some of the younger kids tried to follow us! We ran—oh, how we ran in that cold air, so joyous to be together again, and even more thrilled to be doing something we just KNEW we’d get away with! No one had seen us take those candy bars, we were certain of it. We had also had the good fortune of getting out into the woods without hearing one of our mothers call to us, or even being saddled with younger cousins! How had we managed to do it all? The stars were aligned!

We found a good place to sit, and broke open that bag of candy bars. Let me tell you, no first bite of candy before or since had ever tasted so wonderful. Why? Because we’d gotten away with it! And we were sharing it together. We sat and giggled and caught up with “girl talk”, and we ate three candy bars each. By the time we got to Milky Way #3 for each of us, we were not nearly as enthusiastic about eating them as we’d been in the beginning, but what could we do? We couldn’t leave evidence. We couldn’t take them back. We couldn’t bear to just throw them away!

So we ate them. Then, we started back to Granny and Granddad’s house very slowly. Things were not so wonderful anymore. We both were feeling rather green around the gills, and…what if we HADN’T gotten away with it after all?

We had started to feel awfully guilty.

We knew each other well enough to know that was what was wrong with both of us, aside from the fact that we had eaten way too much chocolate and caramel.

When we came in the back door, we realized immediately that we’d been discovered. Our Aunt Joyce was livid. She’d brought those Milky Way bars to make her wonderful Milky Way Cake. Now, dessert was ruined for everyone because we had been so selfish. And back then, there was no way to replace them—nothing was open on Christmas Day.

Our Aunt Joyce during her years of service during WWII.

There was no need for punishment. We were suffering enough as it was, since everyone knew what we’d done. And you certainly did not want to disappoint Aunt Joyce—which we had done in spades. Oh, there were other desserts (not that we wanted anything to eat for a very long time, and certainly nothing sweet!) but no Milky Way Cake that year.

That night as we laid on a pallet on the floor, Julia said quietly, “Can you believe we ate SIX Milky Way bars? And we didn’t throw up?”

I still laugh when I think about that. It was quite an accomplishment! Though it wasn’t funny at the time, that’s become my favorite Christmas memory!

Here’s the recipe for that scrumptious Milky Way Cake that’s close to the one our Aunt Joyce WOULD have made that year if we hadn’t eaten her candy bars!   

 

MILKY WAY CAKE RECIPE (and above image of cake!) from CookItEasy.net

  • sugar – 2 c
  • eggs – 4 item
  • vanilla – 1 tsp
  • chopped nuts – 1 c
  • flour
  • stick margarine – 1 item
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips – 6 oz
  • evaporated milk – 1 c
  • soda – 1/2 tsp
  • sticks margarine – 2 item
  • buttermilk
  • marshmallow cream – 1 c
  • Milky Way candy bars – 8 item

How to make milky way cake:

Frosting:

2 1/2 c. sugar

1 c. evaporated milk

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. marshmallow cream

1 stick margarine

Dissolve soda in buttermilk.

Melt 1 stick margarine and all 8 candy bars in double boiler. Set aside.

Cream sugar, 1 stick margarine, and eggs. Beat well. Add alternately the flour and buttermilk with soda. Always begin and end with flour. Add vanilla, nuts, and candy bar mixture. In a tube pan, bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Frosting: Cook sugar, milk and margarine to soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips, vanilla and marshmallow cream. Stir well. Cool slightly and spread on cooled cake.

AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

I’m offering a giveaway today of the GAMBLING ON A COWBOY boxed set from Prairie Rose Publications, a collection of SIX book-length novels from Kaye Spencer, Agnes Alexander, Patti Sherry-Crews, Tracy Garrett, Becky Lower, and yours truly. Just share a comment about a favorite Christmas memory and I will enter you in the drawing! Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas holiday with lots of fun, laughter, and love–and be sure to join us here at P&P every day for more Boot-Scootin’ Favorites to come!

 

 

GET GAMBLING ON A COWBOY HERE!

https://tinyurl.com/swrgj4o

 

https://www.amazon.com/Gambling-Cowboy-Full-Length-Historical-Western-ebook/dp/B08MHTQTJV/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Gambling+on+a+Cowboy&qid=1608412374&sr=8-1&tag=pettpist-20

“SOMETHING THEY WANT…” BY CHERYL PIERSON — AND A GIVEAWAY!

Here’s something I learned recently that I sure could have used in Christmases past when my kids were younger! Searching for the perfect gifts, the ones that “everyone” would be getting, made for a stressful time—not the relaxed, easy-going holidays we always imagined in our minds. You know, the Norman Rockwell scenes we all believed our Christmas holidays should look like—but that was before Playstation, X-Box, iPad…the list goes on.

A couple of years ago, I read something that really opened my eyes and made me wish for this bit of wisdom much earlier in my life. A simple Christmas list like this would have surely made life easier and less stressful—what do you think?

 

“Something they want

Something they need;

Something to wear,

Something to read.”

Problem solved! FOUR GIFTS! No, I’m shaking my head. I know I couldn’t have limited it to four gifts—not “back then”, anyway. Now that my kids are 34 and 31, this is a lot easier to follow and keep to! “Toys” are more expensive—as is everything. Clothing, wants, needs – yes, even books!

Maybe that’s why we enjoy writing and reading historical western romance—those were simpler times and the expectations were not so great. My parents grew up during the Great Depression in the Dustbowl days of Oklahoma’s history. Their families were so poor—and, coming from the same small town, Mom and Dad knew each other—and everyone else in that area—from the time they were born.

Mom talked about how sparse the Christmases were, but how happy they managed to be, in spite of it all. I imagine, with her being the eldest of eleven kids, her Christmas was especially small. She mentioned that the girls got a doll and a pair of shoes. If times were “good”, they got ribbon candy and an orange in their stockings.

When I was growing up in the 60’s-70’s, Mom kept up that tradition of always getting me a doll. When I got too old for baby dolls, she switched to the Madame Alexander collectible dolls. By that time/age, I was on to other things—blacklights, posters, incense, record albums, and of course, bell bottom jeans and “smock tops” to wear! Did I mention crayons? There was nothing more wonderful than getting the HUGE box of crayons and new coloring books—I don’t think I ever outgrew those. I would still sit down today and take joy in coloring!

 

This is BABY FIRST STEP–I got her when I was about 9 or so–she really walked (with the help of 2 “C” batteries!) I named my Baby First Step “Christy” — which was the most beautiful name I’d ever heard and I wished so much my parents had named me that at the time! 

A woman with no home. A rancher with no heart.
Can holiday magic bring The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson together?

In my story, THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON, the heroine has fled her home in Georgia to get away from a distant family member. Filled with a sense of propriety, she scarcely knows what to ask for when the hero, rancher Devlin Campbell, asks her what she might like for Christmas. Even though they’ve made the hasty decision to marry to avoid the scandalous talk that might otherwise surround them, they don’t know one another very well yet—certainly not well enough for Julia to mention anything personal she might want or need—even though she has arrived in Indian Territory with not much more than the clothes on her back. What does she ask for? Take a look…

EXCERPT FROM THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON:

Something had changed. Julia felt it. His touch was more…possessive. The bitterness seemed to have disappeared, only to be replaced by lines of weariness, instead. What had happened in the short space of time since he’d left?

“Got anything left to make for breakfast?”

Before she could respond, he went on. “We’ll head for town here in a bit. Gotta take the prisoners in.”

“I have my list…it’s long.”

He laughed. “Good thing there are so many of us going. Still too treacherous for a wagon, but maybe we can pack what you need back on the horses.”

She brightened. “That will be wonderful, Dev. Thank you.” What a relief to hear him offer, with no complaint. She breathed deep, knowing this Christmas was going to be special for everyone. But it was especially important for the children.

“And…what would you like for Christmas, Julie?”

His voice was rich, low, and somehow, his question was reassuring. It had been so long since she’d thought of wanting anything for herself—even necessities—that she struggled to think of how she should respond.

“I—maybe some new pan grips for the kitchen—”

Dev stood looking at her in shock. “Pan grips—you mean pot holders?”

She nodded, and he laughed in disbelief. “Well, I tell you what, Miss Julia Jackson. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a man who buys his betrothed pan grips for Christmas.” He leveled a narrow look at her. “You better think of something other than…pan grips.” Shaking his head, he started for the door. “I’ll go gather eggs. At least, we’ll have those for breakfast if nothing else.” He grabbed his coat from the wall peg and shrugged into it. Just before he closed the door behind him, Julia heard him mutter, “Pan grips.”

Asking for any kind of personal gift would mean…reciprocating. And she had nothing to give him. If only he knew how she’d had to scrimp, even with the money he’d sent her—to get here! She had a blessed five dollars left, saved back in case she and Lauralee hadn’t been able to make it to the Flying C and had to stay in town.

How could she tell her soon-to-be husband that she needed—everything? She had bought one dress for herself and one for Lauralee. The first new dress Julia had had in over two years. And in those past two years, she’d embarrassingly filled out in certain places. And even grown taller. She was an excellent seamstress and had done all she could. The older dresses she possessed were tight, and shorter than was decent. But Julia supposed a man would take no notice of that. Dev would probably not realize that it wasn’t the fact that her clothing was woefully out of fashion, but that it was bordering indecency, that embarrassed her.

What were your childhood Christmases like? I miss those days! As soon as it was a “borderline” decent hour on Christmas morning, my best friend, Jane, who lived down the street, would call—or I would call her—and we’d excitedly talk about what we got and when we might get together to play. Those were simple joys—just sharing our new gifts with one another and enjoying each other’s company.

Here’s a picture of me with Jane playing in the sandbox one cool day when I was 7 and Jane was 8. Jane is gone now, but I will never forget the wonderful friend she was and the memories we made together.

Please leave a comment to be entered in my drawing for a digital copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON! If you can’t wait to see if you won, you can snap up your copy at Amazon—and it’s also available in paperback.

GET IT HERE!

http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Miss-Julia-Jackson-ebook/dp/B075SJX8SL/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512283314&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+and+Miss+Julia+Jackson&tag=pettpist-20

ALSO, The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson recently was included as part of a wonderful digital boxed set from Prairie Rose Publications, GAMBLING ON A COWBOY, now available for only .99! Other authors in the set include Kaye Spencer, Agnes Alexander, Patti Sherry-Crews, Tracy Garrett, and Becky Lower!  

 

AVAILABLE HERE:

https://smile.amazon.com/Gambling-Cowboy-Full-Length-Historical-Western-ebook/dp/B08MHTQTJV/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Gambling+on+a+Cowboy&qid=1607722476&sr=8-1%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

 

Thanks for stopping by today!

 

NEW BOXED SET RELEASE AND A GIVEAWAY by CHERYL PIERSON

Hi everyone!  I’m on “Cloud Nine” (as my mom used to say!) right now with the release of a brand new boxed set, GAMBLING ON A COWBOY, with six full-length WHR stories that includes my THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON! The best thing is, this entire set is only .99! 

It’s been a while since I’ve had a full-length story out and so I’m really happy to have this one from three years ago included with five other excellent authors, including one of our former fillies, Tracy Garrett, as well as Kaye Spencer, Agnes Alexander, Becky Lower, and Patti Sherry-Crews. 

The theme of this set is taking a chance, or gambling on something in life–and y’all know, that means it’s always something BIG that can cause a change for good or bad. Sometimes, there’s no choice but to take a chance and see what comes of it. 

What’s the biggest “life gamble” you’ve ever taken? How did it turn out–as you expected, or not? Mine was probably having to move to West Virginia from Oklahoma the summer just before my senior year in high school. I was not a happy camper–but look what came of it! I met my husband there in West Virginia–and that would never have happened if my dad hadn’t been transferred right then. So although it was a “forced” chance, it was one I made the best of, and learned from, and eventually enjoyed even thought I missed my Oklahoma home and friends. What’s the biggest gamble YOU ever took? I’ll be picking two lucky commenters today to WIN GAMBLING ON A COWBOY, but if you can’t wait to see if you won, I’m including the link at the bottom of this post.

MEANWHILE, here’s the deets about the stories in the collection!

 

What’s better than a love story? SIX love stories—all in one wonderful boxed set! GAMBLING ON A COWBOY is a fabulous collection of six full book-length tales of the most dangerous game of all—gambling on love! These exciting, romantic books are sure to capture your imagination as you are carried away to the old west. Handsome marshals, riverboat gamblers, gunslingers, and wealthy landowners meet their matches with the daring and unusual women they happen to fall in love with, and you won’t want to put this boxed set down until you’ve read the very last story!

Authors Kaye Spencer, Cheryl Pierson, Patti Sherry-Crews, Agnes Alexander, Tracy Garrett,  and Becky Lower spin six incredible novel-length love stories filled with danger, excitement, and romance that will keep you turning page after incredible page until the very end. Gamble on these handsome western heroes and their women for some excellent reading! GAMBLING ON A COWBOY is one sure bet!

 

Gambling With Love by Kaye Spencer—The ghosts of the past are no match for The Lady of the Cards when her future is at stake. With U.S. Deputy Marshal Nick Foster hot on her trail, Lainie Conrad can’t afford to lose when she’s GAMBLING WITH LOVE…

 

The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson by Cheryl Pierson—In the depths of rancher Dev Campbell’s boundless sorrow and anger, can he afford to take a chance on a new relationship as Christmas approaches? Can Julia convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…

 

Den of Thieves by Patti Sherry-Crews—Lucy House is still paying for the day she strayed away from decency. Now the handsome outlaw she ran away with has lost his appeal, and she longs to get away from this life. As the danger mounts, can the outlaw’s twin brother defy the odds and help Lucy escape this DEN OF THIEVES?

 

Drina’s Choice by Agnes Alexander—Drina Hamilton has no choice but to flee to Arizona to become the wife of rancher Aaron Wilcox. But as Drina and Aaron struggle to play the cards they’ve been dealt in this situation, they slowly become aware of a sinister plot to murder Aaron and force the sale of the huge ranch. Win or lose, the stakes belong to DRINA’S CHOICE…

 

Wild Texas Hearts by Tracy Garrett—Lizzie Sutter hasn’t a feminine thing about her, yet she calls to something deep inside loner Wolf Richards. Being a woman has always left Lizzie feeling lacking, until they take a gamble on one another—and Wolf shows her their WILD TEXAS HEARTS belong together…

 

Gambling on Forever by Becky Lower—Beautiful Elise Lafontaine stands at the biggest crossroads of her life—will she go her own way, fiercely independent and alone? Or will she wager everything on a riverboat gambler, James Garnett—the man who holds her heart—GAMBLING ON FOREVER?

AMAZON LINK: https://amzn.to/36tQkGi

I hope you enjoy!

REMEMBERING THE GOOD THINGS–BY CHERYL PIERSON

When my husband Gary and I were first married, he would laughingly call me “Pollyanna” –the girl who always saw the good in every situation. Through the years, I have to admit there have been times when that quality has failed me, when things were so bad I didn’t know what we were going to do. I know we’ve all had “those” times. But in general, I’m one of those people who does try to see the good in things.

I think I “learned” to do that from my mom. I thought a lot about this over the last few weeks—fall makes me remember and miss my parents more than any other time of the year. One night Gary and I were talking about the things our parents had taught us, and I told him one thing my mom taught me was to look on the bright side of things.

I imagine she had to do a lot of that, being the oldest of eleven children in the Dustbowl days of Oklahoma—which was also during The Great Depression. Growing up, I remember how she’d comment on things that meant nothing to me…at the time.

“Oh, Cheryl, I saw the first robin today! That means spring is on the way,” she’d say, with a smile. 

And? my young brain would ask. So, spring is on the way.

When spring came along, maybe she’d comment on how green the trees were, or how blue the sky was today—just look at those clouds!

Now that I’m older, I realize why these things were important and such a cause of joy to her.

Growing up dirt poor in a small house that had no insulation and very little heat, I’m sure that seeing the first robin was important because it meant those cold days and nights would soon be at an end and warm weather was soon to blow in.

The green of the trees meant there was enough rain to allow things to grow—something I know, as the oldest in such a large family, she was acutely aware of  since my grandfather was a hardscrabble farmer and had so many mouths to feed. What a relief, especially here in Oklahoma, that there had been plentiful rain and things were growing well!

 

The blue of the sky—can you imagine growing up in a time when you could look outside and see billowing gales of dust—and nothing else? Animals had to be put up in the barn, families had to be inside, and still, the houses were so poorly constructed there would be layers of dust on the windowsills once the dust storm had passed. So a blue sky was important—no dust, and those beautiful white clouds must have looked heavenly in her eyes.

 

Mama always found happiness in the small things—small in MY eyes.  A good meal she’d cooked for her family, getting the laundry done and put away for the week, finding a good sale on orange juice—yes, those were the days when people would look through the Sunday or Wednesday paper at the grocery store ads, make several stops to find the things at each store that were on sale, and several trips home to put the perishables away—a very different time.

It was not just the fact of the accomplishment itself, but what it meant to her from the things that had happened in her past. A good meal meant there was enough food to go around for everyone, served on a matching set of dishes. No one went to bed hungry. Laundry being done meant that everyone had clothes for a solid week—not one or two good dresses that had to be laundered over and over. Making the rounds of the different grocery stores and finding good “deals” meant she was able to provide some extras with what Dad made in the oilfield. She knew how hard he worked. She never took anything for granted.

So though I didn’t have the past that Mama had—mine was much easier in comparison—I think I learned that attitude through watching her. I’m sure there were times she wanted to just go into the bathroom and have a good cry, but instead, she looked for the good, and found it.

 

I think of her every time I see that first robin. What a gift that has been to me, in so many ways. Part of writing is thinking about our characters and WHY they act and react like they do. This realization about seeing the good in things has been a whole new area of enlightenment for me. I understand so many of my characters even more than I did when I wrote them—their reasoning, and their motivations.

 

Do you have an aspect to your personality that you inherited or learned from one of your parents or another family member? What is it? Do you think that these behavior patterns can be multi-generational? My mind is whirling! What do you think?

 

One of my fave pics of Mama and Daddy–taken April 9, 1991 on their 47th wedding anniversary.

A FAVORITE CAMPING TRIP by Cheryl Pierson

Growing up in Oklahoma, camping was not something we did as a family. My mom was not the “outdoorsy” type, and my dad worked in the oilfield, so his schedule was erratic. Many of my friends had been camping—but I had never gone. I didn’t count the times we went to our family reunion on Lake Texoma and rented a huge barracks-like building with men on one side, women on the other, and a massive kitchen and dining area in between. That was not “real” camping!

My camping debut finally came as an adult when I had my daughter’s Brownie troop dumped in my lap the day before we were all set to have our first meeting. The woman who had asked me to be a co-leader decided she was not up to being a leader, and told me if I didn’t take it over there were going to be 24 very disappointed little girls—including her own! I had never been a Girl Scout, never gone camping, never done any of the things that were “scouting” things—but what could I do?

Well…with a lot of misgivings, I agreed to be the leader if she would be the co-leader. Another mom also said she would be a co-leader. By the end of the first month, another mom stepped forward, Sherry, who knew “all things Girl Scout” and what a lifesaver she was!

One of our first Brownie meetings!

 

THE GIRL SCOUT LAW:

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

 

Here we are, having fun at Investiture–Jessica in the middle. Lots of great memories!

… Even though we were one tired Mommy and little brother!

 

I didn’t think I would like camping, but surprisingly, I did—we had so much fun. We went to a Girl Scout campground at Red Rock State Park in Oklahoma. There is a huge variety of things to do there, and the scenery is just beautiful. We had small cabins with cots, and brought all our own food in coolers.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: By taylorandayumi – OklahomaUploaded by Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23654296

The girls loved being outdoors in the crisp fall weather, and seeing such wonders as the changing colors of the tree leaves, learning about plants, the history of the park, and simple survival skills. We gathered firewood, and of course, we made S’mores that evening! We learned how to make “buddy burners” and cooked a meal on top of a metal coffee can!

Jessica taking her turn at sawing some firewood.

There are videos online that show different ways to make a “buddy burner” but ours was an empty tuna can with a coiled wick in it, under an inverted empty metal coffee can with a few holes punched in the side near the top to allow air to get to the tuna can that is burning. The top of the coffee can is like a stove burner—you can make two different kinds of breakfast on it: cook bacon first, so there’ll be drippings, and then you can make a) French toast, or b) scrambled eggs.

At Camp Red Rock–my Jessica, 3rd from left. We learned to always wear a cap–lots and lots of bugs!

I think we all ate more than we normally did because of the fresh air, and the novelty of being able to cook a meal on the buddy burners we had all made for ourselves!

But when we think of how our cowboy heroes had to camp “back in the day” without the amenities we had (a cooler, bacon in a package, eggs in a carton, and so on) it makes a person realize that camping out of necessity was not the fun, exciting time we had as a giggly group of elementary school girls and their leaders. It was the serious business of trying to survive.

We had a wonderful time—there was very little homesickness, as everyone was so busy all the time and the time flew by. Hubby and I don’t camp, but I was so grateful to have those times with my daughter, Jessica, and the girls in our Girl Scout troop! Thinking back on it, those were some of my favorite days.

Were you ever a Girl Scout? Whether you were a scout or not, do you have a favorite camping experience? Please share!

CHERYL’S WINNERS!

Thanks so much to everyone for stopping by today and commenting and sharing books and memories, especially! 

I drew two winners–ROSE ANN and SALLY!  So ladies, if you will please e-mail me at: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com I will see that you get your digital copy of this very fun boxed set from Prairie Rose Publications, MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS.