A Kinship with the Old West

J.Lence

Read all the way through this post for information on a giveaway

Hello, Julie Lence here.  I remember many childhood Sunday afternoons watching John Wayne battle outlaws and Indians on the television screen. Most often, his character lived on a sprawling ranch. Sometimes he doled out his own form of justice from the saddle or a jail cell. Confidant and with a swagger in his step, it’s because of him I have a deep love for anything western. But growing up in upstate New York didn’t provide a lot of opportunity to learn about the cowboy way of life. A friend of the family owned horses. His daughters rode in local parades and competed in rodeo-type events at local fairs, but that’s the closest I came to anything western. Then, several years later, the hubby was assigned to Cheyenne Mountain Air Station in Colorado and I found myself in 7th Heaven!

From Pikes Peak to mining for gold in Cripple Creek to ranches outfitted with cowboys, Colorado is not only rich in history, the state has some of the most breathtaking views. More importantly, Colorado has given me something else; plenty of stores and antique shops to browse. Until the hubby and I came west, I always had this restless feeling potbelliedstoveforP&Pblogwhen it came to decorating my home. Something was missing. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I had a nice painting of a cabin situated beneath the mountains. I had color schemes and knick-knacks, but something wasn’t quite right. The things I had didn’t define me, until I stepped foot in Old Colorado City and discovered exactly what I had been missing—everything to do with horses and the west.

It took several years of scouring and shopping, but today I have western prints, replicas of stagecoaches and covered wagons, pottery, blankets and porcelain horses. Sage grows wild in my back yard. Wagon wheels adorn the four corners and the greeting sign near my door is of a cowboy leading a packhorse through the desert. The only thing I lack and really want, and don’t know what the heck I would do with, is a real wagon to put in the yard. Every time I see one, I joke with the hubby to hitch it to the back of the truck and bring it home. Most likely, if he did, the squirrels would build a home for themselves in the bed. But hey, a girl can dream.

As I mentioned, Colorado houses many stores and quaint shops for me to find my next treasure. We also have several western themed museums. Some are state run and some privately run. One such ‘touristy’ museum isn’t too far from me. I like to visit when I can because this museum houses two of the things I hold dear from the old west.

 

potbelliedstoveontrainforP&PblogPotbellied Stoves— Benjamin Franklin is credited with inventing the pot belly stove. A cute appliance used to heat a room, the pot belly stove is made from cast iron and has a bulge in the middle, hence the name. The stove was mainly found in the mercantile or school house, and later on train cars. Some potbellies were equipped with a shelf to boil a pot of coffee or to cook a pot of stew. Franklin is also credited with inventing a large cast iron box that was set on top of the hearth and used for cooking. If I could, I’d fill the house with several of them. Not for the heat they provided, but to add to my collection of all things western.

Stagecoaches—The first of the Concord stagecoaches was built in 1827 by the Abbot ConcordstageforP&PblogDowning Company and weighed more than 2,000 pounds. The Concord had a reputation for being comfortable and sturdy. Each coach built was given a number by the Abbot Downing Company, and used leather strap braces beneath the coach instead of a spring suspension to create a swinging motion verses a jostling, up-and-down motion. At the front and back of the coach, leather boots held luggage and mail. The top of the stage also held luggage, and more than a dozen people if needed. The inside bore three seats of leather and could hold up to nine passengers. Those who sat on the middle seat had no back support and had to hold onto leather straps suspended from the ceiling. Curtains at the windows were also fashioned from leather and rolled up and down.

Both the potbellied stove and the stagecoach are featured in my work, Debra’s Bandit. Debra manages Revolving Point’s mercantile. She uses the potbellied stove daily to provide coffee and tea for her customers while they shop or spend a few extra minutes chatting with her. The stagecoach brings newcomers to the fire-stricken city weekly. One new arrival in particular has Gage running for cover every time he encounters the husband-hunting Jessie Kane. No way in hell is he going to end up with her noose around his neck.

 

Excerpt from Debra’s Bandit:

Debra's_BanditWith the icy sensations continuing to prick the back of his neck, Gage ushered Jessie across the thoroughfare and up the steps to the boardwalk.

“So this is Revolving Point,” she said, looking around at the empty lots lining both sides of the street. “It’s not much.”

“Had more businesses last year. Saloons. A couple of hotels. The fire burned them to the ground.” He assessed the street ahead of them. Deserted, except for Earl at the far end of town. He’d brought the stage to a halt in front of the livery and now climbed down from the driver’s box. “Folks like it this way. Quiet.”

“You don’t?” She arched a brow.

“Got a bed to sleep in and food to eat.” And Debra to fuss over me. His gut wrenched at that and he turned his attention to the plate glass window they passed—Miller’s. He peered over the swinging doors and saw the doves still sat at tables talking. He’d spent his first night in town with Trudy seeing to a need. Then he’d learned Debra was here and had ceased any further involvement with Miller’s girls.

Debra won’t be fussing over me much longer. A week at most. Then he wouldn’t see her again for a long time.

“Mayor Randall told me about the fire in the wire he sent me. You must be one of the people he mentioned who didn’t flee, who stayed behind to save your home and help rebuild.” Jessie’s comment intruded on his thoughts as they stepped off the boardwalk and crossed the intersection.

“Irishmen are doing most of the rebuilding.” He’d learned long ago never to reveal anything about himself to a stranger. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t pry into someone else’s affairs. Man or woman, he preferred to know about those who crossed his path. Especially when someone raised his suspicions as Jessie’s smile had outside the telegraph and mail. Even now, calculation still lingered in her eyes, and with no ring on her finger, he concluded she searched for a husband. “Where are you from?”

“Virginia.”

“You’re a long way from home.” Gage ushered her up the steps to the next boardwalk, the sound of voices and a fiddle playing wafting toward him from the eatery at the next intersection. “What do your folks think about you coming all this way by yourself?”

“They’re dead. There’s no one but me.” She looked up at him, her eyes soft. “I hope to rectify that with this job the mayor has given me. I want a home of my own. I couldn’t hold onto Pa’s farm. The work and taxes were too much. If I save the money I earn, I can hire those Irishmen you mentioned to build something for me here in town.”

And find someone else for your husband while they do

 

Debra’s Bandit is available in both print and e-book format.  You can order your very own copy from Amazon by clicking on the book cover image above.

Thank you, fillies, for having me as a guest on your blog today. It is always a pleasure to visit with you and your readers. As an added bonus for your readers visiting with me today, I am giving away three e-book copies of Debra’s Bandit.

Julie