CONVERSATION WITH AN OLD WEST AUTHOR

Cowboy To Cowboy:  Rick Miller, your background isn’t in the Old West and writing.

Miller:  That’s correct.  I’m an ex-law enforcement guy and attorney.  But I have a passion about the Old West.

C2C:  You went from high school into the military as a paratrooper.

Miller:  I was in the 82nd Airborne for three years.  After I got out of the military I went to college for two years and then joined the Dallas Police Department.  While a Dallas policeman I got my bachelor’s and master’s degree.  I left the Dallas Police Department to work for the state on the Organized Crime Council.  Later I was the chief of police for two different towns.  At the age of 40 I went to law school and became a lawyer.

C2C:  It’s interesting that at an age many men are settling down, you went back to school and became a lawyer.

Miller:  The reason I became a lawyer was that by then I was into the Old West big time.  I was researching my first book.

My idea was that I would open an office and people would show up with wheelbarrows of money for wills and deeds while I worked on my Old West stuff.  It didn’t work out like that.  For nine years it was the hardest I ever worked.  I had to work 24/7 just to get the bills paid.

C2C:  Then what did you do?

Miller:  I ran for County Attorney in 1992 and beat the incumbent.

C2C:  When did you get intrigued with the Old West?

Miller:  As a kid.  I can remember seeing in person Monte Hale and William Boyd.  I stood in line for Fess Parker, Davy Crockett.  Mom wouldn’t let me have a coonskin hat though.  When I was a cowboy was Monte Hale because he carried one gun.  I didn’t like carrying two guns.

When I got on the Dallas Police Department there was an effort to trace the history of that department.  As I looked at newspaper micro film I started seeing Bell Starr, Doc Holliday and the James boys being mentioned.  This led to my first book on a little known robbery by the James bunch.

C2C:  Had you wanted to write before this?

Miller:  I started out as a journalism major in college.

C2C:  What is your latest book about?

Miller:  It’s my second treatise on Bloody Bill Longley.  The book is published by University of North Texas Press.

C2C:  Bloody Bill Longley was quite a bad character.  As a lawyer, would you be able to defend him?

Miller:  He was his own worse enemy.  And it would have been very difficult.  He was jealous of John Wesley Harden, and while he was in jail, he began spinning these stories about how bad an outlaw he was.  This got him hanged. They picked a jury one day, tried him the second day and found him guilty the third day.  It was a short trial.

C2C:  What’s in the future for Rick Miller as far as writing is concerned?

Miller:  I’m half way through a manuscript on John B. Jones, the first commander of the Frontier Battalion of Texas Rangers.  And I would like to do a book on the early Dallas Police.  It’s an interesting story of how a small village police force evolves into a major city one.


THE BUCK JONES PULPS

Buck JonesThe Buck Jones pulp magazines were built upon the fabulous film career of Jones, which stretched over more than twenty years. The pulps however, were special in their own right providing some great Western tales, gorgeous covers and, because of the few published issues rank among the rarest of pulps. It all starts with the experience of seeing Buck on the big screen. Saturday was a day much anticipated. If I couldn’t round up a pal or two I would go by myself to see Buck Jones and his “Rough Riders” do their magic on the silver screen. The other two members of the Rough Riders trio were Col. Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton providing the obligatory comic relief. Over the two years 1941–1942 eight Rough Rider films were made and I saw every one. While these films were of the “B” variety, they had a magic for me that transcended this rating. The so-called “B” cowboy films were a constant part of my growing up in the Depression era and as a kid picked up on the values that were expressed in these films. Buck Jones was what is called today, a role model; a bigger-than-life man who was solid in both moral and social spheres. Jones was one of the first Hollywood Western stars to bring a three-dimensional story of the American Indian to film. He made his feature films for Monogram and a series of four serials made for Universal from 1933-1936 in which he was influential in portraying the Indian as something other than a cardboard character out of central casting. Between 1914 and 1942, Jones made 164 films; a considerable film record. I only knew Buck Jones as a cowboy hero of these serials and feature films. I knew that he had broken broncs as a boy and later fought in the Philippine Insurrection, but I knew Buck through his Rough Rider exploits and this was enough for me and so it was a surprise when I learned that one Charles Frederick Gebhard died in a fire in Boston. The Coconut Grove fire of November 28, 1942 killed 492 people and was the worst fire disaster in American history. Legend has it that Charles Gebhard got out of the building, but returned to that inferno to help others. Others say that he was trapped in the building as were most of the victims. I prefer to believe the former – that Gebhard did at the Coconut Grove what he did in those eight Range Rider Westerns – exhibit those values and that quality of character so characteristic of the good man that one can’t but admire and hope to emulate him. Charles Frederick Gebhard was, of course, Buck Jones; a great man fondly remembered to this day by a kid who still admires him. Buck Jones was one of only a handful of Western pulp writers who had their name as the magazine title. There were three issues of Buck Jones Western Stories: Fall 1938, Spring 1939 and Fall 1939.


READING THE OLD WEST
By

John Dinan

     Reading Old WestOver the period of 1933-1946 more than two thousand Western films and more than one-hundred and fifty Western pulp magazines were created to satisfy a seemingly bottomless public appetite for tales of the mythic West – the West of the imagination of a legion of writers, some few of whom knew something of the real West, most didn’t.  For this time, the Western became and remained America’s principle popular entertainment.
    I lived in Lynn, Massachusetts at the time.  This is about as far East as a person can get.  I remember kid games of cowboys and Indians (long before the Power Rangers there were the Texas Rangers).  I remember Buck Jones Big Little Books and Tom Mix radio dramas, eating my Ralston and shipping my thin dime and box top off to Checkerboard Square for one of those gorgeous Tom Mix premiums.  Things Western dominated out small lives even though no one in my gang had ever been west of Worchester, MA.  In the pre-war 1940s, I remember going to a rodeo in Boston Garden.  And I remember the Western pulps and the cowboy pitchas (as they were affectionally called).
One wonders how this genre achieved such widespread popularity.  Academics are quick to pontificate about the genre as the social equivalent of the Norse sage, or symbolic social Darwinism, or white-male expansionism.  Whatever one postulates as the reason, the genre’s popularity was the outstanding thing.
The action was slap leather, slam-bang:  “With a single whipping motion Steeve Reese drew his .38 and fired.”  And the action was always set against a vivid, Western backdrop:  “Pushing up the great valley, hemmed in by purple-red cliffs and grassed by irrigation, Reese took it all in.”

In the hands of a skilled writer, they mythic West never was victimized by the realities of Western geography or history.  Tom Curry wrote these words (Range Riders Western, Summer ’43: Colorado Blood) and several million others over a long career in the pulps, all of which were drawn from a formula:
    “The general theme must be that the hero, being young, handsome, strong, personable, and being endowed with great moral courage and character, as well as being on expert shot, fist-fighter, cowpuncher and rider, must, in willingly facing the most hazardous missions, track down, confront and defeat the villain in violent physical combat…And like all romantic adventure stories, these yarns must have a happy ending, as far as the hero is concerned, that is.”
     The Range Riders rode similar trails and told similar yarns as the Texas Rangers pulp and William Colt Macdonald’s Three Mesquiteers stories, all variations of the Gruber #7 Marshall Story.  While the three Range Riders adhered to the Western formula, they were variously described as “avengers” and cattle detectives; labels that ring familiar to the resumes of some real Western bad men.
       The lead Range Rider, Steve Reese’s background is uncomfortably similar to that of Tom Horn.  Horn was an ex-Pinkerton hired by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in their range fights with Wyoming sheep men.  It was understood by the WSGA that he was nothing but a hired assassin and Horn was eventually hung for killing a fourteen-year-old boy.
     Range Rider Reese was an ex-St. Louis police lieutenant hired as a field agent by the Cattlemen’s Protective Association.  In one encounter (Boot Hill Or Bust, Range Rider’s Western, Spring 1943), Reese is referred to as “the CPA regulator.”  Regulators were nothing more than vigilantes the likes of real-life Western bad man Clay Allison.
      Fortunately, Reese’s CPA was solidly on the side of law and order, and the Range Riders yarns proved to be satisfying cowboy fiction; fiction with enough variation in authorship to keep the series interesting.  Of the many who wrote for this series, my favorite is C. William Harrison.  Harrison had the ability to create a little apprehension in the reader’s mind as he did in the following scene where Steeve Reese has just passed through the swinging doors of a frontier bar:
       “The solitaire player had forgotten his cards and was watching Reese narrowly.  The man on the opposite side of the room was stirring out of his feigned sleep, but he didn’t pull his hands out from under the table.  A gun, drawn and ready, was resting in his lap, faintly outlined by the spill of gray light through the dusty window.”
       As we all know too well, while some artifacts remain, broadly-based Western pop culture has vanished into thin air.  It is a pleasure, however, to occasionally relive the golden days of pounding hoof beats and slap-leather gunplay by picking up one of these old magazines and transporting ones self back in time to the Old West if only for the time it takes to read one of these stories.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.


OUR “B” COWBOY HEROES

By
John Dinan

b-heroes-b b-heroes-a

They were designated as ‘B’ movies because they were movies that were produced on a low budget and would run as the second movie in the “double feature” of the day.  The day was one of many in the 1930s and ’40s when men the likes of Johnny Mac Brown and Tex Ritter rode the range every Saturday at the local movie house in a “B” cowboy double-header that would throw in a chapter serial, a few cartoons and other “selected short subjects” as they were called in their day.

The popularity of these cowboy films was universal aimed at the kid population and the pleasure would be doubled when a series of comic books featuring our Saturday cowboy heroes hit the newsstands.  You could catch a Ken Maynard-Bob Steele double header in the Afternoon and relax and enjoy a comic book with similar pleasure anytime your cowboy heart desired.

There were literally hundreds of cowboy heroes, villains, and sidekicks to enjoy at the theatre and dozens of the heroes had photographs on the cover of their comic books with plenty of cowboy action between the covers.  Men (and some women) like Monty Hale, Lash LaRue, Sunset Carson, Jimmy Wakely, Rex Allen, Dale Evans had their own comic adventures.  Mostly forgotten today except for those of us more mature people the memories remain.

There was Lash LaRue dressed all in black, snapping his fifteen-foot bullwhip at the bad guys and Tim Tyler who made over one-hundred of these westerns and would later play Captain Marvel and The Phantom on film.  Buck Jones would have a nationwide fan club of four million.  He would later die tragically in Boston’s Coconut Grove fire where, some say, after escaping the fire he ran back to save others.

There were the big three: Bill Boyd, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.  The singing cowboys included the likes of Jimmy Wakely, Tex Ritter, Monty Hale, Rex Allen and many others.  Tex Ritter was voted America’s Best Loved Cowboy in the 1940’s.  Ken Maynard was credited with being one, if not the best, trick riders, as well as being the first singing cowboy several years before Gene Autry came along.  Bill Boyd, as we know, assured his future by purchasing his sixty-six Hopalong Cassidy movies and selling them to that emerging phenomenon, TV.

And let’s not forget the sidekicks which included Gabby Hayes, Smiley Burnette, Al St. John, Dub Taylor, Andy Clyde and many others who played the comic relief job right out of vaudeville.

There was a common thread among many of these men.  They were veterans of World War I.  There was Col Tim McCoy, who would later become an Indian agent in Wyoming and who made a series of Rough Rider films with Buck Jones and Ray Hatton.  Wild Bill Elliot and Sunset Carson were accomplished rodeo performers.  Tim Holt participated in the last of the great Wyoming roundups and came out of World War I with the rank of Lt. Col.

Charlie Starett came to the cowboy film by way of Princeton where he starred in football and would later win our fan dedication as The Durango Kid.  His frequent sidekick was Smiley Burnette.  Many came to the cowboy film by way of cowhand ranch experience followed by rodeo riding, and the many traveling Wild West shows of the day.

As with all good things the end must come and for the cowboy heroes of the 1930s an ’40s the end was sudden and complete…with some exceptions.  The superhero of the day would survive and continues to survive.  We can be sure that there will be a Zorro or Lone Ranger in our grandson’s future.  But for the Tex Ritters, the Bob Steeles, the Rocky Lanes, they are gone and mostly forgotten, leaving only the trace evidence of their cowboy comic book history.

Part of the reason for the demise of the “B” cowboy film can be found in the movie Stagecoach.  John Wayne played The Ringo Kid and a first-rate supporting cast launched the cowboy movie out of its “B” ranking forever.  The so-called adult western had arrived, and television finished the job.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

 


WHAT EVERY COWBOY SHOULD KNOW

By
Richard W. O’Donnell

  Sure, you’re tall in the saddle, and can wrangle with the best of them. And you got a drawl. But can you speak the language of a true westerner? Can you talk like a real cowboy? Let’s see.
“Buckaroo”! Everybody knows that term. He’s a broncobuster. Some call him a “buckaroo “. “Chuck wagon”, “gringo”, “maverick”, “rustler” and “six gun” are all vintage western expressions that have became a part of our American way of life.
Let’s try a few more long time cowboy expressions, and see how many you recognize. “Cowpokes” and “cowpunchers” have used these terms for years.
What about “vamos”? Nowadays, you might say, “I’m outta here!” “Yucca Country” was the great Southwest. “Wild Willie west” was what they called a dude ranch.
“Cow” was anything that can be turned into beef. The “crowding pen” was where cattle branding took place. A “cutting horse” was a surefooted and smart pony. “Dancing devil” was a whirling dust column.
“Tin belly” was a spur that was not well made. “Top hand”, an all-around cowboy. “Stuff” was cattle. Despite what you may have heard, or assume, “rawhide” meant to tease somebody. Also, “to push a worker”.
“Scalawags” were horses you could not use when working with cows. “Hornswoggling” was wiggling done by a lassoed steer to evade the lasso. A “brand blotcher” was a cattle thief. A “dudine” is an Eastern woman who is “roughing it” out West. She is also known as a “dudette” and a “dudene”. These females from Boston and neighboring communities have other nicknames. You can also call one a “lady dude”, or a “lady tenderfoot”. Take your choice.
An “Idaho brainstorm” is a twister. “Oklahoma rain”, a sandstorm. “Charlie Taylor” is what they used when out of butter. It was made of grease and syrup.
In the old days, if somebody told you that you “Couldn’t drive nails in a snow bank”, it was an insult. It meant you did not know how to drive a herd of cattle, even though you were picking up pay for allegedly doing the job. “Dogy” was just about any critter of the range. Mostly, it meant a weak yearling calf, or a cow of indeterminate breed. Ballad singers loved to use “dogy” in their songs. “Doby” was a variation of “dogy”. Ballad singers also used it a lot.
“A “fanner” was a chap with a quick draw. Look out for him! “Easy on the trigger” had nothing to do with a quick draw. Rather, it meant a “cowpoke” was “quick to anger”, and likely to grab for his “six-shooter”. Steer clear of him too!
“Slapjacks” were pancakes. “Son-of-a-gun” was a dish made mostly of calf meat. “Sourdough” was a biscuit made of fermented dough. “Java” was one of several terms used for coffee. “Goozlum” was gravy. “Glue” was soup. “Praties” were potatoes. “Saddle blankets” were griddlecakes. And to “put on the morral” was to sit down and eat; if there was a chair handy. Otherwise, the ground would have to do.
“Jiggle” was a gait of about five miles an hour, which was average. “Jinglebob” was a mark of identification, usually a slash in the ear of a cow. “John B.” was a Stetson.
Let’s have a quiz. Here are ten examples of vintage cattle talk. See how many you recognize. The answers are below. Don’t peak.

1. Hondo
2. Arbuckle
3. Boneyard
4. Chuck-line rider
5. Come and get it!
6. Flannel mouth
7. Full of prunes
8. Waddy
9. Sunday horse
10. Stay in one’s tree

Last, but not least, how would you like to be “Between a rock and a hard place?” This old bit of Western slang now means there is a difficult decision to be made; a very difficult one. In the old days, it meant you had run out of money, and the mortgage was just about due on your cattle ranch.

COWBOY TERMS QUIZ ANSWERS

1. Metal loop that prevents rope from burning a hand.
2. A tenderfoot.
3. A tired old horse.
4. A cowboy who freeloads at various ranches.
5. Dinner call.
6. A cowboy who talks too much.
7. A frisky horse.
8. A long ago name for cowboys.
9. A horse with a gentle saddle gait.
10. To stay in the saddle come what may.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.


BURNIN’ DAYLIGHT – A FUN WILD WEST QUIZ
By
Margaret Melloy Guziak

1. Two women, Elizabeth “Libbie” Custer and Margaret “Maggie” Calhoun had special permission from General Philip Sheridan to ride with their officer husbands of the 7th Cavalry on routine missions. Who were the husbands of these two women?

2. What is the Utah town that is referred to as “Little Hollywood” and why? Where is it and do they celebrate their early film heritage?

3. In what Nevada city did John Wayne film his last movie? What was the name of the movie? Who was his lovely co-star? Who was the teenage actor in the movie?

ANSWERS:

1. Libbie Custer was married to George Armstrong Custer. Maggie Calhoun was General Custer’s younger sister. She was married to handsome 1st Lieut. James “Jimmi” Calhoun. Libbie and Maggie were sisters-in-law. Both men died along with many others at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory in June 1876. Other members of the Custer family who died were Capt. Thomas Custer and two young civilians assigned to the 7th Cavalry, Boston Custer, his brother, and Autie Reed, his nephew.

2. It is Kanab, Utah. It started in 1924, when “Deadwood Coach” with Tom Mix was filmed there. The three Parry brothers helped with the movie cowboys and crew. Recognizing the value of the local scenery, they took photographs of the area to Hollywood and lured studios to consider Kanab’s natural beauty for their sets. They built the Parry Lodge in 1931. It’s on the list of historical buildings and it is still a working hotel.

Over 300 movies and TV shows, including “Westward the Women”, “The Lone Ranger”, “Gunsmoke”, “The Apple Dumpling Gang”, “The Outlaw Josie Wales” and hundreds of other westerns were made in Kanab. Many film actors, including Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood and Dean Martin all stayed there. Some of the rooms in the Parry Lodge are named after the stars and their photographs are in the lobby.

3. The Duke made his last movie, “The Shootist” in Carson City, Nevada. His co-star, Lauren Bacall, played a widowed landlady and owner of the boarding house where he stayed. Ron Howard played her teenage son.

In later interviews done with Ron Howard about the movie, Ron praised John Wayne for helping him with the role. Jimmy Stewart, a close personal friend of the Duke played the town’s doctor informing the shootist that he “had the cancer”. Stewart was saddened because he knew that this was also true of John Wayne in real life.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

 


TWO MASKED RIDERS OF THE PULPS
By
John Dinan

Two Lone RangerTwo Zorro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lone Ranger needs no introduction being one of a handful of fictional pop culture characters with a guaranteed enduring quality (Superman and Tarzan being two others). While the Lone Ranger’s popularity was born of the radio show his run in the pulp magazines is less well known.
Experts agree that it was either January 30 or February 2, 1933 when WXYX in Detroit first broadcast the adventures of “The Masked Rider of the Plains.” Unlike the Tom Mix stories which were set in modern times, the Lone Ranger “led the fight for law and order in the early western United States” with stories to match those frontier times. While played by many, the voice of Brace Beemer was associated with the part until the 2956th and last live broadcast on September 3, 1954.
From this successful background, boy’s books, comic books, Sunday comic strips and Big Little Books spread the Lone Ranger’s popularity throughout the culture. Eventually there were TV shows, in 1937 and 1939, two fifteen-chapter serials and a few movies (Hi-Yo Silver – 1940, The Lone Ranger – 1956, The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold – 1958, and The Legend Of The Lone Ranger – 1981). Clayton Moore would become best associated with the character from 1949 on when he and Jay Silverheels played the principal characters on television. Moore tells this story in his autobiography: I Was That Masked Man.
The Lone Ranger would ride the pages of the pulp magazines over the eight issues published in 1937. No author was given credit, but it was assumed to be the writer of previous Lone Ranger novels – Fran Striker. These stories featured a no-nonsense, moody version of the character which is well captured by pulp artist H. J. Ward. Each of the eight issues featured a short Lone Ranger novel, an editorial chat column: “Chuck Wagon Chats” and a solicitation to join the Lone Ranger Magazine Club (“An’ if yuh ain’t joined up in our Lone Ranger Club yit, fill out the coupon an’ send it to us enclosin’ a three-cent stamp an’ we’ll get your membership card out tuh yuh muy pronto, an’ welcome yuh around this yere ol’ chuck wagon good an’ plenty friendly “).
Other departments in the magazine include a pen pal column, a full-page cartoon, an article about collecting stamps or whatever, a comic book feature, an Outdoor Trails Column, an Interesting Facts About The West feature, a story of a then current western movie illustrated with photos, a true fact story, a second comic book-type story and a short piece of western fiction. Indeed, something for everyone.
These pulps are highly desirable, mainly because of the character of the Lone Ranger and, when found they can bring $200 when in appropriate condition.
The Masked Rider, on the other hand, was similar to the Lone Ranger character and these magazines, being more abundant bring only about ten dollars in fine condition as the character was never in the same league as the Lone Ranger in spite of author Oscar Shisgall’s attempts to jazz up the character:
“For he was startling even in appearance. His clothes presented a perfect symphony in black. From sombrero to boots, including the mask, his apparel was absolutely uncompromising in its blackness. His stallion itself shared the color – a mount as glossily black as a Nedjae colt. And to complete the bizarre effect, he wore a long Mexican cloak which flowed over him in voluminous black folds”
Zorro was an enduring pop culture figure appearing frequently in the Argosy and West pulps and was a popular radio and film star but would never achieve the status of the Lone Ranger in the pulps, the principle reason being he didn’t have his own magazine.
Most popular on film, Zorro was played in 1920 by Douglas Fairbanks Sr. The first talking Zorro in 1936 starred Robert Livingston. Through the years by innumerable actors played Zorro, including Reed Hadley, Clayton Moore, Ken Curtis, Tyrone Power, Frank Langella, Alain Delon and Anthony Banderas.
Prices for copies of Argosy and West with a cover portraying Zorro will run somewhat higher than issues of these pulps without Zorro. But they remain a bargain at ten to fifteen dollars.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.


COWBOYS, INDIANS AND SPORTS

Each question calls for an answer, which must associate with sports and with western terms, places or characters from days gone by. For example: What word means “Indian fighters,” and is the nickname of Marquette University? Answer: Warriors. (Answers are below the questions, no cheating!)

  1. What nicknames were given to the Miami Dolphins’ great running backs, Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka, in the 1960s and ‘70s? They match the monikers given to a pair of thieving desperadoes of the Old West, for whom a movie was named.
  2. What term describes the men who followed Indian leader “Crazy Horse?” It also indicates the players on a National Football League team in the East.
  3. A man sent out on reconnaissance; also, a man employed by a sports team to spy on the competition, or report on promising recruits.
  4. What American League baseball team has the same name as that of the group ambushed by “Butch” Cavendish and his “Hole in The Wall Gang”?
  5. Can you name two other major league baseball teams, which have nicknames reminiscent of the first settlers of the Old West?
  6. What name fits quarterback Rob Johnson as well as it did William Cody?
  7. What fearful word, once associated with the Indian, now applies to a person who illegally sells sports tickets at inflated prices?
  8. Florida State U. took its nickname from a tribe of the Creek Indians. Which one?
  9. If a soccer game is tied at the end of regulation play, the winner may be determined by this method, reminiscent of earlier, violent days in the West?
  10. Good hockey centers win this, as did young, bold gun fighters if they expected to become old gun fighters. (There were old gun fighters and there were bold fighters, but there were no old, bold gun fighters.)
  11. What name was given to the men who forged paths for others to follow westward in the early days? The term is the nickname of a team in the National Basketball Association.
  12. What name of a great Indian chief matches the last name of “Cesar,” Cincinnati Reds’ center fielder, 1972-80?
  13. Roy Rogers was; so is any athlete for Oklahoma State.
  14. What devices, attached to a cowboy’s boot, became the nickname of a team in the NBA. ?
  15. Gun fighter William Bonney and onetime N. Y. Yankee player and manager Billy Martin shared the same nickname. What was it?
  16. A Western movie in 1974 co-starred former football great Alex Karras; it was titled “Blazing. . . .
  17. This is one way of winning a boxing match. If the letters are reversed, they name an old and famous Western battle site.
  18. What are found on cowboy’s horses, and appear on the helmets of the Indianapolis Colts?
  19. What great American Indian football player and Olympic champion was descended from Sac-and-Fox heritage? His Olympic medals were taken from him for violating his amateur status.
  20. Who were Custer’s foes on that fateful day at the Little Big Horn? Buffalo’s former entry in professional basketball and Bradley University athletes were known by the same name.
  21. What onetime Green Bay Packer quarterback and coach had a last name, which matched that of an infamous lady of the Old West?
  22. What area, which might have been named by the Indians in honor of their women, was a site of the Olympic Games in New York?
  23. By what nickname did Notre Dame’s most famous quartet – Miller, Stuhldreyer, Crowley and Layden – gain lasting fame, thanks to the pen of Grantland Rice, for their football prowess?
  24. What popular real life movie cowboy star became the owner of a major league baseball team?
  25. These were used by Indians, and nowadays you can find two of them in any professional baseball park?
  26. What was the Baltimore Colts’ great runner Alan Ameche’s nickname? An Indian couldn’t get along without one.
  27. What sports award (a belt no longer presented) borrowed its name from a Western hero?
  28. What nickname was shared by pitchers Bob Feller and Bob Turley?
  29. What former All Pro lineman for the Minnesota Vikings, named “Jim,” gained fame for running the wrong way with the ball? His last name indicated one kind of “lawman” in the Old West.
  30. What was the first effective method of communication in the early days in the West? It became associated with the Denver Bronco cheerleaders.

ANSWERS

    1. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid 2. Redskins (Washington) 3. Scouting report 4. Texas Rangers 5. Indians (or Tribe) & Braves (Cleveland & Atlanta) 6. Buffalo Bill 7. Scalper 8. Seminoles 9. A shootout 10. The draw 11. Trail Blazers (Portland) 12. Geronimo 13. A cowboy 14. Spurs (San Antonio) 15. Billy The Kid 16. Saddles 17. KG (knockout) – OK (Corral) 18. Horseshoes 19. Jim Thorpe 20. Braves 21. Bart Starr (Belle Starr) 22. Squaw Valley 23. The 4 Horsemen 24. Gene Autry 25. Dugouts 26. Horse 27. Hickok Belt 28. Bullet Bob 29. Jim Marshall 30. The Pony Express

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.


THE PULP COWBOY
By
John Dinan

Pulp CowboyIf you saw the film The Third Man you remember it featured Orsen Welles as the bad guy and Joseph Cotton his old pal, who it turns out is the author of a large number of cowboy stories featuring The Arizona Kid. The Arizona Kid was only one of hundreds of pulp cowboys.
Over the period 1933 – 1946 more than 2,000 Western films and more than 150 Western pulp magazines were created to satisfy a seemingly bottomless public appetite for tales of the mystic West – the West of the imagination of a legion of writers.
The neighborhood variety store was the home of the pulp cowboy. It was there I first saw him glaring menacingly at me from the covers of Dime Western, Western Story Magazine, and Star Western. He rode fearlessly into a showdown to save the ranch or would shoot it out with one of the many evil characters who menaced an innocent settler. More often than not he was firing a brace of Colts in the reader’s direction.
Stacked in ten-row tall metal racks, the Western pulps created a phantasmagoric apparition rendering me helpless. I would plunk down my dime to get as quickly as possible, the action that the cover artist had promised:

“To the explosion, the Kid uttered a scream, whirled around, and the gun was jerked from his hand and flung across the room of the shack. He fell sideways, and lay there groaning and cursing.”

Being partial to Kid stories and super heroes the likes of the Lone Ranger, I might pick out a copy of Pete Rice Western or The Rio Kid Western. Sometimes I chose Star Western, which featured the adventures of Don Muerte (Gentleman of Death) – master of the knife, pistol and saddle carbine. Settling into solitary retreat I would dive into the world of the pulp cowboy:

“Jim was hit, but his tumble was voluntary and foredesigned, although almost ruined by the sickening punch of the Cheyenne bullet that smashed through his ribs.”

For this time, the Western was America’s principle popular entertainment in all genres: film, radio and the printed word. I lived in Lynn, Massachusetts at the time and this was about as far East as one could get. Regardless, games of cowboys and Indians dominated our play. (Before the Power Rangers there were Texas Rangers) I remember Buck Jones Big Little Books and Tom Mix radio dramas; eating my Ralston and shipping my thin dime to Checkerboard Square for one of those gorgeous premiums. In the pre-war 1940’s I remember my dad taking me to a Gene Autry rodeo at Boston Gardens.
The early years of the Western pulp magazine were depression years, with most folks struggled for the essentials. The popularity of the Western pulp magazine, and its principle character – the pulp cowboy, is best understood in the context of these hard times.
The pulp cowboy was not the working ranch hand or range cowboy, but a legendary character who shaped his own fate and the fate of our nation; a man like The Range Riders’ Steve Reese. While Reese’s background is uncomfortably similar to real-life badman Tom Horn (Horn was an ex-Pinkerton hired by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, while Reese was an ex-police Lieutenant hired as a “field agent” by the Cattlemen’s Protective Association), Reese was a mythical frontier character who feared no man in his quest for justice even though his life was at risk wherever he ventured:

“The solitaire player had forgotten his cards and was watching Reese narrowly. The man on the opposite side of the room was stirring out of his feigned sleep; a gun, drawn and ready was resting in his lap, faintly outlined by the spill of gray light through the dusty window.”

The most prolific of all Western fictioneers was Frederick Faust. More than seventy films and numerous radio, stage and television dramas were based on the products of his prolific pen. Fifty years after his death his work still attracts readers under one or more of his seventeen pen names, the most popular of which was Max Brand.
To best understand the characters created by Faust, one has only to look at the actors cast as Destry in Destry Rides Again. Tom Mix in 1932, Jimmy Stewart in 1939 and Audy Murphy in 1954. These men certainly define the character of the pulp cowboy, on and off film.
I loved these pulp cowboys and the adventures they shared with me. I thought they’d be around forever. Like all things there came a trail’s end.

“Manley shot again, falling into the dust, moving a leg to support himself. Then the gun fell. He tried to say something and could not. He raised a hand to his chest and his left knee buckled. He fell, kneeling, and then pitched gently into the dust.”

The pulp cowboy caught one between the eyes in the 1950’s. Like Luke Short’s classic description of the demise of a gunman, he managed to stagger about into the mid 1950’s before finally dropping into the dust forever.
The pulp cowboy was not a figure out of the American West, but of this day; a creation of some resourceful writers who knew what their readers wanted – a strong-willed, iron-fisted symbol of what it would take to get America out of its economic depression and spiritual malaise.
I thought he was gone forever, but find this is not the case. In a letter I recently received from County Antrim, Ireland, William Milliken described his joy at reading the old Western pulp:

“There are so many people that have no interests in life, I don’t know how they survive. When I get a Western pulp in my hands I can float out the window and be in the Texas panhandle with Walt Slade or Jim Hatfield.”

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.


 

TEXAS COWBOY POETRY GATHERING

Texas Cowboy A

RW Hampton

Texas Cowboy B

Red Steagall

   The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering is held on the campus of Sul Ross State University at Alpine, Texas February 26 – 27. The daytime sessions are free…With the exception of the RW Hampton and Red Steagall sessions which are $10 each. Most of the daytime sessions are held in classrooms. They have three or four performers sharing these 50 minute sessions, with nine to ten sessions running concurrently.
At 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday, two hour performances will be held in Marshall Auditorium, showcasing featured performers. There is a $15.00 charge for these events. Attendees may also support the gathering by becoming a sponsor or co-sponsor of a performer, or simply by purchasing an event pin for $10.
The Gathering kicks off each morning at 7:30am, with a Chuckwagon Breakfast held at Poet’s Grove in the Kokernot Park. More specific information on when and where performers will appear each day will be available in the Official Program that can be purchased in several locations.
Beginning Thursday at noon, night show tickets and programs may be purchased at the University Center on the Sul Ross campus, the official headquarters and information center during the gathering.
For more information you can visit their website www.texascowboypoetry.com, or call them at 432/364-2520.