March 2013 - Vol 5, Issue 3
The Saga of Henry Starr
and Cherokee Bill
By Ron Soodalter
On a black July night in 1892, three men, all masked and carrying revolvers, entered the Missouri Pacific Railroad station in Nowata, Indian Territory. One of the bandits, a slim teenager with straight black hair and dark piercing eyes, walked swiftly up to the ticket window, and - for the first time in what would be a nearly three-decades-long career of crime - barked his signature command, "Thumbs up and stand steady!" Within minutes, they were mounted and firing their pistols in the air, $1700 richer, as they sped off into the darkness.
|Featured Photography by Myron Beck|
The photo this month is by Myron Beck
Through his photos, award winning photographer Myron Beck (Los Angeles, CA) inspires us to dream and embrace the beauty that surrounds us in the people we see, the environments in which we thrive and the diverse cultures that enrich our lives. www.myronbeck.com
|Did You Know?|
|1. Yee Haw
is an exclamation of joy, challenge, or victory. Some dictionaries consider it to be imitative of a donkey bray, while others equate it with Yahoo!
Feathered War Bonnets
(also called warbonnets or headdresses) are worn by honored Plains Indian men. In the past they were sometimes worn into battle, but were most often worn for ceremonies.
3. John M. Bozeman (1835-1867) scouted and blazed the Bozeman Trail through Wyoming to Virginia City, Montana.
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|Linda's Feed Bag|
Curried Carrot Soup
This smooth, delicious soup will add pizazz to almost any meal.
* 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
Yield: Up to 6 (1-1/2 cup) servings
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1-1/2 pounds packaged baby carrots, from produce section
* 6 cups chicken stock, available on soup aisle
* 1 tablespoon mild curry paste or 1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
* Coarse salt
* 1 cup sour cream
* Plastic condiment bottle or medium plastic food storage bag
* 6 blades fresh chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
DirectionsPreheat medium pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, butter, onions and carrots and sauté 5 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken stock, curry and cayenne, and about 1 teaspoon salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. Place pot on a trivet next to food processor. Process soup in 2 or 3 small batches until soup is smooth and carrots are fully puréed. Transfer processed soup into a large bowl as you work to make room for more soup in the food processor. Return completed soup to the soup pot and place back over low heat. If the soup is too thick, add remaining stock, up to 2 cups, to achieve desired consistency. Adjust seasonings. Place sour cream in a plastic condiment squeeze bottle or into a medium food storage bag. Cut a very small hole in the corner of the bag with scissors. Ladle soup into bowls and squirt a swirl of sour cream around the bowl from the center out to the rim. Drag a toothpick from the center of the bowls out to the edges, forming a spider web design on soup. Pile a few pieces of cut chives at the center of each bowl to resemble green spiders in their webs! Cool!
Help us "Put on the Feed Bag!" Appetize us with your favorite cowboy cuisine. Send us a recipe or culinary creation - keeping the traditions of the American West alive is about the great food too! From ribs to rhubarb, campfire food to a great bowl of chili - we Wild West epicureans want to know.
Submissions welcome at SmokeSignals@highnoon.com.
|Roaming Range Reporter|
Tom Harrower's Mission to Preserve the Legacy of the Plastic Saddle
By Jayne Skeff
By the end of the interview with Tom Harrower, it was so clear that the brief duration of the plastic saddle in Western American life was so much more than just an attempt to create an alternative to leather. While, in the end, cowboys didn't like them, yet the silver screen embraced them, their creation alone was a testament to the tenacity and bold thinking that has been inherent in Western America for over 200 years.
The concept of the plastic saddle was a purely "out-of-the-box" idea in the early 1940s by William Vandergrift, founder of All Western Plastics Co. in Lusk, WY. It was an idea that was a gut reaction to solving the post World War II reality that there were no raw materials, particularly the leather needed to make saddles that were still in demand. B F Goodrich had just developed an artificial material called plastic and Vandergrift was one of the first buyers of these new sheets. Together with Tommy Neilson and master saddle maker Bernard Thon, they set out to solve the saddle shortage problem through typical Western ingenuity. In the end, only 65 plastic saddles were ever produced, each one created exactly in the same manner as leather saddles. The only difference being heat was used to stretch and secure them instead of water and thread.
Tom Harrower, lifelong Wyoming rancher and cowboy himself, has been an avid collector of cowboy and Western history. Back in about 1982 he recalls, "I was at the Loveland Show and saw this bushel basket full of plastic bridles. I'd never seen anything like these before. I ended up buying the whole bushel for about $15 and there started my fascination with this world of plastic cowboy gear." Now Tom, being the avid history buff, began to research and learn more about this new form to discover the fairly elusive world of the plastic saddle. As time went on and he learned more about William Vandergrift, All Western Plastics, believing that the story behind this brief yet rich part of Western American history needed to be preserved and told.
Tom bought his first plastic saddle in 1998 and has been on the hunt ever since. Of the 65 made, he knows where 47 of them are. "What is so fascinating is that each saddle has a unique story behind it, where it was used, who owned it then and who owns it now." He further comments that, "Real cowboys didn't like them - they preferred the leather. And, as this was early technology in man-made materials, not nearly as advanced as the plastics of today, they stretched too much in the heat and hardened like a rock in the cold so there were some functional problems. They also cost almost 4 times as much as a new leather saddle if you could find one. A price list I saw from 1947 listed one at $549. That was a lot of money in that day for a saddle."
Of the 65 that were ever produced, all 65 were sold, many bought by Hollywood stars including the famous plastic parade saddles of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (Roy's beautiful example now lives in the Autry National Center in Los Angeles).
Now Tom is writing a book, the first book ever written on plastic saddles and their history. He has had some challenges, the biggest ones being finding the remaining 18 still out there and getting more information on William Vandergrift.
High Noon would like to help Tom finish this important project. As we all know, it's preserving all facets of the legacy of the great American West for future generations that is so important. If anyone has any information that would help Tom Harrower fill in these blanks, we encourage you to share.
This is his passion - to preserve this legacy and to ensure this brief yet far-thinking part of cowboy life doesn't get lost.
As a note at the end, he did admit that while he has logged thousands and thousands of miles on horseback, he's never ridden on a plastic saddle. But he owns several and I'm sure one day he finally will.
If you know anything, give him a call. He's pure gentleman and his passion for the plastic is infectious.
This month we feature a little cowboy poetry by Ronald Schultz...
He lived the life of a cowboy
Now he's just too old to ride.
The years have taken away his joy
And now they're beating on his pride.
He loved the Rodeo
And for those days his heart pines
As he sits staring on the front porch
As if looking for Heavenly signs.
His face is worn and wrinkled
Like the Stetson hat he wears.
There are lines on his face
For each of his worldly cares.
There's no young person to listen
To the stories that must be told.
Lord, it's Hell for a spirit so free
To be trapped in a body so old.
He once was a hero
That men told of in their tales
Now those days are just memories
Of good horses and dusty trails.
He mouths his harmonica
And plays a mournful song.
The young cowpuncher in his soul
Never knew days so long.
Then one night as he listens
To that old lonely whip-poor-will,
The trail comes to an end
And his cowboy heart lies still.
His pardners gather around and yell
As the Parson bows his head to pray.
They let loose a volley because they know
That today the cowboy just rides away.
Ronald Shultz: "I wrote my books so that my grandchildren would have a tangible spiritual blessing should I catch the next train to Glory. I am a Desktop Engineer Associate to pay the bills and provide IT services for small churches who cannot afford help. I also minister on the Internet by posting and sending sermons to various groups. I write poetry when I can and have published two books. In my spare time, I am "Paw-Paw" to six grandchildren in Fort Worth and one in Cleburne. Without God's grace and my wife's support I wouldn't have energy for any of this!!! " http://www.mavmin.org/page15.html
Reel Cowboys of Western Cinema
A Century of Silver Screen Heroes on Horseback
No. 12 in the series
By Gary Eugene Brown
This month's featured Western star, like some others who preceded him, was indeed a working, ranch cowboy before arriving in tinsel town. However, in his case, his father owned the ranch. His original career interest was to become an illustrator. However, finding it difficult to find a job in that field, he began playing bit parts in films in the mid-20s. He went on to be one of the most heralded leading men in the history of cinema. He was a man's man and a heart throb for the fairer sex. He portrayed in films, some of the most famous men in the first half of the 20th Century. Cast in many different film genres; he associated mostly with the Western. His closest friends included diverse personalities, ranging from the conservative Hollywood set which he belonged to, such as Jimmy Stewart and Joel McCrea, to the "Lost Generation" novelist Ernest Hemingway and the symbolism artist and avowed communist Pablo Picasso. Alistair Cooke, in a moving essay entitled "Sunset in the West" described him as being a man who "personified the heroic myth of the taut but merciful plainsman who dispenses justice with a worried conscience, a single syllable, a blurred reflex action at the hip, and who faced death in the afternoon as regularly as the matador, but on Main Street, and for no pay." In doing so, "he represented every man's secret image of himself: the honorable man slicing through the daily corruption of morals and machines. He isolated and enlarged to six foot three inches an untainted strain of goodness in a very male specimen of the male of the species." The revered "merciful plainsman" who I, along with many others of my age, were named after was:
Born a cowboy in waiting, Frank James Cooper first saw daylight on May 7, 1901, in Helena, Montana. His parents, Charles and Alice Cooper, emigrants from Great Britain, purchased the 7 Bar 9 cattle ranch. Frank Cooper went on to become a successful attorney and later a Montana Supreme Court jurist. In 1910, Alice Cooper, wanting her sons to receive a better education than that offered at the time in Montana, took Frank and his older brother Arthur, to her native England where they attended Dunstable Grammar School in Bedfordshire. With war looming in Europe, they returned to Montana two years later.
|Send us your stories...|
March 13-16, 2013 Western Art Week Great Falls, MT
March 22 - May 5, 2013 Cowgirl Up! Wickenburg, AZ
April 10-13, 2013 Spirit of the West Santa Ynez, CA
April 18-21, 2013 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Santa Clarita, CA
May 3-5, 2013 3rd Annual Genoa Cowboy Festival Genoa, NV
May 15, 2013 Buffalo Gals Luncheon Cody, WY
June 21-23, 2013 Brian Lebel's Denver Old West Show & Auction Denver, CO
July 1-7, 2013 World's Oldest Rodeo (126 years) Prescott, AZ
July 12-14, 2013 3rd Annual Will James Roundup Hardin, MT
July 26-28, 2013 Julyamsh Pow Wow Post Falls, ID
August 15-18, 2013 28th Annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering Lewis, MT
September 21, 2013 8th Annual Fall Gathering Prescott, AZ
Send event submissions to SmokeSignals@highnoon.com
Don't Fret About the Future - Invest in the Past!
Smoke Signals blows your way from High Noon Western Americana of Los Angeles, CA, producers of
the High Noon Antique Show & Auction held each January in Mesa (Phoenix), Arizona since 1991.
Our magazine was founded in 2010 from our desire to share thoughts and facts with and from our High Noon family. We write about what we know (cowboy and Indian artifacts), highlight dealers and collectors, their thoughts and memories. We also love to feed our readers with great recipes. We offer free western music, a look at factoids intrinsic to our interests, give you insight into the newest books and tell you what is going on across the United States.
And hopefully we educate along the way.
Linda Kohn Sherwood, Editor
Send us a Smoke Signal
Smoke Signals is for and about all of the wonderful people in our High Noon family. If you have news you want to share, hot tips on what's going on in the Western Americana world or just a suggestion of something you'd like to see us cover, send us an email at email@example.com
Chief Publisher: High Noon Western Americana
Chief Editor: Linda Kohn Sherwood
Chief Art Director: Robin Ireland, Ireland Graphic Design
Chief Graphic Designer: Curtis Hill, Art Direction Services
Chief Writer: Jayne Skeff, JSLA Media Solutions