Sunday, May 24, 2020

FASTEST GUN IN TEXAS by Marisa Masterson

Maybe you've tried channels like Sling or Philo? They offer seven days free just to surf their programing. That's what I was doing when I ran into the fastest shootist Texas ever experienced.

I'm a documentary junky. I love learning. Perhaps that's why I became a teacher. For whatever reason, I ran across this documentary on a man who sent shivers through Texans.

John Wesley Hardin. Mothers used his name as a threat to make their children behave "or Wes would get them." Even Bill Hickok found himself facing the business end of this man's guns. So, exactly who was he?

John Wesley Hardin
Named for the evangelist John Wesley, Hardin was the son of a preacher and grew up in Civil War era Texas. With his father's encouragement, he practiced with the gun until he was a marksman at the age of twelve.

One of the tricks this shootist did to prove himself was to hit playing cards at fifteen paces, never missing. By the end of childhood, the man was deadly and bore a nasty grudge against Yankees and any people of color be they Mexican or African-American.

Maybe that's why he killed his first man when he was only fifteen. The former slave had bested him in a wrestling match. When he encountered the man alone in the woods, he shot him and claimed the man attacked him with a stick. The victim lived long enough to declare that a lie. Hardin ran from his home, fearing arrest.

Cowboys in Kansas
From there, he leaves a trail of dead men. He easily hid amongst a group of cattle drovers taking a heard to Kansas. That's how he eventually met Wild Bill Hickok in Abilene, Kansas. Guns weren't allowed while walking the streets of that town. Typically defiant, Hardin kept his on.

"Wild" Bill Hickok
Hickok confronted the armed cowboy, being the marshal, and demanded he remove the guns, Hardin did so and handed them toward Hickok with the handles first. Before that man could grab them, the shootist flipped them so he held them cocked and pointed close to the famous marshal's face.

This wasn't the first man Hickok talked down to avoid violence. The two went into a saloon and shared a drink bought by the lawman. When they met again another year, Hickok didn't ask the shootist to remove his guns.

That was just the type of man Hardin seemed to be. Showy, cocky, and willing to kill. After he returned to Texas and killed a lawman, Texans had had enough.Many put pressure on the governor to send a new group called the Texas Rangers after the man. With a $5,000 bounty on his head, the governor was confident the man would be caught.

I would think so, considering the amount. It was one more thing Hardin boasted about to people--the size of his bounty! In 1875, that $5,000 was equivalent in purchasing power to about $116,540 in 2020.

Someone was willing to risk Hardin's guns to claim it, and the rangers caught the man in a railroad car. Not a very glamorous life!

Here's where it gets interesting for me. While Hardin sat in Hunstville Prison, he wrote his autobiography. This is why historians view him as a man with no conscience. He detailed murders, excused them, and vowed he felt no remorse. He was the faster gun and that was all that mattered.

After serving seventeen years, the murderer went free, a supposedly changed man. While in prison, he'd earned a law degree and tried to set up a law practice. Surprise, surprise, but people were too afraid of him to use his services.

He eventually ended up in El Paso where he was shot from behind and killed. It didn't matter how fast he was since he hadn't guarded his back.

One last note--the word shootist. I used that rather than gunslinger to be authentic. Amazingly, the word gunslinger was invented in the 1920's by author Zane Grey. Men in the old west never used it, calling men like Hardin shootists. Very accurate for Hardin, I think!

If you enjoy action, romance, and adventure, please take a look at Ruby's Risk. With our 380,000 pages read on Kindle Unlimited, readers are falling in love with this book.

A man might homestead, but it takes a woman to turn that place into a home! This matchmaker will settle the West one couple at a time.

Under suspicion after his wife’s murder, Elias Kline knows he has to leave Mills Bluff. Learning a lynch mob is planning to kill him, he slips away from town. Taking only his smithy tools and his young son, he chooses a new name—Ezra King. Heading west seems a fine way to start over, but he’ll need a wife to raise his son and cook his meals. One sent by an agency shouldn’t expect love, he decides.

A matchmaker convinces lonely Ruby Hastings to take a risk on Ezra King. After all, the man is helping fulfill the nation's destiny of settling the west. Reading the man’s letter, Ruby aches for the widower's little boy and seizes on this chance to be a mama to him. After all, with a brother on the run from the law and a newly married sister, her siblings no longer need Ruby and this motherless boy does.

It should be a convenient arrangement. What happens when the mail-order wife begins to push past the walls guarding Elias’ heart, challenging him spiritually and emotionally? When danger follows him from Mills Bluff, will Elias be able to keep his family together?

Friday, May 22, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the Author
I imagine most of you are like me, you love the West, the stories, the history, the people, and the myths. One thing I've always enjoyed was the older 'B' Westerns from the 1930s-50s. The old serials, short films, and of course the hero Cowboys. These films go back to the old Johnny Mack Brown, Buck Jones, and Ken Maynard. I thought for fun, I'd spend some time talking about some of those famous heroes. Yes, Gary Cooper, Jahn Wayne, Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott, and James Stewart made films during this time, along with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, but I'll be looking at the actors who were favorites back then, but not so well known now. As we head into a different Memorial Day Weekend, here's to the memories these stars have given moviegoers over the years.

In the 1930s Charles Starrett, Bob Steele, Robert Livingston, and William Boyd began making films.

Bob Steele (1907-1989) - Find A Grave Memorial

Bob Steele: 1907-1988  Bob Steel probably had one of the longest careers in the industry with 244 film credits. He began performing at age two with his father and starred on film age 14. I still remember him in the TV series F-Troop and the Clint Eastwood film "Hang Em High"

Charles Starrett - Wikipedia

Charles Starrett:  1903-1986 Charles Starrett is best known for his work as 'The Durango Kid" films. He began playing the character in 1945 and ended in 1952. At the time of his death he held the record for the longest-running lead in feature films. He began his career while at attending Dartmouth College where he was hired as an extra for the film "The Quarterback". He was on the college football team at the time. And I do enjoy the Durango Kid film when I can find it.

Robert Livingston (actor) - Wikipedia

Robert Livingston: 1904-1988. Robert Livingston also billed as Bob Livingston, was born in a town about thirty-five miles from my home town. He was one of the original Three Mesquiteers and also played The Lone Ranger and Zorro. He began as a newspaper reporter in for the LA Daily News, his father was an editor in Robert's home town and gradually moved into film.

William Boyd (1895-1972) - Find A Grave Memorial

William Boyd: 1895-1972 Best known for his work as Hopalong 'Hoppy' Cassidy, Boyd was one of the early actors who bought the rights to his films and transferred to the new medium of television. He also marketed merchandise based on his character. According to his biography, his family moved to Oklahoma when he was seven and he lost both in his early teens. He dropped out of school to provide for himself. Now tell me, who doesn't love Hoppy?

In the 1940s  Buster Crabbe, George Montgomery, and Allan 'Rocky' Lane began their careers

Buster Crabbe - publicity.GIF

Buster Crabbe: 1908-1983 While Buster Crabbe is more well known for his roles as Tarzan and Flash Gordon, he made a number of westerns as the character Billy the Kid/Billy Carson with Al 'Fuzzy' St. John. He also won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1932 for the 400- meter freestyle swim event.

 George Montgomery

George Montgomery: 1916-2000  George Montgomery was a jack of many trades. His career began in the 1930s with a number of uncredited roles. He started to come into his own in the 1940s with roles in a number of Westerns. He moved into television, even had a television show 'Cimarron City', in the 1950s while still doing films.

Allan “Rocky” Lane (1909-1973) - Find A Grave Memorial

Allan 'Rocky' Lane: 1909-1973 Allan Lane, other than the voice of the talking horse in the television series Mr. Ed, Lane is probably best known for his series of films in the late 1940s early 50s staring as the character Rocky Lane. I admit I've always loved his films.

By 1950 television was becoming more popular and these films began to wane. Still, some wonderful, fun films were made during this time. Sunset Carson, Lash LaRue, and Wild Bill Elliott were fun to watch.

Sunset Carson (1920-1990) - Find A Grave Memorial

Sunset Carson: 1920-1990. At 6'6" Carson was one of the taller stars. He was briefly popular in the late 1940s and ending in 1950.

Lash LaRue (1917-1996) - Find A Grave Memorial

Lash LaRue: 1917-1996 Alfred 'Lash' LaRue was known not only for his use of the bullwhip and his likeness to Humphrey Bogart. His films had him starring as the character "The Cheyenne Kid/Cheyenne Davis".

William “Wild Bill” Elliott (1904-1965) - Find A Grave Memorial

Wild Bill Elliott: 1904-1965 Elliott's Western career began with the fifteen chapter serial, "The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickock" in 1938. Although he'd been in other films, it was this series that built his career, which lasted through the early 1950s. A lot of films in Elliott's middle years were a step above the standard 'B' Westerns.

I can't end this post without talking about two actors who remain favorites. Walter Brennan and Audie Murphy.

Walter Brennan (1894-1974) - Find A Grave Memorial

Walter Brennan: 1894-1974  Brennan is the only actor so far to win three Academy Awards for Best-Supporting Actor. Brennan was comfortable on the large and small screen. I loved him in "Red River' with Wayne, and of course in TV in "The Real McCoys".

Audie Murphy - Wikipedia

Audie Murphy: 1925-1971 Perhaps best known for his Westerns, Murphy was also in the film version of "Red Badge of Courage" and "To Hell and Back" based on his biography and time in WWII. By the age of twenty-one, Murphy was the most decorated soldier of that war.

On this coming Memorial Day, please remember Murphy and all others who have given so much for family and country.

Below are links to Westerns by decades:

Western Films 1930s
Western Films 1940s
Western Films 1950-1954

For those who like the Western, check out this anthology.

The Untamed West by [L. J. Washburn, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, James Reasoner, Matthew P. Mayo, Tom  Rizzo, J.E.S.  Hays, Ben  Goheen, Dorothy A.  Bell, Angela  Raines, Dennis Doty]
Amazon ebook
And if you like Western TV shows:

52 Weeks - 52 TV Westerns by [Scott Harris, Paul Bishop, Rob Word]
Amazon ebook

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Houston and Galveston Snowed In

Yup, you read that right. On Valentines Day 1895, Houston, Galveston and much of the Gulf Coast were blanketed with heavy snow. Unusual to say the least.

So, how did this extraordinary event come to pass? To begin with, the winter of 1894-95 was dang cold. February of that year was the coldest February and the second coldest month ever recorded in Houston. And Galveston Island is not far (50 some miles) from the large metropolis.

Temperatures in February 1895 actually fluctuated drastically. Temps reached around 60° in Houston on February 6th, followed by a cold front on February 7th, when temperatures only rose into the low 20s. After a low of 10° on February 8th, temps warmed back up into the 40s through the 11th. Then another cold front swept down from the north on Tuesday the 12th and Wednesday the 13th. On Thursday morning the Houston Post reported:

"The unusual sight of falling snow was witnessed last night in this city. The wind was blowing steadily from the north and a cold, misty rain which began to fall between 7 and 8 o'clock, soon changed to sleet and then to snow. At midnight, the streets were covered with an exceedingly thin mantle of snow, but the indications were that the fall of snow would probably be changed to rain."
The newspaper's prediction proved wrong, as witnessed in this photo.
University of Houston Digital Archives/NWS Houston
Without getting too technical, what caused the snow was likely the cold front from up north colliding with precipitation from California that, according to weather maps, blew across the southwest and Texas. Also, it is thought that a storm on the Gulf swept the coast from Texas to Florida, adding more moisture and wind to the mix.

In Galveston, snow began to fall around 1 o'clock in the afternoon on the 14th, Valentines Day, and continued through the day. It totaled between 12 and 16 inches, bringing streetcars to a halt and causing many businesses to close. People waited in vain for trains that could not get through to them. At the station, Officer Perrett saved a half frozen dog he found in a snow drift, warming it by the waiting room stove. (There were three railroad bridges connecting Galveston to the mainland by this time. Two were destroyed by the terrible 1900 hurricane.) 

Famous Galveston Strand snow-covered; Rosenberg Library Archives

Carriage driving through snow; Rosenberg Library Archives

Shoe stores sold out of "gum boots" (rubber boots) and people, both young and old cavorted in the snow, holding snowball fights all over the city. Some clever citizen rigged runners to their carriages and used them as sleighs. Inevitably, others ended up falling on their backsides in the snow.

The Valentines Day snow storm figures prominently in my current work in progress. It's a time travel romance set in Galveston.

Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and paranormal romantic suspense novels, all spiced with sensual romance. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” - with her husband and two very spoiled cats. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, genealogy, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged babies.

Amazon Author Page: (universal link)  
Website:  Lyn Horner’s Corner 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Orphan Train Movement

When my friends were going through the adoption process I found it fascinating and heartbreaking and ended up doing lots of research about it. Because I love history, I wanted to learn about the history of adoption. This led me to Mr. Charles Brace and the Orphan Trains. And inspiration for a series of books was born J

The Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1854 and 1929, relocating about 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, abused, or homeless children.

Three charitable institutions, Children's Village (founded 1851 by 24 philanthropists), the Children's Aid Society (established 1853 by Charles Loring Brace) and later, the New York Foundling Hospital, endeavored to help these children. The institutions were supported by wealthy donors and operated by professional staff. The three institutions developed a program that placed homeless, orphaned, and abandoned city children, who numbered an estimated 30,000 in New York City alone in the 1850s, in foster homes throughout the country. The children were transported to their new homes on trains that were labeled "orphan trains" or "baby trains". This relocation of children ended in the 1920s with the beginning of organized foster care in America.

Around 1830, the number of homeless children in large Eastern cities such as New York City exploded. In 1850, there were an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 homeless children in New York City. At the time, New York City's population was only 500,000. Some children were orphaned when their parents died in epidemics of typhoid, yellow fever or the flu. Others were abandoned due to poverty, illness or addiction. Many children sold matches, rags, or newspapers to survive. For protection against street violence, they banded together and formed gangs.

In 1853, a young minister named Charles Loring Brace became concerned with the plight of street children. He founded the Children's Aid Society. During its first year the Children's Aid Society
primarily offered boys religious guidance and vocational and academic instruction. Eventually, the society established the nation's first runaway shelter, the Newsboys' Lodging House, where vagrant boys received inexpensive room and board and basic education. Brace and his colleagues attempted to find jobs and homes for individual children, but they soon became overwhelmed by the numbers needing placement. Brace hit on the idea of sending groups of children to rural areas for adoption.
Brace believed that street children would have better lives if they left the poverty and debauchery of their lives in New York City and were instead raised by morally upright farm families. Recognizing the need for labor in the expanding farm country, Brace believed that farmers would welcome homeless children, take them into their homes and treat them as their own. His program would turn out to be a forerunner of modern foster care.

After a year of dispatching children individually to farms in nearby Connecticut, Pennsylvania and rural New York, the Children's Aid Society mounted its first large-scale expedition to the Midwest in September 1854. The scope of this movement was amazing! The Children's Aid Society's sent an average of 3,000 children via train each year from 1855 to 1875. Between 1854 and 1929, an estimated 200,000 American children traveled west by rail in search of new homes. Brace's notion that children are better cared for by families than in institutions is the most basic tenet of present-day foster care.

Of course, there were all sorts of tragedies involved in this. The need for it was tragic and sadly, there were many opportunities for less than reputable individuals to exploit these tragedies. But there were also many success stories.

I was inspired by this background to write my Orphan Trainseries which was just recently released in a boxed set.

She'd happily give him her heart … if only it wouldn’t cost her the only home she’s known

Sophie Brooks thought she had everything she could want in life. Friends, loved ones at the orphanage where she was raised, a job that gives her purpose, and a chance to help children every day … what more could she need? But a chance encounter with a handsome stranger has her wondering if a life—and love—outside the orphanage might be exactly what she never knew she needed.

Renton Robert Rexford III has never wanted for anything. Until he meets Sophie. The charming, intelligent beauty draws him like no other. But, thanks to a disapproving benefactor who threatens to pull the orphanage’s funding, his pursuit of her could cost Sophie everything she holds dear. She’s all he wants in the world, but how can he ask her to give up so much when all she’d get in return is his heart?

It’s not long before Sophie is forced to weigh her loyalty to the only home she’s ever known against the needs of her heart. Can love prevail—or is the cost simply too high?

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Frontier Gamblers of the Old West by Shirleen Davies

Gamblers were captivating Wild West figures, known for their risk taking and daring exploits. Some became famous. Others infamous. Regardless, each one were memorable in their own way.
Gamblers of the Wild West
Poker Alice
Poker AliceAlice Ivers Duffield Tubbs Huckertcarried a gun, smoked cigars, wore the latest fashions, and never gambled on Sundays. On her best nights, she’d take home $6,000 by card counting and figuring odds as well as distracting male players with her beauty.
Bat Masterson, a gambler and gunfighter, won enough at cards to set up his own Olympic Athletic Club, promoting up-and-coming boxers and organizing pools on matches.
Bat Masterson
 Doc Holiday—John Henry Holiday was a dentist, who moved to the warm climate of the west because he had tuberculosis. There, he began his gambling career. He is best known for his part in the O.K. Corral gunfight.
 Madame Moustache —Eleanor Dumont, a skilled blackjack dealer and card counter, opened her own gambling den called Vingt Et Un with carpets and crystal chandeliers. Madame served free champagne and her patrons had to clean up their boots and their language to play in her casino. Though she went by the name Madame Moustache, because of a small line of dark hair on her upper lip, she was known for her beauty and charm.
Madame Moustache

Kitty Leroy gave up her professional dancing career at age 20, to become a faro dealer and gambler. She owned over a dozen guns and knives, which she’d pull out in a pinch. She set up the Mint Gambling Saloon with Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota. In 1877, her fifth husband flew into a jealous rage over her many affairs, shot her dead, and then killed himself.

Wild Bill HickokJames Butler Hickok was involved in several shootouts and spied for the Union Army during the Civil War. He died with cards in his hand, shot in the back after busting out a competitor. Thereafter, his last hand (two pair, black aces and eights with an unknown hole card) was known as ‘dead man’s hand.

Wild Bill Hickock
Dona Maria Getrudes Barcelo turned to gambling to support her children after her husband ran off. A beauty with a knack for cards, she was called ‘la Tules’ (Spanish for ‘thin’ or ‘reed’). Barcelo became the richest woman in Santa Fe as well as the most famous female gambler of her time.

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was actually listed as a professional gambler in the 1887 San Diego City Directory.  He was also a deputy sheriff, then later a marshal, in Arizona Territory. In Tombstone, Earp owned gambling interests in several saloons where he not only dealt Faro but also avidly bucked the bank. Notably he worked as a manager at the Oriental saloon running the faro tables and as an enforcer, keeping gamblers out of fights and gunfire.
Wyatt Earp
Lottie DenoCarlotta J. Thompkins was the model for Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke. Her father taught her every card trick he knew. By fleecing Doc Holiday at poker once, she earned the title ‘Poker Queen.’ In Texas, she fell in love with a gambling man named Frank Thurmond, but he was accused of murder, so she fled with him to New Mexico where they opened a hotel and gambling room. Lottie also owned a restaurant in Silver City where she and Frank got married in 1880.

Games Of Chance
The most popular game in the West was faro. Using a green cloth-covered layout with painted images of 13 cards, players placed chips, called checks, on the picture of the card they thought would win and a token called a copper on top the checks to bet that a card would lose.  They could back any number of cards, change bets between turns, and wager if the face value would be odd, even, or the higher of the turn. The dealer dealt two cards per turn. If a pair turned up, the house took half of any bet on that card, these were called splits. Cheating in Faro was so prevalent that American editions of Hoyle’s rules carried disclaimers that honest faro could no longer be found.
Three Card Monte
Three Card Monte was a scheme. A dealer laid three cards face down then picked up one and showed it to the player. They’d put that target card back, face down, and quickly move the three cards around. The player tried to pick the target card. The dealer lured people into the game by using a partner, disguised as an everyday player. The dealer moved the cards slowly when he was playing with his accomplice, who always won.  So, the audience, who thought they were watching a real game, grew confident that they could find the target card. The dealer let real players win the first few rounds to get them to bet more. Then, they’d speed up their shuffling. They also used sleight of hand and often bent corners to cheat the players. The famous gambler Jefferson Randolph Smith II died in a shootout over gold he’d scammed three miners out of in a game of Three Card Monte.
Vingt et Un
Vint et Un is the French name for Blackjack or twenty one. The aim is to get 21 points without going over 21 or to beat the dealer’s score.

Roulette tables have a wheel at the top of the table, and under it is a layout of the options you can place your bet on. Bets can be placed on high, numbers 19 to 36, or low, numbers 1 to 18, the color of black or red, or whether it will be an odd or even number, and on a single number or several different numbers at a time. A croupier spins the roulette wheel in one direction and in the opposite direction they spin the ball in a circular track that runs around the inside of the roulette wheel. When the ball slows down it drops into a number on the wheel.
Poker wasn’t popular at first because it was a slower paced game, but eventually it could be found in most gambling halls. Old west poker decks had twenty cards and all of them were dealt to the players. There weren’t any draws, everyone had to play the cards they were dealt.

Gambling Scandals
Most scandals had to do with cheating which was rampant. One cheating method players used a lot was the horsehair copper-simply—a copper with a strand of horsehair attached was secretly yanked from a winning card.
Soapy Smith was a notorious cheat who formed the Soap Gang, which ran shell, Three Card Monte, and rigged poker games. He was known for showing a crowd a bill, sometimes as high as $100, then wrap it up in a bar of soap, place it amongst normal soap bars, and invite the crowd to auction for the bar they thought contained the cash. But, there wasn’t any money in any of the soap in the pile. He used sleight of hand to trick the customers. He also employed accomplices in the crowd, who would unwrap the soap and claim they’d won a large amount of money. He died in a shootout over gold he’d scammed out of three miners in a game of Three Card Monte.

Cheating often led to gunfights. Wild Bill and Bat Masterson were shot by poor poker losers. Poker Alice shot a man who accused her boyfriend of cheating. Lottie killed a man who swindled her. And, Doc Holiday killed one man for grabbing his chips, and another for looking at the discards.
Mystery Mesa, book fifteen in the Redemption Mountain Historical Western Romance Series is now on preorder through most retailers!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Strange Laws in Texas and Colorado by Bea Tifton

Whew! I got busy with some other projects and just let the due date for my blog this month just whiz right by me. It's a good thing forgetting a deadline isn't against the law, isn't it. Or is it?
Every state has its share of strange old laws. Those laws that were made when life was different or to address a specific person or event. Laws that, once passed, stay on the books until they're completely forgotten and overlooked.
I decided to choose two states, my native Texas, which is known for being, um, independent and colorful, and Colorado, a beautiful state to which I thought of relocating years ago.
So, here's a list of some of the stranger old laws.

Weird Texas Laws:
-You need to watch yourself in San Antonio. It's illegal to "flirt with the eyes or hands." (Boy, the revenue from ticketing people on the River Walk alone would keep the state afloat.)
-You may not shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. (I cannot shoot anything from anywhere, but good to know.)
-You may not dust  any public building with a feather duster if you're ever in Clarendon. (Have you seen my house? Catching me with a feather duster is not going to be a problem. Ahem.)
-You may not own the complete set of The Encyclopedia Brittanica because one of the volumes contains a recipe for brewing beer at home. (Thank goodness for Google, right?)
-You may not milk someone else's cow. (Durn. I'll guess I'll have to make a store run.)
-You may not ride a horse or buggy through the town square in Temple. (You may ride your horse into a saloon, though, so that's all right.) 
-You  may not emit "obnoxious odors" while riding in an elevator in Port Arthur. (And I'm just going to leave that one well enough alone.
Weird Colorado Laws
-You can't kiss a sleeping woman in Logan County. (So if that's the way you or your partner wake each other up, you might want to make sure you take your alarm clock if you visit.)
-You may not own chickens in Louisville, but you may own up to three turkeys. (No fresh eggs for you but Thanksgiving's gonna be great.)
-You may not graze your llama on public land in Boulder. (Fine. I'll just leave my llama at home, then.)
-You may not roll a boulder on city property in Boulder. (Is this a thing? You get one or two smart alecks and they ruin it for everyone.)
-You may not use catapults, blowguns, or slingshots in Aspen. (What in the world was going on in Aspen?)
-You may not bring your horse or pack mule above the ground floor of any building in Cripple Creek. ( I wonder if that's why all the old saloons were on the first floor. Hmm.)

 With all the paperwork throughout the years, it's inevitable that some of the more obscure laws would be forgotten as they remain on the books. To us, they seem absurd, but at the time, the lawmakers presumably had a good reason for making them. Have you accidentally broken any of these? Leave a comment below.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Texas, The Limestone State?

I went to Texas to attend a writers conference, and when I landed, Covid-19 beat me there. The conference fell apart. It’s a long story but everyone was concerned. Some of the workshops were cancelled, and the other workshops the presenters never showed. But I had fun with fellow western writer and great friend, Cynthia Woolf. We used the time as a writing retreat.
The Alamo (Note: the fancy carving in the stone)
I also fried my computer and my phone. That’s what I get for not bringing a power strip/surge protector for my equipment. When I was packing to leave for Texas, I looked at my second/old laptop and I almost brought it with me but I didn’t. I wish I had. 
            I learned quite a bit and stayed for weeks on historical Fort Clark. My stay was longer than I expected because I couldn’t fly home. Fortunately I was with friends that are like family so it really was a restful stay.
            But before I went to Fort Clark, I visited the Alamo and of course did the River
Walk in San Antonio. I was fascinated with the Alamo and not for the reasons you might think. The Alamo is under restoration. Apparently it needs a little grooming now and then and they decided to take the time and really do it right. What they will learn by putting the Alamo through a very careful exam will help preserve other buildings.
The Alamo
When troops were stationed there, they left a little graffiti behind. That was uncovered. Okay, that was fun, but what I really enjoyed was standing there reading about what they were doing and why - add to that a docent who was very informative. There were small, drilled holes in the mortar. They are taking air samples, temperature samples, and humidity samples. Checking this area against that area and trying decipher why this area is stronger than that.They were using ultrasound equipment on the stone walls. (Wow!) I was fascinated with the modern day things that they were doing. I wish I could have seen the people actually doing it.
Texas is known for these old limestone buildings. There’s a huge quarry not far from Fort Clark. The old buildings on the fort are made of this same stuff. But maybe the most amazing thing is how these buildings are put together. They look like giraffe markings, quite unlike the granite blocks I’m used to seeing in the Appalachians. Where squares are cut and fitted together like you see when foundations are built of brick or cinder blocks. I’ve done some brickwork and I’ve tiled a few things so I know how difficult that is to keep everything square and well balanced. This limestone stuff is like a crazy quilt. It must take a very skilled mason to do it. And it’s still being done today.
The Texas limestone I saw was a very creamy color not yellow but had that tinge of
Historic Fort Clark and an Old Saw
yellow to the cream. It’s a soft color. It lends itself perfectly to the landscape and all the green parts of nature, but it also becomes the subtle backdrop for all the bright Mexican pottery and decorations. Everything pops against it. Nature does provide the best materials and I think I’ve fallen in love with Texas limestone.
The other thing I noticed was what I would call a hacienda-style home. The older ones all seem to have small windows. Apparently that hot Texas sun can heat up a home. Before there was air conditioning, keeping the house cool meant avoiding large windows. I’m sure a good architect can build that style house with lots of windows because an architect will use the positioning of the property, the direction of the house, and the angle of the sun to block that intense heat from entering while letting in plenty of light.
Officers Quarters and Now a Private Residence (They built walls and houses with that stone)
I can’t be certain, but I suspect that the thickness of the block also becomes a natural thermo-system. But the time summer is done the stones will have heated enough to carry into the cold winter before they cool off. This cold stone will have plenty of time come spring to help keep the heat at bay.
I remember being in old cathedrals in Europe and they were never heated or air-conditioned. But they were cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It would take months before the cold stones would heat up and by then it was winter and they kept the place warm. By the time they had cooled, it was summer once again. I suspect the limestone might be the same.
If you’ve ever admired the markings of a giraffe, you just might fall in love with these houses. They’d be out of place back east. I can’t imagine one in my neighborhood but still I would love to own one. Maybe I’ll have to move to Texas.
The Barracks now a Motel for Visitors.