Monday, August 13, 2007

At Home on the Range

Like most young lads growing up in Lancashire, I was a fan of the Saturday morning matinees with Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers, and later Bonanza and Rawhide. My favorite author at age 10 was Zane Grey. I was addicted to short stories from Zane Grey’s Western magazine, Argosy, and dime western magazines, which I bought in a second-hand bookstore in China Square, Lancaster. The magazines were dusty and ten years old, but it was there that I discovered Elmore Leonard. In 1950 (I was already one!), Leonard graduated from college, and decided he needed to make a living while learning to write. His first story sold for 2 cents a word. From there he moved onto Get Shorty, Be Cool, Out of Sight, and Rum Punch. His books are now full of urban cowboys with Detroit, Atlantic City, Miami and Florida as locations. Over the past four days I’ve been on a trip down memory lane. I’ve been re-reading The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard, written between 1950-1956. It’s real escape stuff. Apache, cow punchers, scouts, robbers, rustlers, and bounty hunters all thrive in Leonard’s world. And I must say the writing stands up pretty well 55 years later. They’re earthy, sparse, tough, ironic and always on the sides of good vs evil. It’s Unforgiven territory. I love Arizona and I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a couple of weeks. Feet up, reading Elmore Leonard stories down there in Sonoma.

Cowboy Up!


Susan956 said...

Somewhere about the place I have an Argosy magazine..or had one for years anyway. Amazing :)

Your surely take us/me to interesting parts of the globe pardner. Shall I commence the knitting of the chaps? :)

A southpaw on the cover is perhaps a little unusual also..?? Rum Punch is a good title. I often like titles that can have more than one meaning.

Susan956 said...

I was just thinking of the Cartwright family. I wonder if they were a concept grabbed and adapted for later shows like Dallis? Lorne Greene was marvelous in Bonanza/Ponderosa. But as a young girl it was not only concepts like the open plains, the 'better-than-survival' outcomes but also the gentlemanly approach to women and the gracious approach from women to men that attracted me. Again though (as per recent discussions of HP) themes of justice, good vs evil, rich helping poor and so on were strong in the show. Rugged men and rugged scenery set against velvet curtains.

CONSUL said...

And Kevin, do you remember the other wonderful tv serial out of the late fifties (in 1950 I was minus one year old..) , called TEXAS RANGERS.

(Sorry Chuck "Walker" but you are a weak little insipid and insulse lamb-Ranger compared with the one and only Hands-Up Joel McCrea "Ranger Jayce Pearson"),where the beginning scene always started with just one Ranger walking towards the camera and then other Rangers join him proudly singing "We are the Texas Rangers"- song.
As a kid I loved to be one of them.

Susan956 said...

I remember that show Consul and the song and the drawing together of the men. It was great. I suppose it may have spawned the Marlboro Man type ads etc. This said, Chuck Walker Texas Ranger has had a lot of impact on a different gen you know!

Piotr Jakubowski said...

As decades pass, the stories stay the same. The cowboys are still the heroes, and the outlaws are still the villains. Whether it be Texas Rangers of the 50's, or The Matrix of the 2000's (and beyond).

The art of storytelling, both spoken and written, has maintained its strength throughout the years. With technology developing at the pace it currently is, we will see where this storytelling will take us. But at the end of the day, whether it be a moving picture on a screen or a parent with a child at bedtime, a story will always be there.

p.s. I love taking the time to read some of the books/stories I used to read as a child YEARS ago ;)