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Outlaws and Desperados

Outlaws and Desperadoes

Spencer Penrose with pal Harry Leonard, outlaws and desperados, in their twilight.

A writer’s life often requires switching gears and topics while awaiting the next step, another round of edits, a transition in story format, publication. My Work In Progress is a biography about Spencer Penrose, a mover and shaker in the early days of the Colorado Springs community at the foot of Pikes Peak. With fortunes made from mining and land development, he built roads and attractions to accommodate tourists, built the Broadmoor Resort Hotel, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, Rodeo Arena, and buildings for schools and hospitals. He invested his mining fortune in the El Pomar Foundation, which continues to donate millions of dollars in grants to non-profit groups for good work and causes in the community.

In the late 1800s, Colorado Springs founder, General William Palmer, banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in his new city, in order to discourage bad behavior, outlaws and desperados. When Penrose arrived in the city, he was looking for a job and a cold drink. His prospective business partner, Charles Tutt, accommodated both needs by offering him a job, and taking him to the newly established Cheyenne Mountain Club outside the city limits where they could enjoy their favorite libations in the bar. A few weeks later, Penrose was briefly banned from the club for his involvement in a minor brawl, which disrupted the elite club and resulted in broken furniture. If his reputation as a trouble maker followed him to the freewheeling Cripple Creek mining district, it was no doubt overlooked.

By the time he moved back to Colorado Springs, the scrappy investor’s reputation was overshadowed by his shrewd investment sense and knowledge of mining ventures. He married a widow named Julie Lewis McMillan, which further settled and cultivated his behavior in public and his stature as a solid citizen with an adventurous streak and a flair for fun. The mold was set for his place as a colorful and important character in Pikes Peak area history.

Joyce B. Lohse, http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
 

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Important Western Movies

Most western writers and history buffs I know enjoy watching a good Western movie. An article caught my eye in the December 2014 issue of Roundup Magazine from the Western Writers of America. The title was “Twenty Significant Western Movies (1903-1969)” by David Morrell. As usual, the magazine’s list was thoughtful and thought-provoking. I was surprised that I had missed so many of the titles, and promised myself to fill in the gaps. Here is the list:

1. The Great Train Robery (1903)
2. Hell’s Hinges (1916)
3. The Iron Horse (1924)
4. Cimarron (1931)Doc Holliday
5. Stagecoach (1939)
6. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
7. Red River (1948)
8. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
9. Broken Arrow (1950)
10. The Gunfighter (1950)
11. Winchester ’73 (1950)
12. Westward the Women (1951)
13. High Noon (1952)
14. Shane (1953)
15. Seven Men from Now (1956)
16. The Searchers (1956)
17. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
18. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
19. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
20. The Wild Bunch (1969)

As this list ends, so does the Golden Era of Westerns. Many enjoyable Westerns have been made since then, although formed and fashioned for modern audiences and box office success. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, also made in 1969, is a perfect example of combining clever entertainment with a quirky Western drama. Another favorite is Tombstone, in which I discover brilliant new quotations from Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday every time I watch. Then there is Lonesome Dove, which steps away from the movie format for extended, in-depth exploration of character and story. Another movie that won this writer’s heart was True Grit. John Wayne was brilliant throughout his career, but took it to new heights in this story of Marshal Rooster Cogburn’s comeback to combat evil. Great stuff. When it comes to great Westerns, I’m your huckleberry.

Joyce Lohse, http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Western history

 

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Cheyenne Vacation?

Cheyenne Mansion Jan 2015

Recently, while vacationing in Cheyenne, Wyoming (yes, I said vacationing in Cheyenne,) we stayed in an incredible B&B adjacent to downtown. According to our host, the Nagle Warren Mansion is considered one of the best appointed and restored cattle baron Victorian homes in Wyoming. We actually had a business errand to conduct in Cheyenne, but combined it with our 41st wedding anniversary. What a treat! Our 40th had slipped by unnoticed, so a splurge was in order. The beautiful welcoming late 1800s mansion, artfully decorated with period antiques, includes an extremely pleasing gourmet quality breakfast served in a gorgeous dining room with period china and table settings. This was the perfect venue for our celebration, and a great way to step back into western history.

The upstairs turret on the third floor is a cozy reading room. It has the feel of a treehouse and would be sadly underutilized if it was never a children’s playroom. I found it mildly claustrophobic up there, but it certainly added to the charm of the old building. I did not ask about the presence of ghosts, but would not be surprised if they were present. Our room was in the carriage house on the main floor, which was perfect for us. Had it not been for the biting chill winds and freezing ice conditions, the patio outside our room would have been delightful. As it was, the fireplace kept us cozy inside. The hosts did all they could to attend to their guests and make them comfortable. We will definitely go back another time. After all, true Denver Westerners travel through Cheyenne and into Wyoming at regular intervals. Be warned that the road from Colorado is a wind tunnel, often afflicted with nasty weather during the winter months. Gates can be closed in both directions, and they are not afraid to close them to save travelers from unfortunate situations. Without time constraints, we weren’t concerned as long as we were both on the same side of the gate.

More information about the mansion, located at 222 East 17th Street, can be found at http://www.naglewarrenmansion.com/

Joyce Lohse, http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
 

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More Yellowstone Savages

Squatters in Paradise

James Perry cuts loose in his memoir of twenty-five years as a concession employee in Yellowstone National Park. Although his outlook is often jaded and sometimes sarcastic, his viewpoint is honest as he withholds very little in describing life in the nation’s oldest and largest national park. My outlook in A Yellowstone Savage: Life In Nature’s Wonderland is decidedly more optimistic, as he readily points out with a funny jab about the potential for singing Kumbaya around the campfire in my version. Although our voices and tones differ, we share an honest love and reverent respect for Yellowstone, a place where hardy souls endure sometimes unforgiving working and living conditions for the privilege of calling it home.

I enjoyed noting the differences in lifestyle of new age “Savages,” concession employees that he sometimes refers to as “Parkies.” Mobile satellite dishes?? Technology has intruded. I also noted a plausible theory about the origin of Yellowstone Christmas, considering documentation of the traditional version is vague at best. So much food for thought. James and friends’ invasion of the CUT (Church Universal and Triumphant) compound was brazen and delightful. What an adventure! I tip my Savage hat to James. I was leery that this might be an angst filled tirade, but it came off as more honest and straightforward than diatribe. Bring on more memories, Savages! There’s plenty of room.

My book, A Yellowstone Savage: Life In Nature’s Wonderland, was published in 1988 in trade paperback, and was published as an ebook in 2013.

This was the first Savage memoir of its kind, initiating a cult following, and inspiring others to publish, preserve, and share their own stories and versions of their memories and life in Nature’s Wonderland.

Joyce B. Lohse
http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Western history, Writing Life

 

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2014 Women Writing the West Conference

WWW ConferenceMid-October marked the culmination of a year and a half of planning for Women Writing the West’s 20th Anniversary Annual Conference in Golden, Colorado. The result of work by Colorado’s WWW Conference Planning Committee to plan the event spread among several venues was a huge success. The City of Golden was a perfect fit for our group. A synopsis of highlights will give those with a passion for the craft of writing an idea of the content of a really good writers’ conference, and the priceless value of this particular sold-out conference of 150 attendees.

Thursday, October 16 – provided a bonus day of activities at the Table Mountain Inn, full of panels, critique sessions, an annual board of directors meeting, and networking. In the evening, a reception at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum took place for readings by WILLA literary award winners and LAURA short story winners. A special quilt featuring squares hand-stitched by WWW members was introduced for the conference raffle, which benefits the WILLA Literary Fund.

WWW Raffle Quilt

Friday, October 17 – featured a full schedule at the Golden Hotel of panels and presentation about the business of writing, marketing, and trends in e-publishing. Private appointments with editors, agents and publishers were available. Author Margaret Coel captivated us with her stories about writing 20+ mysteries set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. LAURA short story awards were presented at the lunch banquet. In the evening, a feature film, The Cherokee Word for Water, was presented at the American Mountaineering Center. The film, about the life of first female Cherokee tribal leader, Wilma Mankiller, was followed by a Q&A session with members of the film production and Mankiller’s husband, Charlie Soap, and from the local Cherokee Circle.

Saturday, October 18 – Following the annual WWW business meeting in the morning, participants enjoyed another full day of panels and presentations. A Luncheon honored WWW Founders and spotlighted WILLA Finalists. Later in the afternoon, Joyce Meskis enchanted us with stories from her many years as owner of the famous Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver. A booksigning session hosted by Who Else! Bookstore with networking capped off the afternoon. Evening brought the annual WILLA Awards banquet. Author and founding member Sandra Dallas presented an inspiring keynote speech. When the winner was drawn for the WILLA Fund Raffle, we were happily surprised when she insisted that the quilt stay with WWW.

WWW Conference Booksigning
Sunday, October 19 – Many conference attendees stayed for a Sunday morning gathering at the Briarwood Inn. Some wore historic costumes to the delicious high tea brunch. We were entertained by WWW founding member Corinne Brown, who portrayed five famous women from Colorado’s history. She did amazing costume changes when switching characters. It was a fantastic finale to a successful and memorable 20th Anniversary celebration and conference for attendees and members of Women Writing the West.

Joyce at Golden HotelJoyce B. Lohse
http://www.LohseWorks.com

 
 

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Happy Birthday, Baby Doe Tabor … or is it??

Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen

When I began my research on Elizabeth Bonduel McCourt Doe Tabor, aka Baby Doe Tabor, I soon discovered that searching for her birthdate might be problematic. The first date I saw tossed around was October 7, 1854. It was hard to pin down, and often overlooked or unmentioned in accounts of her family and childhood. It turns out that was the date of Elizabeth’s, or Lizzie’s as she was known to her family, christening. The search was on for something more concrete for her birthdate. I was happy and relieved when I found Elizabeth Tabor’s death certificate in the archives. There it was, her birthdate filled in by her younger brother, Willard McCourt. Of course, he would know his sister’s birthday. Or would he? It was listed as May 15, 1854.

1900 Denver Census

When dates and data do not agree, it is called negative evidence. I was dismayed to discover Elizabeth was listed as born in September on the 1900 census, which contains a column for birth month. Was this a fluke? The September reference appeared again in Judith Nolte Temple’s biography, Baby Doe Tabor: The Madwoman in the Cabin, page 157. Elizabeth wrote a diary entry that said the following: “Sept. 25, 1914 – My birthday I am all alone in the world now alone my birthday where is my poor unfortunate Silver and how is my Lily and her babies I am alone here in Leadville” This appears to be her perceived birthdate at the time. Her headstone on her grave mentions only the year, 1854.

Her age is a whole conundrum on its own. As a coy Victorian lady, she often altered her age in her favor on public records. However, the 1854 date appears in enough places to make it the accepted year of her birth. Her death date was about February 20, 1935. She collapsed and died in her cabin by the headframe of the Matchless Mine. Her frozen body was found some time later, thus an inconclusive death date as well. As a biographer of Elizabeth Tabor, I feel comfortable celebrating the birth of this interesting, courageous and colorful Colorado pioneer woman on September 25. Happy Birthday, Lizzie. Here’s to you on your birthday!

Joyce at Matchless Mine 6 13

You can learn more about the fabulous lives of the Silver King and Silver Queen of Leadville in my award-winning book, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, from Filter Press. Go to: http://www.FilterPressBooks.com, http://www.Amazon.com, http://www.LohseWorks.com, or ask for it from your favorite local book vendor.

Joyce B. Lohse

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Western history

 

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A Yellowstone Christmas

Old Faithful

Old Faithful erupting during 1988 forest fires


An excerpt chapter from
A Yellowstone Savage
by Joyce B. Lohse

Chapter 24: A Christmas Tradition

Many years before our year in Yellowstone, a tradition to celebrate Christmas in August began. A big party was planned, a tree was decorated, and a Christmas feast was cooked and served. According to legend, the people who organized the celebration were snowbound at Old Faithful Inn, but the story was never documented. From about 1950 on, August 25 became Christmas in Yellowstone.

1973 was no different. The General Accounting Office went all out to prepare a big office party. Decorations were made by the computer department. A large banner of a tree included everybody’s name worked into the design. Decorations were made from keypunched cards with Christmas designs on them.

Although it was not snowing on the big day, stormy weather threatened with cloudy skies and cold temperatures. While we hurried to finish work early, refreshments and decorations appeared. Names had been exchanged so that everybody would receive a gift from a “secret friend” in the office. Office workers casually peeked under the festive tree to look for their gift when their curiosity was too much to bear.

When my friends and I could no longer stand it, we snatched our gifts from under the decorated tree and retreated to a corner of the office to open them. Munching on a sugar cookie, I tore the red and green paper and ribbon from my present.

Inside the box was a Yellowstone tea towel decorated with different scenes of the park. Another gift was tucked beneath it. When I held it up, my friends began laughing. It was a baby bib with a picture of a deer on it, and the words, “I’m a little Dear from Yellowstone” across the top. I felt my face turn deep red, and quickly placed it back inside the box. I learned that my secret pal was Sarah. Since I planned to get married, she gave me presents she thought I needed. With that in mind, I thanked her.

Christmas carols were playing on a record player, and people were visiting and laughing while drinking their punch. My friends and I were getting restless, so we adjourned to continue our celebration at the Terrace Rooms. This was the only time we were allowed to leave work early, and we intended to enjoy the unusual taste of freedom.

When it was time to eat, we went to the Staffeteria. A full turkey dinner awaited us on the steam tables. We eagerly loaded our trays with ample portions of turkey and dressing with all the trimmings, and pumpkin pie for dessert. While we ate, we talked about plans to go to Gardiner that evening to top off our Christmas celebration with some liquid refreshments at the Crystal Geyser.

When we finished eating, we slowly climbed the stairs to the Terrace Rooms. The meal was wonderful, and we had overindulged. Somebody suggested that since it was early, we could take a short nap before going to Gardiner. Nobody disagreed with that fine idea.

Back in the room, I could hear the muffled sound of Carrie’s tape player through the wall, and I immediately fell asleep. When I woke up sometime later, it was dark outside and Julia was sound asleep.

I walked quietly into the wide lit hallway, and detected no signs of life except for the music that was still seeping through the walls from the auto-reverse eight-track tape player next door. The faint sounds of the Moody Blues were a sure sign that Carrie and Ann were still asleep in their room.

As I stood in the spacious old hallway, I smiled as I realized there would be no trip to Gardiner that evening. Instead, I took rare advantage of having the vacant community bathroom to myself, had a leisurely shower, and returned to relax in my room.

Back in the room, I crept in softly and tried not to disturb Julia. In the dark, I located my writing supplies. Early in the summer, I developed a peculiar but practical habit of writing letters from inside the closet. It was a walk-in variety with a light bulb on the ceiling. On several occasions, I wrote letters while Julia was sleeping. So into the closet I went.

Letters and phone calls were our connection to home and the outside world. Some of us wrote letters frequently in hopes of receiving a response. With letters came newspaper clippings, forwarded letters from friends, and boxes of cookies. Mail was received with gratitude and sent with enthusiasm.

Inside the closet, I switched on the light, sat on the floor, and wrote a letter to explain Yellowstone Christmas to the man who waited for me back home. Huddled on the floor writing my letter, I thought ironically that this was an anticlimactic end to our Yellowstone Christmas. However, it was not too bad, and I would certainly never forget it.

Christmas in Yellowstone Art

A Yellowstone Savage is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.com and LohseWorks.com
Coming soon: Newly revised trade paperback edition of A Yellowstone Savage at
Amazon.com and at LohseWorks.com
Joyce B. Lohse, http://www.LohseWorks.com

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Western history, Western Travel

 
 
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