There are Storms, then There are Storms

 

On the right is a funnel cloud, two more in the distance, others forming  in clusters above

storm skyvue 1If asked I can tell you what was going on in the west in 1874, but when I recall something in my recent past I can’t remember if it took place last year or the one before. This caveat because of a memory I’m recalling for my blog today. And on thinking about it I can’t recall if it happened last year or the one before. The time doesn’t really matter to the tale. I only know we were in the breathtaking conference building hanging on the side of Winslow Mountain at Sky Vue. We being a gathering of authors, editors, a publisher, and various other members of Oghma Creative Media. It was our annual retreat.

I’m telling this because last night our area experienced a similar weather phenome like we did that day at Sky Vue. Where we’re located we seldom are hit by a full blown tornado. What happens on these Boston Mountains is those threatening tornado clouds love to play tag overhead. This causes some of their playful antics to whirl tree tops viciously, break a few limbs, flatten gardens and rip off a few shingles. It isn’t often one actually plows up the ground, but they do. These are usually wet storms while in Kansas and Oklahoma, they often occur during a dry storm.

Want to talk about wet. Yesterday we recorded 12 inches of rain in less than 12 hours with one more on the way the evening of my tale. And during those vicious storms continuous lightning struck trees on top of the mountains all around us vibrating our eardrums and shaking the ground underfoot.

Now I was brought up in Wichita, which was occasionally actually hit by ground sucking tornadoes that dragged debris around redepositing it elsewhere. Debris such as houses, trailers, trees, etc. So I know a bit about the difference in a storm that demands one take shelter underground and one that allows one to watch out the windows.

I’m getting back to the storm on Winslow Mountain that sky-blue day when everything suddenly turned dark. You know the one. It was a dark and stormy night. So when someone hollered ‘oh look,’ I looked. Having heard nothing, like the roaring of a train I didn’t panic when the small elephant-like clouds swung down out of the wall cloud following the valley below. They‘d play tag a while then move on. So I remained calm while those around me came apart.  Like we are often advised to do. All but the local folks, who played it cool.

“Where’s the storm cellar?” Someone ran in circles hollering.

This set off the usual crowd response.

“It’s okay.” I grabbed my phone and took some pictures as the clouds rushed along outside the wall of windows while behind me mayhem grew.

“Downstairs. We need to go downstairs.” And away they went to miss this show of their lifetime.

Those of us accustomed to these silent storms remained and more than one snapped some great pictures before the wall moved over and away. Mentioning pictures means I have to look for them. Wish me luck. It will take a while. I saw them just the other day. Found them. Just another exciting day in the life of a writer. Like they say, it’s what we do. Experience and write about it.

Now to last night, which reminded me of the earlier experience. This one much wilder than that one last year, or was it year before last? Someone will remind me.

These little buggars decided to drop down for a visit in the midst of one of the hardest rains we’ve experienced in ages. I sat in my living room watching, cheated of a good look at the funnel-producing cloud, because it was a gloomy evening, not like the bright afternoon up on the mountain. But lightning flashed so continuously that the upper limbs of large trees surrounding the front of my house begin a whirling dance, twisting round and round, bowing to the ground. I knew those little trunk like clouds were playing overhead. Not real close cause there was no roaring except from our creek that had grown massive due to the heavy rains.

Twice more the storms raced by, breaking a few limbs in my yard, taking down a tree in my daughter’s yard. Lightning struck so close it made our eardrums vibrate. And finally, as always, the power flickered and went out. A fine finish to an exciting evening. The generator ran till four a.m. I heard it click off and when I climbed out of bed this morning the electricity had been restored.

A power pole was knocked down with the electric wires running through the creek. I give those guys credit for the repair so fast. Our park where ball games are played is destroyed and all is underwater there. My road was washed out a mile or so from here. Big kudos to the guys in the volunteer fire department for being out and about during all this helping those in need for one reason or another. Some were spotted covered in mud moving gravel to clear a drive so a man could get out and go to work this morning. They are fantastic, or as the kids say awesome. Winslow is a terrific small town.

Posted in The Writerly Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Real, The Future or Now?

What’s Real and What Isn’t

In a movie I was watching last night the idea of memory regression came up. It took me back a lot of years to a dear friend whose name will remain anonymous for reasons soon to become obvious. We were rooming together at a conference and she spoke of her work. For years she had practiced hypnotic regression. In our late night conversation with the lights out and everything spookily quiet she told me of one of her clients.

Now, no names or dates were mentioned, she was simply using this example to convince me that this was possible. She’d had it happen in her own work. For over a year she’d worked with a young, troubled girl treating her through hypnotism. Suddenly, after long months of the sessions the girl began to tell her she was somewhere unfamiliar.

My friend played the tape of the session without identifying her client in any way, more to let me see what might well be possible. That we could live previous lives. I was so skeptical I guess she thought the tape might open my mind, if not make a believer out of me.

In the dark silence of our room I listened as the girl talked of a life totally unfamiliar to her. She spoke of names and places, then described a man in white that she along with others, was following. Then she started to speak in a tongue vaguely familiar to my friend. She told me it was Aramaic. She also explained to me that this young girl had very little education and could not know the names of the specific locales, which were all in that ancient tongue. My friend explained that she had verified the existence of the area and villages she spoke of

Before the girl finished reciting her experiences I recognized the man in white. She had joined a group following Jesus as he walked and talked to them. Listening to her speak, and to the changes in the inflection of her voice, shivers ran down my spine. If this young woman had not gone back to a previous life, then she was one heck of an actor. Because of her lack of education she certainly could not have known how to speak the language or no way of knowing some of the descriptions of clothing, goods, and experiences in those days.

I came away from that experience with questions in my mind that have never been answered. My friend firmly believed what had occurred and she went on to lecture and carry out these sessions until her death. I’ll admit we don’t know anywhere near all there is to know about an afterlife or the possibilities in this life, and I wonder to this day if she has found the truth.

More and more discoveries in quantum physics make so much possible in our vast universe that we could never have believed. So I’ll hold back my judgment for now.

One thing’s for sure. I’ve had some strange experiences while working for the newspaper, and even more as a writer. The one thing I’ve learned for sure. It’s a wide, wonderful, secretive, strange world and it pays to take it all in not only for enjoyment, but for the fun of it. And of course, we writers can always put those wild experiences in our books.

We can think of it as if using this mirror. The past is what we see reflected  and it’s something we know. Our present is where we are with the mirror, and a future is what we see beyond the mirror. Yet we can only guess what lies where we’re going ib the next world. Sort of a simplification, but hey I’m of a simple person.

Besides I promised to post this photo I took out in New Mexico when I advised someone to take a few scenic shots this way and see what their results. It was a stretch to get it into this post.

future past

Posted in freedom, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Heroes Aren’t Immortal

beyond the moon cover new

For weeks now I’ve posted blogs relating to my experiences during the years I was an investigative reporter for the Washington County Observer. I’m breaking that protocol today for a good reason. It won’t be long before the long awaited sequel to my novel, Beyond the Moon is released. I wanted to give my readers a small taste of Glen and Katie’s continuing story.

As you know, the story is based on what many women have lived through after welcoming home men from war, some who have changed so much as to be unrecognizable. If you’ve read Beyond the Moon you know that Glen was in a POW camp in Vietnam for more than seven years. That his wife has divorced him and he lives in an evil fantasy world until Katie walks into his hospital room.

Here is an excerpt from a review among many received, all praising the book.

“This book is incredible! After I finished the last page, I just sat there, stunned. This is the true cost of war. For the rest of the day I was quiet, considering Katie and Glen’s struggle and (almost) Katie’s descent into madness. My heart went out to them and to anyone else who has ever dealt with the after effects of fighting a war.”

I did not know this reviewer until she contacted me and we later became email friends. I have still not met her. Another woman who was married to a wounded warrior from Vietnam brought her husband to our writer’s group so they could both meet me after they read Beyond the Moon. She took my hand in hers and said, “You wrote my story. Thank you.” This is the kind of reaction that makes my work worthwhile.

And this is the kind of novel we writers wish could find the readership it deserves. It’s getting an audience that challenges writers because there are so many books of all value on the market. I will probably never write a story like this again. It took all my heart and soul to live through the research alone. The stories I found tore at me until I felt I couldn’t write the sequel. But I was urged to and so Immortal Hero will finish Katie and Glen’s love story.

Here is the opening of Immortal Hero

The shot rings out and I come awake choking on my own heartbeat. Golden eyes shimmer in the night like bourbon struck by moonlight.

It’s dark, the bed I lie in huge and empty. Tears hot on burning cheeks. My fingers wipe them away, but they come back. No sound in the lonely house. Shadows wrap around me cold and silent. The bottom of a gaping black well embraces a lost and lonely heart.

No more sleep. Toes grip the furry rug, hands fumble for a robe to wrap around my shivering nakedness, socks to keep my feet warm. The coffee smells good making but turns to ash on my tongue. I pad into the living room and snap on the light over the painting above the cold fireplace. Each brush stroke, each shadow and highlight harsh reminders of the new, the old. The memorialized figures. Youth to warrior. A man I will always love for his amazing courage. His eyes speak words he cannot say. A sketch pad filled with all manner of depictions until they’re just right, until they express his every emotion. His desires, disappointments, hopes and dreams. His love. My Immortal Hero. Only he isn’t. Immortal, that is.

What I plan has to work, yet how can I be so arrogant? Where he is he might as well be dead. I’m not exactly alive myself. What if this doesn’t work? What if I can’t do it? And if I do, what if he tries to kill me… us… again?

I will stop there. For more stories from vets who have lived through what is depicted in these two books check out this veteran’s link.

And watch my website and Oghma’s release information for the date Immortal Hero will be released. If you haven’t read Beyond the Moon grab a copy at your local bookstore or online.  Available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, warriors | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Between The Devil & the Deep Blue Sea

Looking for yet another excuse for not keeping up my blog posts, I think I found a good one. You’re going to like this. I FORGET.

Between writing two books a year, editing and rewriting and trying to come up with new twists for Poe and romantic novels and westerns, and making doctor appointments I just have to say, blogs sometimes get lost somewhere in the middle of all that. It’s not I don’t have anything to say, it is that I have too much to say.

I’ll tell you about the friendly visit I had last week from a black bear. I think she saw my lights on, which I burn a couple of all night now, and just dropped by to say hi. Believe me, my cat did not take to this visitor. She’s got to where she enjoys friends dropping by, but seeing a bear peering in the window over the bed where we both sleep was just more than she could handle. And she came unwound, slammed her paws on the window, growled ferociously and turned into a fur ball. I raised up, saw the top of lady bear’s head and ears as she dropped down to all fours to go on her way and find a place that didn’t have a wild cat in residence, and I lay back down and went to sleep. The next morning I thought I had imagined the visit till my daughter who lives right close said there were lots of signs of bear visits in the yard.

I for one am happy Mrs. Bear found our existence near her home satisfactory. We live in the White Rock Wildlife Management area of the Ozarks so this is not terribly unusual. I much prefer her visit to one from a wandering thief or noisy traffic.

 

 

 

Posted in a writer's life, Arkansas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond The Moon

This is the product of my attempt to add this image to a sidebar. It added a post from several months ago as current, put this image here and more or less messed up my mind for the day. After three hours i still can’t add images or remove images from the sidebar. So if you see strange posts here the next few days it will be me struggling to get this right. I’m on Google now in an attempt to learn how to ride this thing down when I should be writing. So wish me luck and visit me if they come in and carry me away because I’m banging my head on the wall.

new cover

click here to purchase

click here to purchase

By the way you can’t purchase this book by clicking here, but you can go to my Amazon page and that’s easy. http://www.amazom.com/author/veldabrotherton

The products of my wild brain are all there. At least Amazon knows how to do it.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cabin In the Land of the Indians

Long CabinOver the years I’ve learned that people aren’t as interested in facts and figures of history as they are about the people who lived the life during those days long past. So I’m trying to stick to that in these writings, but in order to tell their stories I have to put you where they lived. Let you see, feel, hear, taste, and smell their world.

The white haired gentleman, and I call him that for it fits so well, met me in a pickup, parked on a dirt road next to a bridge spanning Greasy Creek. The phone call he made to the newspaper informed me that to give directions might just result in my wandering the lovely Ozark wilderness all day. Or perhaps even lost forever. I wouldn’t so much mind that but after hearing some of his story, I wanted to go where he lived, see it for myself and get in touch with the ghosts of his past.

Thus the clandestine meeting. I followed him onto a narrow dirt road where weeds grew up in the center, slapping the undersides of my Thunderbird. I asked much more of this car than it was built for, but when I bought it I had no idea what was awaiting me just around the corner when I went to work for The Washington County Observer. So, here we were in the back woods of Washington County where other reporters had never gone.

We turned, then we turned some more, driving through virgin timber that canopied the roads and fording churning creeks, often the only sound in the wilderness. The last ford being past a barn of weathered boards and coming to a stop at the cabin. Ancient logs formed the house and it sat perhaps no more than fifty feet from the creek on a rise. The scattering of rocks that made up its bank almost touched the steps of his porch. Around to the side the meandering creek had cut a deep bank, perhaps from recent heavy rains that filled it to overflowing.

It was early spring, but the trees had all leafed out on trees so huge and tall they had to be a century or more in age. I opened the car door and stepped out into a silence filled only with bird song and the creek playing over the rocks. As I looked up through sycamore leaves the size of dinner plates, something cold touched my face and tickled the leaves as if whispering to me. Snowflakes floated down doing a butterfly dance through the leaves and tickling my skin.

I could say or do nothing but close my eyes and stand still, taking it all in. The feel, the sound the touch and smell. Air cleansed of auto exhaust and town living. He must have sensed my awe because he waited beside his truck, not closing the door. To do so would have broken the spiritual silence. It’s times like these I have a real desire to worship the beauty of our world.

Gene and Geneva Long have lived here off and on during their entire marriage. A stint in California brought them running home at last to settle in the home built by his grandfather. They would add rooms to the cabin using only aged logs from old structures so it would not lose its personality. I will soon go inside, but first a short history lesson.

It was 1827 before white men were allowed to move into and build homes in this part of our Ozarks. The four counties in the northwest corner plus a portion of Carroll County then belonged to the Cherokee who had obtained it from the Osage. I won’t go back further for the history becomes confusing when the American Indians fought over land and it passed back and forth. For the sake of our story, we’ll begin when his grandfather built this cabin.

His wife told me the date was 1815, but I was sure she must have said 1850 so she repeated it. Told me I could go to the courthouse and verify the date that the family snuck into Indian lands to settle on this piece of property. It has been in the family ever since. A daughter lives on the hill above the old cabin.

Gene was born there and he took me into the bedroom which had a raised floor for the canopy bed. He told me that design was common back then. Geneva has modernized her kitchen in that it has running water, but other than that all work done is in the style that fits the overall design of the house. He showed me the type of nails used in the original construction and said he had some problems acquiring the same for the addition. Geneva brought us lemonade which we drank sitting on the vast front porch.

I almost hated to bid the couple goodbye. A while later we passed into their lives again when a video was shot of my work. The Longs were included in the interviews that were filmed, but unfortunately there wasn’t room for their story in the final film which was entered in the Arkansas Film Festival held in Batesville that year. The producers gave that portion filmed to the Long family.

Gene called me one more time before he passed away. He was riding around in the wilderness on his four-wheeler when he found the remains of an old water mill which would have been used to grind wheat and other grains to produce flour and cornmeal. We followed him to see his find. He waved goodbye to us and drove away. This would be the last time I saw him this kind man who impressed me with his knowledge and keen wit. Geneva lived in the house until her death and her daughter remains on the property. But don’t go looking for this Eden, because you won’t find it. I probably couldn’t get there myself except in my mind where I visit often.

Posted in Arkansas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Younkin Makes History

Younkin with plane

When I was in pigtails I attended school for one cut-short year in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’m sure it never entered my mind that I would ever return to live in Arkansas. Oh, I was born here, but like so many after the Depression, my parents were keen on getting out and staying out. Sadly, their memories of the beautiful Ozarks are not like mine. I was too young to recall their tragedies. Kids don’t think about how their lives may entwine and form an invisible chain of events that will forever form the future. We don’t look around us and see a small town on the verge of exploding into a prosperous city. We see our room, our yard, the school we go to, the place we hang out. That’s all. What carries us away and brings us back is often a long, crooked road demanding much of us.

Actually, today in the hubbub of our lives, we often forget that we are living history. I so wish that I had kept clips of the historical articles I wrote while with the Washington County Observer. Oh, I can go to the library or the U of A and find them all neatly kept for historians to peruse. My memory must help me recall those days and sometimes I like that better, because history should not be facts and figures, names and dates, so much as it should be what happened, how it happened, and most of all how it makes us feel, how we reacted, how others reacted. For history is people and what they did more than it is anything else.

This story must come from my memory because I want to tell it that way and because I don’t recall some of the exact dates and names. But I do fondly recall the day I first met this icon of aviation.

I sat with his wife looking out the window waiting for her husband to come home. On the yard beyond the window was a flat grass green airstrip where he would soon land his plane, one he had constructed himself. I was there to interview Robert Younkin. A name well known in the flying history of Fayetteville. Already the sprawl of Fayetteville was on the move. She told me they were selling the land and moving on.

But  I don’t want to get ahead of my story. His wife said he would take the plane to the nearby hanger and I should walk on out there. I crossed the field that sloped gently southwest from Highway 71. A scattering of homes lay off to my right and left and behind me. Clearly there was more to come.

By the time I reached the plane, now parked facing me, Robert Younkin had climbed down and waited there for me. He was a smallish man with a thick crop of white hair and a kind smile. We talked, mostly about aviation while he guided me through his workshop in the hanger. There he rebuilt and worked on Pratt and Whitney engines.

His knowledge came from his youth when he flew crop dusters. He began his company in 1957, and though he loved to fly it was evident from our walking tour that most of all he enjoyed working on the engines that carried his planes into the wild blue yonder. We must have talked an hour or more, then he paused beside his plane for me to take the photograph you see here.

Today there is no sign left that an airfield ever existed in that spot except on a street sign that reads Robert Younkin Dr. Well, at least you know a bit of the rest. Washington Regional Hospital takes up most of the land now.

To conclude this history we must move to Moose Jaw Alaska and the Saskatchewan 2005 Airshow where Robert’s nephew Bobby Younkin, along with Jimmy Franklin were killed in an air crash. Tragedy caught up with the family again in May, 2011 when Bobby’s daughter Amanda Franklin, was killed during a wing walking exhibition.

Younkin Air is now located outside West Fork, but as far as I can learn, Robert has passed away. Google doesn’t always have all the answers, believe it or not. And the name is so common as to cause confusion anyway. Each time I drive toward the hospital from Highway 71 I recall the day I stood on that hillside and talked with a man who is enshrined in the early history of Fayetteville and aviation.

Posted in Aviation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond the Moon

beyond the moon cover new

Posted in Beyond The Moon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Batter Up: Women Play Major League Baseball

Mildred Earp pitcher

Today I’m going to tell you a story you may not believe about a 21 year old woman (called gal for the rest of the article because let’s pretend it’s 1943 as it was) from West Fork, Arkansas who became a major league baseball player. Now it takes a lot of steps for this to happen.

Remember, it’s 1943 and there’s a danger there won’t be any more baseball because of the shortage of men players. A man with a lot of pull by the name of Wrigley put the league in motion for women. You know, Wrigley Chewing Gum, Wrigley Field in Chicago? He founded the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) turned out tons of promotion and by summer of that year it was wildly popular, especially in the mid-west.

Now comes my tale. I received a call from a man in West Fork asking me if I would like the story of his aunt, who was a pitcher for the Grand Rapid Chicks. After tryouts in Springfield she was immediately snapped up. She’d played baseball all through high school and was on a small local team. Now she was a major league star.

When I arrived at his house he dragged out a suitcase, you remember what those are? Not backpacks or duffel bags. It was filled with memorabilia his aunt had kept including hardballs signed by some big league men players. Oh, it seems that though the threat of losing men’s baseball had been rumored, it never happened, but the gals kept right on playing for ten years.

Her name? Mildred Earp (pronounced Arp) The first year she became a stand-out hurler for the Grand Rapids Chicks, going 20-8 with a 0.68 ERA, to set a new league record.

Mildred, by then nicknamed Mid, continued as an outstanding pitcher against teams with names such as Fort Wayne Daisies, South Bend Blue Sox, Racine Bells and Rockford Peaches — movie-goers will recognize this team as the one featured in the film A League of Her Own. Mid made the All Star team twice during her short career. During her career, she commanded such feats as retiring the first 21 batters, winning game four on a shutout and performing with a 4-hitter in game 7 to win the finale 1-0.

And there on the floor at my feet lay clips of all the articles written about her during that time, plus everything she’d kept that was dear to her about her time spent playing women’s major league baseball.

This was serious baseball. According to the 1940s -1950s Women Baseball Archives, teams played a 112 game series and then the winners played in a world series.

year book Earp

In the league, women were paid weekly from $40 to $80 and as high as $125 per/week in later years. Millie’s first contract read that she would receive $50 per week, plus $50 for each week she showed up for spring training. That was pretty good money in those days, and it was even better money for a woman to earn.

Over the ten years of the league’s existence, women’s rules evolved to match regulation baseball. Balls shrank from softball to baseball size, the pitcher’s mound and base paths were lengthened, and pitchers started throwing overhand. The Chicks played the game with enthusiasm and local fans in Grand Rapids responded accordingly. Once, a crowd of 10,000 turned out for a championship game. Always a strong team, the Grand Rapids women’s team won league championships in 1947 and 1953 and made the playoffs every year of their existence.

Tim Wiles, Director of Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum Cooperstown, New York had this to say about these gals:

“Millie and the other ladies of the AAGPBL not only lived a fascinating chapter in baseball history, but they are great ambassadors for the game today, tirelessly signing autographs and doing all they can for the next generation of baseball fans.”

Eighty-eight of the women who took part in this program are recognized in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. That tiny pitcher from Arkansas, Mildred Earp is one of them.

The Arkansas Naturals Triple A Baseball Team based in Fayetteville, once asked Millie if she would throw an opening pitch for the team, but sadly, she was physically unable to honor the request. She will always be remembered for the outstanding part she played in the brief glory of women’s baseball.

I held one of those baseballs with reverence and awe. Holding history in one’s hands has always affected me in such a way. I was allowed to lug that suitcase home to sit among the mementos and experience the past of this baseball hero and write my story. To listen to the crowds’ roar and experience Mid’s excitement as she rose from a small-town gal to an all-star baseball pitcher. I only wish I could have met her.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Carving Cowboy

 

Ivan Denton leaving Mt. Gayler for CaliforniaA tall mustached cowboy rode into my life a lot of years ago when I was involved with The Ozark Native Craft Shop south of Winslow. His name? Ivan Denton, a well-known sculptor of wood. But he is known for so much more than that talent.

In those days craft shows were the place to be on long hot summer weekends in the Ozarks. I worked part-time in this shop and so became a part of their semi-annual shows. Being surrounded by so many artists, it followed that I would try my hand at something, so I spent a lot of time in the midst of these wonderful crafts people discovering a hidden talent – well, semi-talent: drawing.

At that time Ivan Denton displayed his carvings in the shop and at the craft shows and we began to have long talks. As time went by we became more involved in his love of writing when I began what would become the long road to writing with a weekly column for three newspapers in the area. I interviewed crafts people, visited their workshops and wrote their stories. It didn’t take long to realize that Denton was more than a carver of cute little images. He was a true sculptor and people came from all over the world, not just from our small Ozark settlements, to admire and purchase his creations.

If I were to attempt a story about this talented, wonderful personality it would take a book. He was an historian who told marvelous stories, an adventurer who claimed to have discovered a mine of turquoise in our mountains, a musician who appeared on stages including the local Little O’ Oprey in West Fork. He and his wife Rose became friends who sat in our living room and told stories and entertained me and my husband more than once.

Ivan and his wife Rose lived on a ranch down around Schaberg, truly the wilderness. For years he had a wood carving shop near his home where he welcomed carvers. Sometimes I drove down there to find men sitting around on stumps, rocks and in chairs, knives busy making chips from hunks of wood that they would turn into faces, horses, or other images. And there sat Ivan in the center teaching and entertaining everyone with his guitar and marvelous voice.

Probably his accomplishment that stands out among all those talents is his ride from Arkansas to California on his beloved horse Lad. They left on a rainy morning, he and that horse, from Artist Point north of Mountainburg to follow the Cherokee Trail to Woodford Station near Lake Tahoe in California. His wife kept in touch from her truck packed with supplies, but far away on a busy Interstate. The day he left I was there to take pictures and wish him farewell.

Coincidentally I wrote a western novel that told the history of the Cherokee Trail prior to his ride. He often teased me on stage about the romances I wrote, but bragged when he learned I had dedicated one to him.

Ivan’s ride was followed in the Washington County Observer in the letters he wrote to the paper. After he returned he took the time out of his busy life to write a book about that ride and included in it the history of cattle drives and old brands of the west. I have a copy that I treasure. In it he wrote simply “For Velda, a good friend and fellow writer. Ivan Denton.” It’s title is Old Brands and Lost Trails – Arkansas and the Great Cattle Drives.

Ivan’s true character can be found in this final acknowledgement in his book regarding those who helped him along his infamous ride: After I saddled up and before I mounted my pony I would shake hands, look them in the eye, and say, “I will never forget your kindness.” And I never will.

I too will never forget the times I spent with this very special man who not only taught me much about the west, he taught me about being humble and thankful for all those I’ve met along my trail.

Ivan has gone on now to join so many other of my friends and acquaintances. I often picture him and Dusty exchanging stories for they could outdo each other with their knowledge of the old west and Arkansas’ characters and tales from the past.

Copies of the Observer are on file at the University of Arkansas and the Winslow Library has most of them which I donated.

Posted in Ivan Denton, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments