Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Monday, September 29, 2014

Doughnuts and War

"Otto the baker was another nice old Herrin guy I remembered from way back. But he didn't seem as happy as Joe; maybe because Italy had been our ally in the War, and Germany had been the enemy-- the Hun. Otto had never been the Kraut type with a big picture of Kaiser Bill on the wall, but a lot of people were still down on Germans in general, even though they still loved the fresh bread, doughnuts and cakes."


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hot Times in Little Egypt

""Yeah," Owen chuckled, "you yell 'Joe' at a ball game around here, and half the place turns around."
"Or yell 'Mike' at an Irish picnic," said Nora.
"Or 'Pierre' over in French Village," I laughed.
"Yeah," agreed Owen. "But according to the Klan dragons and what-not, foreigners are what's ruining the country. And if you ain't a good ol' American Scotch-Irish, English, German Protestant, you just as well get back on the boat."


Monday, August 25, 2014

Ragtime and 80-Proof Rootbeer

"Alexander's Ragtime Band" ended with a loud flourish on the drums. Norah unglued herself from me, and we worked our way through the happy perspiring crowd, back to the table where Sis and Owen were greeting people they knew. We ordered drinks from a cute little red-haired waitress, who it turned out was the girlfriend of Kelly, the kid I'd met at Milo's. He was parked at the bar over by the gray-haired lookout, his unsmiling blue eyes watching the crowd, and sipping from a big mug of what I knew certainly wasn't rootbeer."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Southern Illinois, Little Egypt, in the early Twenties. Bad times mixed with good times. Miners versus mine owners, bootleggers versus KKK, The Herrin Massacre, hot Dixieland jazz and sweet romantic tunes, and the dancing that went with them. Ed Murry home from the China Fleet, with two very different girls on the line, and a .45 in his suitcase.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Southerners, Indians, and Sheridan

     "The officer smiled and shrugged, and the engineer from Georgia said, 'I guess Phil Sheridan hates Indians about as much as he hates Southerners.'
     Grierson made a derisive sound. 'No offense, Lieutenant,' he said softly, 'but I served with that son of a bitch, and I got no use for the man.' "

(from Amargosa Ambush)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Back Where a Friend Is a Friend

"Ridin' the range once more,
toatin'  my ol' .44;
where we sleep out every night,
and the only law is Right--
back in the saddle again."

(Autry and Whitley)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Farewell to the Mission Indians

"Pio Pico's nephew was living in part of the old mission, but the church and the rest of it were in bad shape. The Indians who had been living there before secularization, learning useful skills like herding cattle, making tallow and hides, or doing masonry and carpentry, cooking, tending vineyards, making good wine and brandy, and other civilized skills, were now working in the Pueblo of the Angels and elsewhere as dirt-cheap labor during the week, and as hopeless drunks Saturday night and Sunday."

(from Amargosa Ambush)

Friday, March 14, 2014

School Days

"You were my queen in calico;
I was your blushing, barefoot beau.
You wrote on my slate, 'I love you so,"
When we were a couple of kids."

Cobb & Edwards   1907

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Long Trail

A pale gray dawn
Cold and windy,
A thin silver crescent-moon rising
Veiled in a wisp of saffron cloud.
Long-horned black cattle
Rising out of the dark hill
Silhouetted sharply against the brightening sky. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ridin' the Rails

"My pocket book is empty,
And my heart is filled with pain.
I'm a thousand miles away from home,
Just waitin' for a train."     

(Jimmie Rodgers)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Civil War Lunacy

"Waving to the gray-bearded old Reb, he thought again about the lunacy of war. Especially a civil war. American against American. Eleven years ago the two of them might have been trying their best to kill or cripple each other. And over what? Was stopping the South from having their own country really worth all the killing and destruction? General Logan and lots of others had thought so, and he'd thought so too as a kid; but that was before he saw the results first hand."    (Amargosa Ambush)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Whores and Angels

"Hell yeah," answered the Irishman. "We're all set to retire and open a whore-house in the City of Angels."
Cal smiled. "Good idea. We could always use another whorehouse down there."
"Actually, old boy," said the Englishman, tapping off the ash from his thin cigar, "it's to be a rather exclusive bordello-- no hoi polio allowed."
(Amargosa Ambush)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Whiskey and Romance

     "Cal poured about half a shot into her cup, then reached across and took her left hand in his, her gold wedding band pressing against his palm.
     I'm not passing her up, he told himself. I didn't make any marriage vows. And what the hell; I could get shot tomorrow. He remembered other times he had felt the same way during the war."     (Tejon Trail)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Progress Rides the Rails

"To the east he could see a locomotive chugging across the valley, hauling supplies, dark wood smoke boiling up out the its big smoke stack. The faint sound of its whistle came floating across what had once been the Mission's grazing lands. He patted the sorrel's neck. "The clarion call of Progress, Red," he said softly. Then he rode down towards Lopez Stage Station and the old ruined mission beyond it."    (Tejon Trail)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Angelina by Twilight

"He sat enjoying the twilight view across the orchard, and in about fifteen minutes Angelina came walking slowly up the path carrying a platter with four large burritos stacked on it. Her white dress looked like a cheap flour-sack, but on her slender shapely figure it looked good. She smiled her shy-flirtatious sixteen year old smile, handed him the platter, and, as usual, walked silently back down the path. He watched her, thinking There goes a pretty little senorita who is either going to be a blessing to her parents, or a curse."     (TEJON TRAIL)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Low-life Along the Porciuncula

"East of Calabasas were some other enterprising types, whose small adobes and shacks were sprouting along the River. Many were Texas low-life who hunted deer and other game, and made a kind of living by raising and selling chickens and turkeys, with the women doing most of the work They were even meaner than the Southern roughnecks over in El Monte, and their neighborhood was best avoided. Shooting a man in the back from ambush didn't bother them at all."  (from Tejon Trail)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spaniards, Shysters and Shylocks

"He shook his head as he rode down the still-busy dirt street, thinking that with the railroad would come even more shysters and shylocks, card-sharps and crooks, flooding into the Western Land of Opportunity, a hundred years after the Revolution and two hundred years since Portola and Father Crespi had sat talking around the camp fire there beside the Rio Porciuncula." 

Monday, January 13, 2014

In Old Los Angeles

"Riding through the gate he glanced back at the Pueblo. Large trees and the hills to the west were silhouetted against a bright golden sunset. He was thinking that not even crime and war stopped the beauties of nature. He had seen terrible killing take place against a backdrop of peach blossoms and a  beautiful sunrise, and sometimes a field of dead soldiers silvered by moonlight."   (from Amargosa Ambush)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Centennial days in the Pueblo

"Every business, office, dance hall and saloon in Los Angeles had a flag or two flying to demonstrate their Centennial patriotic fervor. And up on Fort Moore Hill, where the American Marines had been besieged during the Californios' brief resistance, there was a bigger flag than usual streaming in the cool Spring breeze. He smiled, wondering if someone had also decorated the nearby gallows."