Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BLACK HATS by DARRYLE PURCELL



I’ve had a few folks who read my 1930s B-western book series ask me to name the best actors from the old cowboy films. To me, favorite movie cowboys and best western-film actors are two separate categories.

One key element that all western films have in common is the battle between good guys and bad guys. And, in the classic B-westerns of 1920s into the ’50s, the good guys wore white hats (except for Lash LaRue and Hoppy) and the bad guys wore black hats.

Film villains in those days were usually saloon owners, bankers and attorneys with pencil-thin mustaches and smarmy smiles. It didn’t take an A-student to identify a B-western bad guy within the first five minutes of a Saturday matinee presentation. (I only wish it were that easy in real life prior to an election.)

The great character actors who wore black hats and perpetrated dastardly deeds in many western films were usually the best actors. People like Charlie King, Myron Healey, I. Stanford Jolley and Barton MacLane appeared in countless films as delightfully wicked scoundrels. Where the white-hatted heroes were strong, handsome and, usually, quite stoic, the villains were able to mug for the camera and chew scenery while carrying out their evil attempts to steal the ranch, rustle the cattle, rob the bank or force the schoolmarm into an unwanted marriage.


The King of the Black Hats was Charlie King. His bushy black mustache and deep Texas accent made him a popular rascal in close to 400 motion pictures during his career. Although he appeared primarily as a villain, King also played a variety of parts in oaters, including comedic roles. Virtually every B-western hero (Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, Tex Ritter, Bob Steele, Lash LaRue, Buster Crabbe, etc.) engaged in memorable on-film fistfights with King.

Myron Healey’s bad-guy characters were usually clean-shaven. But young audiences began to recognize his villainous smile as a sure sign he was up to no good.

Healey landed his first scoundrel roles post-war at Monogram Pictures where he faced off with Johnny Mack Brown, Whip Wilson and Jimmy Wakely, and also wrote screenplays for some of the films. That led to a long career in television and motion pictures.

Barton MacLane was another great character actor who became known for his cowboy villains. During his career, which lasted from the ’30s into the ’60s, MacLane also successfully portrayed gangsters, cops, military officers, newspaper editors and protective fathers. His recognizable face can be found in B- and A-feature films as well as television. He worked with Humphrey Bogart, Randolph Scott, the Marx Brothers, Glenda Farrell and other greats in films with singing and non-singing cowboys, pirates, Dr. Jekyll, the Mummy and Jeanie from the I Dream of… series.

Although his name isn’t often recalled, I. Stanford Jolley, whose acting career lasted from the ’20s into the ’70s, is instantly recognizable as a western villain. He portrayed all kinds of characters in motion pictures and television, yet his look personified the mustached black-hatted blackguard who would shoot a preacher in the back for the coins on his plate. Young matinee audiences would begin hissing the minute he appeared onscreen and then break into a cheer at the end of the film when the white-hatted hero dispatched him to his un-heavenly reward.

Mr. Jolley’s family and friends have remembered him as one of the kindest men in the business. Now that’s a real actor.

The classic cowboy stars of the past could not have existed, let alone been so heroic, if it were not for the wonderfully evil black hats who were out to get them.

Former newspaper editor and political cartoonist Darryle Purcell writes and illustrates Buckskin Editions’ Hollywood Cowboy Detectives series. The B-western book series was inspired by the great Saturday matinee serials of the 1930s and is illustrated in the style of the pulp adventure publications of the same era. The latest paperback adventure is Mystery of the Horned Monster, which includes a bonus short story, Mystery of the Silent Demons. The series can be found in paperback and Kindle editions at: amazon.com/author/darrylepurcell

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Story Behind the Story: Abram's Wife



One of my favorite writers is Fredric Brown.
Brown wrote mostly crime and science fiction stories and is well known for his detective novel The Fabulous Clip Joint and his SF story, "Arena," which was adapted for the original Star Trek TV series.
But Brown is also famous for his flash fiction. Known in his day as short-short work, a typical Brown piece of the sort might fill only half a page. Or, as in his story "The End," the same story might appear on the top of the page, only to repeat--backwards--across the bottom.
Meanwhile, in a couple months I'll be releasing a collection of my Holt County novellas and stories. Deputy sheriff Whit Branham is one of my favorite western characters, so I thought it was appropriate that with a new collection soon coming, I'd let him take center stage in a short-short piece of fiction.
The result is "Abram's Wife." 
I wrote this in two sittings. The first draft, typed out at the local deli with a tumbler of iced tea and an '80s pop soundrack weighed in at close to 1,600 words and took two hours. 
I brought it home, mulled it over, and cut around a third of that, added a bit more, and within another 30 minutes had the final story of Around 1,300 words.
After growing up on a Nebraska farm, Richard Prosch worked as a professional writer, artist, and teacher in Wyoming, South Carolina, and Missouri. His western crime fiction captures the fleeting history and lonely frontier stories of his youth where characters aren’t always what they seem, and the windburned landscapes are filled with swift, deadly danger. In 2016, Richard roped the Spur Award for short fiction given by Western Writers of America. Read more at www.RichardProsch.com

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS CELEBRATES THREE YEARS! by Cheryl Pierson



Hey everyone! Please help us celebrate our fantastic third birthday “bash” at Prairie Rose Publications! Yep, this month marks the “big date” for us when we became a company and actually set our dreams into motion.

From our very first publication, WISHING FOR A COWBOY, that made its debut in October 2013, to the present, we have strived to bring our readers the very best stories we could lay our hands on. And, we hope we’ve brought happiness and fulfillment to authors in all stages of their careers—from the newbies to the well-seasoned—who have all joined us and become part of the PRP and Imprints family. Over the past three years, we've expanded to SIX imprints, and have published hundred of novels, short stories, novellas, and boxed sets and anthologies--and we have loved every minute of it!

Our authors work hard to bring their characters and stories to life for readers, and our team at PRP has enjoyed these past three years immensely—I love reading and editing the submissions I receive and coming up with new ideas for boxed sets, anthologies and series. 
Livia and I, along with Kathleen, hash and re-hash what we think would be fun ideas for our authors to participate in, and we’re always open for submissions when our authors come up with their own fantastic tales.

Livia creates some of the most wonderful book covers ever, and is the true guru when it comes to getting all our work up and available for sale. She writes the release blogs for all our projects, and is, in general, like the “Wizard of Oz”, working behind the scenes (remember the curtain?) LOL And she is my hero—did y’all know that when she had a broken arm, she still managed to get a couple of releases up from the hospital? She’s one tough lady! Ok, you guessed it...she is actually...
...NOT a mild mannered author-type at all! Do you recognize her in this picture?

Kathleen is our website queen, among other things. I will never know anything close to what she’s already forgotten about social media, website and blogging issues, general info we need to be aware of in the publishing world, and …wait a minute…I think I just said that Tex is more brilliant than I am! Oh, but just in these areas. Never mind. There are others! (Kathleen—aka Tex—and I do a lot of good-natured sparring with one another since she’s a dyed-in-the-wool Texan who loves to be cantankerous to us Okies.)

Livia, Kathleen, and I love working together and think so much alike about so many things that it’s easy to “move along” with plans and ideas we have. We wanted to celebrate our third birthday with some new releases, sales, and prizes. So please join us every day at the PRP blog through the 19th of August for a variety showcasing of the talents of our many wonderful authors! We will be doing giveaways, so be sure to leave a comment with contact info on our blogs—your name COULD BE the one we pick! And you're certain to find some fantastic new books to add to your library, no matter what! Just take a look at all these wonderful stories, waiting to be read! Here's our link!
https://prairierosepublications.blogspot.com/


 
 
 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THE DECEIVERS by Tom Rizzo

Time proved the best ally of con men who roamed the wide open spaces of the Old West ready to spin their creative schemes on all gullible segments of society.


The families who headed for the frontier usually made the rough journey of four to six months with all their possessions plus an average of about $1,000 in cash—considered a sizable amount of the time since wage earners usually brought home only a few dollars a week.

Hucksters and swindlers awaited the unsuspecting like hungry vultures poised to swoop in for the kill. No one was immune: farmers, soldiers, merchants—anyone who had a buck or two or more for the taking. 

Warnings or alerts about these tricksters traveled at a snail’s pace and usually never reached the frontier until pioneers and others fell victim to con men again and again. Con men were as prevalent as bars of soap throughout the American West.

Soap, incidentally, served as the core of one successful swindle. Although it’s impossible to identify all the con men who traveled the Old West, here are three who made a successful living fooling the unsuspecting. 

SOAPY SMITH


A crowd gathered on a busy street corner in Denver stood spellbound as the man in the dark suit and flat-brimmed hat balanced his valise on a tripod stand and opened it to reveal stacks of ordinary soap cakes wrapped in plain paper. 

Jefferson Randolph Smith II took out his wallet and removed paper bills in denominations of one dollar to $100, wrapped them around several of the money-wrapped soap bars, and mixed them with the others. At that point, he offered to sell the soap for $1 to $5 a bar. A few individuals in the crowd—accomplices of Smith, known as the Soap Gang—quickly bought the soap packets.

After ripping away the wrapping, they excitedly displayed the $100 bills, bragging aloud voices they had pulled a fast one on the soap man and beaten him at his own game. Enticed by the success of these shills, others in the crowd anted up the cash to buy their packets—all which contained only soap, valued at about a nickel.

The scam gave birth to the con man’s nickname—Soapy Smith, who continued the hoax over a twenty-year period.

The “Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle,” as a Denver newspaper dubbed it, proved child’s play compared to the overall criminal pursuits of this American con man. Between 1879 and 1898, Smith played a significant role in the operation of organized crime in Denver, and in Creede, Colorado.

Smith’s last con, bilking a Klondike miner out of a sack of gold, cost him his life on July 8, 1898, in what’s known as the Shootout of Juneau Wharf

JIM MINER


The crowd gathered around the man in the derby hat, and stylish clothes reacted with surprise when he flashed a big smile and snapped open his umbrella, even though he was indoors. 

“Gather 'round, folks, for a chance to double your money,” announced Jim Miner, also called as Umbrella Jim, one of the slickest of Mississippi shell game artists, a master of the short-con. Miner operated under a simple strategy: Get in. And get out.

Not only did he start his infamous shell-and-pea game by opening his umbrella—rain or shine, indoors or out—he immediately segued into a ballad for his eager onlookers and then launched the con.

Miner smiled and placed a small round ball, the size of a pea, under one of three walnut shells and quickly shuffled them around the tabletop. “Who can guess where the little pea is hiding? Double your money,” he announced, reeling out just enough inducement to convince the daring to wager on the location of the pea.

In reality, the only big winner would be Jim Miner. The game had nothing to do with chance. While those who placed bets stood wide-eyed and focused on the back of Miner's hands, they couldn't spot the slight-of-hand wizardry he used to remove the pea between his thumb and second finger.

On occasion, he allowed someone to win, purely to squeeze higher bets out of the mark. And every crowd included someone who believed he was smarter than the game. No one playing had the ability to pick the right shell unless Miner—or another operator—wanted someone else to win.

CANADA BILL JONES



"Suckers have no business with money, anyhow," said Canada Bill Jones, one of the most capable card sharps in history. 

Born in Yorkshire, England, in the early 1800s, Jones immigrated to Canada when he was about twenty and mastered three-card monte, which is not a game but a scam or swindle.
After several years of fleecing suckers in Canada, he crossed the border into the United States and took his game to the pre-war south where he conned passengers on Mississippi riverboats out of enormous sums of money. 

Jones attributed much of his success to playing the rube. 
He spoke in a squeaky voice, draped baggy clothes over his 130-pound frame, and came across as a bumbling greenhorn, a klutz that few people took seriously. But, that's where they made their mistake. Jones was anything but klutzy. He was a master of the con, and a renowned poker cheat.

After the Civil War, he and his card-sharp partner, George Devol, decided to ply their trade on the railroad, targeting passengers who were heading West at the beginning of the country's ambitious expansion. 

The pair enjoyed so much success that Canada Bill wrote the general superintendent of the Union Pacific Railroad offering to pay between $10,000 and $25,000 a year for the exclusive right to operate a three-card monte on the trains. Bill promised to fleece only “the wealthy, and Methodist ministers.” Not surprisingly, the railroad declined to accept the offer. 

Among his most ardent admirers were other gamblers. When Canada Bill died in 1880 in Reading, Pennsylvania, he was penniless. Dozens of his peers showed up at his funeral and raised money to repay the city for the cost of burying Bill, and to erect a gravestone in his honor.

One card sharp at the funeral wagered $100 that “Bill is not in that box.” 

_______



Tom Rizzo invites you to Discover the Historical Westand read about characters and events that shaped the American frontier. Join the StoryTeller Posse and receive occasional dispatches from the High Plains and beyond and receive a FREE copy of "WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS: GUNSLINGERS AND GUNFIGHTS OF THE OLD WEST. "
_______

SWINDLERS & SCOUNDRELS by Tom Rizzo

Time proved the best ally of con men who roamed the wide open spaces of the Old West ready to spin their creative schemes on all gullible segments of society.


The families who headed for the frontier usually made the rough journey of four to six months with all their possessions plus an average of about $1,000 in cash—considered a sizable amount of the time since wage earners usually brought home only a few dollars a week.

Hucksters and swindlers awaited the unsuspecting like hungry vultures poised to swoop in for the kill. No one was immune: farmers, soldiers, merchants—anyone who had a buck or two or more for the taking. 

Warnings or alerts about these tricksters traveled at a snail’s pace and usually never reached the frontier until pioneers and others fell victim to con men again and again. Con men were as prevalent as bars of soap throughout the American West.

Soap, incidentally, served as the core of one successful swindle. Although it’s impossible to identify all the con men who traveled the Old West, here are three who made a successful living fooling the unsuspecting. 

SOAPY SMITH


A crowd gathered on a busy street corner in Denver stood spellbound as the man in the dark suit and flat-brimmed hat balanced his valise on a tripod stand and opened it to reveal stacks of ordinary soap cakes wrapped in plain paper. 

Jefferson Randolph Smith II took out his wallet and removed paper bills in denominations of one dollar to $100, wrapped them around several of the money-wrapped soap bars, and mixed them with the others. At that point, he offered to sell the soap for $1 to $5 a bar. A few individuals in the crowd—accomplices of Smith, known as the Soap Gang—quickly bought the soap packets.

After ripping away the wrapping, they excitedly displayed the $100 bills, bragging aloud voices they had pulled a fast one on the soap man and beaten him at his own game. Enticed by the success of these shills, others in the crowd anted up the cash to buy their packets—all which contained only soap, valued at about a nickel.

The scam gave birth to the con man’s nickname—Soapy Smith, who continued the hoax over a twenty-year period.

The “Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle,” as a Denver newspaper dubbed it, proved child’s play compared to the overall criminal pursuits of this American con man. Between 1879 and 1898, Smith played a significant role in the operation of organized crime in Denver, and in Creede, Colorado.

Smith’s last con, bilking a Klondike miner out of a sack of gold, cost him his life on July 8, 1898, in what’s known as the Shootout of Juneau Wharf

JIM MINER


The crowd gathered around the man in the derby hat, and stylish clothes reacted with surprise when he flashed a big smile and snapped open his umbrella, even though he was indoors. 

“Gather 'round, folks, for a chance to double your money,” announced Jim Miner, also called as Umbrella Jim, one of the slickest of Mississippi shell game artists, a master of the short-con. Miner operated under a simple strategy: Get in. And get out.

Not only did he start his infamous shell-and-pea game by opening his umbrella—rain or shine, indoors or out—he immediately segued into a ballad for his eager onlookers and then launched the con.

Miner smiled and placed a small round ball, the size of a pea, under one of three walnut shells and quickly shuffled them around the tabletop. “Who can guess where the little pea is hiding? Double your money,” he announced, reeling out just enough inducement to convince the daring to wager on the location of the pea.

In reality, the only big winner would be Jim Miner. The game had nothing to do with chance. While those who placed bets stood wide-eyed and focused on the back of Miner's hands, they couldn't spot the slight-of-hand wizardry he used to remove the pea between his thumb and second finger.

On occasion, he allowed someone to win, purely to squeeze higher bets out of the mark. And every crowd included someone who believed he was smarter than the game. No one playing had the ability to pick the right shell unless Miner—or another operator—wanted someone else to win.

CANADA BILL JONES



"Suckers have no business with money, anyhow," said Canada Bill Jones, one of the most capable card sharps in history. 

Born in Yorkshire, England, in the early 1800s, Jones immigrated to Canada when he was about twenty and mastered three-card monte, which is not a game but a scam or swindle.
After several years of fleecing suckers in Canada, he crossed the border into the United States and took his game to the pre-war south where he conned passengers on Mississippi riverboats out of enormous sums of money. 

Jones attributed much of his success to playing the rube. 
He spoke in a squeaky voice, draped baggy clothes over his 130-pound frame, and came across as a bumbling greenhorn, a klutz that few people took seriously. But, that's where they made their mistake. Jones was anything but klutzy. He was a master of the con, and a renowned poker cheat.

After the Civil War, he and his card-sharp partner, George Devol, decided to ply their trade on the railroad, targeting passengers who were heading West at the beginning of the country's ambitious expansion. 

The pair enjoyed so much success that Canada Bill wrote the general superintendent of the Union Pacific Railroad offering to pay between $10,000 and $25,000 a year for the exclusive right to operate a three-card monte on the trains. Bill promised to fleece only “the wealthy, and Methodist ministers.” Not surprisingly, the railroad declined to accept the offer. 

Among his most ardent admirers were other gamblers. When Canada Bill died in 1880 in Reading, Pennsylvania, he was penniless. Dozens of his peers showed up at his funeral and raised money to repay the city for the cost of burying Bill, and to erect a gravestone in his honor.

One card sharp at the funeral wagered $100 that “Bill is not in that box.” 

_______


Tom Rizzo invites you to Discover the Historical Westand read about characters and events that shaped the American frontier. Join the StoryTeller Posse and receive occasional dispatches from the High Plains and beyond and receive a FREE copy of "WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS: GUNSLINGERS AND GUNFIGHTS OF THE OLD WEST. "
_______

Friday, August 12, 2016

Old West Patent Medicine

To wrap-up our study of patent medicines, here are a few of the other products your character might have used for various complaints. I've included ingredients and prices when I could find them, and also approximate dates that the brands would have been on the market. Also included are the advertisements promising just about anything!




·  Ayres Diarrhoea Cure: ca 1890 ("Cholera, dysentery, diarrhea")
·  Humphreys' Homeopathic No. 6 Cholera Morbus; ca 1890 ("Promptly curative for Cholera Morbus, with nausea, vomiting, coldness, and even cramps. As preventative of Asiatic Cholera. For Cholera, with coldness, blue surface, vomiting, sudden, profuse, thin, or rice-water stools, cramps, and oppressed respiration. Curative for nausea, or nausea and vomiting from any cause. Morning sickness of expectant women.")
·  Hebe Pills; ca 1880, 2-4 at bedtime
·  Piso's Tablets; after 1894, lycopodium ("For inflammation, leucorrhea, ulceration, sores, or any affections of the skin and mucous membranes capable of being treated locally.")
·  The N.C. (New Century) Stone Root Kidney Cure; after 1895 ("Positive relief and cure for all acute or chronic kidney, bladder or urinary disorders. It is a valuable remedy in Bright's Disease, gravel, stone in bladder, urinary calculi, uric acid deposits, rheumatism, catarrh of the bladder, pain in the back, headache, inflammation of the kidney and liver, bladder and urinary passages, convulsions, incontinence of urine, and all blood, heart, skin and other diseases caused by deranged kidneys.") 50 cents
·  Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound; ca 1890, pleurisy root, life root, fenugreek, unicorn root, black cohosh ("A sure cure for prolapsis uterus or falling of the womb and all female weaknesses, including leucorrhea, irregular and painful menstruation, inflammation and ulceration of the womb, flooding, diseases of the kidneys. For all weakness of the generative organs of either sex, it is second to no remedy that has ever been before the public, and for all diseases of the kidneys it is the greatest remedy in the world.")  
·  Emerson's Rheumatic Cure; ca 1898, lithia ("For rheumatism, gout, rheumatic fever, kidney troubles, lumbago, sciatica, pains in small of back.") 50 cents
·  Dr. Swayne's Pills, ca 1880, sarsaparilla and tar ("A prompt purifying medicine; removes all unhealthy bilious secretions of the stomach, liver, bowels, bladder and kidneys; purifies the blood causing a perfect state of health.")
·  Alexander's Liver and Kidney Tonic; 1890-1906 ("Neuralgic or rheumatic pains in the back, side or limbs, sick headache, liver complaint, kidney affections, dyspepsia, jaundice, loss of appetite, debility, giddiness, nervous diseases, weakness, and complaints peculiar to females, and all diseases arising from a disordered stomach or liver.")
·      Dr. Lorraine’s Vegetable Pill (“Mild, certain, safe, efficient. It is far the best cathartic remedy yet discovered”) 25 cents a box (1870 ad)
·      Polk Miller’s Liver Pills: after 1860 (“For constipation, headache, biliousness”) 10 cents per box
·      Dr. Wengert’s Hepatica Pills: 1874 (“For derangement of the liver and secretions. An alternative and cathartic”)
·      Dr. C. McLane’s Celebrated Liver Pills: after 1855 (“For sick headache and in all bilious complaints”)  
·      Dr. T. Reynolds’ Celebrated Virginia Hepatic Pills: after 1863 (no indications on bottle)
·      Holloway’s Pills: 1870 (“sick headache with loss of appetite … dropsical swellings and turn of life … nervous disorders …”) aloe, myrrh, saffron
·      Tamara Larix Bon Bon: 1872-1883 (“For the cure of constipation and liver diseases and thereby for the prevention of headache, dyspepsia, cerebral congestion, biliousness, piles, etc. Etc. Cures constipation and thus prevents congestion of the brain, apoplexy, insanity, convulsions. It is almost a cure for seasickness”)
·      Dr. H.D. Whitlock’s Cathartic Granules: 1872-1883
·      Brandreth’s Pills: after 1868 (“Excellent purgative and anti-bilious pills, warranted purely vegetable”)
·      Ayer’s Pills: after 1840, jalap, ginger, spearmint oil (“Purely vegetable cathartic”)
·      Beecham’s Pills “after 1859 (“The great English remedy, cures bilious and nervous ills”) 25 cents a box
·      Schenck’s Mandrake Pills: after 1869 (“For biliousness and associated conditions due to constipation” “For all bilious complaints. These pills are composed exclusively of vegetable ingredients and, although they entirely supersede the use of mercury, do not have any of its injurious effects. They act directly upon the liver, and are a valuable remedy in all cases of derangement of that organ. Sick headache, indigestion, and all bilious disorders succumb to the free use of them”)  
·      Hall Family Pills: after 1871 (“For sick headache, vertigo or dizziness, constipation”)
·      Rush’s Pills: 1866-1907 (“Purgative”) Compound colocynth extract, mild mercurous chloride (calomel), jalap resin in fine powder, gamboge in very fine powder, diluted alcohol a sufficient quantity - average dose, 2 pills. 4 different laxatives.
·      Dr. Harter's Liver Pills: 1898-1902 ("For the liver, spleen, stomach, bowels, and all the glands of the system. Purifies the blood and prepares the system for other medicines. For fevers, bilious complaints, coughs, colds, sore throat, costiveness, dyspepsia, chronic diseases, croup, sick headaches, rheumatism, breakbone and yellow fevers, eruptions on the skin, pains and aches.")
·      Carter's Little Liver Pills: after 1880, bisacodyl ("For headache, torpid liver, constipation and the complexion.")   
·      Kickapoo Indian Pills; 1881-1906 ("Constipation, sick headache, nervousness and the complexion.") 

J.E.S. Hays
ww.jeshays.com

www.facebook.com/JESHaysBooks