Sunday, May 15, 2022

12th Annual Peacemaker Awards Finalists and Lifetime Achievement Peacemaker



David Whitehead/Ben Bridges

12th Annual Peacemaker Awards Finalists

For Western Novels Published in 2021




BLOOD AND GOLD, Jeffrey J. Mariotte & Peter Murrieta, (Sundown Press)

DOWNRIVER SOUTH, Greg Hunt,  (Five Star Publishing)

LOST MOUNTAIN PASS, Larry D. Sweazy, (Pinnacle Books)

OLD DOGS, Ron Schwab, (Uplands Press)

THE UNREDEEMED, D. László Conhaim, (Broken Arrow Press)




CLAYTON SHARP: MESSENGER OF WARNING, Eugene J. DiCesaris, (Five Star Publishing)

THE DEVIL’S HAND, M.J. Hayes, (M.J. Hayes)

THE MRS. TABOR, Kimberly Burns, (Thomas Bard Publishing)

THE SHERIFF, Robert Dwyer and Austin Wright, (TwoDot/Rowman & Littlefield)

THE WOLF HUNT, Will Brandon (Barbara Brannon), (Five Star Publishing)





“Double Deceit”, PERILOUS FRONTIER, John D. Nesbitt, (Five Star Publishing)

“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”, SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES, Summer 2021, Kathleen Morris, (Oghma Creative Media)

“The Cowboy, the Librarian, and the Broomsman”, LIBRARIANS OF THE WEST: A QUARTET, Mark Warren, (Five Star Publishing)

“The Running Day”, SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES, Summer 2021, Richard Prosch, (Oghma Creative Media)

“When It Rains”, SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES, Winter 2021, Dennis Doty, (Oghma Creative Media)

Winners will be announced June 15, 2022 on the WF website ( and on this blog.

Western Fictioneers (WF) was formed in 2010 by professional Western writers, to preserve, honor, and promote traditional Western writing in the 21st century. Entries were accepted in both print and electronic forms.

The Peacemaker Awards are given annually. Submissions for the Peacemaker Awards for books published in 2022 will be open in July, 2022. Submission guidelines will be posted on the WF web site. For more information about Western Fictioneers (WF) please visit:

Western Fictioneers would like to thank the judges and James Reasoner for being Awards Chair and for the excellent job they have done.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

On This Day in the Old West: May 13

 On This Day in the Old West: May 13


We’ve been looking at a variety of serious subjects in this series: natural disasters, inventions, etc. Today, let’s have a little levity. On this date in the year 1888, famous Vaudevillian DeWolf Hopper (some sources report it as Hooper) supposedly first recited the comic poem “Casey at the Bat,” published earlier that year. Of course, once I started researching, the dates are fuzzy, with some reporting the poem’s publication as June & the recitation therefore in July or August. But I’ll stick with the May 13th date so we can include the story here.


By his own reckoning, the actor figured he’d recited the verses at least 10,000 times during his long career. If you’d like to see a very short clip of DeWolf’s recitation, here’s a video from the early part of the 1900s.


and this one’s from a 1906 Victrola recording of DeWolf’s performance if you’d like to listen to the full poem:


I’m laughing nearly as hard at the melodramatic performance of DeWolf Hopper as I am at the words of the poem, which, by the way, are right here:


Casey at the Bat

 - 1863-1940

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

As hilarious as the poem is, it’s hard to imagine it would be as well-known or beloved today if not for the dedicated support and “vivacious performance” that Hopper brought to the work, first on stage and then in that popular 1906 recording. Cary O’Dell reported that the poem was published several times without an author’s byline before catching the eye of writer Archibald Gunter when it ran in the New York Sun. He clipped the poem and stuck it into his wallet. Gunter just happened to be friends with famous stage actor DeWolf Hopper, a 6’5” actor/comedian with a deep, booming voice. Hopper was one of Broadway’s leading players and a lifelong baseball fanatic.

It was Hopper who suggested to the opera house’s owners that they host, for one performance only, the home team New York Giants and the visiting Chicago White Stockings. Hopper, determined to make the evening memorable and different, started looking around for something to perform. His friend Gunter passed over the clipping of “Casey at the Bat” and Hopper quickly memorized it. The recitation was an immediate hit.

In his autobiography, “Once a Clown, Always a Clown,” Hopper related “I thought at the time that I was merely repeating a poem, a fatherless waif clipped from a San Francisco newspaper. As it turned out I was launching a career, a career of declaiming those verses up and down this favored land the balance of my life.” 

“Throughout the remainder of his career,” O’Dell reports, “almost every one of his curtain calls, regardless of the production, would bring shouts for “Casey.” They were requests that Hopper was happy to oblige. And, then, once again, for five minutes and 40 seconds, he would work himself up and repeat once more Casey’s less-than-triumphant tale.”

If your characters were around in 1888, whether it was May or August, they may have seen a performance of this poem—maybe even by the great DeWolf Hopper himself. The poem became a favorite, even among those who weren’t baseball fans. Listen to the recording and imagine your character sitting back in their seat at the theater, with tears of laughter rolling down their cheeks.


J.E.S. Hays 


Monday, May 9, 2022

 Ranger Jim's Ramblings for May

Howdy, all,

After too long an absence, I'm back. Whether that's a good or bad thing I'll leave up to you.

I thought this time around I'd list some random facts about horses, sort of a follow up to the list I blogged some time back. Some of you may know some of these, all of them, or none of them. But they can always be worked into a western.

Most horses have manes which lie on the right side of their neck. A few have manes that lie on the left side. And very rare is the horse whose mane lies on both sides.

Hooves on the left side of the horse are called "near". Right side is called "off". Also can be used to distinguish the right of the horse from the  left in general, i.e., dismounting from the right is dismounting from the off side.

 Appaloosas have very thin, usually short, tails. Their manes also tend to be thin.

A blue eye is also called a glass eye. Some horses have one brown, one blue eye, others have two blue eyes. The eye color doesn't affect the horse's vision at all.

White or striped hooves are generally weaker than dark hooves. Striped hooves are frowned upon for every horse breed except Appaloosa, where striped hooves are considered normal.

The two main types of paints/pintos are Tobiano, smooth dark patches on a white haired base, and Overo (pronounced ovAHro), ragged white patches on a dark haired base. A Medicine Hat paint/pinto is a white horse with only a colored "hat" over the top of its head and its ears. Highly prized by Plains Indian tribes for their supposed spiritual powers, such as he ability to protect their riders in battle. Contrary to popular belief,while many cowboys did look down on paints/pintos, many rode them, including some Texas Rangers. Evidence to prove that can be found in old photographs.

A horse has knees on its front legs, hocks on its back legs. A horse also has no muscles below its knees/hocks,. Tee lower leg consists of bone, tendons, and ligaments. What for humans is the ankle is called the fetlock on a horse.

The soft part of the bottom of a horse's hoof is the frog. It absorbs shock, and needs regular trimming.

A horse's brain is approximately the size of a grapefruit.

All of a horse's head between its eyes and jaw is bone and air passageways.A horse can have a hole punched through the side of its head in that area and still keep breathing. It can even fully recover from the injury.

A horse's hoof is the equivalent of a human fingernail. Ancient horses had three toes on each foot. They evolved to just the middle one. That means every time a horse picks up his foot he's giving someone the "middle finger" (Sorry, couldn't resist.

Horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal. They  are set high and wide, so a horse can see almost a full 360 degrees without moving its head. The only blind spot for a horse is about two or three feet, directly in front of its face. They cal also see in color, but similarly to a person with  red-green color blindness. They tend to see blues and yellows better.

A horse has excellent hearing. They move their ears to pinpoint sounds, and also indicate their mood. Ears pricked sharply forward means they are listening to something ahead of them. One ear pointed in each direction indicates the horse is listening in both direction. Ears partially laid back indicates the horse is relaxed.  And ears pinned flat back against the head is a threat or warning the horse is angry.

Horses use their whiskers to feel if a space is large enough for them to get through, and also to help sort out edible from non edible items.

Horses have extremely strong neck and throat muscles, so they can't vomit. That's why colic is so dangerous for a horse. If their intestines become blocked, they can't vomit up the contents.

While horses have no muscles in their lower legs, the tendons and ligaments are extremely strong, while the bones are thin and fragile compared to the weight of a horse.  When a leg bone breaks, it usually shatters, and the tendons and ligaments pull the pieces so far apart it's impossible to set them back together. Almost always a death sentence.

 One last point. Without horses, arguably human civilization would never have advanced (If it indeed has) as far as it has. 


Until next time, Adios.

                                          Birth  Control in the 19th Century

                                                By Jesse J Elliot aka Julie Hanks

         American women in the 19th Centuries averaged seven live births during their lifetimes. Prolapsed organs often occurred with this number of pregnancies, and this did not include a number of undocumented early terminations. Women’s diaries and letters reveal the considerable time women spent preparing for the pain and the realistic possibility of dying in childbirth. Pregnancy was truly a mixed blessing. Infection was another great scourge of childbirth. Women were very susceptible to infection during and immediately after the process of childbirth. Puerperal or childbed fever was both common and much-feared in the nineteenth century. For these reasons, as well as other concerns, 19th Century women looked for safe and ethical methods of birth control. Below is a list of birth control efforts and devices.

         However, one should remember that not all women had access to these methods, contraptions, information, or a cooperative partner. Women on isolated homesteads and women in restrictive homes were at the mercy of their situations (as are some girls and women today).


Fertility Awareness Methods

Also known as the rhythm method, fertility awareness involves tracking your menstrual cycle and symptoms in an attempt to avoid intercourse on your most fertile days. Tracking can be done via the: calendar method, which helps you predict when you’re fertile by tracking your menstrual cycle time frames over several months.

While the rhythm method is cost-free, low-risk, and a great way to learn more about your body, fertility awareness methods have a high failure rate.  A 21st Century doctor states “usually, fertility awareness methods are a far better route if you are actively trying to become pregnant.”  According to Planned Parenthood, fertility awareness methods are up to 76 to 88 percent effective. This means that about 24 out of every 100 people using fertility awareness became pregnant.


People had been using forms of condoms for milenniums before the 1800s.  In the early part of the 19th century, condoms tended to be made from animal intestines and tied in place with a ribbon. However, in 1839, a man named Charles Goodyear made a huge development: vulcanized rubber. And that later spelled the mass production of rubber condoms, creating a more effective form of birth control that more people could afford. Plus, they helped protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

However, in 1873, the Comstock laws started a ban on contraceptives, including condoms. This forced manufacturers to call them by a different name (unknown). Rubber condoms remained popular until the invention of latex in the 1920s


1.     Sponge (to block)

2.     Syringe to wash away sperm

3.     Cap

Diaphragms and Cervical Caps

People inserted cup-shaped devices, like diaphragms and cervical caps, into the vagina to block sperm from entering the uterus. And, when used with a spermicide, they were probably the most effective birth control of the time, aside from abstinence.

Before Goodyear’s rubber invention, people tended to insert all kinds of objects — even half a lemon. However the safer and more comfortable rubber versions that inspired today’s devices weren’t as popular as condoms.



Withdrawal — the act of pulling out before ejaculation — was the most accessible form of birth control in the 1900s, since it didn’t cost a thing.  It could be highly effective if done correctly, and it was in fact effective for some people at that time. But it’s hard to do perfectly and, even now, there’s always a chance of getting semen inside the vagina.


The most effective contraceptive, if stuck to continuously, was abstinence. This simply means not having sex at all.

Abstinence was promoted quite a lot throughout the 1800s, and many married women did follow it. (Of course, some may not have had the freedom to choose this.)

However, lots of married men then turned to prostitution, causing “epidemics” of STIs.


Birth control was technically illegal for married people until 1965, and remained illegal for singles all the way until 1972. However, as is often the case with laws restricting sexual behavior, people found their own ways around it.

Women have been trying to block sperm from [entering the] cervix ever since they first suspected what sperm and women’s bodies created—pregnancy. Three main ways to prevent pregnancy involved block the sperm, kill the sperm, rinse the sperm away.

1. One popular method for blocking sperm involved sponges—like, actual sea sponges. Sears and Roebuck advertised a popular one as a regular old household sponge, but it was called a “ladies fine cup shaped sponge with netting," and had a string for easy removal. Other common blocking devices were pessaries, which doctors insert into the vagina to support bladders and other prolapsing organs.

2. & 3. To kill sperm or wash it out of the body, women commonly turned to suppositories and douches, which were also marketed as hygiene products. Lysol sold a douche that promised to wash out germs and other foreign substances, and marketed its disinfectant for use in the vagina with an ad that read, "Lysol has amazing, proved power to kill germ-life on contact." Women would also douche with vinegar, ammonia, and paprika. For their part, Sears sold “Ladies Antiseptic Suppositories."

These birth control methods (if you can even call them that) were—as you might guess—not exactly effective or safe, and hundreds died of Lysol exposure during the Victorian era. We're still a long way away from effective, cheap, side-effect-free contraceptives for everyone (get on that male birth control, scientists). 










Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Hand-Me-Down Family Recipe - Poor Man's Cake by Kaye Spencer #recipes #westernfictioneers

For my April article, I shared a hand-me-down family recipe (Dutch Babies/Puff Pancakes). I’ll continue sharing old family recipes for a few months. This time, the recipe is Poor Man’s Cake.

This recipe is probably older than the 1930s date I put on it. I do know both my maternal and paternal grandmothers made a variation of this recipe. This rendition is my alteration of mom’s version.

Poor Man’s Cake was a common sweet-treat during the Great Depression Era. It doesn’t require a lot of each of the ingredients, and it’s easily altered to accommodate the ingredients on hand.

 Poor Man's Cake c. 1930s


1 cup raisins
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
2 cups flour                                                    


1. In a small sauce pan, boil raisins in the water until about  ½ cup of water remains & raisins have plumped.

2. Add: shortening & sugar. Stir until shortening melts & sugar dissolves.

3. Set pan aside to cool.

4. When cool, transfer to a mixing bowl & add egg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, & cloves. Mix by hand until blended.

5. Add flour. Mix by hand until batter is smooth.

6. Spread batter evenly over lightly greased jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Batter will be thin.

7. Cake is done when nicely browned, edges pull away from sides, & center is springy to touch.

8. Straight from the oven & while still quite warm, frost cake with a thin powdered sugar frosting glaze.

 *Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes.

*It’s okay to cool the raisin mixture until the shortening solidifies on top. Simply stir & continue with recipe.

*Cut cake into pieces & store lightly covered.

Powdered Sugar Frosting

For every 1 cup of powdered sugar, add a splash of vanilla, a tablespoon of melted butter, & enough water or milk to mix until smooth. Add  more liquid &/or powdered sugar to make a thin glaze.

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
writing through history one romance upon a time


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Horses, Skies, and Poetry and Cowboys?

 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Photo by the Author

April 26, 2022, is National Help a Horse Day. the week is Sky Awareness Week, and April is National Poetry Month.

Cowboy and horse, setting a course by the stars. The lone rider wandering the mountains or desert. Who hasn't read or imagined themselves as that rider?  

Those movies and television shows some of us grew up with sparked an idea. For this post, I thought I post some famous horses and the actor(s) who rode them. But I just can't make it easy. See if you can match the actor and horse. (Answers will be at the end.)


1. Lightning                 A. Roy Rogers

2. Silver                       B. Gene Autry

3. Champion                C. Tim Holt

4. Tarzan                      D. Andy Devine

5. Trigger                     E. Ken Maynard

6. Joker                        F. Bob Steele

7. Brownie                   G. Buck Jones

8. Thunder                   H. Wild Bill Elliott

TV Shows

1. Topper                      A. John Smith

2. Razor                        B. Clint Walker

3. Diablo                       C. Dickie Jones

4. Little Buck                D. Guy Madison

5. Lucky                        E. Chuck Connor

6. Buckshot                    F. William Boyd

7. Brandy                       G. Robert Horton     

8. Alamo                        H. Duncan Renaldo

I can't let National Poetry Month go by without sharing a poem. Although both Charles Badger Clark and James W. Whilt were born before 1900 and wrote about Cowboys and the West, the chosen poem doesn't have an author.

A Prairie Song - Anonymous

Oh, music springs under the galloping hoofs,
Out on the plains;
Where mile after mile drops behind with a smile,
And to-morrow seems always to tempt and beguile,—
Out on the plains.

Oh, where are the traces of yesterday's ride?
There to the north;
Where alfalfa and sage sigh themselves into sleep,
Where the buttes loom up suddenly, startling and steep,—
There to the north.

Oh, rest not my pony, there's youth in my heart,
Out on the plains;
And the wind sings a wild song to rob me of care,
And there's room here to live and to love and to dare,—
Out on the plains.

For those who'd like to read more:

Charles Badger Clark

James W. Whilt


Until next time, Happy Reading and Writing: Doris McCraw

Answers: Movies: 1-C, 2-G, 3-B, 4-E, 5-A, 6-D, 7-F, 8-H 

                TV Shows: 1-F, 2-E, 3-H, 4-G , 5-C, 6-D, 7-B, 8-A

Monday, April 25, 2022

This Plane Went Down in the Pacific…

And someone you know was on board.

Douglas A-1 Skyraider (AD-4NA, 126965)


You may wonder at first why this post is included on a Western-themed blog. But bear with me. All will be made clear by the time you finish this story.

Sampson wasn’t his real name. It was a nickname affectionately given to him by the nurses at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital where he was born in 1930. Weighing over eleven pounds when he was born, the name seemed appropriate. By the time he was eighteen years old, Sampson stood an imposing six-feet, four-inches tall.

As a young boy, he was a bit of a disciplinary problem. He was held back in middle school because of his poor academic performance, and it’s not even known if he graduated from high school.

Sampson had just turned twenty, a couple of months earlier, when the Korean War started in June of 1950, and it wasn’t long before he was called up in the draft and on his way to Fort Ord east of Monterey, California for basic training. However, after basic training, rather than being shipped overseas as part of a combat unit, Sampson was assigned lifeguard duties at the base pool in Fort Ord where he remained throughout his time in the military. Sampson was a good swimmer and enjoyed his duties as a lifeguard. He would spend his days at the base pool, then he would work as a bouncer in a local bar at night to make some extra cash.

After about a year at Fort Ord, Sampson took some leave to visit his girlfriend in Seattle. Military personnel could travel on any military flight free of charge if they could find one that was headed where they were going. So, finding a plane leaving Fort Ord and heading to Seattle, Sampson secured a seat as a passenger.

After spending a few days with his girlfriend, he had to start making arrangements to get back to Fort Ord, but the only military flight that was leaving the Seattle airport for Fort Ord was a WWII model Douglas AD Skyraider. The Skyraider was a fighter-bomber that was in popular use at the time. The only problem was that it was a single-seat aircraft that was only meant to be occupied by the pilot.

Sampson begged and pleaded with the pilot, a man named Anderson, to let him stow away in the radar compartment of the plane, saying that he didn’t have enough money for a commercial flight and that if he didn’t return to Fort Ord by morning, he would be AWOL. The pilot took pity on him and agreed to let him ride in the radar compartment – if he could fit. It was a small space that wasn’t meant to be occupied by anyone, especially someone as tall as Sampson.

The only opening to the radar compartment was through a hatch on the outside of the plane, so Anderson opened the hatch to let Sampson crawl inside. The pilot closed the hatch while Sampson settled in. It was a tight fit and it would be an uncomfortable ride, especially if they ran into any turbulence along the way, but Sampson said he would be fine and thanked Anderson for the ride back to Fort Ord.

It was during take-off that things started going wrong. Just as the plane was gaining speed to lift off the runway, the hatch to the radar compartment flew open. Sampson tried to reach out of the plane to get a good enough grip on the door to pull it closed, but the wind was so strong, that it pinned the door against the fuselage. Try as he might, he was unable to get the door closed, so he retreated as far back as he could into the little compartment, away from the door. Sampson wasn’t really worried about falling out of the plane, although that was a distinct possibility. There was a much greater concern that had his attention. Because the radar compartment wasn’t meant to carry any people, there was no radio and therefore, no way to contact the pilot. Sampson knew that at their cruising altitude the oxygen would be thin and not able to support him. Normally, when they reach their cruising altitude, the pilot switches on the oxygen pumps which supply oxygen to the rest of the plane, including the radar compartment where Sampson was. But with the hatch stuck open, all of the oxygen would be sucked right out of the plane and he would suffocate.

At some point during the trip, the pilot, Anderson made a chilling discovery. An error had been made during refueling and they didn’t have enough fuel to make it to Fort Ord. Nor did they have enough fuel to return to Seattle. To make matters even worse, Anderson discovered that the oxygen supply had failed. He immediately dropped the plane to a lower altitude so there was sufficient oxygen. At least that problem was solved. He then attempted to radio any nearby airports where he could make an emergency landing. But things had gone from bad to worse because he discovered that the radio wasn’t working. As the plane’s engines started to sputter out of fuel, he knew that they were going to crash into the Pacific.

In the meantime, Sampson had passed out in the radar compartment when he ran out of oxygen, but he regained consciousness moments later when Anderson dropped the plane to a lower altitude. He woke up in time to hear the plane’s engines go silent and realized that they were going down. He braced himself for impact.

As the plane hit the water, it jerked to a sudden stop. The icy waters of the Pacific started pouring into the open hatch of the compartment where Sampson was tucked away. He tried making his way out of the hatch, but the water rushing in had too much force to fight against, so he had to wait until the compartment had filled with water before he could make his way out and then up to the surface.

As Sampson’s head pushed above the surface, he looked toward the front of the plane and saw Anderson crawling out of the cockpit. Together, the two men were able to pull two life rafts out of the plane before it sunk out of sight. Although the water was very choppy, both men were able to make it into their life raft.

They took stock of their situation. Anderson believed that they had gone down no more than two miles off the coast of Point Reyes, California. There was a thick fog that obstructed their vision so that they couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of the life rafts, and it had gotten dark out, which made it even worse. Fortunately, Anderson had a compass, so he got their bearings, pointed toward the east, and the two men began paddling their rafts toward where they hopped the shore would be.

Before long, the fog got thicker and the waves grew higher. Suddenly, a huge wave capsized the raft that Sampson was in, throwing him into the icy waters. He tried to grab for the raft, but the current quickly carried it out of his reach. When Anderson saw what happened, he tried frantically to paddle his raft to aid Sampson, but the waves easily tossed his raft around and carried him away until Sampson was lost in the fog and darkness.

When Sampson saw Anderson disappear in the fog, he felt a moment of helplessness and despair. But he wasn’t about to give up. He knew that he was a good swimmer and that the shore was somewhere between one and two miles to the east. But which direction was east? He couldn’t see more than a few feet in any direction, and Anderson was the one with the compass. Sampson was also aware that these waters were known breeding grounds for Great White Sharks. Finally, Sampson picked a direction and began to swim, knowing that he could die of hypothermia, be pulled under and drown, or be attacked by sharks before he reached shore – IF he was even headed in the right direction.

After what seemed like at least an hour of swimming, Sampson’s arms ached and his chest hurt from the exertion of swimming through such choppy waters. He had been pulled under several times and had fought to regain the surface, gagging on the saltwater he swallowed in the process.

Then the fog began to lift. Off in the distance, Sampson saw what appeared to be lights. With renewed vigor, he made his way towards the lights. His arms and legs were like rubber, and by the time he felt sand underneath him and crawled out of the ocean onto the shore, he was completely exhausted. He lay there, face down in the sand with the waves washing over him for some time. He was too weak to walk, so he crawled toward the nearest light, vomiting up seawater several times as he got closer.

It had taken Sampson forty-five minutes to crawl from the beech to the source of the light, which turned out to be coming through the window of a building that happened to be a radio station on Point Reyes. With the last of his strength, Sampson crawled up the stairs and banged on the door.

The employee of the radio station opened the door to find the body of a man dressed in a soldier’s uniform, soaking wet and passed out on the stairs. He dragged the man inside to find that he was only half-conscious. He was hypothermic and shivering uncontrollably. The man wasn’t able to talk, but it was obvious to the station employee that he had gone through something terrible and that he needed medical attention. There was a coast guard station only a couple of miles away, so the employee gave them a call and within a few minutes, the coast guard arrived to take Sampson back to their station where medical treatment was available.

At the coast guard station, Sampson was also eventually reunited with Anderson, who had made it to shore in his raft.

A lot of things went wrong on that flight for Sampson; the mistake with the fuel, the radio going out, the oxygen quitting and eventually having to ditch the plane in the Pacific, being capsized, and losing his raft with no directions and in shark-infested waters. But there were a lot of things that went in his favor as well. If the hatch had not been stuck open, he may not have been able to open it by himself once the plane had crashed into the frigid ocean. After all of the directions that he could have chosen to swim toward, he chose the one direction that brought him safely to shore. He could have drowned or been eaten by sharks before he made it to shore, or he could have made it to a deserted section of the beech where he would have died of exposure before being found.

We don’t know if Sampson ever counted his blessings when considering that night. We don’t know if he ever felt some sense of purpose or destiny that wouldn’t allow him to be taken before his work was done. But it’s for certain that he still had much to accomplish.

He completed his military service at Fort Ord, remaining the lifeguard at the base pool until the end of the war. Then, he wound up in Hollywood. Over the next sixty-five years, Sampson would have one of the most successful careers in show business, winning multiple awards as an actor, director, and producer. He contributed, in those capacities, to over fifty films, including over twenty Westerns. His films have won a total of thirteen Academy Awards and eight Golden Globes.

Because he still had work to do; because he wasn’t destined to sink to the bottom of the Pacific back in 1951, we all have been able to enjoy the brilliant talents of Clint “Sampson” Eastwood.

Mike is an award-winning Western author currently living in a 600-square-foot cabin in the mountains of Western Montana. He has been married to his redheaded sweetheart, Tami, since 1989. He is a Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award Finalist three years in a row and his short stories have been published in numerous anthologies and are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers as well as brick and mortar bookstores. His first Western novel, The Sons of Philo Gaines, was released in November of 2020. It was a Peacemaker Award Finalist in two categories and won the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Fiction. It is available everywhere books are sold. Mike is a member of Western Writers of America and Western Fictioneers. You can find him on Facebook at MichaelRRittAuthor, or on his website at

Monday, April 11, 2022

Bonesetters and Doctors


      Aloes, frankincense, dragon’s blood, myrrh, sarcocolla, egg white and hair of hare, excluding myrrh.  Ibn al-Quff (1233–1286 AD)’s    (to help cure a broken bone)                        


Bonesetters and Doctors

                                                      By Julie Hanks, Ph.D aka Jesse J Elliot

             Before the practice of medicine became licensed and regulated, many 19th Century citizens had to rely on traditional health practitioners such as midwives, bonesetters, barbers, and blacksmiths. Though some of these providers were charlatans, most of the health care practitioners such as bonesetters and midwives were trained or apprenticed to those who knew and understood their field of medicine. A traditional bonesetter is a lay practitioner of joint manipulation. He or she is a practitioner who takes up the practice of healing without having had any formal training in accepted medical procedures. Whereas, physicians work to maintain, promote, and restore health by studying, diagnosing, and treating injuries and diseases

            Bonesetters traditionally passed their knowledge from father to son, sometimes daughters. They were the forerunners of orthopedic doctors and chiropractors. One family in early New England that practiced bonesetting was so effective, that it was written up in 1954 (Bulletin of the History of Medicine © 1954 The Johns Hopkins University Press), the “Bonesetting Sweets.”            Bonesetters relied on touch to determine the prognosis or extent of the damage. They would run their hands over the damaged area and determine how to manipulate the bones. Shoulders, knees, elbows, hips, etc. were diagnosed through touch and then pushed, pulled, placed, or manipulated.

            Bonesetting is nothing new as can be verified by the discovery of healed bones in prehistoric man. Bonesetters were adept at fixing bone fractures just by feeling the fracture and then assuring that the bone was reset and made stationary and immobile until healed. The broken limb could be pulled if necessary (traction) to enable the proper healing. That this practice continues through today is a good indication of its medical value.

            Some wonderful articles have been written on bone manipulation in the Paleolithic eras. One is by Peter A. Huijbregts PT, MSc, MHSc, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, FCAMT, in Pain Procedures in Clinical Practice (Third Edition), 2011.  Many of the bones in this period were set and healed completely—by touch. These discoveries are not just European finds, but can be found all over the world. Not only were bones set and healed, but in the Mayan ruins in Oaxca, medical schools for brain surgery were found. And in Asia and Africa, bonesetters date back to prehistory as well.


            By the 19th Century, trained doctors knew most of the names and functions of bones, muscles, nerves, etc. They were knowledgeable about the need to set the bone correctly, use traction if necessary, and immobilize the break until it healed. They were able to set a broken arm or leg, and often it healed. The problem remained, however, for compound fractures—infections.

            In the Civil War, doctors working on and off the battle fields were faced with the dilemma of mass infection in the soldiers whose bones were shattered or so badly fractured, that the inevitability of death by infection, gangrene, or blood poisoning forced the doctors to amputate. Some patients were fortunate enough to be sedated by morphine or ether, but that was not always the case, and instead of nurses handing doctors sterilized instruments as they do today, these nurses (most often males) were there to hold down the unfortunate patients.

            If the patient was lucky enough to have a simple fracture, the doctor would feel and set (or pull if necessary) the bone into place. Bedding or wood was wrapped around the wound and held together with ropes/ties with sticks holding the appendage immobile. Interestingly enough, though plaster of Paris (gypsum) was used in Europe in the early 1800s, it wasn’t used during the Civil War. However, by 1870, it was used regularly when available throughout the United States.

            If one had a broken bone and was away from medical care, the broken appendage was set and placed in a box frame of clay that would harden and be left on until the bone healed. If the wound was a simple fracture, this did the job though the patient was stuck with a heavy burden to wield. However, if not set correctly or the bone was broken in several places, the patient could die or end up a cripple with ongoing pain.

            Several years ago, I began having excruciating pain down my left side. I was diagnosed with sciatica by my primary physician, and it was confirmed when my ex-ray identified a slipped disc. I was given a set of exercises and pain pills. The problem became bearable, and it only came on sporadically.  Now, sciatica has come to stay. I am unable to walk any long distance or traverse any hills—up or down.  My neighbor recommended his chiropractor who does diagnosis and treatment “by feel.” Those bonesetters knew their business all right.

Wish me luck—I go there next Thursday.