Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for July

Howdy, y'all,

This month's post will be a continuation of sorts. One interesting fact few people know, then a cautionary tale about place names.

First, few people realize that, until the early to mid-twentieth century, pink was not for girls and blue was not for boys. In fact, it was the complete opposite. Red and pink were considered strong and war-like, while blue was considered calming.

Up until the early 1900s, color was not even considered. Babies, both male and female,  mostly wore white dresses. Pastel colors gradually became in vogue starting in the mid-1800s.  Here's an excerpt from the June, 1918 Ladies Home Journal:

The generally accepted rule is pink  for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason being is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

In 1927, Time Magazine printed a chart sowing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene's told parents to dress boys in pink. So did Best & Co. in New York City, Halle's in Cleveland, and Marshall Field in Chicago.

It wasn't until the 1940s that clothing manufacturers settled on blue for boys and pink for girls. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to grow up with this color preference. So, in a western, keep it simple, and keep the babies in white dresses.

The other thing you have to be careful of when writing Western fiction is place names. Many towns and cities people assume were part of the frontier West weren't even in existence.Two examples are Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas, both of which weren't established until the 1890s, although both had settlers before then. Many of the small towns in the West didn't come into existence until long after the days of the cattle drives and Indian wars were over.

There are two tings to consider when using a place name in your Western fiction. First, should you use the name of an actual city or town? If you do, make certain the existence of the locale matches the time frame of the story, The other choice would be to just make up a fictional name for the setting of your tale.

Have a great summer, everyone.

"Ranger" Jim


  1. Often surprised to see a mix-up between the city of Laramie and Fort Laramie in Wyoming. One is on the Oregon Trail and the other on the Transcontinental Railroad. I retired in Laramie and now live a few miles from Fort Laramie.
    Nice post!

  2. I'd known about the colors and although use fictional town names, I try to make sure what happens in a story could or did happen during that time frame.

    Great points you made. Doris