Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The History of True West Moments

January 28, 2015
   Got a new book in the mail yesterday: "Ridin', Ropin' & Recipies" by the legendary Arizona cowgirl Nancy Sheppard. It is a hoot and a half! Full disclosure: she features "The Guess Girls Cowboy Beans" which is my mother's and her mother's and her four sister's recipe. The names in the book are worth the price ($25), including recipes from Clyda, Boog, Tuff, Dally, Beldora, Skeeter, Dixee, Jinx and Cotton, among others. You can't make up better handles!

Nancy Sheppard in the 1950s. She is 84 and still going strong

   Dan The Man Harshberger, Robert Ray and I are working on my next book: The Best of True West Moments. Dare I say "Volume I"? So far I have done a couple hundred of these suckers. It all began some 13 years ago:

The History of True West Moments
    In the summer of 2002 I attended a writer conference in Gunnison, Colorado. One of the perks of the event was a field trip to the ghost town of Tin Cup. On the trip up the mountain, aboard a bouncing school bus, I was regaling a couple friends in the back of the bus with stories about being on the movie set of  "Tombstone" (1993) and "Wyatt Earp" (1994). About half way up the mountain, the bus stopped and we all got out to see a woman setting up a tripod in front of a broken down cabin. On top of the tripod she mounted a big ol' video camera. A guy with a clip board, standing next to her, asked me to come forward and look into the camera and talk about Wyatt Earp movies just like I had been talking on the bus. Fifteen minutes later, Jeff Hildebrandt—a producer at the Westerns Channel—told me to shut up and we got back on the bus and went on up the mountain.

    I didn't think any more about it and, In fact, thought the whole trip was a waste of time. About two weeks later I got a call from Jeff saying they had gotten some good response to my comments that ran before the movies, "Tombstone" and "Wyatt Earp" and the response was good. And so Jeff asked me if I wanted to do "bumpers" and I said, "Absolutely." Before adding, "What is a bumper?"
Dan Harshberger's original layout ideas for True West Moments

    Well, a bumper is the space between two movies and often the channel needs a short filler to set up the next movie, thus a bumper, where two movies bump together. So by the fall of 2002 my career with True West Moments had began. We filmed many of these short informative True West tidbits, from locations in Tucson, Tombstone, Pioneer and Cave Creek, Arizona. Also, Wichita, Kansas, Durango, Colorado and the area around the National Ranching Association in Lubbock, Texas. The short and punchy True West Moments ran almost daily for the better part of ten years and we filmed around 75 of them and they ran thousands of times.

True West Moment filmed at Cowtown, AZ: Can a bullet go through a water trough?

My Favorite True West Moments still available on CD

   As the Arizona Centennial came into view (1912-2012), I pitched our hometown newspaper, The Arizona Republic on doing a print version of True West Moments as a run up to the festivities on February 14, 2012. My editor, Ken Western (could an editor of True West Moments ever have a better name?) gave me the green light and the first True West Moment ran on March 7, 2010 and proved so popular, the newspaper has continued to run the weekly history lesson to the present day and as of this writing there have been more than 200 that have appeared in the Republic.

    In the spring of 2014 I was contacted by the new director of Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West, Michael J. Fox, about utilizing my True West Moments in a permanent exhibit of the proposed museum. Some 75 of these True West Moments are displayed in the Abe Hays Exhibition, which opened on January 15, 2015.

   And speaking of True West Moments, I'm working on a new True West Moment about drunk posses. it was a bigger problem in the Old West than is usually portrayed in movies. For example, in the Elfego Baca siege in Frisco (Reserve), New Mexico, two large cowboy posses rode up from The Blue and drank all night, all the way, then stopped at a saloon and tanked up during the fight.

Daily Whip Out: "One Drunk Posse"

"I'm Bob Boze Bell and this has been a True West Moment."
—my signature sign off on the Westerns Channel