Magazine Westerns

Betty and I visit our library about once a month to pick out some reading material to fill in those evenings we don't feel like going to a show, or watching television, or writing letters, or when we don't have visitors or when we aren't visiting--or a lot of other things that don't seem to come to mind just now. We go to the library, and Betty picks out her books in a systematic way--by authors. She started with authors whose names started with the letter A, and this last time the names start with D. That's not true because this last time she picked up a book whose author had a name starting with K, or was it? It was a book recommended by one of her friends. Anyway, she' s systematic. Sometimes I read books when I'm too tired to do anything else, especially after piling a few blocks of wood, or hassling in the garden or working on a car or two or thinking of basement projects that need to be worked on. I've been cleaning out the basement now for about thirty years, and sometimes it almost gets clean. I would do a lot better with it if there weren't so many useful things stored there that can't be thrown away. I haven't used some pieces of wood for fifteen years or so, but one of these days I'll be needing them for the boat, or the car, or to make some shelves--but never to start a fire in the fireplace. Wood is always useful to have around. I feel these basement goodies need to be moved around now and then so that I can remember what's stored, and where.

I digress talking about basements. When I go to the library, unlike Betty I usually pick out a mystery novel, a scientific fiction, a classic by Bret Harte, Poe, Sinclair, or some author I've heard about, and a Western story. I never gave a thought to why I picked out books like these, especially the Westerns. Some of the books are well written but I really don't care about the stories written by Hemingway. His style of writing doesn't interest me. Most westerns aren't well written either, but I enjoy them -- they're easy to read and I can get through a whole book in one evening. The cowboys with the white hats always win out in the end and the evil doers (and every one of the stories have characters with good guys and bad guys) always end up behind bars or in boot hill. They always have happy endings, almost.

I think the reason for reading Westerns, though, is because my dad read cowboy and Indian stories found in pulp magazines during my grade school (and high school) years. The magazines were there, available for me to read, and when the radio programs weren't exciting (no TV those days), or when the neighborhood kids weren't around to play Cowboys and Indians, or Pirates or whatever, I would read them.

The last Western library book I read reminded me of my dad and his magazines. The thing that brought dad to mind was because the previous reader had marked his place in the story with a thumbnail impression. My father did that, sometimes in the middle of a paragraph. He usually stopped reading and thumbnailed his place when mom called for dinner, or visitors arrived for pinochle or when Amos and Andy or some other catchy radio program was on. I think he liked Westerns as much as fishing. We always attended the movies when Tom Mix, or Ken Maynard were showing. Gene Autry and other singing cowboys didn't make movies in the silent days. Many of the movies were silent ones with captions for dialogue. The first "Talking Movie" I saw was one of Rin Tin Tin in which he barked from beginning to end but the other characters just talking during select reels.

Well, I guess I'd better stop now and go watch Channel 22. There's an old time Western on right now and I don't have a book to read, not even a pulp Western magazine.