Growing up, life, and events happened because they just did. As I got older, I had a different take on that thought, and every so often something would filter through my day creating a déjà vu moment. I maybe shrugged this off, but it got archived somewhere in the grey matter for future reference.
I was twelve years old the first time I read the trilogy by Richmond P. Hobson Jr. — a.k.a. Rich Hobson. Book one, Grass Beyond the Mountains took place some thirty years before I opened the cover. It didn’t take me long to grasp that I knew some parts of the country the setting was established in. Some would say it was in our so-called backyard. And how cool was it that he passed through our area to get to his destination. Naming towns along the way that were part of my life.
At that age, what I wasn’t acquainted with were the people in the book. Who better to talk to than someone I presumed knew everything, and maybe everyone…my dad. I did most of the talking and dad would nod, and occasionally answer a question or two that I threw out there, like:
“Do you know any of these guys (characters) in this book?”
“How, where, when?”
“I’ve come across ‘em.”
That’s all I got. Not a surprise since dad was known for being a man of few words.
In retrospect of how I was raised, dad wouldn’t have seen the need to expound on someone else. It was, after all their life, not his. If I wanted to know more, I was on my own. Yet, being twelve meant the only viable thing I could do was to read the second and third books.
Some years later, I met people with names that were somehow familiar to me. It was weird to be talking to someone and wondering where do I know you from? Conversations ensued without any definitive answers. Again, I turned to dad. I wanted to know if our family somehow knew anyone that I had been introduced to at a recent rodeo I had attended. He provided his normal condensed version of an answer. “Could be from Williams Lake, or that Anahim Lake country.” Not much to go on, and once again information was archived.
Fast forward fifty years…A glimmer of light came on when I re-read Grass Beyond the Mountains. A connection to names and places that had been put in the memory vault started to come to life. Until I was reading the book again, I hadn’t known the significance of my conversations with dad. I started putting the pieces together. The last names of people in the book coincided with the towns I had been to some forty-odd years ago for rodeos.
You see, dad had been a saddle bronc rider in his younger days, and he too would have travelled to some of the places I had. From his rodeo trail, he knew the family names I had originally asked about. The names may not have been the actual people in the story, but it was the sir names and towns creating the link.
While reading the book, I came to realize it wasn’t the main characters who were as big as life in the story. Although without them, the memoir would most likely tell a completely different tale. It was the supporting cast of people and animals that brought depth and meaning for me. The discovery of the link opened the door to possibilities. Had future generations of the book’s characters crossed my path when I was younger? Definitely more digging into my archives is needed to confirm my link theory.
I am thankful to have the old copies of Rich Hobson’s three books in my library. Each holds words of how life was for those men and women of that era. The people who were ballsy enough to venture into the uncharted country. Breaking the trail to make a life for themselves and for those who came later. Their endurance resonates with me.
On a side note, if you have any interest at all in the topic of a frontier being opened up by grit, determination, humour, and horsepower, I recommend Rich Hobson’s memoir trilogy – Grass Beyond the Mountains, Nothing too Good for a Cowboy, and The Rancher Takes a Wife.
What fragments of (un-researched) personal knowledge has landed in your lap that you have used in your writing?
I rely on my heritage to keep me grounded. Reminding me of where I come from. Gifting me with snippets of past life and lives. Providing fuel to include in the writing I do about the lifestyle I see slipping from my grasp, from the world.
The taking pictures thing started forever ago, and when I found I could marry them to the material I have written, and am writing, well, to put it mildly, I think I have a bit of a runaway going on.
I am a lover of life and all things that make us smile. I write and take pictures for the pleasure of being able to share at Morning Muse, HorseWest, and my Blog at AnnEdallRobson.com where you can also contact me.