33rd ZANE GREY ROUNDUP – Part Two

BLOG #30, SERIES 6
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
33RD ZANE GREY ROUNDUP
Part Two
July 29, 2015

We here pick up on Tuesday, June 23, the first full day of our 33rd convention.

After the morning’s presentations, we were more than ready for our annual Members Memorial lunch. We take this time each year to celebrate the lives and contributions of members we no longer have with us. And always, for 33 years now, I first read out loud and then we all recite together famed poet Edwin Markham’s brief poem, “Outwitted.”

He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

Before we founded the Society in 1983, the Rev. G. M. Farley (the other co-founder) and I decided that by making this poem of inclusiveness our mantra, we’d have no lonely people in our Society. And so it has turned out.

After our lunch, it was time for our annual auction of Zane Grey material, a great opportunity for members—especially new members—to build up a Zane Grey collection at very economical prices. The auction monies help keep the Society alive as our magazine costs alone more than uses up our annual dues. All our officers serve pro-bono. That’s why we’ve only raised dues once in 33 years!

In the evening, it was time for our annual ice cream social. Never have we been feted with better ice cream than this year.

WEDNESDAY

On Wednesdays, we recover from our rigorous Tuesdays. This year, we bussed and caravanned our way through Flagstaff and spectacular Oak Creek Canyon (celebrated by Zane Grey in his Call of the Canyon), en route to Sedona, a Southwest magnet for tourists.

Wednesday evening we were treated to the movie, The Rainbow Trail (2015 is the 100th anniversary of the famed novel). Dr. James D’Arc, the world’s foremost authority on Zane Grey films, not only brought us the film from BYU’s film vaults, but he also regaled us with the fascinating behind-the-scenes story of the actors, directors, and producers who made the film possible. Popcorn was provided by FOREVER Resorts.

THURSDAY

Thursdays—being the last day of our annual conventions— are always bittersweet. Mornings are taken up by the annual business meeting in which we elect (or re-elect) officers, discuss issues of interest to the members, and vote on further convention sites.

Our 2016 convention is going to be held the third week of June on the Florida Keys, for Grey fished from Long Key almost every year over about a twenty-year period. We will have a pre-convention get together in Fort Everglades (Grey also fished here) and have the convention on Islamarada in the Keys. The following year, we voted to meet in Kanab, Utah, situated between Zion and North Rim Grand Canyon National Parks. Already a number of people have told me they’ll join the Society just to be able to attend the 2016 convention in the Keys. Another special thing about our conventions is that we secure excellent rates at lodge facilities and charge members only our at-cost prices.

In the afternoon, we gathered in a very large circle and got into a rousing book discussion of Rainbow Trail (2015 is its 100th anniversary). Each year our members read a given Zane Grey book ahead of tine so all members can get fully involved.

Then it was time for the annual banquet, when Purple Sage awards and gift books are presented. Purple Sage awards represent the highest award the Society can give its members. Gift-books, on the other hand, are given to those who did the most to make the previous convention such a success.

Finally, the most moving moment in every convention: holding hands in a large circle and singing “Auld Lang Syne,” usually led by David Leeson, a Society member from England. Then, it’s time to bid everyone adieu and perhaps shed a tear or two.

Next day, the after-convention attendees headed to Lake Powell and a trip to the iconic Rainbow Bridge (on so many people’s bucket list).

Once more, I do hope you’ll join our Society. Again, tell Sheryle Hodapp I invited you to do so. Here is her address:

15 Deer Oaks Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94588
Phone: 925-699-0698
Email: Sheryle@ZGWS.org

 

Book of the Month – Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage”

BLOG #23, SERIES #4
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
DR. JOE’S BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB #20
ZANE GREY’S RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE
June 5, 2013

Zane Grey (1872 – 1939), creator of the Romantic West, was the most famous and highest-paid author in the world during the first half of the Twentieth Century. He was the last western writer to write while the American frontier still existed. Over 119 movies have been made from his books, and two television series. He was the first American author to insist that movie producers film his books on location, reason being that he felt locations, to a significant extent, influence behavior and even contribute to character development, both positively and negatively. Interestingly enough, Grey has always attracted as many female readers as he has male readers.

THE GREATEST WESTERN EVER WRITTEN
RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE
ONE-HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY
(1912 – 2012)

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Grey’s second western (after Heritage of the Desert) begins with one of the most memorable opening paragraphs in American fiction and ends with one of the most memorable conclusions in all literature.

According to Lawrence Clark Powell, “The character of the deadly yet noble gunman, Lassiter, approaches the epic folk-hero in its powerful simplification, and was memorably personified by the old-time movie actor William S. Hart–slit-eyed, steel-muscled, and claw-fingered on the draw. The final scene . . . is perhaps the finest moment in all western fiction, approached only by the Virginian’s ‘When you call me that, smile.’” –“Books Determine,” Westways, August, 1992.

Digby Diehl of the Los Angeles Times noted that “By the tine Grey died in 1939, he had two generations of writers hot on his western trail, such as Ernest Haycox, Max Brand, A. B. Guthries, Sam Peeples, and Louis L’Amour. But none of them ever wrote a sentence like ‘A sharp clip-clop of iron-shod hoofs deadened and died away, and clouds of yellow dust drifted from under the cottonwoods out over the sage.’ This, of course, was the beginning of Riders of the Purple Sage, hailed in many circles as the best western novel ever published. –“Zane Grey’s Tales of the West,” Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1972.

T. V. Olsen pointed out that Riders of the Purple Sage . . . sold two million copies, a then unprecedented sale and ranked with Pollyanna and Tarzan of the Apes as one of the ten leading best-sellers of the decade 1910-1920. A masterpiece of romantic adventure, it combined a suspenseful, well-knit plot with firm, totally dimensional characterization, a gut-ripping pace with awesome spectacle. At times its prose soared to a truly epic strength that, for all the high spots in his early works, Grey never achieved again. –“Pantheism and the Purple Sage,” The Roundup, November 1966.

Nor could western scholar G. M. Farley forget him: “What man while reading Riders of the Purple Sage hasn’t seen in Lassiter some of the characteristics of himself? These rough-hewn characters appeal to something basic in the reader; they touch the fountain-head, and the reader becomes identifiable with them. He can almost feel the trigger against his finger, the buck of the booming gun against his hand. For that moment he escapes the office, the home, the everyday strife, and is transported. It is not just the fast action that thrills him; he is there.” –“An Approach to Zane Grey,” Zane Grey Collector, Vol II, #4.

Nor could John Parsons forget him: “Lassiter of the Purple Sage specialized in carrying his black-butted guns ‘low down.’ By a rapid but undefined movement, he was able to swing ‘the big black gun sheaths around to the fore.’ Ordinarily a two-gun man, he buckled on two more revolvers when going out to face the foe in quantity. Think of the fire-power, even if only two at a time were fired. So far as I know Lassiter was the first four-gun man in print. . . . Zane Grey successfully exploited a vanished cult of gunfighters, seldom contemporaneously documented, whose resuscitation fired the imagination of millions of readers.” –“Gunplay in Zane Grey,” The Westerners, (New York: Posse Brand Books, 1961).

Lassiter doesn’t even have to actually use his guns to be memorable. Case in point, his first appearance in the book: “Lassiter’s face’ had all the characteristics of the range riders–the leanness, the red burn of the sun, and the set changelessness that came from years of silence and solitude. But it was not these that held her; rather the intensity of his gaze, a strained weariness, a piercing wistfulness of keen, gray sight, as if the man was forever looking for that which he never found. Jane’s [Withersteen, the heroine] subtle woman’s intuition, even in that brief instant, felt a sadness, a hungering, a secret.” (p. 8).

Another gunman, Venters, and Bess Oldering, the Masked Rider, hold sway over half the book.

Grey loved horses. Indeed, Frank Gruber maintained that the novel contains the most magnificent horse race in all western fiction.

The novel was Dwight D. Eisenhower’s favorite book.

* * * * *

The book is available in multitudes of editions, both hardback and paper. Just make sure your copy is unabridged.

But, for all you book-lovers who cherish heirloom classics whose value can only go up through the years, the Zane Grey’s West Society recently published a magnificent Centennial Edition. Ordering information follows.

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This book was a labor of love by the Society. Many people were involved, with Roseanne Vrugtman deserving special mention as she did all the work of cleaning up the manuscript and formatting it to properly match the original first edition. Multiple folks were involved in proofreading, editing, and several members authored additional content articles for the book. Joe Wheeler wrote on the importance of Riders to American Literature, Todd Newport wrote on Grey’s love of the outdoors, Chuck Pfeiffer and Zen Ervin wrote an article on the geography of Riders, Bob Lentz discussed the movies made from the novel, and Marian Coombs provided a biography of Grey.

This book was printed in 2012, the anniversary year of Riders, and will be shipped in January 2013. We went to extreme lengths to try to make the book as close a replica of the original 1912 Harper’s First Edition as possible. The actual text of the novel was formatted in such a manner that it exactly matches the original, so now if you are doing research, you can use this book as if it were the original first edition. The book cover is bound in linen, like the original, even though we could not find an exact match to the color. We stamped the text on the front cover using a purple backing with gold text on top of it, just like the original. We scanned the original paste down image that was on the front cover and tried to match that, even though those paste down images did not survive the years very well, and every example we found had issues. We used a slightly ivory color paper, hoping to make it look more vintage. –Zane Grey Review, December 2012, p. 3.

One of the rarest of all Zane Grey dust jackets was used for the Centennial Edition’s reproduction dj. Where rare Zane Grey First Editions are concerned, original vintage dust jackets sometimes bring five times as much as the book itself at auctions.

Just in: The printer: Frederick Printing/Denver Bookbinding was just honored by the Printing Industry of America’s 2013 Print Excellence Silver Award (for demonstrating superior craftsmanship, digital print, hardbound book) for the Centennial Edition of Riders of the Purple Sage.

* * * * *

This rare edition had a print-run of only 300 copies. Most likely, they’ll all be sold by the end of the Zane Grey’s West Society’s 31st annual convention (to be held in Provo, Utah June 16-19, 2013). Last year’s convention was held in the Black Hills; the year before in Williamsburg, Virginia; in 2014, in Durango, Colorado.

Price for the Centennial Edition is $70 plus shipping. However, if you contact our Secretary Treasurer, at

Sheryle Hodapp
15 Deer Oaks Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94588
Telephone: 925-485-1325
email: sheryle@zgws.org

and first join The Society as a member (our annual dues are only $35, and include our splendid quarterly magazines; we’ve only raised dues once in 31 years, by all serving pro-bono), rather than the regular $70 for the Centennial Edition, you will be entitled to the Society member price of $48 plus shipping, thus your membership will end up costing you only $13 for the year if you’re able to land a copy before they’re sold out.

We’d love to have you join our extended family of Zanies. Perhaps you’d even like to join us at Provo! Contact Sheryle Hodapp for details.

“OUTWITTED” AND THE ZANE GREY’S WEST SOCIETY

Twenty-eight years ago it was when the Rev. G. M. Farley (a Pentecostal minister and administrator) and I had a far-reaching discussion having to do with the issue of organizing (or NOT organizing) a society dedicated to celebrating the life and works of the frontier writer, Zane Grey.

At one point in our discussion, G. M. sighed and said, “Unless our conventions turn out to be different from all the other conventions I attend, I’d rather we’d not even start this one.”

“Explain yourself,” I broke in.

“It’s this way, in every convention I attend, it’s always the same: People aimlessly milling around—almost all of them lonely.”

“True, G. M. I’ve noticed the same thing. I’ve often thought, as I walked through the crowd of attendees, and looked enviously at those few who seemed to belong, in occasional clusters of attendees who appeared to know each other, Wouldn’t it be great to belong to at least one of them? To have someone’s eyes light up at sight of me and welcome me in? “But I just don’t know how we could do any better than they.”

“Neither do I,” rejoined G.M., but let’s at least seek out a solution before we give up on our dream.”

At one point in our brainstorming, I happened to mention a poem by Edwin Markham, late in the nineteenth century, Poet Laureate of America. Turns out G.M. was already familiar with it: “The very thing! If that doesn’t work, nothing will! Let’s try it!

Joe Wheeler delivering keynote address

And so we did. At each one of our now 28 consecutive conventions, for the benefit of first-time attendees, I first recite the poem out loud, then I lead out in having us all recite it together (after first explaining the history of its origins and use in our Society, and urging all attendees to each implement Markham’s words in each interaction with others).

Paul and Jeannie Morton

It works. Indeed it works so well that one of the last things G.M. said to me before he died was this: “Thank God for that poem! There are no lonely people in our Society. If anyone sits at a table alone, others walk over and invite them to join them at their table. When they travel, they make a point of visiting each other. They consistently arrive early at the conventions in order to fellowship with each other. In fact, they’re closer to each other than even my own church members are to each other!”

ZGW Society members enjoying an all-day ride on the Rogue River.

I shall conclude with the poem that single-handedly defines the love each member of the Zane Grey’s West Society has for each other:

“He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout;
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.”

“Outwitted,” by Edwin Markham

SPECIAL NOTE

Because of a special blog series on our Northwest national parks beginning the first week in August, we are scheduling our next blog (on Plagiarism) for tomorrow, July 29.