33rd ZANE GREY ROUNDUP – Part One

BLOG #29, SERIES 6
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
33RD ZANE GREY ROUNDUP
Part One
July 22, 2015

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For the eighth time in 33 years, faithful Zanies headed to Arizona. Our second convention had been held in Payson, in 1984; in 1986, we met in Flagstaff; in 1988, Page; we returned to Payson in 1995; it was Prescott, in 2008; we returned to Payson for the third time in 2007; two years later, we met at Mormon Lake; and now, in 2015, faithful Zanies returned to Mormon Lake for the second time.

Prior to the convention, Connie and I and Lucy and Bob Earp joined a large group of others for a visit to Kohl’s Ranch at Christopher Creek. Sunday afternoon, we caravanned up the slope of the Mogollon Rim to the site where Grey’s cabin once stood before the Dude Fire of 1990 erased it from the map. For me, it was so poignant to revisit a spot I have loved for so long. I first came here in the early 1970s, and returned again and again. Once I spent most of a week here; like Zane Grey himself, at night I’d spread out my bedding and sleep out under the stars, listening to the soughing of the pines. In those days, pilgrims came here from all over the world. I’d see them sitting on the veranda, a far-off look in their eyes as they gazed at range after range of mountains. And how could I forget college coeds, leaning against trees, lost in reading Grey’s timeless Mogollon Rim romances, Under the Tonto Rim and Code of the West. And there in the Cabin, holding court, the inimitable curator, Margaret Sell, to whom the place represented life itself.

Then it was back down the vast mesa to Kohl’s Ranch, loading up the Honda Pilot, and heading up on the mesa to Mormon Lake, there to be greeted by the gathering clan. Of all the places where we’ve met over the years, the Mormon Lake ranch is the most rustic, only the West Texas convention facilities at Fort Davis coming close. But it was its very rusticness [is there such a word?] that so many of us enjoyed so much.

A phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me is the sight of the returning faithful—many (usually a third to half the attendees) arrive days early, so eager are they to get together again. And so it proved to be once more.

In the evening, it was time for our opening banquet in the ranch’s so-called “Steakhouse.” Not formal like most banquets, but western attire the norm. In no time at all, the decibel level, caused by old friends finding each other and catching up on each other’s lives, got louder and louder—not to recede until Friday morning.

The highlight of the evening was the introduction of new attendees (seventeen, to be exact). Each was made to feel welcome—more than welcome: made to feel “at home.”

The food, provided by Scott Gold’s FOREVER Resorts team, was splendid.

Then it was time to head for the cabins and RVs. Tomorrow would be the biggest day of the convention.

TUESDAY

Not until Tuesday morning is over do I ever get to relax at our conventions. Reason being that I put more work and thought into the annual Keynote Address than I do any other speaking engagement. And, naturally, I don’t dare ever resort to anything that is stale or a re-run. Beginning in June of 1983, until now, in a very real way, I have measured my life by Keynotes. Now, here I was with my 33rd consecutive Keynote Address. I titled it, “Light of Western Stars — Why It Stands the Test of Time.” I chose this book for my Keynote because 2014 was the 100th anniversary of this, one of Grey’s greatest books. Also, it has always been one of my personal favorite reads. Those of you belonging to the Zane Grey’s West Society will be getting the full text of the Keynote in your next issue of our magazine, The Zane Grey Review.

I was followed by three fascinating presentations: Harvey Leake’s “From Kayente to Rainbow Bridge: The Rugged Route that Inspired Zane Grey’s Geography of The Rainbow Trail.” Leake is a direct descendant of John and Louisa Wetherill, famed Traders to the Navajos in Monument Valley and who had much to do with the discovery of Mesa Verde and Rainbow Bridge. We always look forward to his behind-the-scenes personalized history of the region.

Next came Dr. James D’Arc’s “BYU Happenings.” D’Arc is head curator of Brigham Young University’s film archives and has had a big role to play in the acquisition of major Zane Grey collections (including my own) and films in recent years. BYU is now the largest repository of Zane Grey archival holdings in the world. Reason being that Zane Grey’s books did more to bring fame to the American Southwest (especially Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) than any other writer who ever lived.

D’Arc was followed by Dr. Alan Pratt’s “Appalling Beauty, Dangerous Crossing: Zane Grey at Lee’s Ferry.” Pratt, like Mr. Leake, has become a regular in terms of his visual explorations of Zane Grey book and travel settings. Pratt pointed out that back before the Colorado was dammed, during spring flood periods, the silt-laden river ran so fast that if you fell in while trying to cross it, inevitably you’d be swept away to your death.

Mr. Ryan Taylor then told our audience about a new Arizona opera: “Riders of the Purple Sage.”

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I will complete the story of the 33rd convention in next week’s blog. If you haven’t yet joined the Zane Grey’s West Society, I urge you to do so! You will learn so much about—not just Zane Grey (the Father of the Romantic West)—but also this incredibly fascinating West tourists come from all around the world to see.

Our dues are only $35 a year (which includes four issues of our magazine, a veritable treasure of Western Americana). Just drop a line to our Secretary-Treasurer, Sheryle Hodapp, at 15 Deer Oaks Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94588
Phone: 925-699-0698
Email: Sheryle@ZGWS.org

and tell her I invited you to join our extended family. Also you can check out our Society’s website at: http://www.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.

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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.

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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.