Who Would Have Thought? By Patti Shene
When I reach back into the inner recesses of my childhood memories, the evening of September 10, 1955, rises to the top. I still recall the grainy black and white picture that held my family and I spellbound as the television show Gunsmoke debuted before the viewing public. I was all of 4 years old.
We watched in shock as the main character and hero of the show, Marshal Matt Dillon, fell under the gun of a formidable adversary. The professional skill of the acerbic Doc Adams, in conjunction with the determination of the hero, found him healthy enough by the close of the half hour to defeat the villain in a dramatic final scene.
That first episode spawned the era of the western in the world of television broadcasting. I followed Gunsmoke, the first adult western, throughout its twenty year run and many other shows in the genre as well.
Even though Gunsmoke, was set in Dodge City, Kansas, this Long Island, New York girl developed a fascination for the state of Colorado. Hence my subscription to Colorado magazine when I became old enough to earn my own money and spend it the way I wanted.
My first “real job” as a nurse in the Hudson River Valley found me making good money, living on station for very low rent, and a non-driver. I had plenty of money in a savings account when I earned my first vacation.
The ad in the back of Colorado magazine for an eleven-day horse pack trip in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado offered a dream come true. Over forty years later, that trip stands out in my memory as one of the most thrilling experiences of my entire life.
I suppose that is why, if I could only complete one novel in my lifetime, it would be Magic Moments in Time, a fictionalized account of that trip. The dramatic events that occurred stemmed from the interpersonal relationships that developed, and the struggles of man against nature forced on us by terrain and weather.
The opportunity to view massive stone-faced peaks and lush, green, lake-dotted valleys from a height of over fourteen thousand feet cannot be duplicated in the most rugged vehicle manufactured. Travel on foot or horseback through densely wooded trails leads to switchbacks that jut out over dense wilderness ten thousand feet below. The grandeur of God’s unlimited creativity is manifested in every square inch of ground and an infinite sky, not dotted with twinkling stars, but highlighted by a solid path of light miles wide known as the Milky Way.
A month from the day I arrived home from that breathtaking excursion, I was working in Colorado. To this day, I live in a town that sits on the Santa Fe Trail, surrounded by ranches that comprise literally thousands of acres, wake up to the lowing of cattle that graze in the pasture next door, and, enjoy watching the rodeo events that highlight the summer season.
Reminders of our local American history, from the museum that boasts hundreds of 19th century artifacts to the Kit Carson Chapel that memorializes the famous American frontiersman, keep my interest in the American west alive. Frequent encounters with friends who tend their herds, mend fences, ride horses, and wear their cowboy boots and jeans to church feed my romantic fascination with the lifestyle of the modern day rancher.
If I ever publish a novel, I can about guarantee my readers will encounter within its pages a cowboy or two, a few horses, wide open spaces, and the black velvet sky that burns in my memory from that long ago mountain adventure.
Oh, and our lives do tend to move in circles. Sixty years after watching that first Gunsmoke episode, I live in the very town where one of the show’s most famous actors, Ken Curtis, who played Deputy Festus Haggen, spent his childhood.
Patti's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
What does God, His grandeur, and Gunsmoke have in common? Visit with @PattiShene for the answer. (Tweet This)
@PattiShene on Everyone’s Story: Can life move in a positive circle? (Tweet This)
How does a Long Island gal end up in Colorado and loving every moment? (Tweet This)
Patti Shene hails from Long Island, New York, but has made her home in colorful Colorado for over forty years. She has been married to husband Manuel (lifelong nickname: Speedy) for almost 38 years. They have one daughter one son, and one granddaughter.
Like many writers, Patti has carried stories in her head since she was a kid. She’s had a few things published in the local newspaper, a local magazine, and edits her church newsletter. She is published in two anthologies.
Patti has three (western!) novels in progress and writes an occasional short story, poem, or blog post. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and Toastmasters International. Patti has served on faculty at the Colorado Christian and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conferences as well as the IdahopeWriters Conference.
She hosted Lit(erally) Speak(ing), a Blog Talk Radio show currently in the process of restructure with plans to return to live broadcasting in a few weeks. She enjoys hosting writers on the show and on her three blogs, found at her website.
Places to connect with Patti: