May 29, 2010


Stephen Bly

History, for me, is not just the story of grand ideas, or broad sweeps of movements, events or social progress. History is the story of individual people. Not all are famous, but each helps define who we are today, why we think and act like we do. In the same way, a novel’s about individual characters and his or her response to their settings in time and place.

My newest release, Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon, tells about six old cowboys in 1954 who meet each week at the lobby of the fictional Matador Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In reality, before there were retirement communities and senior citizen housing, downtown hotels catered to older citizens. Well past their prime to attract overnight guests, they appealed to those who scraped by on something fairly new at the time: Social Security. Some of these scenes I can recall firsthand.

I remember going to see a friend of my grandfather’s at a four-story hotel in central California in the mid-1950s. His room was carpeted with old newspapers that he hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. Sometimes they got tossed because his dogs used them. Pets and children don’t give a hoot whether a man’s poor or rich. He gets loved for who he is now, not what he’s done in the past, nor what his bank account might read. This old man lived on the lowest of pensions, but to a kid like me, he was the most important man on earth. Some images embed upon the mind.

These six old cowboys knew all about the Code of the West because they lived it.
But in truth, folks back in the Old West times didn’t talk about a Code of the West. That’s our term today. They opined, “That’s the way we do things around here.” An unwritten code is “the way we do things,” whether it’s a personal principle, a family rule or a cultural maxim. In the west, those oral values were handed down from father to son, mother to daughter. In my home, whenever I complained a tad that other kids didn’t have to do things a certain way, I was reminded, “We aren’t like other folks. We have our own standards and we don’t violate them. . .ever.”

The most offensive thing you could say to say to an old-time westerner was, “What was your name in the States?” Many came west for a new start. It was considered a personal insult to dig into a man’s past. What a man called himself at the moment was all that was needed. Others judged him for how he stood now, not what he was then. That’s a part of the Code that comes straight out of the book of the followers of Christ.

Stephen Bly
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Coming June 2010: Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback)
A 10-year-old boy. Six old cowboys. A '49 Plymouth with open trunk. And a damsel in distress. All the fixings for adventure on a summer's day in 1954 Albuquerque. Maybe you weren't born 100 years too late!

Here's details for a 5 book give-away contest for June release of Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback). . . .

Follow these simple rules:

2.) List 'Cowboy Contest' in the subject line
3.) E-mail answer, along with name, address, & e-mail to:

Winners chosen SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 2010

Pass this on to anyone who might be interested! 


Vickie McDonough said...

You've just gotta love a man with a code of honor like that. Maybe we should try to instill the Cowboy Code into today's kids.

Carla Gade said...

Stephen, that's fascinating stuff. I enjoy learning about the old west and talking to my Dad about it, as he's a big fan. Your new book look wonderful.

carlagade [at] gmail [dot] com

Linda said...

Growing up we watched a lot of the older westerns--dad loved them. Then there was Little House on the Prairie, and the Winslow series. I've yet to read any of your books. Looking forward to it.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com