Book Review: A Fame Not Easily Forgotten

JuneWestphalBook

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is one of my favorite places to visit. It is quirky, beautiful, full of unique artists, craftspeople, writers, entertainment venues, and natural scenery. It is a town built seemingly overnight in July 1879 following the discovery of what was then and is believed to be now curative powers in the waters of the many natural springs in the area.

In “A Fame Not Easily Forgotten”, researchers, historians, and authors June Westphal and Catharine Osterhage spent four years culling newspaper articles, historical records, written accounts, and rare photographs to compile a reasonable and accurate description of what many call the “City That Water Built.”

In mid-December 2015, just prior to my departure on a thirty-day winter holiday, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with June Westphal at her book signing at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. I was impressed by her extensive knowledge of the town, its inhabitants, and the entire region.

Here’s an excerpt from the Preface of A Fame Not Easily Forgotten: An Autobiography of Eureka Springs:

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a remarkable place—and utterly improbable. Why would anyone in the late 1800s, traveling on horseback or in wagons, traverse dirt paths through the steep Ozark Mountains to what must have seemed like the end of the earth? Why would they settle and build elaborate structures on sharp, rocky inclines?

The answer is, water. Pure, abundant spring water reported to have extraordinary curative properties—hope of healing was that powerful and that compelling. So, come they did. Build, they did. And while the water may not have reached expectations, the beauty and magic of the place captured the hearts of so many, they stayed, or kept returning. They still do…

The extensive research is well documented, includes many old pictures of the early days of expansion and growth of the town, and makes for interesting, informative, and entertaining reading. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the area and its history. You can order your own signed copy of this book from the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.

Jack Friday Sales Event!

Happy Holidays colorized Pen and Ink copyright noticed

Forget Black Friday sales events. On this blog it’s Jack Friday.

Actually, it’s a sales event that goes beyond just this Friday featuring the Kindle editions of both my short story collection and my Celtic murder mystery novel. They’re  on sale now through December 5th for just $0.99 each. From December 6th through December 23rd they will be half their usual listed price.

Grab a copy for yourself or purchase for family and friends.

 

“Living History” Cemetery Walking Tour

VoicesSilentCityEurekaSprings

The Eureka Springs Historical Museum will host its 7th annual “Voices from Eureka’s Silent City” cemetery walking tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 15th, 16th, and 17th.  Then again on Friday and Saturday, October 30th and 31st.  The living history tours feature live actors in period costumes portraying early citizens of Eureka Springs.

This year, actors and guides will be presenting  compelling stories of some of Eureka’s former leaders in service and philanthropy who now reside in the Silent City,  the Eureka Springs City Cemetery:  A WWI Army Colonel, a socialite, a prominent lawyer/mayor, a descendant of a Native American Chief, and an early proponent of baseball, among others.

I will be attending this event. It should be a fun, interesting experience.

For more information and pictures from previous walks take a jaunt over to Eureka Springs Historical Museum!

cemetarywalkEurekaSprings2014

Cemetery Walk Eureka Springs 2014

 

Folklore In Fiction

Here’s a re-blog of fellow Arkansas writer, Susan A. Holmes, on ‘Folklore In Fiction’ with an excerpt from her book Deadly Ties. She will be speaking at the Fayetteville, Arkansas Public Library, October 11th from 2 – 4 p.m. Event will include her presentation, questions and answers, meet and greet, and books sales and signings.  Don’t miss this opportunity to visit with the author. More information on the presentation can be found here.

And now, the re-blog:

Folklore in Fiction

yoachum-dollar-sprinkle-coins

The Yokum Dollar

I’m an “up close and personal” kind of researcher. So when I’m working on my regional series, that means I’m often out in the hills, meeting people and listening to the stories that have been handed down, one generation to the next, keeping the old legends alive. The story of the Yokum Dollar is one of those legends that I heard on multiple occasions, with each storyteller claiming some connection with the families involved. I stayed true to the heart of the tale when writing the legend into my own book, while fictionalizing elements as needed to suit the plot. Here’s the excerpt from Deadly Ties:

*

….Maggie wandered among the exhibits, watching craftsmen make brooms and baskets, tapping her foot to the dulcimer music, and listening to the storytellers who had drawn a sizable crowd in the shade of tall oaks. She stopped to listen to a woman dressed in a style Maggie imagined was common among frontier women long ago. Sturdy boots peeked out from beneath the hem of her skirt, and the simple cotton blouse she wore looked homespun. Her steel gray hair was tucked beneath a bonnet.

“This here story has been handed down through my family ever since 1826,” the woman told the audience. “That’s about the time the first Yokum—that’d be Jamie Lee Yokum—settled along the big river herabouts. My family farmed the land down-river from the Yokum place, which is how I come to know this tale.”

“This land belonged to the Chickasaw tribe, and they were good neighbors, always sharing what they had. They were good traders, too, and pretty near famous for their beautiful silver jewelry. They always had plenty of silver but nobody knew—’cept the Indians, of course—where it all came from. Some said it was from a silver mine, and some claimed it was Spanish silver, but nobody knew for sure.

“When the government decided they wanted the Indians’ land, the Yokums traded some of their wagons and supplies in exchange for information about the source of that silver. As the story goes, the Indians shared their secret with Jamie Lee. They told him where he might find some of that silver, and he told his brothers. Times being what they was, and money being about as hard to come by as an honest politician, the Yokums decided to use that silver and make their own coin. They minted their own dollars with that there silver. For years, people all over the Ozarks used the Yokum dollars as legal tender.”

The storyteller looked across the crowd. “Well, you can probably guess what happened next. The federal government didn’t take too kindly to somebody else making money. They didn’t like the competition, my granddaddy said.” There were chuckles and murmurs of agreement from some in the crowd.

“The federal agents confiscated all the Yokum dollars they could get their hands on. What they really wanted was the source of that silver, but Jamie Lee wouldn’t tell ‘em where to find it. After a while, the agents gave up and went back to Washington.”

The storyteller paused for a sip of lemonade. “It wasn’t long after that when Jamie Lee Yokum passed away. His two brothers died soon after, crossing the Rockies on their way out to California. Those men were the only ones who knew the Indians’ secret and they took that secret to their graves, but they did leave some clues in letters they’d written to their cousins. Over the years, a lot of people have searched high and low for that silver, but nobody’s ever found it. But who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to learn the truth about the Indian Silver Legend.”

Deadly Ties © 2013

 *

To this day, people continue to search for the famed silver, with many a treasure hunter convinced a mine or cave does indeed exist somewhere in the hills. Some believe the answer lies near or under Beaver Lake in Arkansas while others argue the location is Table Rock Lake in Missouri. And so the legend lives on…

On The Road Again

IronBridgeSpillwayLakeFayetteville

Me at Iron Bridge Spillway Lake Fayetteville, AR

In June, doctors and specialists completed their blood-drawing, prodding, poking examinations. They decided prescribing a drug called TEGRETOL to help manage the pain until they could diagnose the exact problem was the right thing to do. It wasn’t. Side effects (among the many) include depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and death. Yes, death.

In whose world is death a side effect?

Maybe it’s the mystery writer in me or my sense of humor:

Doctor: “Yes, Mr. Cotner, we have a cure for what ails you: Death.”

Me: “Thanks, Doc, but I’ll pass if it’s all the same to you.”

Anyway, I’m not dead (yet) and now that the full body and brain CAT Scans are over and the results in, they’ve determined the problem causing pain and occasional paralysis in hands and feet is not a brain tumor as they first suspected but it is pinched nerves in my spine caused by deteriorating spinal discs.

I’ll live with the pain and have opted out of drugs and surgery (at least for the foreseeable future).

I’m back on the road again, a few pounds heavier than usual but that will soon be lost when I get my daily hiking and biking regime back in full swing. Managed to ride seventeen miles around Lake Fayetteville on the day these pictures were taken with no problem and little pain. It’s good to be out and about again. I’m cheering for the return of normal (whatever that is).

Good to be back blogging again, too.

 

BackshotIronBridgeAtSpillway

Taking a rest at Iron Bridge below spillway

IronBridgeAcrossSpillwayLakeFayetteville

Bridge across the spillway on the lake’s bike trail

WildflowerMeadowThroughMySpokes

Wildflower Meadow On The Fayetteville Bike Trail

WildflowerMeadowWaterBreak

Taking A Water Break At Wildflower Meadow

WildflowersLakeFayettevilleMeadow

Wildflowers Lake Fayetteville Meadow North

MyBikeOnFayettevilleBikeTrailEast

Bike Trail East Of Lake Fayetteville

WindingBikeTrailEastOfLake

Winding Bike Trail East of Lake Fayetteville, AR

One Year Blog Anniversary

Artie "Jack" Cotner, England, one week prior to D-Day Invasion of Normandy

Artie “Jack” Cotner, England, one week prior to D-Day Invasion of Normandy

It seems appropriate to use this date as the first post to my new blog.

On this date in 1944, my father, Artie C. “Jack” Cotner was a radio-gunner on the famous “Dee-Feater”, a B-26 Marauder and part of the Allied Invasion Force at Normandy.

I have written of his experience on that day in a chapter of my book Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas explaining how, according to his Group’s Historical Record, my father was the only known enlisted man in the U.S. Army Air Corps to make two bombing runs over France that day.

Here’s a picture of his plane with D-Day Invasion Stripes on the wings.

DeeFeaterB26BomberWW2

“Dee-Feater” B26 Bomber Over England

 

28th Annual May Festival of the Arts

Mayfest2015EurekaSprings

It’s that time of year once again when my all-time favorite little town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas hosts their May Festival of the Arts.

Art is alive in Eureka Springs!  Tucked in the mountains, surrounded by lakes, rivers, streams, and natural healing springs, authentic creative spirits run rampant through the village. Come visit and soak in an art happening that can’tbe found anywhere else.

As many of you may know, in a previous life—before I took up writing and procrastination as serious endeavors—I had a twenty-year career as an artist. One of my favorite art venues is right here in Eureka Springs where you will find over 300 artists working in every medium imaginable. It is a beautiful, happening place if you are into the creative art vibe and they put it all on display in the month of May.

The 28th Annual May Festival of the Arts is packed with one-of-a-kind art exhibits, demonstrations, performances, culinary arts, free music in the park, and the wildest street party thrown by artists – The White Street Walk.

If only I had a dollar for every step I’ve ever taken touring and enjoying this beautiful place. I highly recommend a visit.

You can find more information here at the Eureka Springs Visitor Blog.

Mayfest2015HistoricalMuseum