Monday, August 03, 2009

Hoodlum Wagons, Possum Belly, Lariats

What do all of these have in common? Let's ask James Anderson, the hero of my next book, Bound for Texas.

AUTHOR: James, what is a hoodlum wagon? Did you ride in one?

JAMES: No, Gwyn. The hoodlum wagon was what Cookie drove on a trail drive before the Civil War. I was told that the Chuckwagon was invented after the Civil War during the trail drives up the Chisholm and Goodnight-Loving Trails. Not only did it carry the necessary food stuff, but it also carried the bedrolls for the cowboys.

AUTHOR: What in the world is a Possum Belly?

JAMES: That is a strange name. In Bound for Texas, our cook would drive the wagon ahead of the cattle, picking out a good spot to settle in and eat. While driving, he would occasionally stop, collect wood along the way, and place it under the wagon bed, in a special made compartment.

AUTHOR: What was the trail drive like and how many trails were there?

JAMES: There were actually only two or three trails before the Civil War. One through west Texas and Comanche land, one north up the Preston Road through Dallas to Missouri, and one east to New Orleans. Taking these trails was a real chore for you had to watch out for Indians at all times and some of the rivers had quicksand bottoms. Nasty business.

AUTHOR: I understand that you are still looking for your family that head west to California back in 1849.

JAMES: Yes, I'm still looking for them and hope one day to find them. In the meantime, I live with the Turners in Coryell, Texas. Beautiful country.

AUTHOR: Can you tell us about the lariats that you use?

JAMES: A cowboy can't do without his rope or lariat. We use our ropes for just about everything from roping off a corral on the drive to roping longhorns out on the range for branding. Heck, during the winter season, I sit and braid mine from horsehair. I comb the horse's tail and collect the hair until I have enough to braid. Some cowhands use hemp.

AUTHOR: Thank you for visiting us today, James. We look forward to reading about you in the upcoming book due out next year entitled Bound for Texas, written by Gwyn Ramsey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear James and Gwyn,
What an awesome knowledge of the West you both have! I especially liked the "Possum Belly" because I'd never heard of it before. You widened my horizons so I thank you both.