Friday, November 5, 2010
Mack Hughes, Hashknife Cowboy
When he left again, it was 14 years later, and he'd had a broad range of experiences from cowboying to running trucks of sugar from Phoenix for local bootleggers. We get to know his brothers (one of them a mechanic and lover of cars) and many more cowboys. Some of them Mack is truly fond of and makes no secret of it.
There are accounts of exteme weather, illness, an infestation of scabbies (cattle) and lice (he and a bed-mate) and spectacular wrecks that leave him with broken bones and a smashed face. He is touched by the deaths of good men, and he has near fatal accidents of his own. Once he loses a good horse and saddle over a sheer drop into a deep canyon.
The language is colorful and salty, and with the help of his wife Stella (who wrote the book) he's able to tell a really good yarn. Sometimes it's exciting as he and some friends chase a wild horse, or darkly humorous as they rid the countryside of wild dogs.
Sometimes it's inspiring as he and his family struggle to survive during the Great Depression. The book also has excellent illustrations by Joe Beeler. Thanks to the University of Arizona Press for keeping this fine book in print.
Coming up: Ridgwell Cullum, The Sheriff of Dyke Hole (1909)