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The Tour de France – Happy 104th Birthday!

BLOG #30, SERIES #8

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

THE TOUR DE FRANCE

HAPPY 104TH BIRTHDAY

July 26, 2017

It’s over again and, as always, it’s sad to bid it adieu. Soccer, of course, is watched by more millions than for any other sport. But the Tour is watched by more people lining European roads than is true of any other sporting event in the world. And each year, the crowds seem to get bigger.

For Connie and me, it would be unthinkable to miss one. Fortunately, today it’s possible to pre-record so that we don’t have to miss even one stage. Indeed, for us, the Tour has become part of the very rhythm of our lives.

Every one of the 104 tours has had its own personality, its own uniqueness. This year has had more suspense than we’ve seen in recent years. First, because no one cyclist ever held a commanding lead at any point; even on the eve of the last time-trial, the top three cyclists remained only 27 seconds apart. And even after the time-trial, the still uncrowned yellow jersey, for the first time in history, rode into Paris with less than a 60-second leads over his competitors. It would be Froome’s fourth—an incredible achievement.

Fierce Competitors: Chris Froome, Romain Bardet, and Rigoberto Uran (Denver Post, July 20, 2017)

Second, the two fastest sprinters, Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish, were dropped from the race after one controversial “push.” With that loss, some of the wattage of the race for stage victories dimmed. The compensation has to do with the competition between sprinters who now had a chance to shine and win stages.

In the end, Chris Froome won by only 54 seconds. 167 riders somehow endured almost 2,500 miles, in the three-week tour, all the way from Dusseldorf to Paris.

Now, I turn to two gentlemen who have become so special to millions of viewers around the world that they seem like personal friends: Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. Incredibly, this has been Liggett’s 45th consecutive, and the 39th consecutive tour for Sherwen as commentators.

Paul and Phil: Tour’s Everlasting Pair

Wall Street Journal July 1-2, 2017

This year the duo was joined by a new commentator, Christian Vande Velde, who did a splendid job. Behind the scenes is the irrepressible German, Jens Voight, “whose droll takes on the race and racers add much fo the three weeks. “Voight,” who is wildly popular with American cycle fans, attributes much of his cycling notoriety to the way Liggett and Sherwen would rhapsodize about his efforts during races. Voight was well known as a daring breakaway artist who would often launch valiant if doomed attacks.”

Yes, it’s over for another year—but not really, because in our inner archives are stored memories that will never die. And scenes of European roads (especially France’s) that will forever sing in memory.

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First New List of our Books in Three Years

BLOG #29, SERIES #8

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

FIRST NEW LIST OF OUR BOOKS IN THREE YEARS

July 19, 2017

Since even I sometimes find it difficult to keep up with all our books (now 96), here is a new listing. This should make it easier when you are looking to order titles you are missing from us.

BOOKS BY JOE WHEELER

BARNES & NOBLE

Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage (2014) [dust jacketed hardback] (a proprietary edition of Howard/Simon & Schuster’s book by the same title. It was stocked deep by all Barnes & Noble stores.

DAVID C. BOOK/RIVEROAK

The Twelve Stories of Christmas (2001) [dust jacketed hardback]. The first twelve Christmas stories I ever wrote, with story behind each story.

DOUBLEDAY/RANDOM HOUSE

Christmas in My Heart Treasuries 1, 2, 3, 4 (1996-1999) [dust jacketed hardback] Rescrambles of stories in core series with different illustrations.

Christmas in My Soul 1, 2, 3 (2000-2002) [dust jacketed hardback]. Gift-size books.

ECHRISTIAN/MISSION

A Bluegrass Girl and Other Horse Stories for Girls (2012) [trade paper].

A Mother’s Face Is Her Child’s First Heaven (2014) [mother stories – trade paper].

Only God Can Make a Dad (2014) [father stories – trade paper].

The Secrets of the Creeping Desert and Other Mysteries for Boys (2014) [trade paper].

Showdown and Other Sports Stories for Boys (2012) [trade paper].

The Talleyman Ghost and Other Mystery Stories for Girls (2014) [trade paper].

FAITH HAPPENINGS

Lew Wallace and the Story of Ben-Hur (2016) [trade paper]. Same as Focus/Tyndale – bio.

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY/HARVEST HOUSE

Time for a Story (1999) [hardback].

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY/TYNDALE HOUSE

Christmas in My Heart 8 (1999) [trade paper].

Christmas in My Heart 9 – 15 (2000 – 2006) [dust jacketed hardback].

Great Stories Remembered I, II, III (1996, 1998, 2000) [hardback]. Great Stories Remembered I awarded Family Television’s highest honor: The Seal of Quality.

Great Stories Remembered Classic Books [Each contains a 50-70 page biography of the author, book introduction, vintage illustrations, and discussion questions at the back.]

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1999) [dust jacketed hardback]

Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace (1997) [hardback, dust jacketed hardback, trade paper].

The Christmas Angel by Abbie Farwell Brown (1999) [trade paper].

The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1997) [hardback and trade paper].

David Copperfield by Chartles Dickens (1999) [trade paper]

The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1999) [trade paper].

Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter (2000) [trade paper].

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott (1999) [trade paper]

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1996) [hardback and trade paper].

Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz (2000) [trade paper]

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1996) [hardback and trade paper].

The Twenty-Fourth of June by Grace Richmond (1999)

Heart to Heart Stories of Friendship (1999) [dust jacketed hardback].

Heart to Heart Stories of Love (2000) [dust jacketed hardback].

Heart to Heart Stories for Dads (2000) [dust jacketed hardback] – same as Dad in My Heart (1997) trade paper

Heart to Heart Stories for Moms (2001) [dust jacketed hardback] – same as Mom in My Heart (1997) trade paper.

Heart to Heart Stories for Grandparents (2002) [dust jacketed hardback]

Heart to Heart Stories for Sisters (2002) [dust jacketed hardback]

Heart to Heart Stories for Teachers (2003) [dust jacketed hardback]

GUIDEPOSTS

Christmas in My Heart 1, 2 (1996-7) [hardback] Same as Doubleday/Random House Treasuries 1, 2 (hardback).

Stories of Angels Seen and Unseen (1997) [dust jacketed hardback]

HOWARD/SIMON & SCHUSTER

Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage 2008) [biography – dust jacketed hardback]

Abraham Lincoln Civil War Stories (2013) [dust jacketed hardback]

Best of Christmas in My Heart 1, 2 (2007, 2008) [hardback].

Candle in the Forest and Other Christmas Stories Children Love (2007) [hardback].

THOMAS NELSON

A Christmas Carol and The Christmas Angel (2005) [trade paper]. (same text as separate Focus/Tyndale classic books).

St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas [with James Rosenthal] (2005) dust jacketed hardback.

St. Nicholas [Christian Encounters biography (2010) [trade paper].

Soldier Stories (2006) [W Publishing House – trade paper].

Tears of Joy for Mothers (2006) [W Publishing House – trade paper].

PACIFIC PRESS PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION

Christmas in My Heart 17 – 25 (2008 – 2016) [trade paper – core series. It is today the longest-running Christmas story series in America].

The Good Lord Made Them All 1 – 10 [trade paper]

Owney, the Post Office Dog and Other Great Dog Stories (2004)

Smoky, the Ugliest Cat in the World and Other Great Cat Stories (2005)

Wildfire, the Red Stallion and Other Great Horse Stories (2006)

Dick, the Babysitting Bear and Other Great Wild Animal Stories (2007)

Spot, the Dog That Broke the Rules and Other Heroic Animal Stories (2008)

Amelia, the Flying Squirrel and Other Stories of God’s Smallest Creatures (2009)

Togo, the Sled Dog and Other Great Stories of the North (2011)

Tawny, the Magnificent Jaguar and Other Great Jungle Stories (2012)

Stinky, the Skunk That Wouldn’t Leave and Other Strange and Wonderful Stories (2013)

Sooty, the Green-Eyed Kitten and Other Great Animal Stories, (2014)

My Favorite Stories

My Favorite Angel Stories (2014) [trade paper].

My Favorite Miracle Stories (2015) [trade paper]

My Favorite Prayer Stories (2016) [trade paper]

My Favorite Life-Changing Stories (2017) [trade paper]

PROQUEST/UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Zane Grey’s Impact on American Life and Letters (1975) [hardback and trade paper].

REVIEW AND HERALD PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION

Christmas in My Heart 1-16 (1992 – 2007) [trade paper. Christmas in My Heart 1-4 Finalist: Gold Medallion Award by Christian Booksellers Association].

Remote Controlled (1993) [trade paper]

WATERBROOK/RANDOM HOUSE – Forged in the Fire Series

Easter in My Heart (2000) [dust jacketed hardback]

Everyday Heroes (2002) [dust jacketed hardback]

What’s So Good About Tough Times? (2001) [dust jacketed hardback]

The Wings of God (2000) [dust jacketed hardback – much the same as Guidepost’s Stories of Angels Seen and Unseen].

ZANE GREY’S WEST SOCIETY

Zane Grey Master Character Index (2017) [trade paper]

IN TRANSLATION

ASOCIACIÓN CASA EDITORA SUDAMERICANA [Spanish]

Historias con Angeles [My Favorite Angel Stories] [2017) [trade paper]

ASOCIACIÓN PUBLICADORA INTERAMERICANA [Spanish]

La Tirania del Control Remoto [Remote Controlled] (1997) [trade paper]

CIPTA OLAH PUSHTAKA [FOCUS ON THE FAMILY] Malay/Indonesia (2001)Four books in the Heart to Heart series: Friendship, Love, Moms, Dads

And Quo Vadis from the Classic Book series.

INSTYTUT WYDAWNICZY PAX [Polish]

Œwiety Mikotaj (2010) [trade paper – translation of St. Nicholas]

NORSK BOKFORLAG A/W [Norwegian]

Jul I Vare Hjerter 1, 2 (1997, 2003)

Translation of Christmas in My Heart 1 – 8 (stories) [Rescrambles of stories in Core series].

PACIFIC PRESS PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION – Spanish

Navidad en Mi Corazón (1995) [trade paper]

(Translation of Christmas in My Heart 1)

A U D I O S

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY/TYNDALE HOUSE

Great Stories Remembered I, II, III (Each contains 3 hours of stories) [II and III read by Joe Wheeler].

MISSION BOOKS

Great Stories Remembered (contains 3 hours in 3 CDs)

OASIS AUDIO

Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage [Complete text].

REVIEW AND HERALD PUBLISHING

Christmas in My Heart 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (each is 3 hours of stories; all are read by Joe Wheeler).

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The Western: An Epic in Art and Film

BLOG #28, SERIES #8

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

THE WESTERN: AN EPIC IN ART AND FILM

DENVER ART MUSEUM

July 12, 2017

“Emigrants Crossing the Plains,” by Bierstadt

What an exhibition! It was totally unlike any other such exhibition of western art I’ve ever experienced. Never before had I seen western art, western films, western photographs, pieces of sculpture, off-the-wall artifacts, etc., thrown together in one exhibition.

,”Breaking Through the Line,” by Schreyvogel

According to Denver Post reviewer Ray Mark Rinaldi, “The question the show raises is: Was Western art ever honest? Or was it always propaganda? Was Western life and history ever captured for anything other than its exotic qualities or to sell commercial and political ideas? The stuff could be beautiful, technically amazing and journalistic, but was it ever really art?”

Rinaldi then posed a key question: “Does all of the western art from the last 50 years exist simply to make fun of the western art in the 100 years that preceded it? The answer, according to this exhibit, appears to be a yes—because it skipped a meaningful incorporation of later Western artists who work with the same vistas without dwelling in full parody.”

“A Dash Through the Timber,” by Remington

As for me, I saw much to admire. It is the finest western show I have seen here in Colorado—it must have been extremely expensive to pull off. But the viewer gets a totally different concept of the Old West than would be true in great western art galleries such as the Amon Carter in Fort Worth, the Thomas Gilcrease in Tulsa, Oklahoma City Hall of Fame, the Gene Autry in Southern California, etc.

“The Holdup,” by Russell

The modern tendency to mock the past and its novelists, painters, photographers, sculptors, movie producers and actors, etc., is not a pretty thing to observe. Deconstructionism tears down and discredits but leaves little that is positive after its carnage.

There was some great art. Seeing

“The Night Stagecoach,”
by Remington

Remington’s magnificent 1889 “A Dash Through the Timber;” Bierstadt’s stunning 1867 oil painting, “Emigrants Crossing the Plains;” Russell’s action-packed robbery scene, “The Hold Up;” Charles Schreyvogel’s jolting “Breaking Through the Line” (where the viewer stares straight into the business end of a pistol); and the painting I had long heard about but never before seen, Koerner’s 1921 “Madonna of the Prairies,” was riveting. I could have stood there for hours drinking in its absolute perfection (a young woman crossing the prairie in a covered wagon with an opening in the canvas that transforms the woman into a madonna halo-ed)—it alone would have been worth a transcontinental fight to gaze on it once in a lifetime.

“Madonna of the Prairies,” by Koerner

Kudos to curators Thomas Brent Smith and Mary Dail Desmarais, and the staff of the Denver Art Museum.

The John Ford and High Noon movie exhibits were unlike any other such exhibits I have ever seen as well.’

If you are in Colorado between now and September 10, drop everything, pay your $15, and prepare to spend a day you will not soon forget.

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Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild”

BLOG #27, SERIES #8

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

DR. JOE’S BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB #67

JACK LONDON’S THE CALL OF THE WILD

July 5, 2017

Reader’s Library – British Edition, n.d.

The Call of the Wild is the greatest dog story ever written.” –Carl Sandburg

* * * * *

It was a most unlikely beginning for one of the world’s most beloved writers: “It was wedding day for Flora Wellman Chaney and John London on September 7, 1876; Flora’s eight-month-old son, John Griffith Chaney, was present. From that moment on he knew real father love, but never knew who his real father was. Despite the close and warm relationship with John London, Jack always lived under a cloud of doubt as to the identity of his real father.”

–Russ Kingman, A Pictorial Life of Jack London

(New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1979), p. 15

Today, with such a high percentage of children born out of wedlock, it may be difficult to relate to earlier generations where, to be born illegitimate was to be saddled with a stigma that never went away.

When W. H. Chaney (an astrologer) was told by his wife Flora that she was pregnant, he demanded that she destroy the baby. When she refused, he walked out on her and left her destitute. Twice, the despairing woman attempted suicide (once with laudanum and once with a pistol). Friends intervened just in time to save her and that of her unborn child.

In later life, even when he became world famous, two clouds would always remain: abandonment by his birth father and a month-long incarceration in the Erie County Penitentiary near Buffalo, New York. Signs were everywhere that tough times were ahead: the financial panic of 1893 would be the worst financial depression until the stock market crash of 1929. London was on foot, admiring Niagara Falls when he was arrested for “vagrancy,” condemned without a hearing, and hauled off to prison. The terrible things he witnessed during that horrendous month would never leave him.

Pocket Book Edition 1959/1949

When he returned to California, London read himself through four years of high school in the Oakland Public Library, a kindly librarian having taken him under her wing. He then enrolled in the University of California in mBerkeley but had to drop out because he ran out of money.

Then gold was discovered in the Klondike in 1897. Within a few days, the Klondike Gold Rush became a madness. Those who could, dropped their jobs and headed north; those who were unable to go, grubstaked those who could. Jack’s brother-in-law, Captain Shepherd, caught Klondicitis too, and offered to grubstake Jack if he’d go along and do the heavy work. It wouldn’t be easy, as Territory officials refused to permit anyone to join the gold-seekers unless each man brought with him a year’s supplies (hence 2,000 pounds for Jack and his brother-in-law).

Once the two of them reached Juneau, they hired space on seventy-foot-long canoes and paddled 100 miles north, up the Lynn Canal to Dyea. Then, at 85-150 pounds at a time (depending on terrain, they’d travel one mile at a time, then return for another load. It would take a solid month to move each person’s outfit 29 miles! Providing the weather held, that is.

Washington Square Edition
1964/1962

 

Captain Shepherd only lasted two days before he gave up and turned back. Another took his place.

I’ll let Russ Kingman pick up here: “There is no way to adequately describe the Chilcoot Pass. Any miner who crossed it would agree that it was literal torture. It took hours to bring each load to the top. The climb up was a nightmare and the scramble back down empty-handed was nearly as bad. Jack tried every way possible to make the packing easier. . . . Each load weighed from 75 to 150 pounds and sat like a demon on his broad shoulders. From the summit to Happy Camp to Long Lake, and from Deep Lake up over the enormous hogback and down to Linderman, the man-killing race against winter kept on. Men broke their hearts and backs and wept beside the trail. But winter never faltered; the fall gales blew colder and colder, and amid bitter soaking rains and ever increasing snow flurries,” . . . they finally reached the beach of Lake Linderman on September 8 (Kingman, 73).

Here they began building boats, and by hand sawed spruce trunks into lumber. By then, the wind had shifted into the north and blew in an unending gale. The boats finally completed, they rowed through a fall blizzard to the other side of the lake. The following morning, they loaded up again and began their perilous traverse of 500 miles of lakes, rivers, box canyons, and rapids.

By early October, they heard that Dawson City was due for a terrific famine because of its mushrooming population and lack of supplies—and furthermore, there were no claims left to stake. Once Jack discovered that Henderson Creek was the only unstaked area left in the Yukon Territory, they staked claims there. On October 18, they camped three miles from Dawson City. It would be during the several weeks that Jack’s party remained in the vicinity that he would meet Marshall and Louis Bond of Santa Clara, California, and their magnificent St. Bernard dog, Jack, that would later become Buck in London’s greatest book.

Then winter hit with a vengeance, and the long bitterly cold nights seemed endless. Most of the time was spent in bunks because the floors were too cold to stand on. Later in the winter the dog-pulled sleds would leave a hard surface to travel on. It would be during this fierce winter that London learned to love and respect the intrepid dogs that pulled the sleds Canadians so needed in order to live and function in the Arctic. By May, Jack had a continually worsening case of scurvy, from lack of vegetables or fruit (their diet being bread, beans, and bacon). It was called “the Klondike Plague.” As his condition worsened, he could no longer walk or work in the mines—if he didn’t leave soon, he’d die there in the Yukon.

Early in May, the ice flow began on the Yukon River—but it was not until June 8, 1898 that London, John Thorson, and Charles M. Taylor left, floating down the mighty Yukon for over 1,500 miles! Twenty days later, they arrived at St. Michael. Since they were out of money, Jack and John stoked coal on a steamer from St. Michael to San Francisco to pay for their passage home (Kingman, 73-83, this section).

Thus London made it back to California dead broke, but with a fortune in his journals and in his head. He’d write bestsellers like The People of the Abyss, The Sea Wolf, White Fang, Martin Eden, and The Cruise of the Snark, but it was the story he brought back with him from the Yukon, The Call of the Wild, in 1903, that catapulted him to instant world-wide fame and fortune, immortalized the great St. Bernard, Jack, as Buck; and, in so doing, spawned the Age of Realism in literature.

No one should get through life without reading it at least once. At only 27,000 words, it is a quick read.

* * * * *

In a cruise to Alaska, Connie and I took the train trip from Skagway to the summit of Chilcoot Pass, and marveled at the almost vertical trail to the top those gold-seekers of ‘97 were forced to climb, over and over and over until they’d each hauled up all 1,000 pounds to the top. And in Juneau, we took a ride pulled by sled dogs. Only, not being winter, it was in a cart with wheels rather than runners. We couldn’t help but notice how excited each dog became as it was harnessed, and how disconsolate the unchosen dogs were.

To us, every sentence of The Call of the Wild rings true. Every year, as we follow the annual dog-sled ritual of the Iditarod, Buck’s story lives again.

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Zane Grey Master Character Index

BLOG #26, SERIES #8

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

MY 96TH BOOK

ZANE GREY MASTER CHARACTER INDEX

June 28, 2017

My first book on Zane Grey, the Vanderbilt doctoral dissertation, was published way back in 1975. At that time, I mistakenly assumed that was it: I could then go on to other things. Yes and no: I did go on to other things, but Zane Grey has never left me. Several years ago, something I’d long since assumed would never happen—DID.

It’s beautiful! The only time in Grey’s lifetime when one of his books (Canyon Walls) was positioned side by side with one of the greatest painters of the age, Maxfield Parrish. At the 35th Zane Grey’s West Society convention in Kanab, Utah (June 19-22, 2017) this book was seen and bought for the very first time. But we kept copies for you. It is perhaps my rarest book: the First Edition is limited to only 350 copies.

In order for you to fully understand how it happened, I am sharing the book’s introduction with you. Here it is:

INTRODUCTION

BURIED FOR 42 YEARS

Joseph Leininger Wheeler

As I look back through those pivotal years of 1971-1975, I stall out when I reach that life-changing moment when I first realized I was now the foremost authority on the life, times, and works of the man who, more than any other, was responsible for creating the Myth of the West: That once upon a time there existed a Camelot in America’s West.

Usually, in this all-too-short period we call “life,” we barrel through epiphanies, not recognizing life-changing days at the time—only years later, looking back through the halls of time, we say to ourselves, My goodness! If that day had never been—how different my life would have been!”

But, for some reason, a Higher Power stopped me in my tracks on that never-to-be-forgotten day. Stopped me with this seismic thought: After years of criss-crossing the nation, journeying from library to library, museum to museum, authority to authority, I am now the world’s foremost authority on Zane Grey.

This was followed by an unsettling conclusion: You know, I could quit right now: I already have researched and written far more than I need in order to earn the doctorate. In fact, my major professor, departmental chair, and doctoral advisor, Dr. Warren Titus had already told me, “Joe, you are overwhelming us; no one is going to question your right to the doctorate, but you’ve already written 1,200 pages—please, in mercy, cut your manuscript down to a humane level.”

This was perhaps the ultimate Robert Frostian moment of decision in my lifetime. For in Frost’s iconic poem, “The Road Not Taken, are these lines:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both.”

The big question that day was, “Why should I continue disrupting my family’s life? Why not call it quits right now? After all, most doctoral students quit once they’ve mastered and proved their thesis statements.

But another voice spoke out that day: That may very well be, but you have to realize that, as far as Zane and Dolly Grey are concerned, you’ve only just begun. There yet remains so much about Grey that you haven’t even touched yet.

And at that very moment, I recognized I was myself in the midst of an epiphany, and these lines came back to me from memory;

“Yet knowing how way leads on to way.

I doubted if I should ever come back.”

Ah that was the rub! My employer, Southwestern Adventist University, had promised to see me through to my doctorate; was paying for all my travels, for all my book-buying, for turning our large bedroom into an office, with a full-time secretary to help me in my journey from original and secondary sources to a persuasive, informative, and perhaps even eloquent doctoral dissertation. With that belief in me, why should I quit when I’d just begun?

Maxfield Parrish printing appeared in October 1930 Ladies’ Home Journal

So, recognizing that I would always regret taking the easy way out, I deliberately decided to follow the more daunting of the two diverging roads—and not quit until I reached the point where I felt I now knew all there was to know about Grey before I laid down my pen.

That, of course, was a naive conclusion: I now know that not even in a hundred years could I possibly know all there is to know about Zane and Dolly Grey.

But I did cut my dissertation down from 1,200 to 400 pages, thus bringing joy and relief to Dr. Titus.

What I didn’t then realize was that, by my decision to go beyond the requirements of the Vanderbilt University (Peabody campus) doctoral program, I’d thereby made it all but impossible to ever get Zane Grey out of my life. Case in point: When media interviewers have asked me what it feels like to be the world’s foremost authority on the life and times of Zane Grey, my standard response has been, “Well, it’s sort of like the old Russian proverb: “He that dances with a bear doesn’t quit just because he gets tired.”

Because I made that fateful decision, I went on to edit and publish Zane Grey’s West Magazine (1979-1991), co-found the Zane Grey’s West Society (with G. M. Farley) in 1983, serve as the Society’s Executive Director and deliver all the annual keynote addresses at all the 35 conventions since then—2017’s will represent my 35th, as well as other Zane Grey-related research and writing.

Which brings us to this book—

HOW THIS BOOK CAME TO BE 

Throughout the 35 years of the Society’s existence, we officers have fielded a surprisingly large number of unsolicited questions. Interestingly enough, one type of question has been asked more often than all the others put together. Here is a typical one:

My grandparents loved the books of Zane Grey. Read them so many times the books were all but loved to death. Well, I’ve been wondering for a long time about whether or not my mom was named for a Zane Grey heroine. So, a question: Was there ever a Zane Grey heroine named _________. If there was, what book was she in? Because, if she was in one, I’d want to pick up a copy of that book and see if there are any similarities between that character and my mother.As such questions have continued to be asked decade after decade, and our officers discovered that almost invariably I was the only person who could come up with the answers, they got suspicious. Once they became aware of the existence of this treasure in our home, dialogue began to take place regarding whether or not I’d ever had plans to publish it.

As it turns out, this Master Character Index would never have been created had I not decided to learn everything there was to learn about Zane Grey. Finally, I realized it would be selfish for me to hog the Index any longer when it was possible to publish it so that the Society and the world might have access to it.

Finally, I agreed. And it has taken us several years to get the manuscript retyped onto computer (the original was typed on an old IBM Electric typewriter). Thanks to the untiring efforts of Terry Bolinger (President), Rosanne Vrugtman (Vice-President), Ed Meyer (Marketing Coordinator), and members Tim Abner, Jan Gautreaux, and David Ross, we have been able to take my long-ago Character Index and shake it by the scruff of its neck, seeking to catch any errors, duplications, misspellings, mislabelings, etc., and thus make all these needed edits before we finalized the manuscript.

Periodically, here would come another long communique from Terry Bolinger; in it would be a long list of character-related questions. Fortuitously, when I sold my Zane Grey collection to Brigham Young University a number of years ago, they graciously permitted me to retain enough key artifacts to enable me to continue cranking out my annual keynote addresses and other Zane Grey-related research. Consequently, even in the case of this Master Character Index, I was able to satisfactorily answer every one of these queries. Reason being: I still have in my remaining archives the hand-written cards containing all the characters in all of Zane Grey’s canon of writings! These are more precious than gold—irreplaceable. For never again in my lifetime would I ever take the years it would take to go through such an exhausting process again. Thanks to it, we were able to catch a significant number of errors before publication.

THE STARS WERE ALIGNED

I’ve often thought back to that incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I had back in 1971-1975: Romer Grey (Grey’s oldest son) was then President of Zane Grey, Inc., and lived in Altadena, California; Betty Zane Grosso (Grey’s only daughter) was still alive, and raised Arabian horses in California’s Napa Valley; and Dr. Loren Grey (the youngest child) was then teaching at one of the University of California campuses, and lived in Woodland Hills; furthermore, G. M. Farley was still alive, but in weakening health.

Romer Grey made available to me the entire family archives, and made it possible for me to acquire the rarest of Zane Grey books and photocopies of journals, stories, and unpublished manuscripts; Betty Zane Grosso made it possible for me to photocopy the Fort Knox of family correspondence (a huge steamer trunk brimming full of several thousand personal letters, telegrams, etc., mostly written by either Zane or Dolly Grey).

I did not then realize how short my window of opportunity really was: Romer Grey died only a few weeks after I sent hin a personally inscribed copy of my doctoral dissertation (one of only nine in the world of that initial edition). A lot of priceless archival material got destroyed after his passing. Then began the dismantling of the priceless correspondence collection—the letters were gradually, in auctions, sold to the four winds. Some with hundreds of other letters and original journals.

Since that time, both Betty Zane Grosso and Loren Grey have passed away as well. Today, it would be impossible, for any amount of money, to reconstruct what I was able to accomplish during those golden four years when all the proverbial stars were perfectly aligned. In retrospect, I can’t help but feel convicted that a Higher Power willed that research to take place.

And, not coincidentally, all those years ago, we went to all that trouble to put together this definitive index of all the real life people, fictional characters, and both real life and fictional animals from Grey’s entire canon of writing—do all this for no reason at all. And then sit on it for 42 long years before a consensus developed within our Society leadership that the time had come at last for the index to be made available to the world.

Enjoy!

Price for Limited First Edition copies is $20 plus shipping, $4.85 per book.

Email me at: DrJoe@joewheelerbooks.com with your request.

 

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The Curse of Marijuana

BLOG #25, SERIES #8

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

THE CURSE OF MARIJUANA

June 21, 2017

We ought to know here in Colorado. Now that it is legal to sell it, grow it, and smoke it, things have not been pretty. Recently, pot-lovers put on a big pot event in downtown Denver. When it was over that part of the city was left in a shambles, with garbage everywhere. The mayor banned them from putting on another for three years.

I know landlords whose renters have so degraded their homes that they never again want to rent to anyone who smokes marijuana.

Another friend of mine, who has known pot-users for decades, declares that marijuana-use over time often takes away all that individual’s highs and lows, leaving them in a “mellow” zombyish state of suspended animation. It takes away the user’s ambition and desire to make a success or career—leaving behind unproductive zeros.

On May 17, syndicated columnist Amy Dickinson ran a letter from a woman who signed herself as “disappointed.” She began with these words:

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for more than two years. When we first started dating, I knew he smoked marijuana daily. I slowly grew frustrated being with someone who is out of it and unresponsive.I decided to break it off. . . . He decided that he would stop smoking.

There were many times where I was suspicious that he was smoking again. He had bloodshot eyes, smelled of it, would run errands that would take hours to complete.

But she married him in spite of it. She forgave him in spite of relapses. Continuing on, she wrote:

Amy, I don’t care if people want to smoke weed, but it is something I didn’t want in a husband or the future father of my children.Last night, I was cleaning his car when I found weed hidden underneath the floor mat. I also found eye drops and a lighter.

We talked about it and he told me that he feels like weed helps him. He believes it has healing powers (he has no medical issues). He doesn’t want to stop. I was very clear about my views from the start of our relationship. It isn’t fair that he lied to me for so long.

I told hin I wanted a divorce because I could no longer trust him. He said I was crazy for being willing to throw everything away over a little weed.

Am I crazy?

Dickinson’s response was not hopeful:

People who use weed and get baked will deny how obnoxious and boring they can be, and how big an impact it has on their lives and relationships. It is no fun to try and have a life with someone who is unavailable, unreliable, impaired, and zoned out.                      *Italics mine

* * * * *

In recent months and years, marijuana use has reached epidemic proportions among the young. They justify themselves by saying “Everybody’s doing it – can’t see how it can hurt me.”

Of course, substance abuse is substance abuse, whatever form it takes—be it hard drugs like heroin or meth, alcohol, porn, etc. But all of them are generally considered to be dangerous at best. But marijuana has been promoted by so many as being benign. Though it can be in many cases, depending on the dosage and frequency, anything that impairs our ability to function at our highest level, either in the job world or in the personal world . . . is just plain terrifying. When a stroke takes away part of someone’s mind, that is irreversible. Marijuana’s effects may be just as irreversible. And the mind can be a terrible thing to lose.

A key concern I have with drugs such as marijuana is that it clouds the mind. Anything that does that also degrades our ability to communicate with God. As Americans become increasingly secular and sideline the spiritual dimension of their lives, turning to mind-clouding escapist substance abuse increases exponentially.