Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Late, Great Gabby Hayes

By Timothy England

Gabby Hayes, born George Francis Hayes, was a well loved and admired American actor, best known for his role as sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers during the 1930's and 1940's. Gabby, born on May 7, 1885, was the third of seven children, raised by his father, Clark Hayes, in Stannards, New York, a small hamlet located on the outskirts of Wellsville, New York. His father owned the Hayes Hotel.

As a young man, Gabby worked in a circus and as a teen he played semi-pro baseball. However, in 1902, he ran away from home at the age of 17. It was then that he joined a touring stock company and in 1914, he married Olive Ireland, the daughter of a glass finisher from New Jersey. Together they became successful in Vaudeville. Ireland playing the part of Dorothy Earle.

Hills of Old Wyoming (1937) w/Hopalong Cassidy

Because of Gabby's success, he purchased a home on Long Island in Baldwin, NY. Armed with a small fortune, in 1928, he retired at the age of 43. The following year, however, because of the 1929 stock market crash, Gabby lost his fortune, forcing him to return to the art of acting.

Olive convinced Gabby to pull up stake and move to Los Angeles, California, where he found gainful and steady employment in films. It was here that he met producer Trem (Tremlet C.) Carr, resulting in his playing lots of roles in Westerns as well as other kinds of movies—30, in fact, over a six-year period. And finally, in the mid-1930s, he settled into what became an almost exclusive career in the Western venue.

Young Bill Hickok (1940) w/Roy Rogers

Olive and Gabby remained married until her death in July of 1957. However, neither Gabby or his wife Olive knew the joy of having children.

Gabby enjoyed fame and fortune from his association with Hopalong Cassidy.

“From 1935 to 1939, Hayes played the part of Windy Halliday, the humorous 'codger' sidekick of Hopalong Cassidy (played by William Boyd). In 1939, Hayes left that role at Paramount Pictures, in a dispute over his salary. and moved to Republic Pictures. Since Paramount held the rights to the name Windy Halliday, they renamed him Gabby Whitaker, in virtually the same role. As Gabby, he appeared in more than 40 films between 1939 and 1946, usually with Roy Rogers (44 times), but also with Gene Autry (7) and Wild Bill Elliott (14), often working under the directorship of Joseph Kane (34)“ (Wikipedia,

South of Santa Fe (1942) w/Roy Rogers

As a sidekick, he was one of only a select few to be placed on the list of “Top Ten Western Boxoffice Stars,” which he did repeatedly. In the early days of Gabby's career, he went back and forth from a comic-relief sidekick with whiskers to that of a clean-shaven bad guy. By the late 1930s, however, he worked almost exclusively as a Western sidekick with movie stars such as Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and Randolph Scott.

After his last film in 1950, he starred as the host of a network television show devoted to stories of the Old West for children: “The Gabby Hayes Show." For the remainder of his life, Gabby had a 10-unit apartment building located in North Hollywood, California, that he lived in and managed. He also focused on his investments. In February, 1969, he was admitted to Saint Joseph Hospital in Burbank where he was being treated for cardiovascular problems when he passed away. He was laid to rest in Forest Lawn—Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

About the Author
On the family farm just outside Nashville, Timothy England grew up surrounded by the beautiful Tennessee hillside where his imagination loved to roam.

His lifelong love of westerns has culminated in his debut novel, Track Down, the first installment in his series centering around US Marshall Jake Boone. To date, Timothy, under the pseudonym Jess Bryan, has written four books, all of them available from Amazon.

Timothy is the author of Track Down, a Western thriller. As United States Marshall, Jake Boone, is hot on the trail of the dangerous Stanton, circumstance pushes his skills and his wits to the limits. Will he be able to live up to his own legend and keep things safe? Or has 'Killer Jake' met his match finally? For more information on this and three other books written by Timothy English, go to:

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Sunday, March 15, 2020

From the Desk of the WMD Publisher

Greetings, fellow Cowboys, Cowgirls, and
our American Indian brothers!

The authors of the Western Magazine Digest (WMD) thank you for reading our work and watching the many movies we feature in the Hot Box. It is our sincere desire to provide you with interesting, factual stories based on historical fact.

Most of what we do are historical accounts of people, places, and events while recently we featured a fictional story based on actual people from the past. There's three things that I'd like to talk with you about today:

  1. First, we're looking for writers who would like to have their work published in WMD. This is a labor of love for us all, so there is no payday, other than when you, our readers, comment, like, and share our work with others. Whether you're a seasoned writer or someone who's just beginning, I'd like to chat with you.

    You can reach out to me through the Comment Form, or send an email to

  2. Second, it's not easy writing and publishing a story every week, so with that said, until we can add a writer or two to our masthead, we're going to publish on an every-other-week basis.

  3. Three, it's important to myself and our WMD authors that you enjoy reading what we write. If we didn't value what you think we'd not do what we do. So, please do us a favor by commenting on the kinds of stories you'd like to read in our digital pages.

    You can reach out to me through the Comment Form, or send an email to

That's it for now. Be sure to tune in next weekend when we publish a new story at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday!

Kind Regards,
Allan B. Colombo

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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Campin’ Out Cowboy Style

By Christopher Robinson

So you’ve been riding the range most of the day… or perhaps you’ve been biking or hiking some endless trails in a small section of idyllic wilderness where the amenities of civilization are suitably out of reach. Nature’s pristine beauty is yours to behold, just as it was for the cowpokes and drifters on the ol’ trail in western days of old. What better way to become one with it all, watching constellations or even witnessing a meteor shower.

As visually and physically exhilarating as it is, you’ll almost forget that you’re essentially roughing it, and that’s the essence of your incredible outdoor adventure. You won’t compromise that by cheating with any of the ubiquitous modern comforts. You’re camping for the night and, by golly, you’re gonna do it like a real cowboy.

Camping ‘light’ will also save you a heap of time and energy. It may seem simple and even obvious in theory but there will be a few considerations to take into account. Safety and responsibility come first, so enjoy camping as you please but do so with proper observance of your particular surroundings in order to stay safe, comfortable and sound. Staying in control of these situations at all times will ensure a rewarding and exceptional camping outing, one you’ll gain newfound appreciation for, with continued confidence, awareness and experience.

Though bedding down and embracing the elements by the light of the silvery moon suggests an essence of simplicity, there are several details to think through (depending also on your own degree of camping experience). You’ll want to research your preparation thoroughly in relation to the extent and duration of your trip.

As mentioned, safety is paramount. If you’re a beginner camper it will be advisable to first do so with an experienced friend. There are numerous tips and rules that apply to any number of different activities you might be engaging in. For economical purposes, however, we’ll only cover some basics to get you primed for some tent-free camping simplicity.

Anticipate the Weather and Be Prepared

Be aware of weather forecasts ahead of time and keep checking them(bring rain gear, just in case). If rain is expected, bring a ground cloth or a tarp with stakes and plan to camp accordingly if there is any chance of lightning. Don’t camp under a tree if thunderstorms occur. Take cover within woodlands (always camp near trees when possible). If you experience lightning, stay in the “cone”; within the protection of a nearby tree but not so close that electricity can bounce off onto you.

Make sure you come prepared. Be equipped with whatever tools, gear and items you require (again, depending on exactly what type of camping you’ll be doing). Some of the essentials include:

  • Appropriate clothes (long johns, cap if cold etc.)
  • Knife
  • Matches
  • Compass
  • GPS or smart phone
The above items should remain on your person so you can easily start a bonfire in the event of becoming lost. Other items you will need include:
  • Flashlight
  • Utensils, skillet, pots and cup
  • Canteen or water jugs
  • Foodstuffs
  • First aid kit
  • Bedroll(sleeping bag)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Containers or Zip-loc bags

Selecting a Camping Spot and Watch Out for Bears

As previously stated, try to camp near trees when possible. Avoid camping near water, especially standing water. Select an elevated spot as opposed to a recessed one that can flood. Choose soft ground that is free of anthills. If using a ground cloth, curling the ends upwards can deter crawling insects.

Sleeping pads are essential for comfort, support and warmth. Take precautions to ensure it is dry and be sure to air it out after use. Also, check your sleeping bag’s temperature rating to ensure it is ‘four season,’ depending on location, time of year and outside temperatures. Shake it out before and after use.

Know whether you’ll be hiking and camping in bear country. If black bears may roam your camping site, understand the precautions one takes to avoid bear encounters and how to remain safe in the event of one. Remember, bear mace or pepper spray is more effective than a gun. Understand the do’s and don’ts of black bear encounters, and by all means, DO NOT cowboy camp in grizzly bear country.

Fetching Water

Should you run out of the water you brought along, be sure to collect it from sources that are cold and deep, avoiding water from shores, warm water, shallow water or water upstream from camps or trails. Bring it to a boil for five minutes and wait 1-2 hours to cool if needed for drinking. Inconvenient as it may be, it’s necessary for avoiding potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses.

Building Your Fire

Always use existing fire pits when available. If creating a new fire pit or ring, be aware of your camp area’s fire regulations and whether a fire permit is required. Clear all flammable debris 6 feet away and gather some stones if available for a small stone circle as a wind barrier. Search for dead-fall instead of cutting any trees (dead or alive) and dried driftwood if available.

Gather and cut various thicknesses of wood to use when dry. Dry twigs are good fire starters. Cut some thin shavings as well as thicker ones the width of your thumb and place them in piles. Arrange three thin sticks horizontally across and over top two log supports angling vertically. Space the thin sticks about an inch apart from each other. Stack thin shavings atop the thin sticks to a height of about an inch. Then add two thick twigs (thinner than your log supports) on the horizontal sides. Pile finely split kindling horizontally across the top.

The fire can be lit from underneath the center. From then on, fine shavings can be added one at a time. You can use a long branch to hoist pots over your fire. When you're done,you must be certain the fire is out. Allow the wood to burn into ash, then drench with water until all the embers are cold, not just the ones that are red. Keep pouring until there is no more hissing sound. Continue adding water, pouring or sprinkling until it is completely cool. When all is no longer hot to the touch, it can be left alone.

Rustle Up Your Grub

By now you’ve probably worked up an appetite. A cowboy would most likely be riding in the hot sun most of the day with his vittles stashed in his saddlebags. In keeping with this, we’ll stick to non-perishables that will provide for some humble but enjoyable eating. A little coffee, oatmeal, pancakes and Saddle Tramp Stew will suffice for a real cowboy camper, so bring along the following items:
  • Chicken broth (powder or cubed)
  • Dehydrated vegetable packet
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Container of white rice
  • Pancake mix (complete)
  • Instant coffee
  • Small sealed syrup packet or container

Rustlin' Up Cowboy Pancakes and Saddle Tramp Stew

Nothing special here; simply add ¼ cup water to your pancake mix and stir. Pour four small circles on fired skillet. Keep moving them as you probably won’t have the skillet greased. Flip when the undersides are slightly browned and add syrup (also good with your oatmeal).

Now, for the stew! Bring a small pot, add some water and bring it to a boil. Add a small cup (1/8) of rice, then cook. Be sure to cover for 10 minutes. Boil a separate pot of 1 cup of water then add dehydrated vegetables. When rice is ready, spoon drained rice into pot and add 1 teaspoon of broth powder (or 1 cube). Cook until vegetables are soft.

Remember, eating hot food before sleeping is a good way to keep warm.

Get Some Shut-Eye

Before bedding down, clean all cookware and store any leftovers in airtight containers. Lock them up or hang from a branch 10-12 feet high. Don’t tempt wild animals with food. For maximum warmth, change completely into long johns and such to avoid dampness in the clothes you wore throughout the day. After all that, you should sleep well and wake up with a beautiful sunrise. When you’re ready to break camp, take all trash with you and leave your surroundings in the same state you found them.

Alright, pardner, go ahead and channel your inner cowboy/cowgirl. Just remember to plan accordingly, be prepared and take all appropriate considerations. Once you’re back in town with the city folk, feel free to message us and let us know how you did. You’re bound to have a story or two to share. Happy camping and be sure to save me a flapjack.

About the Author

Christopher Robinson is a writer, filmmaker and musician in New Jersey who has contributed to several magazines and websites.

Robinson also worked as a cameraman, videographer, cable access TV host, teacher and producer. He scripted and produced commercial videos as well as cable television programs for local consumption.

For more info about Christopher, click here.

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Woodrow Wilson and the Last of the Renegades, part 2

Editor's Note: In part 1, President Woodrow Wilson and his youngest daughter, Eleanor, visited Flagstaff, Arizona, where she was kidnapped by tyrant Vega Escobar Griego and his army of banditos. A group of gunfighters elected to rescue the young girl and that's where part 2 begins. If you would like to read part 1 first, click here.
--Al Colombo, publisher
By Timothy England

Dillinger and Wyatt were old enemies. Dillinger hated Wyatt with passion but he wasn't too eager to give-in a fight. Dillinger broke through enemy lines back in the Civil War, he was a spy for both sides and neither one could decide which side he “really was on.” Dillinger was actually out for his own self.

Soon after that, he taught the United States how to use a Gatling gun correctly. As a weapon specialist, he was the best the army had. But, his commanding officer led a raid on a small Seminole Indian village and burned their camps hoping to flush out Seminole War Chief Yellow Dog. It worked, only too well, for it was an ambush that caused Dillinger a life sentence when the soldiers returned to Fort Lynx. He was court-martial for the uprising which was all a setup.

Daybreak arrived and Wyatt and three members of his posse were assembled. They rode out of town and began their daring rescue mission and adventure. The four traveled through Arizona and into the border regions of New Mexico then finally onward to their destination. . . Mexico. Their first stop was Buena Vista where they camped for awhile till they got fresh supplies.

While there, they noticed they were not alone. A Mescalero Indian was tracking them since they entered Mexico. July Forge had been following them for about two weeks. Forge was an expert tracker, and soon he'd join up with the rescuers, which numbered five. While out scouting around Buena Vista, he found another “poor soul,” a Mexican bandit named Orlando Julio El Tigre, who was just riding through the territory. His home was in Sonora.

Vermont told Wyatt about him and Knight asked where was he going. Orlando told Knight that he was the farmer’s angel in disguise. He robbed banks and took other drastic measurements to help the poor farmers of his village--and now there were six guns. Wyatt and the other gunslingers prepared to ride out at the sundial. The sinister six moved out, and for another six days they rode, slept, and rode some more until they finally reached their destination--Guadalajara.

Six guns rode in, and they were not too certain of what kind of reception they’d get, but Wyatt instructed them to act natural. So they rode into Guadalajara and to their surprise, the town was nearly deserted, mostly because Escobar’s army had killed all who stood against him. A farmer’s family of five invited them to stay. Orlando knew them as they were his cousins.

A Mexican senorita named Helena also welcomed the gringos to Mexico with open arms. Almost immediately she fell passionately in love with Flint Jester, and they made a good couple. Palacio Del Toro knew his daughter, Helena would someday fall in love and marry, but he didn't expected it to happen this soon.

Each member of the outlaw posse had his “hands filled” with beautiful senoritas. What more could a gunfighter want, other than to be finished with the business at hand. The next day, Wyatt told Orlando, July, and Dillinger to look over Escobar's compound and to begin planning for a speedy escape. The three rode some thirty miles, being careful not to be seen.

Escobar’s hacienda amazed them. They had one machine gun defense unit, an ammo dump, and a rifle range with an expert riflemen guarding it. They rode back to Guadalajara where they reported what they saw. “Escobar’s army has enough firepower to undertake the official Mexican Army!” Dillinger told Wyatt. Wyatt told them to begin the operation, which included Flint and Vermont's search of the town for President Wilson’s daughter.

After a day of searching, Vermont told Wyatt, “I don't think they're holding her in Guadalajara. Maybe we need to take another another look at Escobar’s stronghold.” Wyatt agreed, and all three of them rode together.

It didn't take long for them to see that President Wilson’s daughter was there. Wyatt and the others quietly rode back to town where they devised a plan to get her out without damaging “the goods.” Three days later at Guadalajara, Wyatt and his rag-tag group of five gunfighters set their plan in motion.

First, they must ensure the safety of innocent bystanders, especially Helena. They rallied together the townspeople and escorted them out of harm’s way, hiding them in a safe place. They then rode straight and fast to the kidnapper's hacienda. Since Dillinger was the weapons expert, he and July tackled wall scaling while Wyatt and the others tried “the front door.” July and Dillinger scaled the wall, noticing that there were only three guards standing watch.

July removed a boot knife and threw it, striking one of the guards in the neck. With rapid-fire precision, he threw a second knife, killing the second guard almost instantly. Dillinger whirled a boot knife of his own and it hit it's mark, killing the remaining guard, taking up the Gatling gun position. Vermont had already placed explosives around the compound and so Wyatt and the others took cover while the fuse was lit. In short order there was a roar and the wall was down!

With that kind of noise, Wyatt and his rag-tag posse rushed the compound with guns a blazing. Dillinger and July began their attack with Dillinger doing his thing with the Gatling gun. Turning the crank with all his might, he aimed to level anything still standing. Guns fired, explosives thundered, the ground shook, bullets whizzed, and the plan was in full motion.

The last of Escobar’s guards spotted July on the wall, shooting him in the back. Wounded, July managed to get to his feet, stumbling to the wall’s edge. The guard fired again, this time causing Forge to fall to his death. The bandits were dropping like flies--sixty to fifty, forty-five, now forty--and yet they managed to fight on.

Orlando chased a few bandits down the rocky, desert floor, which wasn't such a good idea. He got three banditos before two of them cut him down.

“These sons-of-bitches don’t know when to quit, do they!” shouted Vermont to Dillinger, as they stood side by side in an open hallway.

“What you gonna do with your half of the money, Vermont?” Dillinger shouted as he continued to shoot at the banditos.

“Probably spend it on whores.” Vermont laughed. “What about you?”

“I thought of buying a ranch in Wyoming,” Dillinger yelled, shooting at another bandit.

Three more bandits rode behind the alley where the open hallway was and eased sideways toward the gringos. It didn’t take long for Vermont and Dillinger to spot them coming. As they loudly conversed about their plans, the bandits ran through the opening and began shooting.

“Vermont!” Dillinger stepped between Vermont and the bandits and they shot Dillinger three times. Vermont killed all three of them in their tracks. Looking down at his dying friend, he said, “Dillinger, you bastard! What the hell!”

“Vermont, I. . .” were his last, dying words.

Vermont took Dillinger’s six-shooters and placed them inside his belt as he ran out into the street and began shooting at every bandit he could find. When his own were out of ammunition, he dropped them and drew Dillinger’s. Unfortunately, two banditos shot him in the chest, but as he fell, he managed to kill them before he died.

Wyatt and Flint continued to fight although Flint had previously been wounded in the right leg. Taking Flint’s rifle, Wyatt managed to kill the captain of the rebel force, resulting in the rest of the bandits retreating as fast as their horses would carry them. When the shooting stopped and the dust settled, the fair citizens of Guadalajara returned to their town where they celebrated their new, found freedom.

Each senorita who had fallen in love with the four fallen gunmen placed flower wreaths around the crosses that bore their names over top of their graves. Then, as Wyatt, Flint, and Eleanor prepared to ride for home, Flint decided to stay in Mexico.

“Wyatt, just go on without me. This town needs a marshal anyways, and since there are no other candidates, I’m a shoo-in,”

“What about the money, and your pardon?”

“Forget about the pardon. As for the money, you can wire it...besides, technically, I’m a dead man.”

“All right have it your way.”

Wyatt and Flint shook hands and said their goodbyes. Eleanor hugged and kissed Flint for aiding in her rescue, she then mounted her horse and both she and Wyatt started off for Flagstaff and her father who was sure to be waiting.
End Part 2 of 2Editor's Note: Be sure to read part 1!
About the Author
On the family farm just outside Nashville, Timothy England grew up surrounded by the beautiful Tennessee hillside where his imagination loved to roam.

His lifelong love of westerns has culminated in his debut novel, Track Down, the first installment in his series centering around US Marshall Jake Boone. To date, Timothy, under the pseudonym Jess Bryan, has written four books, all of them available from Amazon.

Timothy is the author of Track Down, a Western thriller. As United States Marshall, Jake Boone, is hot on the trail of the dangerous Stanton, circumstance pushes his skills and his wits to the limits. Will he be able to live up to his own legend and keep things safe? Or has 'Killer Jake' met his match finally? For more information on this and three other books written by Timothy English, go to:

Be sure to visit THE TV WESTERN AND MOVIE FAN PAGE on Facebook!

   Please post a comment below!