I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Annie Oakley [“Annie Oakley vs. Hearst’s Worst,” by Ron Soodalter] in the February 2015 issue. The colorized photo of her on the cover really brings out her beauty and elegance. Her eyes look like they are staring right at me. Wow! Being an avid shooter myself, I certainly can appreciate her skill, too. Of course, there is no way I could ever approach her talent.
One thing I did not know about Annie was the awful abuse she took at the hands of her “he-wolf” and “she-wolf” foster parents. All I can say is her guardian angels were working overtime to keep her alive, because God had other plans for her.
Annie did everything right concerning her popularity and reputation. I am glad she was so successful in fighting back against Hearst. Attagirl, Annie! When I get to Heaven, I hope I get to meet her.
I have looked forward to receiving Wild West since reading it in Big Piney, Wyo., some 20 years ago. I have never tired of reading any of the articles, especially when the story refers to a previous article I have already read.
‘I still believe I did meet Annie Oakley, and I will never forget that my dad held me up so she could kiss my 7-year-old cheek’
I really enjoyed reading and rereading the February 2015 feature “Annie Oakley vs. Hearst’s Worst.” I have read several books and articles about Miss Annie, but they were not nearly as informative, interesting and entertaining as Soodalter’s.
My revered recollection of Annie Oakley dates back to the TV series (1954–57), starring a 31-year-old Gail Davis. She was in Kansas City for the 1956 American Royal horse show and made a TV-sponsored appearance at the Wonder Bread & Hostess Cakes bakery in the Armourdale district of Kansas City, Kan., just two blocks from our house! I was in cowboy heaven, outfitted with my cowboy hat and cap pistols, and I stayed there all day long, or at least as long as she was there, as I remember. My father (1915–2004) thought I was being silly for thinking that Gail Davis (1925–97) was the “real” Annie Oakley, but I never, ever brought it to his attention that Matt Dillon was not the real marshal of Dodge City. And to this day I still believe I did meet Annie Oakley, and I will never forget that my dad held me up so she could kiss my 7-year-old cheek.
Thanks for keeping the Wild West alive.
Bob A. Tucker
I look forward to reading each issue of your magazine. I thought I might share with you a family story passed down to me. My grandmother Elsa Watgen (born May 12, 1885) traveled at 2½ months of age to Gothenburg, Neb., with her parents, Henry and Fredericke Watgen. They lived in a sod house initially and for 10 years moved around quite a bit in the area—from Gothenburg to Froid to Sidney and finally to Brady Island, where Henry could find work.
Sometime in the early winter months of 1895 an Indian showed up at the house and looked around. Fredericke and the children hid for fear the Indian would hurt them. The Indian spotted a bolt of red material and took it. Sometime during that winter the temperature dipped to 47 below zero, and the family ran out of meat. One morning Henry opened the door to go hunting and found a freshly killed deer on the doorstep. The next month the same thing happened. Henry believed the thoughtful person was the Indian who had taken the red material, but he never really knew for sure.
Bear With Him
Thank you so much for such a great magazine! I just got your April 2015 issue and really liked the Go West! department photo of Devils Tower and info on P. 80. The first thing that caught my eye was the amazing artwork of that huge bear trying to get at the people at the top of the tower. Is it me, or does the bear have a very long tail? I wish the art was bigger so I could see it better. Can you tell me more about the folklore? Please start doing a page with such Native American folklore and artwork, as I would really like to know more of these stories. Hope to see more!
Editor responds: To learn more about the folklore of Devils Tower, visit the national park website. We were able to send Patrick Powell a poster of the bear legend artwork. He replied: “I plan to have it framed. Wow, what a bear! I had my dad hold the poster at the bottom as I slowly unrolled it for him to see. ‘So that’s how the tower got like that!’ he said. ‘King Kong wouldn’t stand a chance!’ As someone who likes to draw and enjoys artwork, I find Wild West a great source for getting ideas. I hope you like the cartoon art I’m sending you.” We do, Patrick, and we plan to have it framed!
I enjoyed Joe Johnston’s December 2014 article (“With Cornmeal and Creativity”) on Plains homesteaders and cooking, especially as I had ancestors arriving in Nebraska and Kansas at the time. However, I question whether they had pheasants to eat, because the Chinese pheasant wasn’t introduced to the continent until 1881. It found a good home, true, and spread all over, but it was one bird not available in the mid-1800s.
Virginia Beach, Va.
Joe Johnston responds: Thank you for pointing out that pheasants arrived in the West about 1881. Before then available game birds were even smaller. Although most of the dates in the article are mid-1800s, there is one recipe from 1894, and it is really about the general 19th-century Western experience.
Peggy-Jean Montgomery (“Baby Peggy in the West,” Roundup, P. 11, February 2015 issue) was the Shirley Temple of her time, cute as a button. On TCM I saw her in Captain January—just wonderful. Her TCM documentary Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room showed her sweetness to the world. Thank you for the article.
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