Saturday, June 15, 2013

Author Spotlight + Excerpt: SUMMER ON THE P BAR J RANCH by PATRICK BOLES

Author: Patrick Boles
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 22, 2012 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: fiction, contemporary novel, '50s nostalgia, western

About the book

Get ready to experience an action filled Summer on the P Bar J Ranch. Long time Arizona rancher Jeff Dean is thinking back to a particular summer over 60 years ago. The time is 1952 and 11-year-old Jeff Dean is spending his first summer on the P Bar J Ranch in north central Arizona near Route 66. The story is told from the perspective of the grown man rather than the child.

     Jeff’s parents are separated and his dad has recently become the manager of this large cattle ranch. The story takes place from June through August of that year and follows the adventures of Jeff (a big fan of Roy Rogers) and his friends, as well as the adults on the ranch, including the parents and cowboys. The summer begins with Jeff getting settled in, meeting & becoming friends with the ranch owners’ 11 year old twins, and getting to know the hired hands and the ranch.

     Readers will experience an action filled Summer on the P Bar J Ranch and in the process will pick up true bits of history, cowboy etiquette, tips on handling horses, and a feeling for the early 1950s.  There are also shoot outs with bank robbers, a nighttime ride with a posse, and a good dose of early ‘50s nostalgia, e.g. Route 66, Roy Rogers, cap guns, B westerns, and Schwinn bicycles. Life on a western ranch is never boring. At any moment an accident can cause injury of death.

     One reviewer, a retired English professor who actually lived on a ranch in Montana as a boy in the early ’50s commented, “I think your sense of specific detail is very good, and believe it will find a niche with SW/history/ranching and "looking-back" enthusiasts.”

About Patrick
Patrick H. Boles was born in Owosso, Michigan and grew up in the nearby small town of Corunna. He arrived in the Southwest courtesy of the U.S. Air Force when he was assigned to a base in Albuquerque, N.M. He received a B.S. degree in biology from Eastern New Mexico University and a M.S. degree, also in biology, from New Mexico State University. He has worked as an environmental specialist, biologist, ecologist, and rangeland manager for government agencies in Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona.
     The author has spent over 20 years working with long time ranchers in Arizona and listening to their stories of ranch life and “the old days.” He spent many days out roaming over ranches and backcountry afoot, in four wheel drive vehicles, and horseback. He filled several journals with notes on the field work and the conversations with ranchers/old-timers as well as on his own experiences out on the ranches. This firsthand experience was drawn upon when writing the P Bar J books in order to give a realistic feeling to the setting (a real cattle ranch with the name changed), events, and characters.
     He lives in the Southwest with his wife where he is working on other book projects (both fiction and non-fiction), including the third, and final, P Bar J Ranch book, and a biography of Arizona cowboy John Lovelace. They have two grown children. 
Author’s email:

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Summer On The P Bar J Ranch

We were on Route 66 heading west toward the P Bar J Ranch by 9:00 a.m. that morning.  During the drive from Winslow, Dad told me about his two full-time cowboys, Jay Kirby and Michael T.  He also told me a little story about the special relationship that a cowboy has with his hat. A few months earlier, Dad had received word that an old cowboy he knew named Ben was in the hospital in Kingman. He wasn’t expected to live. Dad had worked on a ranch with him a number of years earlier and thought highly of him. Jay had known Ben since they had done some cowboying together on a ranch up on the Mogollon Rim in the 1920s. Dad and Jay decided they should make a trip into Kingman to pay Ben a visit before it was too late. 

     The next day they left for Kingman after an early breakfast. At the hospital they spent a couple of hours with Ben talking about the good times they had shared.  Ben had been the foreman and Dad’s boss on the ranch they had worked on together.  Dad told me that he had learned a lot about being a cowboy from Ben. Dad said, “In all the years I had known Ben, I couldn’t remember seeing him without his old, well-worn black Stetson hat. So it seemed really strange when I first saw him lying in that hospital bed.  I almost didn’t recognize him.” 

     Dad continued, “The first thing I asked Ben was ‘where’s your hat?’ He replied sadly that they wouldn’t allow him to wear it. Recalling how the last time I had seen it, it was pretty much encrusted with dust and sweat I figured the hospital staff would be afraid to touch it.”

     When Dad and Jay looked around the hospital room they noticed the hat sitting on its brim on a small table. Jay walked over and carefully picked up his friend’s hat by the brim and flipped it over so that it was sitting on the top of the crown.

     Obviously, whoever had placed the hat on the table wasn’t familiar with the proper way of setting a hat down. Ben watched, and as Jay turned back to the bed, he grinned and said, “Thanks, pard.” Ben had seen how his prized hat had been placed on the table but wasn’t able to get up and move it himself. He told his visitors that it had been bothering him but he hadn’t wanted to ask any of the hospital staff to move it. Ben figured that one of them, since they wouldn’t have known any better, would have picked it up by the crown.

     Dad finished his story of Ben and his hat with, “After a few hours a nurse came by to let us know that visiting hours were over. As Jay and I said goodbye to our friend and started down the hall, the same nurse stopped us and mentioned how our friend was sure fond of his old, beat-up cowboy hat. We asked her what she meant, and she proceeded to tell us about what happened when Ben was brought into the hospital after suffering a stroke.  He was on a gurney with a sheet over him and a couple of nurses were removing his clothes. They were careful to keep him covered while they took off his shirt and jeans.  When they finished, they saw him lifting his head, looking around the room. Ben was looking for his cowboy hat. He finally managed to say, ‘would someone please be kind enough to get me my hat … I feel plumb nekkid without it.’ When Ben died a few weeks later, Jay made sure that he was buried with his cowboy hat.” Even though I hadn’t met Jay yet, I was already starting to like him. 


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