Category Archives: Cowboy Poetry

Issue 370 – Christmas Cheer

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The Paregien Journal     –     Issue 370     –     Dec. 4, 2017

Christmas Cheer

Ah, here we are. Another holiday season with both Christmas and New Years Day fast approaching. Amid the din of noisy TV and radio commerials and the ads packing each issue of our newspaper, there is still an opportunity now and then to push the pause button and reflect on what the Christmas season means to me and to our society.

Oh, sure, there are those who see Christmas as just a time for more than a “cup of cheer,” more like a keg of beer and pretzels and tacos. Their anthem is,. “Let’s party! And, oh yeah, Merry Christmas and all that stuff.”

I was reminded recently about how a great many Americans and people in other cultures around the world still pause on Christmas to speak a word of kindness or to actually do a neighborly act for someone as a way of honoring the man Jesus who outgrew that manger in Bethleham and devoted his life to doing good for everyone.

On Saturday, November 17, 2017, we were guests of our son and his wife at whole day walking around Silver Dollar City near Branson, Missouri. People were there for the amusement rides, the Christmas parade, the lights and the vast selection of food items. In addition, though, at about 1:30 pm we joined an overflow crowd (I’d guess about 500 people) who found seats in the beautiful theater there. And then we were all treated to a live play, a really fine production of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” Like many of you grey-haired or no-haired folks, I have seen several versions of that play. 

However, I must say that this production on that day was the best I’ve ever experienced. The actors were simply superb. The orchestra was magnificent. The sets were like candy for the eyes. And the audience, . . . well, they clapped enthusiastically at the right times and wiped their eyes, as did I, at the quiet and emotional moments. I was so glad I got to experience that production and to do so with family and friends. Despite the fridgid north wind and the occasional rain, I was overjoyed to be there. Again I was reminded that people really do enjoy good stories with good moral values — honesty, loyalty to family and friends, sacrificial love of dedicated mothers and fathers for their children, and that still wonderful bond of community between people of diverse backgrounds.

     *  *  *

On Sunday, Dec. 3rd, we were out kicking around with friends Michael & Penny Letichevsky. Since Peggy and I had outfitted in “Christmas colors,” we all stopped by the Desoto Mall in Bradenton for Penny to take a few photos to try to get one we could insert in a few Christmas cards.

This shot was a great one, by our standards, but it came in 2nd place.

2017--12--03 03B Bradenton, FL - Stan & Peggy Paregien by Penny Letichevsky

The “1st Place” photo was totally unexpected. Ol’ Santa himself left his station where he was available for photos with kids . . . and sneaked up behind us and got into one of our photos. We love it, because we were blissfully ignorant he was right behind us and getting in on the fun.

2017--12--03 03A Bradenton, FL - Stan & Peggy Paregien by Penny Letichevsky

Yep, as you can probably tell from the above photo, both Peggy and I have trimmed down considerably over the last four months or so. I feel better now than I have in many years. And prettier, too. Yuk-yuk.

2017--12--03 09 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien - by Penny Letichevsky

And Now, . . . A Word About

Football

Sooners.

Yes, as in the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team. They sport a record of 12 wins and one loss. And on New Years Day they will play the University of Georgia Bulldogs at the one-and-only Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Later that night, the Clemson Tigers will play the Univerity of Alabama Tide. Then the winners of those two games will play for the National Championship.

2017--10--12 Logo for the University of Oklahoma Sooners

Congratulations to the OU football players, to their coaches and to their supporters — “the Sooner Nation.” I am of the humble, unbiased opinion that the Sooners will neuter the Dogs in their semi-finals game and will finally reign as the National Champions.

2017--10--13 Logo for the University of Oklahoma Sooners

After all, we have a not-too-secret weapon in our quarterback, Baker Mayfield, likely the next Heisman Trophy winner as the best football player in America, the world and our universe.

2017--10--10 Baker Mayfield, quarterback at Oklahoma University Sooners

Go Sooners!!

 

Betts, Don -- Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale -- 2017-12-25 Page 1 of 3

[Don Betts’ poem, Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale]

Betts, Don -- Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale -- 2017-12-25 Page 2 of 3

 

Betts, Don -- Wagging a Yuletide Dogs Tale -- 2017-12-25 Page 3 of 3

Bravo, Mr. Betts. Another amazingly creative and always linguistically challenging poem. Keep up the fine work, my dear friend.

2012--Christmas--tree--Blondie Cartoon--Dagwood trims the new tree--2012--12--16

[“Blondie” cartoon about an ugly Christmas tree and how Dagwood made it uglier.]

Christmas Trees Don’t Have To Be Perfect

To Be Beautiful

 By Curtis K. Shelburne

My earliest Christmas memories are mostly wrapped around our family’s Christmas trees.

 I remember Mom making creamy hot chocolate and my sister stacking the spindle of the old record player with an inch-high pile of vintage vinyl Christmas music by Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and the Norman Luboff Choir.

 Most years the tree had already been bought at (where else?) Amarillo’s Boy Scout Troop 80 Christmas tree lot. I was a member of Troop 80 and thus expected to help sell trees each year. My younger brother was not, but he was a wheeler-dealer sort who liked selling trees and often, as I recall, managed to pawn off more trees than most of the bona fide boy scouts. Jacob (I mean, Jim) always felt Jacob of old settled for far too little when he sold his hungry brother Esau that bowl of stew and only got a birthright for it. Jim would’ve held out for hard cash and then the birthright at the end as a balloon payment.

Christmas Tree-- imperfect trees are okay

[photo of a not-too perfect tree]

We’d lean the tree in the garage for a day or a few on its amputation-site stump in a bucket of water while it waited to be lit and glorified. Anchoring the tree in the stand was a chore. Jim and I would crawl under the scratchy boughs and slide around on our wood floor to turn each screw just the right amount. It was never straight the first time.

Then my 15-years-older sister, the unquestioned head honcho of the process, would ascend to perform the task of highest honor as she put on the lights (bubble lights, snowball lights, and all), a job in later years graciously bequeathed to me.

 Then we would hang the ornaments, a tedious task but nothing like as bad as the final stage in the process: hanging the icicles.

I don’t see those long, thin, silvery strands of foil or plastic, those “icicles,” on trees much anymore. I hope never again to have to put them on one of mine.

1940s Christmas tree - with lots of tinsels

[ photo of a 1940s style Christmas tree with lots of icicles]

According to my sister, they had to be hung with great care, one at a time. Ten million or so came in a box. You’d drag one out of the box and carefully place it over a tree branch. It was essential, my sister assured us, to start at the back near the trunk and make sure the icicle hung straight down on both sides of the branch. Straight down. No clumps. Which is why Jim’s preferred method of grabbing a paw-full of icicles and launching the whole wad in the general direction of the tree was sternly forbidden. No. One at a time. Until you froze there, died there, decayed there, and Christmas never came, and it was spring and you were still hanging icicles. One at a time.

 I don’t know what we thought would happen—apart from sure death—if we didn’t hang the icicles exactly right. Would Santa’s sleigh suddenly crash in flight and the FAA later determine and publish for the whole world full of weeping giftless children to see that the cause was icing—not on the sleigh but improper tree icicling by two Shelburne boys at 125 N. Goliad, Amarillo, Texas, whose wanton and reckless disregard had killed Santa?

I’m sure we never did it “right.” But I remember wandering into the living room as a little lad clad in those great PJs that came complete with feet, lying down almost under the tree, looking up through its branches, and drinking in the beauty.

By God’s grace, Christmas trees don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Neither do lives.

[Copyright 2011 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.]

  * * * * *

an-christmas tree

Christmastree-dog

 * * *

Poem 139 - The Truth About Santa Claus -- copyrighted by Stan Paregien on Feb 1, 1992

[ Stan Paregien’s poem, “The Truth About Santa” ]

Poem 393 -- A Holiday Greeting -- copyrighted by Stan Paregien on Oct 13, 2014

[Stan Paregien’s poem, “A Holliday Greeting” ]

Poem 402 Christmas Time in Florida - by Stan Paregien Nov 14, 2014

[ Stan Paregien’s poem, “Christmas Time in Florida” ]Poem by S Omar Barker - One Snowy Christmas Eve - in THE ROUNDUP for Dec, 1978, page 7
[ S. Omar Barker’s poem, “One Snowy Christmas Eve” ]S Omar Barker, 'The Cowboy's Christmas Prayer'
[ S. Omar Barker’s poem, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer” ]

2017--12--03 06 Bradenton, FL - Be still and know that I am God - Psalm 46 v10

[ “Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 ]

* * *

Honor Roll of Visitors

to The Paregien Journal

http://www.paregienjournal.com

I enjoy writing, as all of you can attest. My first published article was in the student newspaper at the first college I attended, back in the fall of 1961. Since then I have had hundreds of articles appear in scores of different newspapers and magazines. And three hardback books, two paperback books and 15 eBooks later, I haven’t lost that drive to find ideas worthy of sharing with all of you.

There is something singularly satisfying about my little blogs published as the title of THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL at http://www.paregienjournal.com. That satisfaction comes from knowing that on any given day there may be people visiting my site from all over the world. Instantly. Amazing.

I am pleased and thankful that – just since January 1, 2017 — people from 72 nations visited this web page. Heck, I don’t even know where many of them are on a map of the world. But here is that list as of Nov. 10, 2017:

Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR China, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Thanks to all those who live in other nations and have honored us with a visit to this site. We appreciate it very much. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I’m giving some serious thought to doing a series of profiles next year about each of the nations listed above. I’m start with the first three — Albania, Algeria, Andorra — and see how that goes. If you are from one of those nations  or can put me in touch with a knowledgeable person with first-hand, recent information, I’d appreciate a note to me at:  paregien@gmx.com . Thanks.

an-christmas-fiveCats

A very merry Christmas to each and every one of you. And if you haven’t done so as yet, why not take a small gift or a dish of food to someone who is sick or lonely? You could certainly cheer them up. Then that person would be blessed and so would you, especially if you warmly and graciously offer to pick that person up in your car and spend maybe just an hour driving around looking at all the Christmas lights.

Until next year, Lord willing.

— Stan Paregien

2017--12--03 04 Bradenton, FL - Stan & Peggy Paregien by Penny Letichevsky

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Issue 359 – Back in the Saddle, Again

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A Periodic Publication    –    Issue 359    –    Augtust 9, 2017

The National Cowboy Symposium will be having its 29th annual celebration of all things cowboy – music, poetry, papers, chuck wagon cookoff, cowboy church on Sunday morning – preceeded by authentic chuck wagon cooking in 40 or so dutch oven (iron kettles) placed on coals on the ground (north of the Civic Center).  It is a busy place, with 6 stages running programs at the same time all day Friday and Saturday. Then they have a major show in the evening on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the big auditorium. This event draws thousands of people to the Civic Center there in Lubbock, Texas each year. The date is Thursday evening, Sept. 7 through Sunday morning, Sept. 10th.

I just received word that I have been invited to perform there, again. This is, as best I can figure, my 17th  year to be one of the maybe 75 to 100 entertainers. My first year to perform, thanks to the Director – Alvin Davis – was in 1991. As you can tell from the photo, below, things have changed a wee bit. But I still have that “Tom Mix Grizzly Hat” I bought that year.

1991--002--StanParegien--PatsyMontana--Lubbock

Stan Paregien with singer, actress Patsy Montana in 1991

1991--035--LubbockTX--NatCowboySymposium---RichardFarnsworth----bySP

Movie stunt man and actor Richard Farnsworth

1991--036--LubbockTX--NatCowboySymposium---R-W-Hampton--BarryCorbin----bySP

Singer R.W. Hampton and actor Barry Corbin

1992--043--TX--Lubbock--Flether Jowers - Stan Paregien - Nat Cowboy Sym - by PP

Fletcher Jowers with Stan Paregien in 1992

 

1995--011--TX--Lubbock-- actor Barry Corbin -- Stan ParegienActor Barry Corbin with Stan Paregien

1998--043-- actor - Dale Robertson with Stan Paregien -- Lubbock, TX

Actor Dale Robertson with Stan Paregien in 1998

 

1999-030-- Lubbock, TX -- Natl Cowboy Symposium -- Stan Paregien with Elmer Kelton

Stan Paregien with famed Western novelist Elmer Kelton in 1999

 

1999-038-- LubbockTX -- Natl Cowboy Symposium -- Stan Paregien and Curt Brummett -- by Peggy Paregien

Stan Paregien with cowboy humorist and author Curt Brummett in 1999

 

2000-011--TX-Lubbock--DustyRichards-PaulPatterson-StanParegien

Western novelist Dusty Richards with Paul Patterson (author and humorist; and Elmer Kelton’s beloved high school teacher) and Stan Paregien in 2000

 

2002-056-- Lubbock, TX - June 9 - Will and Rhonda Stearns - Stan Paregien - National Cowboy Symposium - by P Paregien

Rancher and rodeo star Will Stearns and and wife/rancher/author/poet Rhonda (Sedgwick) Starnes with Stan Paregien in 2002

 

2002-060--A Lubbock, TX - James Drury - Stan Paregien - by P Paregien - June

Actor James Drury of “The Virginian” TV show with Stan Paregien in 2002

 

2006-1150-A Paregien-Stan Peg

Stan & Peggy Paregien

 

2006-1166 Smith-Dean Brimley-Wilford

Olympics track star, movie stunt man and actor Dean Smith with actor Wilford Brimley in 2006.

 

2007-1313--E--TX--Lubbock--Bumgarder-Paregien-Lopez

Cowboy poets: Scott Bumgardner, Stan Paregien & Adrian Lopez in 2007

2009-1127-D-StanParegien---byNCS

Stan Paregien in 2009

 

2011--1511--TX--Lubbock--NCS--Stan-PegParegien--Sept-10

Stan & Peggy Paregien in 2011

On Friday my first performance will be in a “Stories & Poetry” session in Civic Center Room 107. Others include Carol Glover of Amarillo, TX and June Cathey of Martin, TX. 

My second performance on Friday will be at 4:00 p.m. in a “Music” session in the Civic Center – Banquet drag” (i.e., bringing up the rear) at an outdoor “Music” session from 11 a.m. to 1:50 (long session). It will be in the “North Park” (just north of the Civic Center) at the Outdoor Stage. Those performing will be Craig Cortes and Zack Carey of Marathon, TX; Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate of Ft. Worth; Stan Mahler of Olney, TX; Sid Hausman of NM; Bill Cate of Cleburne, TX; Mary Kaye of Escalante, UT; and your’s truly.

Then at 3:00 pm I will perform at a “Stories & Poetry” session in Room 107 of the Civic Center. Others performing will be ol’ saddle pal Roff Flake of Gilbert, AZ; and Gary Penny of Lorena, TX.

And my last performance will be at 4:00 pm in a “Poetry & Stories” session in the Civic Center, Banquet Hall 1-West. Other performers include David Hansford,  Ft. Worth, TX; and Jeff Posey of Ft. Worth, TX.

Y’all come, if you can. The host hotel, where a great many of the performs will stay (including Peggy and me), is the MCM Elegante Hotel & Suites (formerly the Holiday Inn Hotel & Towers) at 801 Avenue Q in Lubbock (directly west of and near the Civic Center). 806-763-1200

I have placed online nearly 100 photos of me and folks I have met at the National Cowboy Symposium since 1991. Counting the 29th event this September, I will have had the pleasure and honor of performing  at 17 or so of those annual events. I started when I was “not-so-old” and now I’m one of the senior Senior Citizens still telling stories and reciting poetry and doing a little music, all of the cowboy kind, of course. You may see all those photos at my Flickr account in the album titled “National Cowboy Symposium.” That is at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/111910623@N04/albums

 

Sam Elliott and “The Hero,”

His Latest Movie

Today, Aug. 9 th is the birthday of actor and all-around good guy Sam Elliott. Happy birthday, Sam, . . . and salute! He was born in 1944 in that old cow town of . . . Sacramento, CA. He started in films in 1969 and married Katharine Ross in 1984. Their stable marriage is unusual in glitzy Hollywood.

The first photo, above, shows Sam Elliott dressed in his familiar cowboy gear, as he had done a lot of  fine Western roles over the years (“The Sacketts,” “Tombstone,” etc. The second photo is of Sam and his lovely and talented wife, actress Katherine Ross. She is best known for her first major role years ago as the love interest for both Paul Newman and Robert Redford in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Ironically, Sam was in that movie as well, but they never got a chance to meet during the filming. 

Ol’ Sam, with his deep and roughly melodious voice, has made a sizeable amount of money over the years doing voice over commercials for such outfits as the Dodge Ram pickup, the American Beef Raisers (“Beef. It’s what’s for supper.”), and others. He has worked pretty doggone steadily through all the years.

In my point of view, it is unfortunate that both Sam and Katharine (a minor role) got hooked up with the production of the 2017 movie, “The Hero.” The gist of the film is that he plays a has-been, once-famous cowboy actor who has reached old age with not much to show for it. He doesn’t have much money but he is able to drink like a fish and smoke pot to his heart’s content, a normal thing it seems . . . or at least there is no real objection to it. The self-center character has ruined his marriage with his wife (played by Katharine Ross), and made his daughter hate him with a deep passion. But he still has a few fans who stroke his ego from time to time. And he gets that old star-power feeling, temporarily, when a group of Western movie fans present him with their annual award at their convention. Yahoo. There is a constant street of vulgar language on the part of his character and that of a young woman — profane stand-up comedian — he beds down after he learns he is dying of cancer. Cut. And print. That’s about it.

This movie was a major disappointment for me. I felt sorry for Sam and Katharine for making such an odd, depressingly different film from previous ones. Frankly, I think the film had no redeeming virtues and I would warn fans of Sam to not get closer than the length of a football field from this dog. 

__________

 

Folks, Hold On to Your Forks!

by Stan Paregien

Copyrighted Aug. 8, 2017

Lonesome Omar died a while back

At the ripe old age of ninety-one.

He had no health issue to speak of,

So I guess maybe his work was done.

 

I knew him for years before I learned

His full name was Omar O’Dell.

At cowboying he was mighty good,

Though in his youth he was wild as hell.

 

He had the rough edges knocked off

By the Lord and sweet Lilly Ann.

One winter he caught pneumonia and

A wild bronc smashed his fighting hand.

 

Lilly Ann was ol’ Doc Hester’s nurse,

And she nursed and loved on Omar

Until he caught and married Sweet Lil’,

And he took up church and left the bars.

 

The ranch foreman let ’em live in a cabin

A hundred yards from his big house.

And for three years they reveled in life,

And Omar thanked God for his sweet spouse.

 

Twice a year they hosted all the cowhands

To a meal featuring tasty beef or pork.

At the end, before desert, she always said:

“Folks, be sure to keep your fork.”

 

That always meant something mighty good

Was coming next, like maybe a pecan pie

Or a chocolate cake – Omar’s favorite –

Decorated to delight any cowpoke’s eye.

 

There was a pond fed by a year-round spring

Where she liked to relax, bath and swim.

They figured two moccasins bit her arm

And she was dying so a rider went after him.

 

She died just after Omar arrived at a run,

And she spoke slowly so he would understand:

“My love, remain true to our Lord and

“Please, bury me with a fork in my hand.”

 

They say that was the last time Omar cried,

But vowed to honor her dying request.

They buried her next day near the cabin and

In her right hand a fine silver fork did rest.

 Eating Utensils - Fork - fancy silver-looking on a brown bkground

Omar himself said a few words to the

Ranch folk on that solemn, sad day.

“Sweet Lilly led me to Christ and gave

“Her love to me in every single way.”

 

“We worshiped at Oak School House

“With church folk ever time we could.

“When we had dinners on the ground,

“They’d say, ‘Keep your fork, if ya would.'”

 

“By that they meant they was gonna

“Uncover a passel of dessert and such.

“It was gonna be something real good

“And we looked forward to it so much.”

 

“Sweet Lilly always liked that saying,

“And with guests at our cabin she’d blurt,

“‘You good folks, keep your fork!’

“Just before serving a fine dessert.”

 

“So yesterday I knew exactly what she meant

“When she asked to go with a fork in her hand.

“We both talked about loving each other more

“Up in heaven gathered in that promised land.”

 

Well sir, folks ’round  here in Post, Texas

Loved ol’ Lonesome Omar, a friend to all.

He never remarried and usually drank his

Evening coffee by Lilly’s marker so small.

 

Ol’ Omar sorta adopted me ’bout 40 years ago,

A kid who didn’t know straight up about a cow.

So the cowboy skills I’ve gained in my own  life

Were by Omar taking his time to show me how.

 

 One day on the range we paused under an oak

And he told ’bout his wife and made me take a vow.

He said not to have no grief when the Lord took him,

‘Cause he’ been ready to go after Lilly died, anyhow.

 

So when he died in his cabin at 91,  I knew

Exactly what he’d want us cowpokes to do.

We built him a casket, put an old fork in his hand,

And buried him next to Lilly in the morning dew.

 Eating Utensils -- Fork - an old three-sharp-pronged fork with a wood handle -- 02

Now neighbor, I don’t know what you’ll do,

But when I die and you lower me into the land,

I’d be mighty grateful to ya and plum proud

If’n you’d put an old fork in my right hand.

_____

I wrote this poem, my 476th, in Bradenton, FL

on Aug. 8, 2017. It is based on a story by an

unknown writer that was posted online on the

Guideposts web site on Nov. 23, 2010.

_______________________________________________________

See ya down  the trail.

—  Stan

End.

 

Issue 354: Manatee County, Florida

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The Paregien Journal     –     Issue 354     –     June 9, 2017

Manatee County, Florida:

Facts, Fun and Photos

Sometimes when Peggy and I have been on vacation or an extending trip, I will jokingly say to our neighbors when we return: “Where the heck have you been?” Usually, they are kinda taken back by the question and mentally calculate they haven’t been anywhere and then reply, “Me? Where the heck have you been?”

Fair question, since I have not posted here since . . . gulp, . . . March 17th. 

Actually, we have done a fair amount of traveling. That includes a 9-day trip to beautiful Costa Rica. And I have had a health issue or two that just flat made me feeling like doing nuttin’. So I did. And then there were countless hours that I spent wrapping up my most recent book. I really became a hermit in my man cave here at our house in order to get it done before our trip to Costa Rica. More about that project next time. All in all, the last three months have just been busy, busy, busy. And, darn, I’m supposed to be retired. I have resolved to take my foot off of the gas pedal and slow down some.

Okay, let me share with you the good news about my new eBook:

Manatee County, Florida:

Facts, Folks and Photos

 

Master Cover -- Manatee County, FL -- Stan Paregien 01 1,900 X 2,561 X 600 dpi

Hey, is that an attractive book cover or what? I really like it a bunch. Of course, I designed the basic layout, the print, etc., and the photo you see is one  I took at sunset at our nearby Coquina Beach west of Bradenton. Pardon my “fatherly” pride at my newest “baby” but ain’t she just plum purty?

As Elvis always said at the end of a song, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Here is the official synopsis of this eBook:

“It is an intriguing combination of one part travel guide for the beaches and other attractions in Manatee County, one part who’s who of today’s leaders and yesterday’s heroes and heroines, one part family photo album, and one part a history book containing over 450 photos and 470 biographical sketches. It is written in a conversational style with touches of wit, wisdom, mystery and spice.  

“Chapter 1, “Manatee County Facts,”  is a quick chronological look at the main events which have happened in Manatee County since ol’ Juan Ponce de Leon set foot here in Paradise in 1513. There’ve been a heck of a lot of other footprints left in the sands of Manatee County since then, and this book notes many of them.

Chapter 2, “Manatee County Cities & Communities,” presents facts and information about Manatee County’s larger cities and the smaller communities as well. All of ’em are fine places, so Stan gives you the inside scoop behind the usual road signs and flashing neon lights. Real people live here and most all of them love it, except maybe for a few diehard sourpusses. You’ll find helpful lists of things you may need to find.

“Chapter 3, “Manatee County Folks,” is where you’ll want to spent a bunch of your time. There you’ll see photos and biographical sketches of hundreds of Manatee County people. Learn why the heck we do things like we do them (Hint: “Because that’s how grandma and grandpa used to do it.”) You’ll meet some of our wonderful pioneer families, a great many solid citizens, plus a lot of folks who work doggoned hard to make this County an even better place to live or to visit.

Chapter 4, “Manatee County Photo Gallery,” is a large and varied photo collection which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, a bounce in your step and reduction of your acid reflux problem. Well, heck, two out of three hits is darned good in baseball. You’ll get a kick out of the these photos — new ones, old ones, funny ones, sad ones and all in between. 

“Chapter 5, “About the Author,”  contains Stan Paregien’s bio, plus a list of his more than a dozen other eBooks available online through your favorite retailer. 

“The last part, Chapter 6, is titled “Resources.” It contains an extended list of books and articles you can read, videos you can watch and websites you can visit to learn even more about Manatee County.”

Manatee County, Florida: Facts, Folks & Photos is available for downloading to your iPhone, iPad, your Mac or PC laptops or desktop computers and more. This large, photo-filled eBook retails for $9.99.

This book of mine really started back in 2011 or so when my wife Peggy and I were considering moving away from the all-too frequent tornados, ice storms and constant winds in our native state of Oklahoma. We began investigating retirement communities from Arizona to Florida. Most Oklahoma retirees in our income bracket elect to move to south Texas, southern Arizona or to New Mexico. But there were other options as well.
We bought travel books, studied scores of web sites and talked with friends and neighbors. We asked for and received countless colorful brochures from specific states and cities, along with buckets of brochures from realtors and Chamber of Commerce representatives. The more information we received, the more we leaned toward somewhere near the beaches of sunny Florida. So we began a large number of visits to this land of palm trees, beautiful beaches and tropical vegetation populated with many hundreds of 55+ retirement communities for active folks like us.
We would fly into Tampa, rent a car and stay in our niece’s unoccupied seasonal home just to the west in Largo. We used that as our base while we spent a week or so each time researching the pluses and minuses of various towns and retirement villages within them. We concentrated on the west coast of Florida, from Clearwater down to Venice. It was a challenge, to say the least, to find the kind of housing we really liked and to winnow that number down to a much smaller number we could realistically afford. After all that, we still had a staggering variety of choices.
Early in 2013, we made our choice. We found a comfortable, fully furnished manufactured home in a 55+ community of some 267 residences. There was a nice clubhouse and kitchen, a library, a work-out room, an inviting swimming pool and hot tub, the ever-popular shuffle board courts, horseshoe pits and more. Several friendly, welcoming residents eagerly told us about what life was really like there. So in June of 2013, we moved to Bradenton—the County Seat of historic and beautiful Manatee County. Our new adventure had begun.

Today — four years later — the adventure continues each day. Sometimes we get so busy in the golden years of our retirement that we have to hit the reset button, chill out and just bask in the sunshine and inhale the aromas of the year-around flowers and revisit the tropic-like Gulf waters and pristine white beaches.

I planned this book with these ideas in mind: (1) It should be written in a lively, easy-to-read style; (2) It should be an invaluable reference tool for full-time residents of Manatee County; (3) It should be an interesting and useful book for people visiting Florida—and particularly, Manatee County—for the first time; and (4) it should honestly point out the good, the bad and the ugly of Manatee County.

Mission accomplished.

Well, okay, that’s the firm opinion of one not-so-unbiased person. Me.
Critics are likely to say of this book either, “You sure put way too much stuff in there” or “You sure left out a lot of stuff that should have been in there.” My response to both criticisms is this: Yep, that’s right. I put in a lot and I left out a lot. The book is much larger than I intended at the start. And I never even dreamed I would end up with 450 photos and 470 biographical sketches. That’s a bunch, but I have double that material left untouched in the wings. So . . .

Personally, I have never read anything that even comes close to my book in terms of readability, comprehensiveness or usefulness. I’m pleased with it and eager to share it with others. And I hope you will be so doggoned pleased with your copy that you will buy others as Christmas or birthday gifts, or for friends or relatives who are thinking about moving or visiting here.

Hey, you may even want to send one to such a person “up north” when we’re sunbathing in 80 degree weather and up there they have snow a foot deep and the temperature is dipping toward zero. That should get their attention.

Also, just this week five more  of my eBooks were added to Amazon.com’s lineup of eBooks. Those five books are my two Western novels, a book of my general poetry, and two fun story books each containing 15 of my cowboy stories which I performed for years “from hither to yon” from California to Arkansas and from Texas to Montana. Those 20 some years were quite an interesting ride. 

 

Okay, ’nuff about that.

Hopefully, I’ll get back on a more regular pace of posting my little photo/essays here.

Next time I plan to tell you a little about our trip to beautiful Costa Rica that starting on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 and ended on Thursday, May 18, 2017. We had a delightful, though often rain-swept, time visting with our Oklahoma friends Larry and Linda Seng. More next time.

Oh, one more thing. I always get a kick out of watching my stats for these posting. No, I don’t have millions of folks flocking to this site. But what truly amazes me are the hits that I get from so many countries in the world. Here are some samples from just the last 8 days:  U.S.A. . . . Canada . . . Malaysia . . . European Union . . . Poland . . . Puerto Rico . . . Philippines . . . India . . . United Kingdom . . . Zimbabwe . . . Indonesia . . . Australia . . . Mexico . . . Japan . . . Argentina . . . Turkey . . . and Germany. That’s pretty amazing to me, and I’m glad to have each person, from here or abroad, stop by for a visit.

Best wishes to one and all,

— Stan Paregien

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