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My Romance with The Old Wild West

Shari Tata

I have long been romanced by the Old Wild West, the building of The Transcontinental Railroad and the California Gold Rush. We're talking about 1848 to about the early 1870's or so.

From the hot guys on the T.V. series “Alias Smith and Jones” to the wholesome Ingalls family on “Little House on The Prairie”, I was hooked! Westerns appeared everywhere! I watched “Here Come the Brides”, ate Gold Rush chewing gum in those cute burlap bags (and still do!), always had cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and, of course, played a nice folk guitar to go with it!

Yes, I am embarrassed to say, cowboy boots and a hat featured prominently on me during the eighties and in the nineties when one of my earliest bosses invited me to a “hoe down” party, I had no problem gathering an outfit for the affair! And yes, I still do have a couple vintage cowboy style shirts because, well, you never know!

Prairie styles were so big during the late seventies that my sister even wore a prairie dress to the prom!  My favorite one was mustard yellow, and I suppose it’s why one of the first fabrics I choose for the “Love Letters” collection was mustard yellow!

I suppose it was the T.V. shows that really got me. Sure, I cannot dispute that my first really big crush (after Bobby Sherman, of course) was Robert Redford in “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid”.  It remains a movie favorite and the theme song “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” is clearly my favorite song of all time and my go to for shower singing when I’m melancholy and trying to pick myself up!  “The Big Valley” with its leading character being a strong mother, Victoria Barkley, was inspiring. Then there was the spoof “F-Troop” whose reruns I could watch over and over!

“Hell on Wheels” is my recent go to when I need some gun slinging.  The series does a decent job telling the story behind the building of the Transcontinental Railroad with some license to make it good T.V.

So, I was lucky enough to grow up with some wholesome western influence and to me it was all so romantic!  I just will never get that scene of Katherine Ross riding that bicycle with Butch out of my head. Even Colin Bohannon truly loves Lily Bell on “Hell on Wheels”.

More than that I think of the men that went out for the gold rush to make their fortune so their families could have a better life.  I think of the pioneers (called argonauts or emigrants) who packed up their whole families, boarded a big wagon with everything they had to go west and make their fortunes.  I think of the hard-working men, many immigrants or newly freed slaves, working grueling hours under terrible conditions to build the railroads that undeniably brought our country together.

So, this collection is my “Love Letter” to all who revere the West, the brave women and men who clearly were trailblazers and all those T.V. and movie cowboys I used to (and still) dream about!


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