Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing in the 1920’s

“Many wise ringworms are ready to mortgage the old homestead on Harry Greb, if the “Windmill” get a crack at Georges Carpentier’s light heavyweight crown.

Greb beyond all doubt is the best his weight and a real freak but he would have a battle against the hard hitting Frenchman.

Tom Gibbons and Gene Tunney will vouch that no fighter who has to set himself to punch is going to whip Greb. Carpentier who, can hit on the fly, looks to be the only one outside of Dempsey who has a chance to flop the Pittsburgh boy and he would get mussed up before he succeeded.

Some dirt is always spilled before a big fight: Whispers are now going up and down “Tin Ear Alley” that the Leonard-Tendler lightweight championship fight is going to be “one of those things” (Durango Evening Herald, June 28, 1922).

Boxing was a popular sport in the 1920’s as is attested to in this Durango Evening Herald excerpt. In rural areas, like Durango, Colorado, many were not able to attend boxing matches. They were, however, astutely listened to on the radio.

The photograph below is of Jack Dempsey from Manessa, Colorado. He was known as the “Manassa Mauler.” Here, he is fighting Andy Malloy in the Gem Theatre on the corner of Tenth and Main, Durango. Jack Dempsey went on to win the National Championship in 1919, and held it for five years.

Photograph copyright Center of Southwest Studies

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prohibition in Colorado

On January 16, 1920, the “Noble Experiment” went into effect. This was an attempt to outlaw the manufacturing and sale of alcohol. The government was unable to regulate the sale and or reduce the consumption even though they closed down nearly all alcoholic beverage companies. Only a few companies stayed running, Coors being one of them, producing alcohol for medicinal use only as well as soft drinks.

Instead of teaching morality, which was one of the goals, Prohibition created lawlessness in the form of illegal alcohol, often referred to as moonshine and illegal bars, called speakeasies. Because there was no regulation of the illegal business, many gangs were created around moonshine and the process of selling it, called bootlegging. Crime rates increased as well as deaths related to alcohol. Much of the home-brewed drinks were unsafe, containing high contents of lead from using old carburetors as stills. Sometimes wood alcohol, methanol or
other noxious materials such as household cleaners were added to speed up the process and save money. Blindness was not an uncommon occurrence after drinking “bad” moonshine.

The biggest “booze” raid in the history of Colorado, took place in Denver 1922, when seventy-three agents of the United States government, fifty-five of them sworn in from the ranks of the Colorado Rangers, made simultaneous raids on twenty-five hotels, rooming houses, cigar stores, soft drink parlors and private homes, most of them in the heart of the city’s business district, looking for evidence of violations of the national prohibition law (The Denver Post, March 17, 1922).

Homemade moonshine distillery on display at the Notah-Dineh Museum - Cortez, CO

On the southwest side of Colorado, many of the gold and silver mines in the San Juan Mountains were closing down because of the lack of minerals. This provided the perfect location for a still. The moonshiners would hide the still back in a closed mine shaft and be able to make their moonshine without being caught. They would then ship the moonshine out to the surrounding areas. One method for peddling moonshine in Durango was to paint milk jars white, and then fill the jars with moonshine.

Though many citizens made their own brew, perhaps in a basement, moonshine was a relatively good business during the depression era toward the end of the 1920’s. The Eighteenth Amendment making Prohibition legal was repealed on December 5, 1933.
The author, Erin, and her son, Ethan

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Giving Back Gang Holiday Party: Local Authors Supporting Local Nonprofits

Come join me at Maria's Bookshop in Durango for cookies, contests, and Holiday fun!

For Details, click here.

Join us for a fun holiday event celebrating some of our most talented and generous local writers! Maria’s Bookshop will host The Giving Back Gang Holiday Party, a showcase of 18 authors who have each selected a local nonprofit organization to support by donating a share of the proceeds from the sale of their books between December 1st and 7th.

Please join us for this festive event, which will provide an opportunity to meet the authors, talk with them about their work, and learn about the regional nonprofits they're supporting. Holiday cookies will be provided by the authors, and the range of titles includes great gift ideas for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

Support local writers as they support local groups working to make our communities stronger and better!

Start: 12/07/2012 6:00 pm

End: 12/07/2012 8:00 pm

If you are unable to attend, I will be donating a share of the proceeds from the sale of my book to my nonprofit, The Animas Museum, from my website through December 7th. I will include a little something about The Animas Museum in the package.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On The Edge

On the outskirts of Silverton, Colorado in Cunningham Gulch lies a historic wonder, the Old Hundred Mine Boarding House. This phenomenal structure is bolted with cables to the rocky crags of Galena Mountain 2,000 feet above the basin and main mine entrance below. Splintered wood, rusted corrugated metal, and a handful of memories in the form of a cook stove, a metal bedframe, and pairs of shoes are all that remain.

The pages of the Old Hundred’s story begin in 1872 with the Neigold brothers, who made their way from Germany to become prospectors. The three brothers were an odd and amusing bunch for those traveling on Stony Pass Trail leading into Silverton. Coming from an educated background, the brothers would often entertain guests with music, plays, and even opera. They were quite the contrast to the usual prospecting crowd.
Some color was found, the most likely profits at the level seven tunnel, 2,000 feet up the mountain.

Not having the funds to operate the mine, the brothers sold out. The company who bought the mine spent the next several years and over a million dollars building the boarding house, a mill at the base of the mountain, and a tram—much like a ski lift today—to haul the ore and men from the boarding house to the mill below. A legend exists of a mistress in the boarding house who loved to play piano, so a piano was hauled to the boarding house on the backs of mules.

Hundreds of miles of tunnels were dug searching for the rich veins of ore. Unfortunately, there was very little color found in the mine. In 1908 the mine closed down. A neighboring mine bought the Old Hundred for its mill.

In 2000, the Silverton Historical Society in conjunction with the Old Hundred Mining Tour preserved the Old Hundred Mine Boarding House on Galena’s peak. The task was completed with helicopters and brave construction workers operating on crumbling shell rock above Cunningham Gulch.

Today there is a trail to the old level seven tunnel, but to reach the boarding house, one must scramble 200 vertical feet over loose rock .Only experienced climbers should make the hike.

During the summer months, mining tours are given inside the mine, probably the most revenue it has had.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Moonshine Murder Teaching Guide Now Available

The Moonshine Murder teaching guide is newly updated and available as a free download from my website:

For those of you who are teachers, Moonshine Murder is perfect for middle and high school students. View my website for more details.

If you know a teacher that may be interested, pass this on. And if you're a parent looking for fun activities to do with your kids--ages 12 and up--over Christmas break, this may be the perfect idea.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wine and Cheese Book Party

Where: Main Street Brewery, Cortez, CO
Date: Thursday, October 25, 2012, 5-7:30 pm.

I will be signing copies of my historical fiction novel, Moonshine Murder at the Main Street Brewery on Thursday, October, 25 from 5-7:30.

Complimentary wine and cheese will be available during the signing.

Pick up a book, grab a menu, and enjoy a nice dinner at the Main Street Brewery while you’re there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Winning Gals

Thank you to the winning gals (April Wright, Melissa Hackett, Tracey Hately, and Kindle winner, Hiedy Whitmer) for coming out to the Cold Stone Creamery Moonshine Murder Book Party. I had a blast! If you didn't make the event, don't worry! October 25, from 5-7:30 The Main Street Brewery in Cortez, Colorado will be hosting me for a Wine and Cheese book party: complimentary wine and cheese!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Moonshine Murder Book Party was a HUGE success! The community showed amazing support and the Cold Stone Creamery staff members were wonderful! And I reached 100 sales!

The first 100 purchases of Moonshine Murder were entered in a drawing for a FREE Kindle.

My husband, Eric, took the entry cards and shuffled them, put them all face down on our table. My son, Ethan, drew out the Kindle winner and 3 Cold Stone gift card winners. And the winners are:

1. Hiedy Whitmer for the Kindle
2. Melissa Hackett for a $10 Cold Stone gift card
3. Tracey Hately for a $10 Cold Stone gift card
4. April Wright for a $10 Cold Stone gift card

Thank you again to everyone who came to the event.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Moonshine Murder Launch Is Here!

[Moonshine Murder] It's here! Launch Day!

Launch day is here! It's official: Moonshine Murder (Treble Heart Books) is now available on Amazon, E-version and print, at the publisher’s website, and at my website (


• FREE Kindle –The first 100 purchases of Moonshine Murder will be entered in the drawing for a free Kindle. Just simply go to, and purchase your autographed copy. That’s it. Oh, and if you buy more than one, your name goes in the pot more, too. Kind of like, Hunger Games but with a much better outcome! So, “may the odds be ever in your favor” (for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, go buy Hunger Games today).
• Amazon reviews -- my goal is to get 10 reviews by the end of next week. Please leave your HONEST review when you get a chance.
• Local Event Book Party and Door prizes. Yep, more prizes, and chances to win that FREE Kindle. Launch week I will be throwing a book party, details below:
o Cold Stone Creamery Book Party (Cortez, CO)
When: Friday, September 21, 4-7
“Dollar Scoop” ice cream, book signing, and door prizes (Cold Stone Gift Cards)! Purchase a book, enter the FREE Kindle giveaway.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Moonshine Murder Book Launch Around the Corner!

[Moonshine Murder] The Final Countdown!

This is it! Moonshine Murder book launch is around the corner (next Monday, to be exact). And I couldn’t be happier.

Now, happiness does not equate to chaos-free (even if it's good chaos). My piano top has stacks of unopened mail and PILES of papers accumulating, and my front entryway looks like a shipping center -- boxes filled with books, business cards, and bookmarks.

You will most likely hear from me a few times next week. I will send a launch week update as well as a template email that you can forward to friends and family to help spread the word. I want you to feel like you've got a front-row seat for all the festivities, and will do my best to include you as much as possible in everything that goes down next week! If the extra emails annoy you, feel free to mark as read and carry on.


FREE Kindle –The first 100 purchases of Moonshine Murder will be entered in the drawing for a free Kindle. Just simply go to, and purchase your autographed copy. That’s it. Oh, and if you buy more than one, your name goes in the drawing more, too. Kind of like, Hunger Games but with a much better outcome! So, “may the odds be ever in your favor” (for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, go buy Hunger Games today). You can pre-order your copy of Moonshine Murder today!

Amazon reviews -- My goal is to get 10 reviews by the end of next week. Please leave your HONEST review when you get a chance.

Local Event Book Party and Door prizes. Yep, more prizes, and chances to win that FREE Kindle.

Coldstone Creamery Book Party (Cortez, CO)
When: Friday, September 21, 4-7
Discounted ice cream, book signing, and door prizes (Cold Stone Gift Cards)! Purchase a book, enter the FREE Kindle giveaway.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Counting Drafts

I spent today going through the 8.5 x 11, 10 ream box in my closet and throwing away old drafts of my novel, Moonshine Murder. To save trees, I would print double-sided, and would edit on the computer when I could. My total? Well, honestly there are too many to count accurately since I would often use the same print-out for several drafts, using different color ink to track changes.

Let's just say that I've taken quite the trip through those drafts.

Tossing that incredibly heavy pile was like letting go of a chunk, a big chunk of my life. Some drafts had artwork in bright red and green crayon left by my little helper. I kept those pages, and taped them to my wall with his other artwork. Others were covered in a different kind of red, the formidable red ink of a marked-up page. I kept a couple of those too, to remind me how far I've come.

But it was worth it. All those drafts. Moonshine Murder finally has a home! I'm now entering into a whole new phase of my writing career, and probably a whole new stack of drafts.

And the rejection letters? I'm keeping those as a road map of my journey--some wrong turns, some right.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The 2012 LAURA Finalists!

Women Writing the West and The LAURA Committee, which includes myself, President Pam Tartaglio, and Past President Suzanne Lyon is proud to present the five finalists for the 2012 LAURA Short Fiction Contest. The 2012 Finalists, alphabetized by title are:

"At the Thirty-Fourth Latitude" by Sheila MacAvoy
"Elvira" by Liz Duckworth
"Grub Line Rider" by Anne Schroeder
"Pueblo Dancer" by Leslee Breen
"Todas Las Madres" by Karen Stevenson

Short story author and creative writing instructor Melodie Johnson Howe will serve as the Final Judge. She will select the first, second and third place winners and two Honorable Mentions.The five authors will be recognized with award certificates at the LAURA Dinner on Friday, October 19 at the WWW Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At this time, we will announce the placement of the finalists.

For more information about our Final Judge, Melodie Johnson Howe, please click on the LAURA Application button on our website.

A big congratulations to our finalists!

Erin S. Gray
2012 Women Writing the West President Elect

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What I'm reading now: The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton

I just finished The Forgotten Garden, and thinking about allegory. There are several themes in the novel, Eliza's fairy tales connecting to the plot, for one. But what really intrigued me was character names. Eliza Makepeace, always wanting to make things right, the more obvious one. But Rose, striving for perfection, and Ivory, representing purity, even under scandalous circumstances. What are your thoughts? And if you haven't read this novel yet, download or pick it up today!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Where Have I Been?

I know I haven't posted on here lately, and I have a beautiful excuse. Elliot Eero Gray was born November, 21, 2011. I also went from working full-time outside of the home to hitting the keys on my laptop again. Its a refreshing feeling to be kept from a good night's sleep because of fantastic writing ideas and a gorgeous little boy. Expect to see more posts in the future!

Women Writing the West and the LAURA Journal.

As President-Elect for Women Writing the West, a non-profit association of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women's West, I act as the LAURA Short Fiction Awards Coordinator. The 2011-2012 winning short stories are currently up on the website. There are five fantastic stories to read, just the perfect length to click on and read from your phone while waiting to pick up the kiddos or to get in those last few minutes of reading before bed.

I am honored to be the coordinator for the LAURA Awards and to be a member of this prestigious writing community.

Please take a few minutes to check out the website: