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- Renegade Ranger (Texas Ranger Jim Blawcyzk, book 3) by James J Griffin
- A Date with the Hangman
Gale was a wonderful woman, completely devoted to her husband Neal, her son Sean, and her grandchildren Will, Maggie, and Olivia. She had a zest for life, and was loved by her family and many friends. Gale was my best friend in Keene.
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She was always trying to feed me whenever I stopped by to visit her and Neal. She was also one heckuva illustrator. Besides doing the dramatic gunfight scene for the cover of my third Jim Blawcyzk novel Trail of the Renegade, Gale had just completed an illustration for the cover of another Texas Ranger novel. She finished the drawing and gave me the CD containing it for the publ isher on Christmas Eve. Little did I know then that would be the last time I would see Gale.
The illustration she was going to do for an anthology of short Western stories will never be completed.
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The cover Gale just finished pictured portrays her son Sean as a lawman, while the horse carrying the dead rider is Gale's rendition of my own paint Yankee. When I saw the drawing, I kidded Gale that she had killed me off. She assured me she hadn't, but the thought became a running joke between the two of us. I'll miss Gale terribly, but the Good Lord chose to end her suffering. As my friend, fellow author, and publisher Ron McDonald said when he heard of Gale's passing:.
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By default, I decided to concentrate on items that reflected the image of the Ranger in the mindset of the general public. These were the popular culture items that so many people were familiar with. Naturally, my main focus was in finding all the issues of Texas Rangers. As I would learn, these started with the issue of October and ended with the final copy of February I also went after any other item I could afford to bid on.
I especially wanted anything related to the old Tales of the Texas Rangers television series, my favorite childhood television show. There were candy boxes, coloring books, toy badges, games, and puzzles that I had never known existed, all of which had been tied in with the show. Best of all, there were also videos available. After a while, however, it became apparent that quite a few issues were very rare, and obtaining them would take much searching and more money than I had originally planned to spend.
The October , volume one, number one, was obviously a much sought-after copy. More of a mystery was the November issue, which always went for quite a few dollars. It took me several frustrating tries before I finally won a copy.
Renegade Ranger (Texas Ranger Jim Blawcyzk, book 3) by James J Griffin
Now, November just happens to be the month and year I was born. By some weird coincidence, the Jim Hatfield story in that issue is "Guns of Fort Griffin," and Griffin is my last name! I like to claim that connection is the reason for the November Texas Rangers being so valuable.
However, the truth is that there is a short story in that issue written under the pseudonym W. Colt, who in actuality is L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Whenever anything by him becomes available, many of the Scientologists try and scoop it up. Other issues of Texas Rangers have short stories by Louis L'Amour, making those copies highly sought-after. The articles are listed under either his own name or the pseudonym Jim Mayo.
Some of the issues have stories by Sam Brant, another popular writer. Gradually, I was closing in on my goal of owning all issues of Texas Rangers. By the middle of , I had obtained more than half of them. It was also in that the first and most unexpected twist in my collecting happened. I had occasionally been bidding against an individual whose eBay identity was "Ranger's Wife.
A Date with the Hangman
Therefore, I didn't bid very high, so she always won. I bid on them and won. When I emailed her to finalize the sale, I asked if she were indeed married to a Texas Ranger — not a baseball player but one of the lawmen. I received a reply back within minutes saying, "Yes, she is, and this is the Ranger, not the wife! Just what I needed: a Ranger now on my trail who thought I was after his wife.
For someone who has had a deep interest in the Rangers since childhood, this was the ultimate thrill for me. Jim and I have become friends since then. I've even visited him and his family in their home town of Centerville, where I was privileged to see his Ranger office. Jim has helped me with technical information for my Jim Blawcyzk, Texas Ranger novels, and I've written him into the books — as a Texas Ranger character, naturally.
We've also got a food exchange going. Jim sends me Texas foodstuffs like barbeque sauce while I, in turn, mail him items like New Hampshire maple syrup. Jim has also presented me with some hard-to-find Ranger items. I'm going to take this opportunity to thank Jim for his friendship and assistance. He's a great guy with a wonderfully dry sense of humor, and he is definitely everything I had pictured a Texas Ranger to be. Over the next several years, I gradually closed in on my goal of collecting every issue of Texas Rangers magazine. By , I had of the issues in my possession, and I had read every one of them and filed each in order of issue dates.
I also copied a few of the covers I liked most on photo paper and framed them for my walls. I even got quite a few duplicate issues for my then ten-year-old nephew Ronny, who had developed an interest in my collection.