Zane GreyZane Grey & My Father

a letter from Charles Williams



I would like to relate to you a story that you may find interesting. It involves Zane Grey western novels and my father. The period would span from circa 1930 to 1999.

My father loved the writings & history of Zane Grey so much that he named his first born daughter Betty Zane after one of Zane's kindred & title of one of his books. He read Zane's western novels -- all of them -- & he read them again & again. My father had an incredible keen mind with an ability to recall that was uncanny. This was evident by his getting numerous offers for full scholarships from colleges when he graduated from high school. I think my father almost memorized the books he read. Sometimes when he would talk about a specific book, the gleam in his face told it all. He enjoyed Zane Grey.

The years rolled by & his love & interest in Zane Grey writings began to have their influence on me. This came natural as I always loved the cowboys, western movies, horses, etc. Finally after dad retired he found a way to travel to the west & the sites of Zane Grey novels. We were a poor family & this was one of the highlights of his life. He took lots & lots of pictures & showed them with pride & would give some history surrounding them. He told of the thrill of seeing the country that he had read about many times.

More & more I was getting attached to Zane Grey & started buying paper backs. Built up a good collection. Dad & I enjoyed each other & we camped many times together & talked about Zane Grey. I recall I read a Zane Gray novel that I've been trying to locate again. I hurriedly read a part of this book but it involved an outlaw band that I think killed this girl's father or uncle took her over mountains & through forests to a mining location & lots of no goods. Here the "boss" keep the girl in a small shack & she stayed there not knowing the aggressions of this leader would turn to her for satisfaction. It so happened that a member of the band turned out to be a godsend for her. In the end a shootout ended this ordeal & the last man to fall was a brute of a man that bullets didn't seem to have any effect on him. And so it ended. I don't know the title.

As time passed my father's eyesight began to fail but he used magnifiers so he could see the words. It was slow going for him. But, the time came when he could not read any longer, but was able to obtain a few Zane Grey audio books. His final years were marred by reoccurrences of pneumonia that was taking it's toll on his by then frail body. I recall in his final stay in the hospital I read to him >from a Zane Grey novel. In November of 1999, he passed away at the age of 86, a true Zane Grey fan.

Charles Williams

Copyright 2001 by Charles Williams

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