Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Interview with Stuart Brannon

Stuart Brannon photo, Stephen Bly's series character
Stuart Brannon

Janet Chester Bly Copyright©2012

JCB: Stuart, how come you’re not too fond of Christmas time?

BRANNON: Oh, I enjoy celebrating the birth of Jesus my Savior. It’s just that Christmas also brings some tough memories … lost my wife and baby back in 1875 on Christmas Day. Then, after my cattle got wiped out with the disease, riding through a bitter blizzard to a hard winter at Broken Arrow Crossing the Christmas of ’76. Tended to a wounded prospector, an abused, pregnant Indian girl, and faced off with a band of wild outlaws. All that comes rushing back on a blustery December day.

JCB: Did you ever have any children after that?

BRANNON: I adopted 12-year-old Littlefoot, a Nezperce Indian boy, back in ’88. He later married and gifted me with a passel of grandkids. They’re my pride and joy.

JCB: Relate a bit of your background. What have you done in your life?

BRANNON: I trailed several cattle drives to Kansas, scouted for the U.S. Army, prospected for gold in Colorado. I served as marshal in New Mexico and Colorado and battled phony Spanish land grants, then drove one of the earliest large herds of Mexican cattle north into Arizona Territory.

JCB: I read somewhere that you twice refused appointment as Arizona Territorial Governor.

BRANNON: Yep. Men with violent pasts make inferior lawmakers.

JCB: So, you consider yourself a violent man?

BRANNON: Nope. Out of necessity, I’ve had to endure many a fierce gunfight.

JCB: In Gearhart, Oregon, in 1905, you’ve still got a full head of hair, though it’s pure gray, and you still seem a formidable man to tackle. What’s your biggest challenge these days?

BRANNON: Finding my missing friend, U.S. Marshal Tom Wiseman … and golf. I suffer the affects of my many injuries over the years. That hampers long rides on my horse Tres Vientos and driving a ball on a course.

JCB: I didn’t realize you enjoyed playing golf.

BRANNON: I don’t. As a favor to Lady Harriet Reed-Fletcher, I’m trying to learn to play the fool game so’s I can participate in her charity celebrity tournament, on behalf of the Willamette Orphan Farm. The crook of my arms, the way they work after all these years, I aim straight and the ball hooks right. If I shoot to the right, the ball flies down the middle. I guess that’s part of my handicap.

JCB: Ahh, Lady Fletcher, wasn’t she a former lady friend, that is, wasn’t her husband, Lord Edwin Fletcher, a trail partner of yours in the old days?

BRANNON: When I first met Edwin Fletcher, he was half-froze and lookin’ for gold at the Little Yellowjacket. Before that, he told me he’d been in northern India trying to keep the Monguls and Hindus from killing each other. The last ten years he’s mostly been sitting around English gardens sipping tea and managing world affairs. Dreadfully boring, don’t ya think?

JCB: You miss the old days?

BRANNON: I don’t miss the backbreaking work of single-handed keeping bad guys under control. But I do miss the sense that we lived in momentous, history making times.

JCB: Tell me something about your faith.

BRANNON: I talked to God before I knew his name and long before we were properly introduced. My creed is duty to decency, mankind and God. That’s why I get involved. Law, decency, the will of God and future generations demand this country be safe for women, children and families. That’s who I am.

JCB: You’ve traveled and trailed a lot of places. Where do you consider home to be?

BRANNON: Arizona bears my camp. My ranch. My outfit. And its citizens, my brothers and sisters. They’re my tribe. The west of the future belongs to my descendants, my offspring, my legacy. I find myself almost possessive about the west that is yet to come.

JCB: Stuart Brannon, you’re quite a legend, right up there with Wild Bill Hickok and the Earp brothers. How does that make you feel?

BRANNON: I don’t see it that way. When they take the great photograph of mankind’s family reunion, I’ll be the one in the tenth row from the back, fifth from the end, who is partially blocked by the lady in the big hat. I’m the one staring down at my scuffed dirt brown boots. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a shining moment or two.

JCB: Any last words you’d like to share?

BRANNON: By the time a man figures out what he is missing, it’s already gone. This is my daily philosophy: we have the opportunity to saddle up this day and ride it into our memories. But that means staying awake.

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