Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Vanished Arizona by Martha Summerhayes

 


At last, in mid-afternoon, we approached the Pass, a narrow defile winding down between high hills from this table-land to the plain below. To say that we feared an ambush, would not perhaps convey a very clear idea of how I felt on entering the Pass. There was not a word spoken. I obeyed orders, and lay down in the bottom of the ambulance; I took my derringer out of the holster and cocked it. I looked at my little boy lying helpless there beside me, and at his delicate temples, lined with thin blue veins, and wondered if I could follow out the instructions I had received: for Jack had said, after the decision was made, to go through the Pass, "Now, Mattie, I don't think for a minute that there are any Injuns in that Pass, and you must not be afraid. We have got to go through it any way; but"—he hesitated,—"we may be mistaken; there may be a few of them in there, and they'll have a mighty good chance to get in a shot or two. And now listen: if I'm hit, you'll know what to do. You have your derringer; and when you see that there is no help for it, if they get away with the whole outfit, why, there's only one thing to be done. Don't let them get the baby, for they will carry you both off and—well, you know the squaws are much more cruel than the bucks. Don't let them get either of you alive. Now"—to the driver—"go on." Jack was a man of few words, and seldom spoke much in times like that.

This nonfiction memoir first published in 1908 details the observations of a young army wife in early Arizona. We follow her as she moves from young unprepared woman to lovely Woman of Experience.

I adored this book, but rather than me sing its praises I will allow two others to do so.

Both are from gentleman who wrote letters to Mrs. Summerhayes after having read the volume—one of the letter writers I believe you’ll recognize.

My Dear Mrs. Summerhayes: Were I to say that I enjoyed "Vanished Arizona, "I should very inadequately express my feelings about it, because there is so much to arouse emotions deeper than what we call "enjoyment;" it stirs the sympathies and excites our admiration for your courage and your fortitude. In a word, the story, honest and unaffected, yet vivid, has in it that touch of nature which makes kin of us all. How actual knowledge and experience broadens our minds! Your appreciation of, and charity for, the weaknesses of those living a lonely life of deprivation on the frontier, impressed me very much. I wish too, that what you say about the canteen could be published in every newspaper in America.

Very sincerely yours, M. F. WESTOVER, Secretary Gen'l Electric Co.

Dear Mrs. Summerhayes: Read your book—in fact when I got started I forgot my bedtime (and you know how rigid that is) and sat it through. It has a bully note of the old army—it was all worthwhile—they had color, those days. I say—now suppose you had married a man who kept a drug store—see what you would have had and see what you would have missed.

Yours,

FREDERIC REMINGTON.

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