Great Plains Studies, Center for



Sharon Butala

Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 16:2 (Spring 1996). Copyright © 1996 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


This small book is written in a straightforward, unassuming, conversational style with the result that it's deceptively simple, seeming at first to be just another reminiscence of pioneer days, although in a somewhat unusual place. It's the story of La Verne Hanners's childhood and young womanhood in the Valley of the Dry Cimarron of New Mexico, only a few miles from the border of the Oklahoma Panhandle and just south of the Colorado border. Here is a landscape of grandeur, of severe drought, of sudden, fierce hail and wind and snow storms, of walls of water unexpectedly racing down dry riverbeds, of great distances and sparse settlement. Hanners tells of the time between the two world wars when the people in that place made their living, such as it was, as ranchers. Her stories are of the exploits of the cowboys, of the strength and endurance of the women, of children growing up half-wild and daredevils, a miracle that any survived to tell the tale. (This aspect is best illustrated by the story of Hanners's younger brother Felix who, when the neighbors heard he was a POW of the Japanese, said it served the Japanese right!)