Gordon Young was one of the top writers for Adventure magazine. Here’s an auto-biographical short article from him on that originally appeared in the March 7, 1942 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.
|Gordon Ray Young
GORDON RAY YOUNG, having written his first Post serial with Tall in the Saddle, goes back over his own early days to see what makes a writer of Western stories:
” I regret that I’m no youngster, but I’m glad that as a kid I caught a fading glimpse of the Old West, I was born in Ray County, Mo., 1886, near the home and stamping ground of Jesse James and grew up thinking of him as a hero, though later information modified that. Forty-two years ago I began working through the summers on the XY, owned by Fred Harvey, known as ‘the eating-house man.’ His ranch lay about thirty miles west of Granada, Colorado, near the Kansas border. Mr. Harvey also owned a big alfalfa ranch at Granada, and the cows were brought in off the range for winter feeding. Such cowboys as stuck it out rode fence with a sack of staples and a hammer instead of a six-shooter, or loaded hayracks from the stacks and scattered the hay among the herds. Going to school seemed the lesser bad job.
“In school only two things interested me: girls and poetry. I can count a cribbage hand at a glance, but I couldn’t then, and I can’t yet, add a column of figures and get the same answer twice. I’m not much better at spelling. I took up public speaking.
“ I had no more interest in public speaking than I had in raising spinach, but I knew a lot of Kipling and through the summer I’d tell it to the cows. In 1906 I won the state oratorical contest at Colorado Springs— and haven’t made a public speech since.
“After three years of riding I heard about the ocean and got curious—about the South Seas particularly. That is another story; I have since had seven or eight books published out of that one story. My father had a friend who was an editor on the Rocky Mountain News, and the friend put me to work at $5 per week.
” The star reporter was a very quiet young man who never took any interest in me; yet, in a way, he is responsible for the thirty-odd years that I have been writing, I know—I saw the check—that he got as much as $50 for something; and in one month he had five poems and stories in national magazines. The News was proud and gave him a writeup. He wrote as if it wasn’t any trouble at all; as if he merely tipped the ink bottle and the words smoothly flowed out onto the paper. He still writes that way. His name is Damon Runyon.
“Once hunting was a passion. Now I won’t shoot at much of anything but black spots on paper—and sometimes miss them. Any marksman will know what I mean. Revolvers are a hobby and I have some of the best. I believe I am the only fellow to blow up a .357 magnum revolver with a reload, or any other way. It was wholly unintentional. The manufacturer traded me a new gun because he wanted to see what the wrecked one looked like. Not pretty; not when you think of where all the flying pieces might have hit.”