Saturday, January 17, 2015


Many years ago, when I was a television news reporter and producer in Phoenix, I made the acquaintance of Jana Bommersbach.  Like me she was originally from North Dakota.  But she was a newspaper reporter.  Later she wrote for magazines, won nearly every award for her work known to modern ma. . . er . . . woman.  She has written the definitive book on the so-called trunk murderess, Winnie Ruth Judd.  She has been a teacher and a television commentator. Actually Jana has done damned near everything and been great at all of it.

So it was a treat to attend a lecture and book signing of hers at the Prescott Public Library the other night.

Jana was talking about her latest book and her first try at historical fiction.

She knocked it out of the park.  Cattle Kate is the story of another woman wronged, represented as a whore and a cattle rustler for over a hundred years.  But Jana put her investigative tools to work and wrote an entirely different story about Ella Watson, a homesteader in Wyoming in the 1800's whose presence and refusal to sell her land so angered a neighboring rancher that he and a handful of other men eventually lynched her and her husband.

Jana spoke for an hour in an impassioned delivery that kept a crowd of more than 60 people spellbound, interspersing her heroine's story with historical facts about some amazing women of the Old West.

After her bravura performance, she signed my personal copy of Cattle Kate in typical Jana-fashion.

Apparently it's my week for lectures.  This afternoon SWMBO and I attended a talk at the Phippen Museum about the legendary Kolb brothers of the Grand Canyon.  In the very early 20th century the two brothers from Pittsburgh built a photo studio at the head of the Bright Angel Trail just below the rim of the South Rim.  Eventually one of the brothers left for California but Emery Kolb stayed for the rest of his life, until he died in 1976 at the age of 95. After the very interesting talk by historian Phil Payne I spoke with him and told him I had done a television story on the brothers' photo studio and interviewed Emery shortly before his death.

All in all, it's been an interesting week.


Stephen Hayes said...

I love it that for some people, people like you, becoming educated is a journey without an end. Good for you.

Tom Cochrun said...

Both lectures sound great. One of the great things about attaining our senior status is the time and inclination to participate in offerings such as the two you cite. Bommersbach's book is interesting.

Steve said...

Enjoyed the post. An interesting lady.

Thérèse said...

Wow! That's what I love about Arizona, always something going on.
I think it's the first book I bought at the Poisoned Pen Press in Scottsdale in the 90's and be sure I will be looking for Mrs Bommersbach's second book.

Jana Bommersbach said...

You sweetheart!! What kind words. The best part was getting to see you again!! Gave your greetings to Sam Lowe and he was glad to hear you're healthy and well, too. I'm so very pleased that you liked my presentation and like my book--5 years of effort and these kind of words make every second worth it!! thank you. Can I post this on my Facebook page, as I know you have lots of fans in the Valley that would like to hear from you again!!

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Of course you may. I posted it on my Facebook page Saturday. It was great seeing you again. And being recognized!!!

The Bug said...