Saturday, June 11, 2016



     Tacoma’s location made life easy for smugglers, shanghaies, and the Hollywood circuit. By rail or water, luminaries such as Sarah Bernhardt, Lillian Russel, and Ethel Barrymore came, performed, and moved on. However, it was probably the Depression which brought MGM’s Leo the Lion to town. Leo was on a promotion tour.

     In 1917, Samuel Goldwyn formed a movie studio and a lion called Slats was used in one of the first pictures he produced. Seven years later, when Goldwyn, Marcus Loew, and Louis B. Mayer merged and formed Metro, Goldwyn, Mayer, Slats was kept on as mascot and a man named Howard Dietz designed the logo. The story is that Dietz he used the lion as tribute to his alma mater, Columbia University whose sports teams were the Lions and that Columbia’s fight song, “Roar, Lion, Roar” is the reason Leo growls.

     Back to Slats, he was born at the Zoo in Dublin Ireland on March 20, 1919 and was originally named Cairbre. Vaudeville and circus performer Volney Phifer trained Slats and was part of the group who brought him to Tacoma. Phifer was generally referred to as “the chief wrangler” of most of the animals which were used on a variety of MGM productions from the mid-teens to the late 1950s. The most famous beside Leo were Cheetah from the Tarzan movies and Toto, The Wizard of Oz Dog, though Phifer’s work on Gone With The Wind was considered to be important in keeping the many horses and other animals safe and also making their actions appear naturel.

     Slats was used on all black-and-white MGM films between 1924 and 1928. Unlike his successors, though, Slats did nothing but look around in the logo and was therefore the only MGM lion not to roar. Slats died in 1936, was skinned, and at last sighting his hide was on display at the McPherson Museum in McPherson, Kansas.

     Mel Koontz trained Jackie, the second “Leo.” Koontz started work as a sixteen-year-old popcorn and peanut vendor at Los Angeles’s old Selig Zoo. He worked himself up to "cage cleaner and eventually became an animal trainer. Jackie was the first MGM lion to roar—the roar was first heard via a gramophone record during MGM's first sound production, White Shadows in the South Seas (1928). In addition to appearing in the MGM logo, Jackie appeared in over a hundred films, including Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan movies. He also posed with a nervous Greta Garbo in a well-known 1926 publicity still. In her autobiography, actress Ann Miller wrote that when she was there the MGM lion didn’t have any teeth so maybe Miss Garbo was nervous for naught. Jackie is also known for surviving two train wrecks, an earthquake, and an explosion in the studio, giving him the nickname "Leo the Lucky".

     MGM began experiments with two-strip color short subjects in 1927 and animated cartoons in 1930. Two two-strip Technicolor variations of the MGM logo were created, using two different lions. The, Telly, appeared on all color MGM movies between 1927 and 1932. Telly roared softly, then a little louder followed by a brief pause, and then a final roar as he turned his head. The second lion, Coffee, appeared in color films between 1932 and 1934, and in 1935 for what were called the Happy Harmonies shorts, until production was switched to full three-strip Technicolor filming. Coffee roared once softly, and a second time a little louder.

     So, which lion did Mayor Melvin G. Tennent pose with in Tacoma? It must have been Jackie because in addition to the above mentioned accidents, the Tacoma Daily Ledger mentioned he had survived a Mississippi River flood and a plane crash. Jackie died at an advanced age of 23, in 1938, and is buried in Gillette, New Jersey, on the farm once owned by Volney Phifer

Slats (1924–1928)                                               AUTHOR OF:
Jackie (1928–1956)                                             Murder on the Line
Telly (1927–1932) and Coffee (1932–1934)      Murder, When One Isn't Enough
Tanner (1934–1956)                                            Hidden History of Tacoma

George (1956–1958)                                           Let's Go Walk About in Tacoma

Leo (1957–present)                                             A Feather for a Fan

     Courtesy of Wikepedia

Friday, June 10, 2016

Books We Love's Tantalizing Talent ~ Author A.M.Westerling

Living by the motto "You don't know unless you try", A.M.Westerling started writing historical romance because she couldn't find the kinds of fun stories she enjoyed. After all, she thought, who doesn’t enjoy a tasty helping of dashing heroes and spunky heroines, seasoned with a liberal sprinkle of passion and adventure? 

Westerling, a former engineer, is a member of the Romance Writers of America and active in her local chapter. As well as writing, she enjoys cooking, gardening, camping, yoga, and watching pro sports. She lives in Calgary, Canada. 
A note from Astrid:
Historical romance has always been my passion (ha, no pun intended!) as it blends my love of history with my love of romance and its always satisfying Happily Ever After ending. It really is a wonder I graduated from university because those were the days when historical romance really found its stride. I freely admit to spending way more time between the pages of books by Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers and Bertrice Small than the pages of my text books! Anyway, when the writing bug hit me, it only seemed natural to stay with that genre. 
My tag line includes the phrase “From Vikings to viscounts” because I enjoy many different eras. I’ve written four full length novels: a Viking romance, a Medieval romance, and two Regency set romances. Right now I’m working on another Viking romance set in Vinland or, as it’s known now, Newfoundland. I will also have to write a book featuring a viscount because I haven’t done that as yet!
In case you’re wondering, A.M. stands for Astrid Margarethe. Westerling is my mom’s maiden name and now you know how I came up with my pseudonym. 
Find me on the Books We Love website:
My latest release, A Heart Enslaved: 
Thorvald Stronghawk knows selling his beautiful slave Gisela will bring him the blood money needed to regain his good name. When his enemy tries to buy her, Thorvald must decide what he wants more: To recover his reputation or tame the woman who has vowed to hate him forever for destroying her home.
Gisela realizes the Viking Thorvald Stronghawk views her as chattel rather than a woman with a life and mind of her own. Although her head tells her to escape the man she views as nothing more than a savage murdered, her heart has other ideas.

Complete List of Books We Love titles by A.M.Westerling
A Heart Enslaved
A Knight For Love
Her Proper Scoundrel
The Countess’ Lucky Charm

Thursday, June 9, 2016

New Releases from Books We Love

Check out the latest releases from Books We Love and some second editions which have been revised and updated! Click covers for more information.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Get Fired Up For Summer Weekly Book Winner

Darla Kidder wins a copy of Crazy Kat Kid by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Family Trees by Gail Roughton

I've never been one to think knowing the names of one's great-great-great grandparents or the dates of their birth, or the name of the ship they left their ports of origin on made any family's lineage one bit better than the next.  After all, everybody has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great parents, thirty-two great-great-great grandparents, etcetera etcetera all the way back to Moses, whether they know all their names or not, now don't they?  

But don't get me wrong--I think family trees are fascinating and I applaud all who have the patience and fortitude to research their own. I don't. The names and dates start running together about the next generation back, especially when I hit the 1800's and big families were the norm, even up to those with fifteen and sixteen children. I know, because a few weeks ago, my husband got curious about a family legend passed down through one line of his family tree and was lucky enough to actually find some records which didn't provide any proof at all the family legend was true, but certainly established that one of his great-great (or was there another great thrown in?) grandmothers had sixteen kids in twenty-five years, bless her heart, and that's the southern bless your heart meaning "Oh, my Lord! That poor, poor woman!"

He didn't last all that long before his eyes started crossing, and just for the heck of it, I asked him to google my paternal grandfather's name because--you guessed it--my family'd passed down a story about that man and his two brothers. It seems that my grandfather (I'd always thought his name was Charlie William, but it turns out it was Charlie Wayne) and one of his brothers were walking into town to arrange for the funeral of another brother who'd just died when they were both electrocuted in a freak accident involving a downed power line, thereby necessitating three funerals instead of one.  Now, that's a story a writer'd never use in a novel 'cause they'd be afraid readers would consider it just too unbelievable.  I found it unbelievable myself, simply because realistically speaking, just how many power lines were up in rural Alabama in 1918 to get knocked down?! Surely all that story couldn't be true.  But that story, dear friends, that story's the absolute truth and nothing but the truth. And nobody's as surprised as me to make that discovery. Some kind soul, undoubtedly a relative of mine in some form or fashion, had kindly posted his obituary online, along with a picture that sits up on one of my bookcases, right  by my father's.  

Birth: Feb. 14, 1882
Death: Jan. 11, 1918

January 16, 1918 LaFayette Sun
Tragedy at Shawmut

Two brothers, Charlie and Abesco Roughton, of Shawmut, were instantly killed last Friday when they stepped into a pool of water which had been charged by a fallen electric wire carrying 55,000 volts. The young men were on their way to West Point to make arrangements for the funeral of their brother, John Roughton, who had just died of pneumonia. All three of the brothers were buried in the same grave at Shawmut.

Corrections: Abesco Roughton is Jacob Sebastian Roughton. Raughton is spelled Raughton, Roughton and Rotton. Sebastian's headstone does not list Jacob in his name and he was known by family as simply Sebastian. Jacob is listed on his life insurance policy.

John T Raughton may have died of TB rather than pneumonia. Family oral history indicates a rain storm was in progress as Charlie and Sebastian left to make the funeral arrangement, planning on walking to West Point from Shawmut. One of the brothers stepped into a pool of water and was being electrocuted and the other brother tried to rescue him and both were killed.

They are not buried in the same grave but next to each other. The headstones have a Masonic emblem. I was told that one or two of the brothers were Masons but due to the circumstance of their death, all were given a Masonic funeral.

This old article from The LaFayette Sun was under the obituary.

January 23, 1918 issue of The LaFayette Sun
Resolutions of Shawmut Lodge No. 798 A.F. & A. M.

Whereas, our Heavenly Father in his infinite wisdom has removed to the life beyond, two of our beloved friends and co-workers, Brother John T. Raughton, Worship Master and Charles W. Raughton, Junior Warden of Shawmut Lodge No. 798 A.F. & A.M. As husbands and fathers they were affectionate and true, as Masons, they were loyal and true to the principles and tenets of our order, and in their removal to the Celestial Lodge above we realize the great loss which we have sustained and our hearts are greatly moved; therefore be it resolved:

First - That although having sustained an irreparable loss we bow in humble submission to God, whom we know makes no mistakes.

Second - That in their death we have lost two noble men, two generous friends, two genial companions, men of true, sound judgment, prompt in action and faithful in matters of trust.

Third - That we reserve the memory of their useful lives and commend their examples worthy of emulation.

Fourth - That we extend to their sorrowing loved ones our heartfelt sympathy, beseeching the Father in Heaven to grant them consolation which they so much need, and which He alone can give.

Fifth - That a copy of these resolutions be spread on the records of our Lodge, and a copy be presented to the families, and a copy sent to the LaFayette Sun and to the Chattahoochee Valley Times for publication.

L. A. Cleveland, J. S. Wallis, C. H. Cole, Jr., Committee 

The links in that online article also provided me with pictures of my great-grandparents, Georgia Ann Anderson Raughton and Alonzo A. Raughton, and my great-uncle John T. Raughton. (I guess you noticed nobody in my family thought consistency in spelling was all that important.)

 I've actually seen all those graves, as well a few more, but that was way back in my younger days, when my daddy was alive and nothing was better than a day spent just driving around on Alabama country backroads, exploring old abandoned farmhouses and even older cemeteries. Certainly I'd never noticed/didn't remember/probably didn't even know that my grandfather and great uncles had Masonic headstones and for sure I didn't know the significance of that. There wasn't a picture of my grandmother, but there was a picture of her headstone. 

These little nuggets of family history are especially sweet since not only did I never know my paternal grandparents, for all intents and purposes my Daddy didn't either.  Charlie Wayne Roughton died three weeks before my father was born, and my grandmother died when Daddy was five, leaving him to be raised by his older sisters.  Mostly though, my Daddy raised himself in that Alabama Valley where men were either textile mill workers or sharecroppers and usually both, and he grew up fast. When he was twelve, he walked into one of those mills and worked one whole day. He swore at the end of that day he'd never set foot in another mill and he never did. He got a job as a carpenter's assistant and learned the construction trade. I'd say that decision qualified that twelve year old boy a man, wouldn't you?  He joined the Army during WWII and ended up in Macon, Georgia as a prison guard at Camp Wheeler. He never moved his family back to Alabama other than to visit.  When I was small, he supervised the construction of many buildings and facilities that still stand in Macon, and even today, passing by one of the sites where he oversaw construction makes my heart sing.  Had he had the chance for higher education, I've no doubt he'd have been one top-notch architect. Country roots are strong, sure, and they run deep. I'm from a long line of country, just like my Daddy. And country roots go deep. Speaking of which....

Small town Southern
Coming Soon

Visit Gail at her blog and on Facebook
And stop in at Books We Love and Amazon


Titillating preview by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, The Twisted Climb I've been prepping for Autumn book signings and excited to meet new and...