New local history book is a hoot
“Warning: Should you decide to read this book, prepare your delicate sensibilities to be assaulted by escapades of charlatans, swindlers, seducers, rogues and impostors.”And prepare to hoot and holler over some entertaining stories.While Summit County seems to have always attracted colorful characters, the personalities in Mary Ellen Gilliland’s “Colorado Rascals, Scoundrels, and No Goods” possess a special flair. They are the soiled doves of the Victorian age, the claim jumpers of the gold rush and the drunks, vagrants and bullies who have an affinity for rugged mountain living.”A Victorian lady would rush for her smelling salts at the first whiff of scandal – and so may you,” Gilliland writes in her introduction, along with the warning above. “On the other hand, if the reader is one to relish the salacious (and the delicious), prepare for a smorgasbord of sin, a feast of felony …”
Gilliland, known for presenting traditional information in untraditional ways, uses “pretentious verbiage” to mimic the language of the era. While ornate language could put off readers, Gilliland finds a down-to-earth and merry way to present every person’s story. She breathes life into the characters so they seem to settle into readers’ favorite chairs as the pages turn.And of course, the fun part stems from the local connection: I remember when Dillon’s main road was named “Chief Colorow.” I also remember when the town changed it. But I didn’t know the name change had to do with the fact that Colorow was a glutton who bullied women and hardly ever bathed.The stories might lead one to believe only no goods populated the Wild West (in fact, Gilliland adds a two-page list of Victorian names for undesirables). But reading the book after watching the current documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” helped me put societial ills into perspective: There always have been cheats, womanizers and impostors – whether it be miners lacing properties with gold to sell to unsuspecting Easterners or corporate executives cooking the books to drive stock prices. At least Gilliland helps us laugh at it all.Her book is available at Verbatim Booksellers in Vail Village, Weber’s and Hamlet’s in Breckenridge; Borders Books in Dillon; Winds of Change in Frisco; and from Alpenrose Press at (970) 468-6273. Gilliland will autograph books ordered by phone.
Verbatim author seriesBooksigning with Mary Ellen Gilliland, author of “Vail Hiker” and her newest, “Colorado Rascals, Scoundrels, and No Goods”11 a.m.-2 p.m. todayVail Farmer’s Market
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado