Natalie, the two volume series, captures the influence that the western cowboy culture, that dominated popular culture, magazines, television, and movie theaters in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s, had on a young woman's life.
During that time, a dude ranch culture, given birth and glorified in film, literature, and art, exploded not only in the southwest in AZ and CA, but in New England and New York. Thousands of Americans packed dude ranches every week for several decades along the historic Dude Ranch Trail Scenic Byway, a 40-mile loop beginning and ending at Lake George, New York. Painted Pony Rodeo in Lake Luzerne, 1000 Acres Ranch Resort (founded in 1940 by Jack and Ester Arehart) in Stony Creek, and Ridin-Hy in Warrensburg were favorites. By 1937, an estimated 40 ranches dotted the Catskills, Long Island, Adirondacks, Berkshires, New Jersey highlands, and the Poconos. The eastern ranches had names like the Lazy-J, Box Canyon, Hidden Valley, G-Bar-S, Sun Canyon, and the Bar X.
Natalie fell in love with the western cowboy culture as a child and decided she had to live the culture, marry a cowboy, and live on a ranch. She did not know that such dreams would take her to ranches and rodeos in Florida and take her down a rough and tragic trail. Her journey began in Reading, a suburb of Boston, took her to Great Barrington, Massachusetts and back to Reading. She took a gamble by agreeing to move to rural Indiantown, Florida and another with a move to a ranch outside of Parrish, Florida. After a series of traumatic events, she escaped to the retirement home of her mother in Pinellas County Florida, where she embarked on the next phase of her life..
The first volume, set in New England, follows Natalie as she grows up against the backdrop of WWII and the popularity of dude ranches and rodeo life throughout the area. The second volume brings the adult Natalie and her young family to Florida and details Florida's natural world, cowboy culture, and life on a ranch. Both books tell the story of a strong, resilient woman who was able to live her dream while overcoming obstacles and unfathomable tragedies.