Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, January 16, 2016


The path of true love is never easy, especially in the romance comics.  The same heartbreak and angst found in young high school and college girls or in young women starting to find their way in the workplace in the comics of the 50s and 60s are the same heartbreak and angst found on the western frontier, although sometimes with a bit of added danger.  Case in point, Western Hearts.

We open with "Lasso Round My Love."  Janet Farrell has inherited her father's house in the cmining town of Hobart and hopes one day to convince her fiance, Clyde Pembroke, to leave his job as a stagecoach driver and turn the large house into a hotel.  In the meantime, in order to make ends meet, Janet has not only opened a candy shop in her front parlor but has rented out her side cabin to Gladys Hawkins, a dancehall girl "all painted like an indian out for her evening ewar dance."  One evening when Clyde was supposed to be on a stagecoach run, Janet spots Clyde pitching woo to that brazen hussy Gladys.  Heart-broken, Janet soon becomes engagement-broken and refuse to listen to any explanations Clyde may offer.  Janet should  listened to her heart rather than her eyes -- Clyde's intentions were honorable and Gladys a part of a gang of neer-do-wells.  Janet and Clyde rescue each other, Clyde traps the gang, Janet rescues Clyde, and all is well -- to the sound of wedding bells.

In "Dancehall Bride," Constance Selby returns to her early childhood home, hoping to surprise her sister.  The elder Selby's had split up when Constance was three, her mother taking Clonstance with back east and her father keeping Vicki at the family ranch in Las Palomas.  With both mother and father now dead, Connie is looking forward to reuniting with her long lost sister.  Vicki, however, is not pleased.  She calls Connie an imposter, slaps her, and kicks her off the ranch.  Heartbroken, Connie wanders into town, where she is taken in by kind-hearted Rosa at Nick's Hotel,a honky-tonk on the wrong side of town.  Connie begins to work at the saloon as a piano player and singer while Vicki releases her venom by spreading the word that Connie is a loose woman, a fraud, and a conniver.  Vicki sends handsome Deputy Sheriff Ryan Blane to kick Connie out of town, but being captured does not sway the path of true heartsn falls in love with Connie.  Turns out Vicki is not Vicki.  The real Vicki had died in an accident years ago.  Ryan and Connie are captured, but being captured does not alter the path of true love.  In the end all is well and there are happy trails ahead for Connie and Ryan.

Lillian Hunt's father's ambition was to rebuild his Lazy-T ranch into a working farm once again in "Sweetheart Ranch."  She falls in love with Mike Vinson, a traveller with a mysterious job who is staying at the ranch.  This doesn't sit well with Jerry, the ranch hand who has always carried a torch for Lil,  (Why, o why is the loser in love always named Jerry?  'Tain't fair, I tell you!)  Turn out Mike is a government man sent to survey the area to find a location for a proposed dam.  The dam would flood a few ranches in the area -- including the Lazy-T.  Rather than quit her father's dream, Lil and her father refuse to sell despite Mike's warning that a violent storm would one day destroy the low-lying area.  A disappointed Mike goes back to Washington, a hopeful Jerry thinks that Lil might turn her eyes to him, and a lovelorn Lil harbors a grudge toward the "traitorous" Mike while vowing never to commit to another man until she has the same feelings that she had toward Mike.  You know what happens next.  The rains come, the ranch is destroyed in the flood, Lil's father is trapped in the ranch house, and Mike appears almost miraculously to save him.  Lil's father admits the error of his ways and sells his ranch to the government.  Lil admits her love for Mike as the two look forward to a future of bliss.  And Jerry (who should have been the hero because of his noble name, dammit) is left twiddling his thumbs.

Interspersed in this issue are three fillers telling (or making up of whole cloth) well-known love stories:  Hiawatha and Minnehaha, Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent, and Sacajawaya and the French guide Charbonneau.  There's also a two-page text story in which Joan Carter helps Sheriff Dan Lancing capture the Lone Bandit, Buck Nelson.  In true western style the story ends with the outlaw saying (disgruntedly), :Aw, kiss her and let's get started for jail.  If there's one thing I can't stand is this love stuff."

All this and a photo cover of Irene Dunne and Fred MacMurray from Never a Dull Moment.


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