Sunday, March 11, 2007

My home town is in "A Place Called Baca"

"A Place Called Baca" is a self-published tribute to a windswept and dusty county in the southeastern corner of Colorado. Most people would call that place pretty much the middle of nowhere and they'd be right, but the 1,268 families (according to the 2000 census) that live there call the place where Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma touch -- "home". What Baca County, Colorado, does have is a Past, and Ike Osteen tells that story in a way that makes it personal, involving, and fun.

"A Place Called Baca" is also a tribute to its author, a man whose story telling sensibility was cut from the same cloth as Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Ike Osteen called Baca County, Colorado, "home" most of his long life. "A Place Called Baca" contains the laughs, joys and sorrows from that long life which unfortunately ended in February, 2007. He was a farmer, civil servant, writer, historian and friend to many.

The best parts of "A Place Called Baca" deal with growing up on the prairie in an earth-and-plank dugout with his widowed mother and eight brothers and sisters; surviving the Dust Bowl; and telling the stories of those who came and went along the way. The stories are fully developed vignettes with interesting maps of homesteads and windmills.

Ike Osteen's knowledge of Baca County is so rich and accessible that he was often sought out for interviews and talks. Ike was 90 when Timothy Egan called for interviews when Mr. Egan was writing "The Worst Hard Time", a brilliant work on the Dust Bowl era. Ike was contacted by the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper for local information about a serious border dispute between Colorado and New Mexico. The case eventually led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1925.

"A Place Called Baca" is a hardcover book that was published without a jacket. Ike told the Plainsman Herald newspaper of Springfield, Colorado, that he wrote the book to document the history and hard work the citizens poured into the county. He did that extremely well. He did something else with "A Place Called Baca" that both surprises and impresses. He leaves a person with the realization that this land is neither barren nor empty. It has a bright Future in front of it because it is full of life and people that you want to get to know because they are hard working, interesting and dynamic. By the end of the story, you may even want to count some of them as friends.


Katie said...

This is a wonderful review Don. (like all your reviews) and the book sounds really wonderful as well.

Katie said...

HEY! I went and saw the Silversun Pickups again. It was so great!