Good Luck

November 20th, 2019

Special to the Leader & Times


Sunday, Nov. 17, the Seward County Historical Society will have the pleasure of opening a Lidia Hook-Gray Exhibit “A Little West of Here”, Folk Art on the Farm and Larry Phillips will be on hand to sign his first novel, “An Englishman’s Adventures on he Santa Fe Trail.”

Hook-Gray is known as the most knowledgeable local historian, and she had compiled an exhibit of unique items crated by pioneer artisans.

“Southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle produced a number of self-taught artists who carved, soldered, welded and hammered out models of fondly remembered equipment from their youths,” she said. “Whether they were built for grandchildren or exhibited at the Smithsonian or ‘just ’cause,’ they are all works of art.”

Local author Phillips spent his lifetime journeying around the world with the oil and gad industry after graduating from Liberal High School in the 1960s, and he also spent multiple years a journalist in Alaska and Kansas, retiring as Managing Editor of the Leader & Times. He will discuss his first novel, and copies will be available for purchase. Phillips will sign the copies sold during the event.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the Old West history of this area since I was a kid,” Phillips said. “Several years ago I joined the Santa Fe Trail Association and started learning about that highway of commerce into the frontier. I thought it would be interesting in having a fictional character traveling and living on the Trail after the Civil War, when traders, settlers and soldiers flooded the West and encountered the events and people of the times, including lesser-known characters who were recorded in history but seldom mentioned.”

Blue Ink reviewed the novel and said, “The story is well written and prodigiously researched ... Solidly plotted, the novel is filled with danger, revenge and violence as the era of nomadic tribes ends and that of settlers determined to exploit the riches of the land begins. But it also tells of enduring friendships, courage, resourcefulness, and love across a great cultural divide.”

Critics also mentioned the extensive research and references to the time period in the novel.

“The research of such people and events was truly wonderful and important to me to include in this saga,” Phillips said. “The dangers and lure of the Plains in that era is as enduring as anything in our nation’s history. I loved writing this adventure and hope people will take in the whole story that could be as real as anything recorded or seen on the Great Plains of the West.”

The exhibit opening and book signing will take place from 2  to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Coronado Museum, and the public is invited to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

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