My first book has been lost through time. In 1981 my “Great Escapes of Pancho Villa” was published by a small north Texas publishing company, Pennington Press. It was non-fiction and concerned itself with some terrific, death-defying escapes. When I first discovered these Villa escapes from various history books, I was amazed by them. I collected those escapes from various perspectives. The rest of the Villa/Revolution history was briefly tucked in between the action escapes as filler and set-up for the situational escapes he’d experienced. I wrote the synopsis.
It started out as a local, newspaper series, a filler I guess, between ads, and to my surprise was well received. A guy at Pennington read them and said, “that should be a book, you know.” And we extrapolated from there. Pennington did all kinds of things. Cook books. Calendars. Memoirs. Area newspapers, whatever caught their fancy that they thought they could peddle.
I hand wrote the book on loose leaf paper. Double-spaced and large so the typesetting girl could decipher the words. It’s all gone now. The book was typeset on a giant old, newspaper-like-machine, looked like a metal, church organ and the poor girl could only read a typed few words at a time in this small screen box, as she typed. Like 5 words at a time. The cover they selected was an old Villa wanted poster. It was hard to get art and photos back then.
We sold about 5,000 copies or so, of this paperback book. All you had to do was advertise a book in a right places back then. There weren’t many outlets for readers of certain subjects. Libraries bought some too. I attended two book fairs, one big one in San Antonio which was a big seller for little old us. The San Antonio book fair always has a heavy Hispanic flavor too it, so the book on Villa did well down there.
Then, time killed off Pennington and I have moved so many times since, I have lost the few copies I had. My mother might have had one. But she died and when we went through her stuff? I didn’t see one there either. She too, probably tossed it. Ho-hum.
I can’t remember how “good” it was, might have been terrible by today’s standards or my at least my standards of today, but I would like to have at least one copy.
All the background research on Pancho Villa will not go to waste. I have an outline for a Gunther book involving Pancho Villa for somewhere down the line. It’s a doozey.