I knew I was a lucky woman when my husband and I moved to Cave Creek, Arizona in the early nineteen-seventies—lucky to have my free-lance articles published, lucky to be offered a job as feature articles writer for a local magazine, and lucky to meet Hube Yates. He was a man everyone loved because of his personality, sense of humor, kindness, strength of character and common sense. He was the epitome of a strong Southwestern man.

To really know people you have to hear them talk, listen to what they say, watch what they do, and see how they react in various situations. I liked what I saw in Hube and wanted to preserve his personality for posterity, as altruistic as that may sound.

We started off with a magazine article which I sent to the largest Phoenix newspaper to see if the editor liked the piece. He did. That gave us the impetus to start writing From Thunder to Breakfast with Hube as the storyteller, and I as the author.

The book starts out in 1914, when he was eleven. Already a responsible little boy who seemed a lot like Tom Sawyer, he did his chores because he was supposed to. His duties included taking over his share of the night watch while his parents and six brothers and sisters slept in two covered wagons on the move from Guthrie, Oklahoma to Phoenix, Arizona. He stayed awake—with his rifle always within reach.

When the family got settled in Phoenix he earned money to buy a cow and sold milk to the neighbors. Later he delivered newspapers by bicycle, and when the family moved to the west side of town new opportunities presented themselves. “I got a horse route.” Not only that, but he’d stop off at the Palo Alto Stables after school to clean stalls and do anything else they wanted done. That was where dramatic action took place in the chapter titled Crisis at the Drive-In Buggy Wash.

I loved writing the book. Hube was a riding stable owner at the time so we had to schedule our appointments for whenever he didn’t have riders to take out.

A horseman to the core, he took his twenty or thirty horses to his ranch at Heber every summer to get them out of the desert heat.

The first summer that I was in the process of working on the book I thought of a way that I could continue it while he was away. It was something like mothers do when they send their children off to camp. I bought Hube some blank audio tapes and envelopes, stamped and addressed to me. I asked him to slip one in his recorder when he was telling stories around a campfire and then put it in his mailbox for pickup the next day.

Summer came and went, and there were no tapes for me. When Hube returned in the fall I mentioned that fact, tactfully.  With a serious expression on his face he said, “I don’t like to talk to a machine.”  I grinned. It was true. He enjoyed seeing expressions and hearing laughter from his audiences—even my laughter.

Gene K. Garrison




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