Friday, November 14, 2014

Cowboys, Christmas, and Whittling #history #romance @JacquieRogers

Cowboys, Christmas, and Whittling

Just about every cowpoke had a pocket jack knife, and a good share of those men sat around the campfire and whittled. Judd Shaw, in How the Texan Stole Christmas (in Wild Texas Christmas—to be released the day after Thanksgiving from Prairie Rose Publications), is a cowhand who whittles. While writing him, I got to wondering why so many people whittled in the 19th century. So let’s take a look.

History of Whittling

Wood was one of the first items shaped, if not the first, by modern humans. Whittling could produce a spear or an arrow—although these items were single-use, which is probably why stone tools quickly replaced them. Decorative whittling goes back as far. No one knows when it started, but has been prevalent throughout written history and before.

I was surprised to find out that whittling wasn’t popular until the Civil War. Nearly every soldier, North or South, and a knife, and there was no shortage of wood. They might not have had sufficient food or blankets, but they always had wood. Once the war was over, these soldiers went about making a living—logging, punching cattle, farming, or whatever—and they took their newfound whittling skills with them. Whittling was a popular pastime clear up until the end of World War II.

Whittling vs. Wood carving
This article is about whittling, not woodcarving. The latter requires a variety of tools and generally produces more elaborate artworks. Even with whittling, there’s plain whittling and then there’s chip carving.

Here’s a snippet from How the Texan Stole Christmas, my short story in Wild Texas Christmas.  We meet Judd, and this is what spurred him to take out his frustrations by whittling.

In an instant, her [Winnie's] feet went out from under her and she knocked Judd off balance, too. She landed on her back, the cold hard ice knocking the wind out of her. Judd fell on top of her with his face buried in her bosom. She couldn’t speak for lack of air and she couldn’t move because he pinned her down. 

He lifted his head after a moment. “I’m, uh, sorry.” 

Winnie wasn’t sorry at all. No man had had his face on her bosom for a long time, and if she had to choose one to be there, Judd’s would be it.
♥ ♥ ♥

Sleight of Heart

A gamblin' man with magic hands
A strait-laced spinster
A missing brother
A crazy adventure


Caroline Clemmons said...

I'm looking forward to your new release, Jacquie. And I hope people realize SLEIGHT OF HEART is one great, fun read. In fact, it's one of my favorite books.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Thanks, Caroline. :) Now for some reading time--I'm anxious to read your Christmas novella!

Unknown said...

I read "How the Texan Stole Christmas" in galley form, Trail Boss. As usual, I chuckled all the way through. Your poor characters. :-D

Those Civil War soldiers needed something to do to pass the time when they weren't shooting at one another, I guess.

Thanks for the information about whittling!