For those who love history, and want to know more about what the local area was like before it became settled, they need only pick up a book by the late Howard Greager.
Greager (1924-2013) authored six books, all historical nonfiction, that describe both the beauty and hardship of the old days.
Greager spent most of his life around Norwood. He was born in Placerville unto a ranching family and was raised and went to school in Norwood. Like many of the “Greatest Generation,” he spent two and a half years serving his country in WW II and was a radio man on a submarine.
He married Betty Greager in 1949 and after spending some time in Arizona, the pair moved back again to Norwood for good in 1954.
Greager wrote on and off throughout his life. He also spent time visiting an elderly friend that grew up in the local area, the real inspiration for what would become his life’s work as an author. Greager, who had a great memory and loved storytelling, began to write down what he heard from his old pal.
In 1989 Betty Greager bought her husband an electric typewriter, and Howard then typed out his first manuscript. Afterward, his daughter, Rebecca Curtis, typed it out on a computer and said, “Daddy, this looks like a book.”
(Curtis would later help as a proofreader and with her father’s last book as his editor too.)
Greager found a publisher in New York for his first novel: “The Company of Cowboys.” The book came out in 1990.
Later other books followed: “The Hell that was Paradox,” “Posey’s Spurs,” “The Mind of a Fox,” “We Shall Fall as the Leaves,” and “Smoke from Old Campfires and Forgotten Trails.”
The books — all set in Disappointment Valley, Paradox and the Norwood area — feature real-life characters from the early 1900s. They are cowboy stories that capture the wild spirit of the unsettled West with gunfights, horses, robberies, cattle rustling and more.
A few of the books are available online at Amazon, and they can also be purchased through Greager’s website: www.greager.com/books/.
Some local places — A Total Image Salon, the Apothecary Shoppe in Nucla and also the Visitor’s Center in Naturita — also carry the books.
Mostly, though, they are sold through word-of-mouth. Betty Greager, who still lives in Norwood, has a garage that she said is full of copies, some even hardback (though she is making sure she has plenty for her great-grandchildren).
When people call requesting them, she’s happy to help them get their hands on one, or sometimes all, of them.
She said her husband worked hard on books, and often she’d accompany him to visit people, libraries and courthouses in order to research. She’s proud of his work, and wants it to remain available.
“I’ve never heard anybody that ever bought them that didn’t just love them,” she said.
Her personal favorite is “The Hell that was Paradox.”
“It’s a wonderful book,” she said.
She welcomes those who want to purchase directly from her to call 970-327-4215.