We shared a piece of our heritage and history with Will and Alice James!
We raised funds for our WJS Scholarship program and made a little history doing it! I would like to express my thanks and heart felt appreciation for all who attended the Will and Alice James Chautauqua June 26th in Minden about Will James and his wife Alice. This is a first for the Will James Society and we are so proud of the outcome.
This was a rare chance to bring Will and Alice and their life to the forefront and to put a spot-light on James’ accomplishments as a local working cowboy, artist, and author of 25 books. His time here in Nevada was significant and well spent. His life would not have been as important in our western heritage as it was if it were not for an especially important person in his life, Alice Conradt James. She was the pusher, the inspirer and the one who made James realize his talent, she was the one that gave him the confidence and belief in himself, and she did it while taking a backseat to his lifestyle and close cowboy friends.
Alice was wise beyond her years and demonstrated that wisdom and common sense as a mere teenage girl in an era that saw women as the weaker sex. She was the strong one and she had the good sense to see into the future and what James’ wonderful drawings and interpretation of the cowboy life on rough stock horses could mean to those that love the real west!
In addition to James’ ability to draw he was a great storyteller. Alice recognized this gift and encouraged him to write it down and put it into articles and book form, this led to a book deal with the number one publisher in our country at the time. Scribner’s, and the rest as they say is western history!
Kim Harris and Mike Olson are fantastic and authentic as Will and Alice James, this portrayal is amazing, entertaining, and informative. These two actors (Chautauquan’s) studied Will and Alice for 2 years and they nailed it on the stage. Many of you didn’t know much about this great figure in our history and this was the perfect way to bring it to life. The show was a success and so many of you have commented with positive remarks and appreciation for new knowledge and a historical education about one of our famous almost forgotten figures in history, Will James! The Will James Society is grateful to Kim and Mike for their dedication to authenticity and true awareness of who and what these two Nevadan’s were and how they contributed to Nevada’s rich cowboy history.
I would like to also thank our wonderful Cowboy Poets and Musicians for bringing us poetry they wrote about James and Ian Tyson’s song “Will James” that Tony Ilardi so beautifully performed for our enjoyment. And perhaps depending on how you feel “The Last Cowboy Song” sung by Garn Littledyke may very well be another tribute to the kind of Cowboy Will James truly was. The poetry was straight from Harold Miller and Richard Smiths hearts and James would have loved all of them as they were mixed with a sensitive understanding and truth of the man he was and the life he shared in his books and art.
So much Nevada talent on that stage that night with Kim Harris, Mike Olsen, Harold Miller, Richard Smith, Tony Ilardi and Garn Littledyke. These are all volunteers, no one was paid, they did it out of the love for the “Cowboy” that was Will James! You are all heroes to me, and the Will James Society will forever be grateful for your sharing your wonderful talent and support to the success of the show. These artists are in my opinion Nevada treasure’s, and they have made their mark on our hearts with their creativity and authentic insight into the lives we should never forget.
Alice Conradt finally got her chance to tell us her story as the wife of Will James. This is, in fact, a first and I hope somehow Alice was watching. This event could not have been successfully achieved if not for my wonderful friends and members of the Will James Society who showed up to meet, greet, handle ticket sales, sell drinks, set up and take down. You stayed with me until the end, and I love you for it!
Many thanks goes to Lynn Scott, Randy Ostrander, Judy Tuscano, Arlene Washington, John Washington, Larry Tuscano, Mary Cioffi, Robin Travis, Kim Chappell, Debra Ross, Scott Peck, Lexie McComb, Cliff Conradt, and his wonderful wife Candace who vacuumed the floors of the hall until spotless!
I highly recommend the CVIC Hall for your next event, the folks (especially Michele) at the Minden Town office are wonderful, helpful professionals and they made the organizational tasks easy. For those businesses and individuals who gave so generously to our raffle and silent auction we so appreciate your sponsorships and donations and thank you from the bottom of our collective WJS hearts!
For those of you who purchased our silent auction items and raffle tickets thank you so much, this event was also a fund raiser for our Will James Society Scholarship fund, and you have helped the Society to award one girl and one boy graduate to finance their education in the field of ranching, farming, horsemanship, veterinarian, art, and literature careers!
Sharon DeCarlo, President Will James Society www.willjamessociety.org
Many thanks to Mary Cioffi and
Robin Travis for these photos. Gardnerville, Nevada