Yesterday, June 18, my father, F.L. “Cotton” Chancey would have been 110 years old. My father loved to tell tales of family life on an Oklahoma farm in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them all down. One was about my grandfather when he was shot while riding his horse out in the woods. A man who lived alone in the woods found him and nursed him back to health, patching him up the best he could. Although the “patching” was amateurish, my grandfather lived until he was 90. There was more to the story but I can’t remember it.
The story I do remember was told to me by my father on a long car trip. It was about a time when he was quite small, maybe five years old. He had to go round up the cows for the evening but while he was riding his pony through the woods, a blizzard hit. He was completely lost.
And that story means more to me than all of the stories I’ve written. In early 2001, I submitted it to a magazine for boys. Two weeks later I received a letter from them. I knew that such a quick response meant a rejection and with great sadness I opened the envelope. Inside was a card that said my story titled Cotton would be published in the 2004 March/April Horse issue of Boys’ Quest Magazine. I couldn’t believe it. Tears streamed down my face. This was my first acceptance from a major publisher! If only my father could have lived to see his story in print. I had to wait three years for the story to be published but those three years passed quickly.
Of course, I can’t tell the story here because, as far as I know, that particular issue of Boys’ Quest Magazine is still available. But it had a happy ending and it is still the most thrilling of all the acceptances I have received since then.