A personalized history by Joseph Botts
“Hungry Flats” is an entertaining, enlightening, amusing, and often exciting,
personalized history of a remote valley where the author was raised. Not only does he
explain the history, customs, and agricultural practices of the area, but he carries the
reader through his own experiences and injects a little humor whenever he can.
But some of the events are far from being humorous.
Going to bed each night and listening for the sound of airplanes in fear that they might
drop bombs, sounds like something that could never have happened in the United
States, yet this is exactly what the author went through as a child. Although no enemy
bombs were ever dropped there, the ranch was actually hit a few times by “friendly
fire”. The nightly prayers that said, “If I should die before I awake…” had special
meaning for the children. Few people know that a Japanese submarine fired on the oil
storage tanks at Cayucos California which was not that far from the ranch where the
author was raised.
There was a terrible explosion that killed over seven hundred people that was cloaked
in secrecy and kept as quiet as possible by the military, so the author’s family never
discussed it with anyone. It had some very strange aspects that have never before
been revealed. Now, sixty-five years later, they are finally being publicly disclosed by
the author for the first time.
Located between several military bases north of Hearst Castle and south of the Salinas
Valley that John Steinbeck wrote of, the author saw the machines of war, and the men
that used them, as they progressed from horse drawn canons, to high flying aircraft.
“Little Joe”, as he was called, started his education in a grammar school that had no
electricity and was heated with a wood stove. He was one of only three students in his
graduating class! He attended King City High School which required him to ride a bus
for over ninety miles a day.
As he grew up, he worked on his parent’s ranch as a cowboy and a tractor driver while
taking outside jobs to supplement his meager ranch wages. He took a myriad of
correspondence courses over the years to further his education, but has always
chosen not to use any academic title. When he is addressed with one, he makes fun of
what he refers to as his “mail order credentials” by saying he acquired them by
“sending in box-tops”. But he acquired enough practical and academic knowledge to
be a consultant for some very large companies. He worked as a real estate and
agricultural consultant for the purchase and management of twenty-six ranches and
various other investments.
When his parents died, the estate was already in debt, and the inheritance taxes
caused the bank administrators to advocate liquidation. So he tried to save the Home
Ranch by expanding his own agricultural operations to provide the cash flow that was
needed. This was the impetus that caused him to farm thousands of acres and lease
large ranches where he pastured thousands of cattle. His efforts to save the ranch
were often foiled by the actions of his siblings, and a mystery builds that is finally
solved too late. The subtitle, “East of Lucia” is purposefully reminiscent of Steinbeck’s
“East of Eden” that hints at the untold acts, and awful consequences, of a similar
In an attempt to understand his brother, the author “burned the midnight oil” and
studied psychology over the years and actually became a California State Certified
Therapist. His academic training brought out the realization that he was surrounded
by people with unique and interesting cultural backgrounds and psychological
tendencies that he also addresses.
The book takes the reader through some heart wrenching problems and sometimes
provides insight in dealing with them. It will make you laugh, and possibly shed a few
tears, as the author takes you through his actual life experiences in “Hungry Flats”.
|Now available on Ebay and Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com,
the Pioneer Museum, and the Carnegie Library in Paso Robles, CA, as
well as the Caledonia Museum in San Miguel.
Most of my books are now available as e-books on Amazon at:
"The Pleyto Hills"
“The Pleyto Hills” is an enjoyable rendition of California history that spans over one
hundred and fifty years. Though it is based on fact, it is told in a way that is
interesting, entertaining, amusing, and sometimes downright funny.
The Author’s Maternal Great Grandfather was shot in the back during the Lincoln
County Range War in New Mexico, and his daughter came west bringing the Author’s
mother who was a small child at the time.
The Hills of Pleyto are located in the California Coastal Range just inland from the
famous Hearst Castle. The little town of Pleyto was a stage stop between San Miguel
and Jolon in the early days of California, and the Author’s Paternal Grandfather
arrived from Indiana in 1876, having just missed being with General Custer at Little
The little town of Pleyto is now flooded by the San Antonio Lake, and the original
Spanish land grant, which was known as “El Pleito” has been cut up and made into
This book is not only chock full of interesting history, but also includes a number of
true and amusing short stories about the hardy people of the area.
The Author was raised in the Pleyto Hills, and passes on stories he was told, as well
as those that were a very real part of his own experiences.
“East of Lucia”
|After twenty-five years of delays, this book is available
on Amazon.com, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble as well as
stores listed above.
"Joe, I just finished reading your book. Some of it was like hearing you tell it in person.
Some of the stories I had heard you tell about when I was a kid. The ranch was such a great
place. Some of my best memories were when my dad would bring us up to the ranch. But
as great as the ranch was, it was you and your family that really made it the place I wanted
to be. So much of what I learned from you and your family has stuck with me for all these
years. The old songs you showed me how to play on the guitar. I have had many years of
enjoyment from playing the guitar and singing those old songs and still do. The few things
you showed me about riding horses. I don't know how many colts I have started and still
do. Whenever I pick up a lariat I think of your boys showing me how to throw a loop for the
first time out in your driveway. And lots more I remember about those days.
I hope you get a chance to come over and let me show you around our ranch."
Your friend, Denny
This is an unsolicited letter from Dennis Anderson of Coalinga, California
that illustrates the authenticity of these books.
|Small Stores and Organizations are now
able to get price breaks like the big sellers
when they order ten or more copies.
|The following is taken from an unsolicited letter from Mr. Newell Siler
of Meridian, Idaho. Mr. Siler also says in his letter that he knows what
the country was really like, because he spent many years in the area.
I have just finished reading Hungry Flats – East of Lucia…
I loved your unvarnished social commentary regarding the valley people
which you extolled with the clarity and honesty one can only accomplish by
the dropping of the “pc” filter which is now in such vogue. (pity) The stark
truth of what you said, to me, is no different than what I recall hearing in my
I appreciate very much that you have saved so much precious history for us
to read and reflect upon and the gutsy way you go about setting the record
straight. Thanks again for your great story."
What happens when a Western Historian decides to write a
The "Sheriff of San Lucas"
HAS BEEN PUBLISHED
DEEP FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS IN A POWERFUL WESTERN NOVEL
using actual places for a backdrop and historically accurate
scenarios when possible.
said this about it:
The Sheriff of San Lucas by Joseph Botts is much more than just a western novel.
It is an action packed story of the old west that uses actual places for a
background so real that it can actually be followed on a map.
From the savage deeds of vicious killers, to the gentle love for others, the
characters travel through the touching and exciting adventures they share. The
characters, though fictional, are based on people and personalities the author
has actually known.
It is a book about life and death in the Old West, as rugged people struggle to
overcome the violence and greed of those lawless people that infested it.
It is the story of men who were brave enough, and angry enough, to face them,
and the brave and hardy women who stood by their sides and still managed to
fulfill their roles as sweethearts, wives, and mothers.
The book adheres to, and describes, the methods and procedures available and
used at the time, including the early railroads and means of travel; even the
guns are described.
The story mixes touching and heart rending emotion with humor as it follows the
players in the saga from Denver Colorado, to the Pacific Ocean, with references
to actual events in Missouri during the civil war.
It is a novel, and not a history book, but every part is based on things the author
knows can, and in many cases, did happen. So the book gives the reader a close
look at not only the ways of the old west, but the emotions and motivations of
those who lived there.
When the story is over, the book does not end… The touching philosophy will be
remembered long after the book is finished, and the deep thoughts and
emotions will live on in the memory of the reader.
You are a busy person…. We are honored you have selected to return to
Outskirts Press to publish your third book with us. I am pleased to report
that The Sheriff of San Lucas has been accepted for publication through
Outskirts Press. I want to be the first to congratulate you and welcome you
back once again!
I will begin with my overall impression of your work:
Again, you have such a great writing style. You write with fantastic detail
and have created a very robust plot that from the get-go is very engaging.
You do a nice job of slowly making your way through the story with a
certain voice that allows your reader to really interact with the characters
(who are all round and very nicely developed.) So many authors rush
through their stories without really developing them. Not you. Your book
read like a movie in my mind. You have crafted another excellent piece
here. Your fiction prose is just as good as your non-fiction work.
Manuscript Review Team
Outskirts Press, Inc.
OF SAN LUCAS
by Joseph Botts
AND IT IS GENTLE.
From the SHERIFF OF SAN LUCAS © Copyright 2010 :
She almost seemed to float as she walked, and her voice was soft and gentle, but
when she laughed, it sometimes slipped into a deeper tone that spoke of life and
love and lust, and stirred Henry’s passion to the depths of his soul and aroused
and awakened something he had never known was there. They were powerful
feelings, deep and almost frightening at times and seemed to have a hold on him
that was impossible to resist. It seemed like somehow they were deep inside and
even a part of him, and he knew they were something he could not control or even
fully understand. It seemed that somehow, somewhere, deep inside the primitive
part of his soul, they had lived in the dark shadows of the dim and distant depths
like an echo that could never die; ever waiting, and ever hoping, for the voice of
an angel to bring them forth to live again, aroused and awakened… She, at last,
was there… He was in love.
IT IS ROUGH...
From the SHERIFF OF SAN LUCAS © Copyright 2010:
The sheriff was now receiving gunfire from the bank to his right, and the extra time
it had taken to neutralize the two outlaws with the waitress, had been too long, and
the gunmen were now on the bank porch and firing repeatedly as he lay in the
street. He looked over to where he had dropped the shotgun, but it would take too
long to crawl to it, so he tried to get up so he could run to it. But before he was
even on his feet, a bullet hit him in the thigh, breaking the bone and causing him to
fall back to the street.
He was now lying flat again and trying to rotate to the right so he could get a better
shot when one of the bullets hit him in the right arm breaking the bone just above
his elbow and causing him to drop his gun. Having already fired two shots,he knew
he only had three cartridges left in the chambers of his six-gun because, like most
people, he usually left one chamber empty under the hammer for safety. But he
also knew those three cartridges were his only chance, so he picked up the gun
with his left hand and was trying to hold himself up on his left elbow to shoot to his
right when a bullet hit him just above his right eye. His head jerked from the impact,
and then slumped forward… His hand held the gun for a moment, then it went limp,
and his Colt slowly rolled out of his hand, and into the dust.
IT IS POWERFUL AND UNFORGETTABLE
From the SHERIFF OF SAN LUCAS © Copyright 2010 by Joseph Botts:
The air was cool and crisp, and passing wisps of fog had left a trace of dew that
sparkled in the waning moonlight. The soft glow in the east had brightened until it
revealed the skyline between the faintly blushing sky and the dark and sleeping
earth. A few lights had appeared in the windows and the smell of smoke was in
the air as the morning fires were stoked in the stoves and fireplaces. The dark
shapes of the buildings were becoming more distinct with each passing moment,
and the dull orange glow was starting to dimly reveal the streets in San Lucas.
Though the sun had yet to show its face, the roosters in the backyards of the little
town had already announced the beginning of a new day, and the hens
responded with their clucking and cackling, which sometimes announced the
laying of an egg, but was often just their way of trying to be sociable and join the
Somewhere in the dim light of the morning, a dog was barking, and soon another
answered in the distance. Each new sound and each new voice adding to the
slowly rising cacophony until it seemed a rude intrusion on the quiet of the night.
Dawn was on the mountains, and the night would soon surrender to the coming
of the day.