Randall Beth Platt

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"The 1898 Base-Ball Fe-As-Ko"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAR 26, 2000)

The 1898 Baseball Fe-As-Ko

It seems that the FDR writer is back wanting more Fe-As-Ko stories from cowpoke Royal Leckner.

This time it's 1897, Royal and E.M. have been married about four years. And so have Leviticus and Lou(ella) Perrault, owners of the Four Arrows ranch. Royal is still foreman of the ranch and caretaker of its owner. As he reminds us, Leviticus and Lou(ella) Perrault are "short a hat size," but "nice and honest, which is better than smart and fox-like any day."

It's time to take the cattle to Portland for the annual sale, and Royal is bringing Leviticus along to teach him how "to sign on the dotted line." E.M. foresees trouble in Portland and decides she'd better go along as well. So the cattle gets loaded and all are headed for the city. Except, Leviticus who has managed to walk onto the train, down the aisle and right back off - something has caught his eye. It shouldn't be a surprise that a long-time rock thrower like Leviticus would get fascinated by a baseball. Once they get Levi back on the train, Lou(ella) says they are going to get themselves a base-ball in Portland.

As it turns out (and things do turn out in Royal's life), the buyer isn't available when they go to sell the cattle, so it's declared a day off. E.M's off to buy hats and Royal goes shopping with Levi and Lou(ella) for a base-ball. Innocently enough, Royal accepts baseball tickets for an exhibition game from one of the local storekeepers. This probably wasn't the best place to take Leviticus for "he may only have a half mind, but the half he does have is damn hard to unset." Worse, Royal runs into E.M.'s half sister and full-time trouble, Augusta, who is also the owner of the Bowery Bulldogs. E.M. shows up and immediately takes exception in finding Royal in the club house drinking champagne with Augusta. Knowing this isn't going anywhere right, Royal decides to take his new fishing pole and get out of town, leaving E.M. to sell the cattle.

Days later, E.M. shows up with a wagon overloaded with men passing the bottle, whooping, hollering and falling out. These are not men Royal recognizes. Like Jack sent to town to sell a cow, but coming back with magical beans, it seems that Leviticus traded the herd of 1200 cattle for his very own baseball team, just as Lou(ella) promised --and we thought she meant just the ball! Smart and fox-like, Augusta had Levi "sign on the dotted line" when E.M. wasn't looking. And now it is up to the Leckner's to look for the giant beanstalk, despite winter coming, no cash, and ten extra mouths to feed. But Royal and E.M. are not without resources; she has her father who is sitting in jail, the "seven vestal Burnbaums" daughters of Idlehour's late banker and Lou(ella)'s savant talent with numbers.

Once again, Platt keeps the plot moving, the bases loaded, and the pages turning. You know they are going to run around the field a few times before all is said and done, but it all comes out to another home run for us, the readers of these fe-as-kos.

  • Amazon reader rating: from 3 reviews

Chapter excerpt from the The 1898 Base-Ball Fe-As-Ko at the author's website

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"The Royalscope Fe-As-Ko"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark JAN 30, 2000)

"DEARESTDADDY stop MOMMAARRESTED stop
SEND FIVE THOUSAND FOR BAIL stop ALSO NEED FIVE THOUSAND FOR LAWYER IN CARE WESTERN UNION SAN FRANCISCO stop MOMMA AND ME SEND LOVE AND REMIND TO FEED OUR HOUSE CATS stop YOUR LOVING DAUGHTER, ELSIE MAUDE stop

The RoyalscopeFe-As-Ko

Rancher Royal Leckner hates telegrams. Just look a the one he received in June 1915 from San Francisco. It brought his solitude and day-to-day living, what he calls "rut-riding," to a screeching halt. The "menfolk" (Leckner and his two young sons) had been enjoying themselves while his wife and 16-year old daughter are in San Francisco for an extended annual shopping spree. Of course everyone knows the trip is coincidental to the women's suffrage movement underway. The shocking thing about this telegram is not that E.M. landed herself in jail, it's that she doesn't have the money to bail herself out. With E.M.'s nose for investments, the Leckner's have plenty of "California" money. However, upon a little research Royal discovers their California bank account has been wiped out. So Royal gathers up his two boys and heads to San Francisco to find out what fiasco has come into the Leckner household this time.

The Royalscope Fe-As-Ko turns into a romp through Hollywood and the filmmaking industry in the early 1900s. Platt mixes the Leckner family into the middle of some real Hollywood "ack-tors," directors and producers. And what fun this is. First there's Royal's two spunky boys, 10-year-old Charles (called Chick) and 8-year-old Brian (called Tad), better known as the single whirlwind unit Chick'n'Tad. Royal calls them all American boys, red-headed, blue-eyed with bleached out white brows, "well I just gotta say they was red, white and blue as the Fourtha July." Then there's E.M. and Elsie with their new "mark-kee" names, who have just invested $20,000 into a moviemaking adventure and have their own hope of becoming the next Hollywood stars. That leaves Royal to sort out the mess and try to recoup the money - with the help of new found friend and look alike, William S. Hart.

To give the benefit of hindsight to this rather nefarious situation, Platt has Royal Leckner tell his story twenty years after the events while narrating to one of FDR's WPA depression writers. Platt dresses Royal's storytelling with a narration so colorful it's hard not to want to read every line out loud. It's a talented writer that can write a spellbinding story that hangs together right down to the funny bone. Her imagination, knack for absurd characters and real "cowboy" language spurs the story on making it impossible to put it down. This is one "fam damily," I won't soon forget and I highly recommend that you meet them too.

  • Amazon reader rating: from 2 reviews

Chapter excerpt from the Royalscope Fe-As-Ko at the author's website

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"The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark MAR 26, 2000)

Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko

This is the first of the novels in which one of FDR's writers interviews Royal Leckner. Royal points out that there are few stories he can tell but decides to start with what he refers to as the Four Arrows fiasco. Thus having the advantage to laugh at "hisownself," we are all highly entertained with this first one of, what I hope will be, a long series of Fe-As-Kos.

As foreman of Four Arrows Ranch, Royal Leckner, finds himself in an interesting position. The owner of Four Arrows, Samuel J. Perrault is recently deceased, shot by his horse in a freak accident. It stands to reason that young Royal should expect to be the center of attention at the upcoming official reading of the will, no matter how humble he pretends to be about it. But as we soon find out, nothing is ever straight forward in Royal's life, not even a will reading. Royal inherits $25,000, but on the condition that he bring Perrault's only heir (a surprise to everyone that Perrault was ever even married) to Four Arrows and then take 500 days to teach him to run the ranch. After 500 days, if the ranch has made a profit (determined by a pre-chosen independent accounting firm out of Portland), then the son, Leviticus Perrault, inherits the ranch; if there is no profit then the town of Idlehour can foreclose and use the money any way they want. Either outcome, Royal gets his $25,000. Uh, did I mention that Leviticus, Perrault's only heir, is "not right in the head"?

The town, quick on the greed, assumes that it will be easy to persuade Royal from going through with the plan. After all, Royal gets his money either way. But Perrault must have known Royal well, for Royal decides to take the challenge, believing an heir has a right to his daddy's ranch. Besides, there's all the ranch hands depending on him to keep the place afloat and he's not too fond of lawyers and bankers getting the place. So he heads up to retrieve Leviticus. And soon returns with not one, but four new ranch hands. Besides Leviticus, who's "a-pair-a-nently" the leader, there's Toofer with a split personality - split between a bickering Confederate and Union soldiers; Tommy Two Hearts, half-white, half-Indian and half-paralyzed; and Lou(ella), an idiot savant with a fascination for numbers.

From here on there is just page after page of misadventure, schemes, scams, panics and even some falling in love. I'm not going to say anymore at this point, except that I was laughing out loud most of the time. Despite the comical scenes, though, Platt gets at some real stuff in about the attitudes and fears people had of the mentally handicapped a century ago. She also paints a fairly visual picture of civilizing the wild west.

Whereas I found that I had no problem jumping into the The Royalscope Fe-As-Ko, without having read this novel first, I think that once you read one, you'll want to go back to this original one. Although there was a long gap between novels, Platt's style was solid from the start and having read The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko back to back with The 1898 Baseball Fe-As-Ko, I can vouch that Platt doesn't miss a beat.

  • Amazon reader rating: from 3 reviews


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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Fe-As-Ko Series:

Young Adult:

Other:

Movies from books:

  • Promise the Moon (based on the The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko) (1997)

 

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Book Marks:

 

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About the Author:

Randall Beth PlattRandall Beth Platt was born in Seattle, Washington in 1948 and grew up outside of Portland, Oregon.

She gets up at 4 am every morning and writes. She's accomplished in a wide range of genres including one she is blazing herself -humorous westerns. When she's not writing, she's an avid handball player. She plays tournaments throughout Pacific Northwest, as well as national tournaments.

Her novel The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko was made into the film Promise the Moon in 1997, starring Henry Czerny and directed by Ken Jubenville. Seattle-based actor-director Tom Skerritt is scheduled to film The Cornerstone, for which Ms. Platt wrote the original screenplay, in the summer of 2000.

Ms. Platt lives with her husband and dogs (her two sons are grown) in Gig Harbor, Washington, a suburb of Tacoma.

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