November 8, 2014, Payson- Zane Grey was nothing, if not headstrong. The best-selling author of all time had an impetus, however. His mother, a fervent admirer of Queen Victoria, named him Pearl Zane Grey, the first name coming from the Queen’s wearing of pearl grey attire, whilst she mourned Prince Albert. Zane was his mother’s maiden name, and they lived in Zanesville, Ohio, which was named for one of her forebears. Zane’s father, a dentist, commanded him to follow in his footsteps, and he grudgingly did. He also devised the curve ball, whilst playing for his college baseball team, and wrote a novel, Betty Zane, based on the life of a maternal aunt. This last gave him the idea of getting out from under dentistry, which he detested.
I learned these facts about P. Zane Grey, as he called himself, once his parents had died, at Zane Grey Cabin, part of the historical complex of Payson, AZ. He was an avid hunter, in the Payson area, until the new state government got involved and started to change the rules of hunting. He then quit hunting, loudly and publicly, taking up deep sea fishing for a time, and setting records in that sport, many of which still stand.
The cabin is a humongous affair, built in the style of the Adirondack Region of Upstate New York.
No photos are allowed, either in the Cabin, or in the adjacent Rim Country Historical Museum, as many items are on loan from private collectors and families of Zane Grey’s employees and associates. I started my visit with Docent P., in the Cabin’s kitchen. There is a huge, old-style cast iron stove in the room. It is especially notable, in that on the top of the stove are two passive heat receptacles, used for keeping infants warm, in the dead of winter. No, the witch in Hansel and Gretel didn’t work there. The two infants in question grew up to be successful in their trades, and lived to a ripe old age.
I then went into the Great Room, festooned with bear rugs, taxidermed elk and Zane’s Morris Desk- a comfortable chair, with arms that allowed a slab of pine to be stretched across them, serving as a desk. Across from these is a collection of first editions of Zane Grey’s books, many of them signed by him. If you ever happen to be in an antique shop or old book store, look for Zane’s still-missing treasures. 30-45 of them are still out in the wider world. He painted extraordinary word pictures of all the areas in which he lived, from Wheeling, WV to Tahiti and New Zealand. Being something of a contemporary of Samuel L. Clemens, he was, in that respect, a man of his time.