Wishing Western; a brief biography of J.B. Patel
(The pseudonym, J.B. Patel is made up of the scrambled first initials of my seven grandchildren.)
Here I am a Jack Pine Savage, born in a little town in northern Wisconsin, yet with the exception of “Two World’s Ridge” and a few other short stories, most of the stories I write are Western romance. It seems from the time I was born I wished Western. Early on I wished for a pair of six guns strapped to my hips, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and of course horses. I’m in my seventies now, at this time of my life I’ve moved to town and left the horses behind but I still have the boots and the hat. A city dweller now, I’m scribbling my stories; stories born mostly out of a misspent youth and a dysfunctional beginning.
The compliments on my writing have centered on my sincerity, passion, and maybe even a little anger, never on my grammar. When it comes to grammar, if you are critical, you will have a good time reading my stories.
Where do the stories come from? I was born in a log cabin in Northern Wisconsin, there were ten in the family. Dad died on the operating table just before his tenth child was born. I was ten when Dad died, I got into real estate and exploring, the trouble was; I explored other people’s real estate. A brother and I broke into a couple cabins and made a mess. On my eleventh birthday I woke up in a jail cell, shortly afterward I stood before a judge. In 1951 the judge didn’t have to wait for any input from a defense lawyer, there was none. By four in the afternoon, eighteen hours after I was caught I was dropped off at the Wisconsin Child Center at Sparta Wisconsin, ‘a ward of the State until I turned twenty-one.’
Because of its proximity to the railroad, the Wisconsin Child Center was built as a dropping off spot for orphans in the late 1800’s. From the Center’s inception to 1933, every Tuesday excess orphans were placed on the train and shipped out West to be adopted or indentured. Thankfully my time at Sparta missed the Orphan Train era. The Center was enlarged and became the temporary home to children of troubled families. I was a poster child for troubled.
At the Center, the nights were the hardest. For the six years at Sparta I put myself to sleep with my head on the window sill daydreaming. My experiences at the Center, my daydreaming and imagination are subject for many of my stories. Some of my stories include orphans, runaways, the abandoned or the disenfranchised. After my stay at the child center I won the lottery. I was able to spend two years at a foster home with a great family and I met a great gal who I married, she even had horses.
Here in the autumn, (or is it the winter of my life?) ideas for stories still pop into my head, I still enjoy scribbling them down. I characterize most of my writing as Western romantic fiction. I’ve been trying for some time to figure out why my stories have to finish with happy endings. As I think back, during the daydreaming while I was cooped up at the Wisconsin Child Center, I had to have happy endings. One of the supervisors at the Wisconsin Child Center once asked me, “I’ve often wondered; how did you survive?” I’m guessing those happy endings to my daydreaming helped.
How did I stray into the land of Amish romance? I’ve worked with Amish friends for nearly thirty years. I didn’t follow the usual ‘formula’ for Amish romance stories, instead, “Two World’s Ridge” broaches subjects all English sometimes consider when we think of the Amish. I dealt with the issue of male dominance, subjugating women, the role of religion and entrapping children into the sect by fear, isolation and the limiting of their education.