Steamboat Springs Sureva Towler received 67 rejection letters from publishers for her book "The Boys at the Bar."
She cut out all the nice things from those letters and posted them on her bulletin board to not lose sight of her goal. "This was an exercise of wondering if I could do it, and for a long time the answer was 'No,'" Towler said.
What: Book signing party for Sureva Towler's "The Boys at The Bar"
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Veterans of Foreign Wars
Johnson Books published her work. Towler will sign copies of "The Boys at the Bar" at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"The Boys at The Bar" is a collection of essays written for The Denver Post about the wild and wooly West in a time when all the boys at the bar wanted to be John Wayne.
The bar is the El Rancho and the characters' names have been changed to protect the guilty. It was in this bar that the code of the West was invented, interpreted and enforced.
Towler's theory is that you can tell a lot about a person by the bars they drink in. "The people who hung out (at El Rancho) liked to laugh, lie and dance on table tops," Towler said.
The bar also symbolized the art of the caper. "Anything goes, as long as you endanger no life but your own and you come home with a good story, preferably about yourself," Towler wrote.
Her essays capture the essence of life in Steamboat Springs during the wide-open days of the 1970s. "It's about people who raised and buried each other's children, and it happened in the bar," Towler said.
Her story about Steamboat is the universal story of change. "The West is always about people pushing up against each other's watering holes," Towler said.
She captures in her essays the old way of life that she thinks is now threatened by the rich, well-educated, urban baby boomers coming into town to build starter castles. And by people who take themselves too seriously.
Towler cherishes "real community," which stems from people working together and drinking together. She said nobody asked about political or religious views. They were more interested in others' interests and where they hunted, fished, skied and drank.
"Nobody did drugs. Drugs were dangerous," Towler said. "It was not a drug culture. It was a booze culture."
The El Rancho has long since closed and is now Tequila's. The old bar crowd has dispersed to the VFW and The Old Town Pub. And Towler is at a time in her life where she isn't closing the bars anymore.
"There's still a wild bunch around. There always will be, both young and old," Towler said. "But I wonder if kids today have as much fun as we had."
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