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Ralph Moody

Ralph Moody was born in 1898 to Charles and Mary (Gould) Moody in New Hampshire. He married Edna Hudgins in 1922 and they had two sons and a daughter. After the period of ranching and cattle trading covered in Dry Divide and Horse of a Different Color, he gave up ranching to work as an officer and district manager of B/G Foods, Inc., a national restaurant chain, first in Missouri and then in California. When he was 83, he returned to New England, and died there, in the home of his sister Elizabeth, on June 28, 1982.

According to Moody himself, he had wanted to write a story as soon as he had learned to read for himself. His mother had read aloud to their family, and he became an avid reader himself. He learned to write from reading. When Moody w as over 50 he enrolled in a night school writing course, supposedly to learn how to help his daughter with a high school writing course she was taking. When his first short story was returned, his teacher had written that he should expand it into a book. He did, and that book became Little Britches.

When one reads the Little Britches series, it’s easy to wonder why Ralph didn’t stay a rancher. We know he prospered at ranching and that he loved it. The reason is that he wanted to marry Edna, his Medford sweetheart, and she refused to marry a farmer. He went to Kansas City to see if he could learn to support a family in town, and discovered he could. They married, and in the late 1940’s they moved to northern California. He told an interviewer for the New York Times Book Review, August 6, 1967, "My goal in writing is to leave a record of the rural way of life in this country during the early part of the twentieth century, and to point up the values of that era which I feel that we, as a people, are letting slip away from us." (This information was gleaned from Something About the Author, Vol. 1, p. 162)

We highly recommend the Little Britches series as a family read-aloud for children in the third grade and above. Little Britches, the true story of Ralph Moody’s boyhood on a Colorado ranch as an eight-year-old in 1906, is full of family fun, solid values, and real cowboys. At the end of Little Britches, Ralph’s father dies, and Man of the Family continues with Ralph’s efforts to help support the large family. Actually, all of the children do their part, and the way the family works together is an inspiration. The surprise ending of this book (no, I won’t tell you) could stimulate a good family discussion on the moral struggles Mrs. Moody faced. These struggles led to the family’s move back to the Boston area, the period covered in Mary Emma and Company. Home Ranch occurs between the chapters of Man of the Family, and elaborates on the details of Ralph’s summer job on a cattle ranch in the shadow of Pike’s Peak. It is shortly after he returns home that the family moves east for a fresh start.

Boston is not a healthy environment for Ralph. He cannot adjust to being a city boy, so he moves to his grandfather’s farm in Maine. There he learns how to live with a man who can get along with no one. The Fields of Home is one of the best books written that deals with what we call today "the generation gap." It also deals with family loyalty. In spite of major conflicts, Ralph and his grandpa learn to love and understand each other.

The last three books in the series cover Ralph’s young adult life, and they have much to teach about how to form wise personal and business relationships. In Shaking the Nickel Bush, poor health forces Ralph back west in the midst of the Depression. Since getting a job as a cowhand was impossible, he made some fast but dangerous money as a movie stunt rider in Arizona. Then he formed an unwise friendship with another unemployed cowhand who was in love with an old car and Ralph supported them all as a "cowboy artist." Dry Divide and Horse of a Different Color show Ralph making his living with cattle and horses again, and we learn with him how business partnerships can complicate one’s life.
Find available works by: Ralph Moody
Works by Ralph Moody
  • American Horses
  • Come on Seabiscuit, the Story of a Race Horse
  • Dry Divide
  • Gateways to the Northwest: The Old Trails West
  • Geronimo, Wolf of the Warpath
  • Home Ranch
  • Horse of a Different Color
  • Kit Carson and the Wild Frontier
  • Knife is Not Enough
  • Little Britches
  • Man of the Family
  • Mary Emma and Company
  • Old Trails West
  • Riders of the Pony Express
  • Shaking the Nickel Bush
  • Stagecoach Days
  • Stagecoach West
  • The Fields of Home
  • Wells Fargo

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