Outlaw Boots, pair #7: Keith Arnold Cronn (1943-2011)


The last six weeks have been wild. My dad’s been seriously ill since last spring, but things went downhill fast in the first half of February, and he died on February 13th. Not like we didn’t expect it, and he wasn’t going to recover from his illness, but still. No good. After that, my life got sucked into the details dead people leave behind (yowza), leaving little head space to write. Those previous blog posts were in the midst of it all, in hopes of kick-starting myself, but by the 4th post . . . yeah.

HOWEVER–lucky for me–I didn’t have a February outlaw (I’m behind), so I thought I’d use him. My dad wrote poetry, and he’s the reason I became a writer in the first place. His love of words (and stories, too) was passed on to me as a teeny tiny girl. He taught me that language is FUN. Not your average lesson, but one of the best I’ve ever had. He also taught me to be curious, which is equally valuable.

Though I have no book cover for him, I will repost my own trailer for SKY, because my dad took the majority of pictures in the first part of it. I asked for his help because he documented Central Nowhere (and Western Nowhere) in beautiful ways, and because I knew he was sick even then, and I wanted a public memory of him. The music’s by my brother, which is also cool. It’s not very often a person can collaborate with family on a book trailer.

Without further ado, why my dad wore Outlaw Boots:

–Who’s your most outlaw character–why?
Me. I’ve been an outlaw all my life, which should be evident by the cannons in my garage (seriously–cannons) and the picture you chose (Have you ever seen an outlaw with combed hair? Of course not). My first outlaw act: sticking my fingers into a washing machine pulley when I was 18 months old. Hello, severed tendons. My best outlaw act: knocking out 3 bottom front teeth in a tangle with an electric fence. I loved popping my bridge out at you kids. Remember? Completely.

–Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?
I already said yes–will you please listen? You didn’t listen when you were a girl, either. Let’s not get into that, Dad.

–What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character–maybe outlaw boots?)?
Practical boots, including cowboy boots, the kind that are good for kicking around in the Sandhills. Oh, and hunting boots with thick socks.

–Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:
Rebel. Not always good, but always true.

–Best thing about being an outlaw:
Hanging out in my garage. He had two, one specially built, and they were full of shit and spare parts and inventions, aside from the cannons.

–Favorite outlaw/badass food:
Anything with jalapenos.


–Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:

Hmm. Inventors (he did make some good ones) or people who tinker (but also some crazy shit). My best buddy Alrae (friends for 40+ years). My dad, Duard, who always did his own thing. My students and fellow teachers at Cozad High School. Poets who stick to meter and rhyme, not that free verse crap (gak–eek–but he loved it).

Pretty good example of an outlaw, I’d say.

I keep wondering what he’s doing–maybe walking in Western Nebraska, taking in the beauty and the emptiness. Maybe he’s sitting across from me at my kitchen table as I write this. Who knows? Maybe he’s hunting, one of his favorite things. But if all the animals (and people) are dead in the afterlife, do hunters ask the deer to play hide and seek? Hey, Deer, want to play hunting? Sure. Close your eyes, Mr. Hunter, and count to 100.

Be at peace, Dad. You were a complicated man with a tumultuous life, so this wish is my most fervent. I miss you so so much, and I love you. I wish I could give you one more hug. I hope you are joyous.

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2 Responses to Outlaw Boots, pair #7: Keith Arnold Cronn (1943-2011)

  1. susan says:

    Wow is good. I loved my Uncle a lot. He was quirky:) I am so sorry he's gone and I second all your wishes for him. I hope he's flinging shit further than it's ever been flung.

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