Hang out with Duane Hiatt

Dear friends,

First a little pep talk to inspire us to write down our experiences, thoughts, and memories.

To help you peg this in your mental chronology, it was the very day that Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Half way across the continent two Spanish Franciscan Fathers, and 10 others planned to begin their own contribution to history. They met some delays and actually left about three weeks later, but July 4, 1776 was their planned departure from Santa Fe New Mexico.

Seventeen hundred miles they trekked looking for a route to connect them to the monastery and community of Monterey California. They got as far as Utah Lake which I can see from our barn in our backyard. With winter approaching, they wisely turned back and reached Santa Fe in January 1777. To survive they had to eat half their horses, but not each other as did the Donner party headed for California but trapped in the mountain snow about 70 years later. Senior leader of the party was Francisco Atanasio Dominguez. Junior (by ten years) was Silvestre Velez de Escalante.

Escalante has a school in Durango Colorado named after him. In Utah he has Mountains, a river, the “Canyons of the Escalante,” which cover 1500 square miles of some of the earth’s most spectacular scenery, a national monument, a state park, a town, and a mural in the state capitol building.

Dominguez has a “dinky”[1] street in Durango at the intersection of Walmart and US 550/160.[2] There is also a hill at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon in Utah which was named after Dominguez in 1976 as a 200 year after thought.

Why has the junior member received so much more recognition than the senior? Make note of this fellow humble scribblers of words. HE WROTE DOWN HIS EXPERIENCES, AND OBSERVATIONS.

Most of us will not receive nor particularly covet great hunks of real estate being named after us, but we wouldn’t mind leaving a modest memory as part of our little legacy. That’s what this book is about. Or as I proclaim with pen in hand and tongue in cheek;

Purpose of this book


Do you believe that? I didn’t think so. Who believes advertising anymore? Technically I suppose this book could save your life if you had it in your pocket over your heart and somebody shot you in that spot. It would probably have to be a low caliber gun from a distance, however because the book is not that thick. This is by design. I’m guessing you, like most people I know, are busy, so a modestly sized book with short chapters is more compatible with the time you have to spare for reading. However, if you feel you may be in somebody’s gun sights some time you may want to buy several copies of this book and hold them in front of you at the appropriate moment.

Actually the book is thicker than it might have been because I have left space for you to join me in writing this, your copy of the book. When you have finished, I invite you to add your name on the cover as co-author of our book. I have left a space and an acknowledgment to encourage you to do so.

This book is about life, your life, and the life of a kid who grew up in a small town among “Dear hearts and gentle people,” as that old song says. His memories, combined with yours are what this book will contain when you are finished.

Science fiction writer David Gerrold, observed, “Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face, then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.”

The young man we spoke of didn’t hear that doleful definition of life until later. By then he had already enjoyed more great times than a boy of his means and abilities should expect.

How did that happen? Among other things, he developed a formula, simple but powerful. The “Triple Double L” approach to a happy and successful life. The double L’s are, “Live long* (* in perspective), Learn a little, and Laugh a Lot.                                                             

That boy happened to be me.

But back to saving your life and others!!! You and I know that in advertising it’s important to read the fine print. Here is the pitch with the fine print included.


(From being forgotten)

 I believe your life and every person’s life is worthy of a book. There is much heroism, courage, generosity, love, and virtue that either goes unnoticed or is forgotten. It is a good thing to pass on our life experiences and wisdom to those around us and those who come after us. And, as my friends and I used to tell each other growing up, “Everybody’s life has purpose. Even the worst of us can serve as horrible examples.”

But most of us need a little nudge (or a big shove) to get our stories down on paper. My experience and observation is that two big hurdles to writing your history are organization and motivation. I would like to help. I’m thinking if you and I could hang out for a while, we would be swapping stories, and saying, at least in our minds, “That reminds me of the time…”

This book is the hangout. I’m doing the yarn spinning here, but I’m anticipating that at the end of each segment you will fill in the blank space with notes about your own memories. I’ve also included questions I might ask you if we were sitting on the back porch, or on a break from work around the water cooler, or driving a long stretch of monotonous road with time to kill.

My intent is that you will enjoy our time here together, and at the end of the book you will have a desire plus notes and memory joggers to string together your own book, or at least a compilation of events and memories of your past.

And if it works for you, you might want to send a copy of this book to your adventurous Uncle Alvin whose exploits are legendary, but unfortunately legends fade away. Or your sweet grandma who is a model of fine character, but is too modest to tell how she got that way.

So may I invite you to flip through a few pages here? Pick out a chapter or two, see if you enjoy it, and more importantly see what it jogs in your memory.

Questions and observations for your consideration

  •  Whom do you know personally, from the media, or from history who interests and perhaps inspires you?
  • In all modesty, who do you think would be interested in knowing about your life? (Hint, than answer is not “nobody.” See Escalante)
  • What are some of the experiences in your life that have brought you joy?
  • What are some experiences that have been difficult, sad, perhaps even tragic?
  • Any other memories that have been triggered by what you have just read?

If you like, you can send us some of your thoughts at