His Hallelujah Trail was a chance happening. Gulick unearthed an 1867 news article about 80 wagons loaded with champagne and whisky leaving Julesberg, Colorado, for Denver. Assuming that the shipment accounted for Denver's entire winter drinking supply, he wondered what would have happened if Indians had known about the contents of the wagon train, or the militia when they arrived to escort the wagons into Denver.
There was also the Women's Temperance Union to contend with. Would they have attempted to stop the wagon train and destroy the cargo?
He figured it for a short story but it soon took on the shape of a novelette. Before long it was a full length book, which practically wrote itself. He finished the novel in 60 days--a record for Gulick--and it was accepted by Doubleday. Since two of his novels had been adapted to film, his Hollywood agent wanted to know if the story was something he could sell to a film studio.
Gulick sent him a carbon copy and the agent was so sure of a sale that he circulated 25 copies among the film studios. Within a week the agent had eleven offers, which he played one against the others. United Artists won the bidding war with $85,000, and produced the film in 1965, starring Burt Lancaster, Lee Remick and Bryan Keith.
The author said he was treated well and invited on location for a week on the Navajo Reservation at Gallup, New Mexico. He also attended the filming of interior shots in Hollywood as well as the movie's premier.
By that time Gulick was an old hand at filmmaking. His BEND OF THE RIVER and THE ROAD TO DENVE,R were projected on the big screen during the early and mid-1950s. He had long since decided that he had made the right choice in 1940 when he switched from economics to the School of Professional Writing at the University of Oklahoma.While a sophomore, his poetry won a statewide competition, which was published in statewide newspapers, and he took a lot of "ribbing" from his fellow baseball players.
Not long after, Gulick went to work for a construction crew stringing power lines across the state. There wasn't much to do during off hours, except "drink beer and chase girls, and that got old, so I read quite a bit and got to fooling around with writing--particularly stories for pulp magazines." Two years later he found himself out of a job so he returned to school. The University of Oklahoma was well known for its excellent writing courses, taught primarily by Foster Harris and William S. Campbell, who wrote under the pseudonym Stanley Vestal.
"They felt that the only reason to write was for money," he said."You could find out if you were a good writer because there were a lot of magazines that were buying a lot of words. They didn't pay much but they did pay. So I decided to give it six months because that's all the money I had If I didn't make it by then, I would go into some other kind of work."
Before the end of six months, Gulick had a $30 short story sale to one of the popular pulp magazines and a couple of more to the state peace officers' publication for $10 each.
"I was on my way."
Continued next week . . .
(The italics function is currently not working on my computer.)