Way Before Daylight Long After Dark


Written and Signed by Carl Lane Johnson

With the title of “Way Before Daylight, Long After Dark: A New Mexico Rancher’s Story,” the 316-page book is the twelfth published by the Lea County Museum in the last nine years.  The book contains dozens of images, including family photographs, maps, and drawings by Mike Capron, Joe Hobbs, and one photograph by Gordon Snidow.

Johnson has been writing the book for several years, and it contains chapters about many of the cowboys and ranchers he has known and with whom he has worked. In addition, the book briefly chronicles the lives of some of his near and distant relatives on both sides of his family and for several generations.
“Way Before Daylight” is an LCM companion to the Lane-Johnson Room, which opened two years ago, on the second floor of the Commercial Hotel.

In photographs, maps, and memorabilia, the room relates stories of family members in both the Johnson and Lane families.

From the Introduction:

“It is not supposed to be any more than a partial record of my life and the times that I lived. This isn’t going to be a bronc stomping, wild cow gathering, rodeo, wild west story that so many have written about; just a journal. I have written this book ‘the way it was’–no sugar coating. You will find stories about parties and wild times. I was single for over 26 years–between the ages of 18-57.

“I worked hard, loving every minute of it. But it was good to leave the ranch, have fun and see my friends. When it was time to go back to the ranch I always returned more than ready to get back to work. Many, many men have done more and lived much more exciting lives than I; so this may be a pretty boring reading, and if you find it so, put it down.”

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Excerpt from the Ruidoso News:

The book, “Way Before Daylight, Long After Dark: A New Mexico Rancher’s Story,” tells of longtime Tatum rancher Carl Johnson’s perspective on his unique way of life in southern New Mexico.

Johnson’s perspective gives the reader a peek into his life from the 1940s until now, offering a perspective into the cattle and ranching business that few people ever see.

“It will never, ever happen again and most people will never experience the life I have lived,” Johnson said.

It was a decade before his wife, Barbara, convinced Johnson to write down his stories and, from there, the memoir was still several more years in the making.

He would hand-write the text in a notebook while Barbara would type his story on the computer. The two continued to work back and forth that way until the stories read in a way that pleased both of them.

In a typical ranchman’s way, Johnson doesn’t sugar-coat his perspective and admits his viewpoints aren’t “politically correct.” Johnson said his life has “been a contest” and he has enjoyed every minute of it.

“Anybody, and I don’t care if they’re in the cattle business, anybody would enjoy this book because it’s written as it happened with the drunks and the fist fights and the blizzards, the girlfriends, the wives and the children, the deaths… it’s one man’s life that lived life to the fullest,” Johnson said.

Review from Kirk Chavez, Attorney:

Best damn read in a long, long time. A real rancher writing about real ranching.

Additional information

Weight 1.63125 lbs
Dimensions 7.25 × 10.5 × .5 in
Way Before Daylight Long After Dark
Way Before Daylight Long After Dark