Monday, September 18, 2017

Everybody Wants A Piece of Wild Bill

September 18, 2017
   We all want to own a piece of history. I have an original photo of Lotta Crabtree which I bought for $200 at Argonaut Bookstore in 1998. It is a treasure. I also have a rusted beer can I found at Wyatt Earp's campsite near his Happy Days Mine in 1995. It sits on my desk in my office at True West. It is a natural, or, at least a common human desire to take a souvenir home with you. It's known as "souvenir hunting" and like anything, it can be taken too far.

Everybody Wants A Piece of Wild Bill
   A year after Hickok's death Agnes Lake Hickok shows up in Deadwood with Mr. and Mrs. "Buckskin" Charley Dalton and one "Texas" George Carson.

September 4, 1877
  The widow, Agnes Lake Hickok visits Wild Bill's grave site and announces that a fenced monument to his memory will be erected with assistance from Buffalo Bill Cody, Texas Jack and Buckskin Charley.

   In September of 1877, The Black Hills Daily Times reported "The inscription on the headboard of Wild Bill's grave has become a great curiosity among people outside of the hills, and many pilgrims pay the cemetery a visit before returning east, and copy it."

September 1, 1879
   Deadwood is growing. Colorado Charlie, John McClintok and Lewis Shoenfield dig up Wild Bill to move him up to the new cemetery, high on the hill, to be called Mount Moriah. After digging for some time, the three men lift Wild Bill's coffin out of his old grave and cart it up the hill. Beside the new grave they open the casket and notice his body is white as stone. "Why, he's petrified!" Charlie gasps. After placing Hickok in his new grave, they replace the headstone. But, at this new location, traffic increases and relic hunters begin whittling away at the headboard until it is all but destroyed.

An Icon Behind Bars
   A more ambitious headstone for Wild Bill is erected in 1891, this time with a statue of Hickok, with two crossed pistol carved into the stone at the base. Erected by J. H. Riordan of New York, this impressive monument stands nine feet tall. Souvenir hunters immediately began shaving off pieces of the statue and nine years later it is all but gone.

The Riordan Bust of Wild Bill was picked to pieces by souvenir hunters.

   In 1902 another sculptor, Alvin Smith, of Deadwood, is commissioned to carve a statue using Black Hills sandstone. It is erected in 1903 and immediately relic hunters disfigure the monument. The citizens of Deadwood take drastic measures to protect it and enclose the statue with a heavy wire screen, but the relic retrievers simply cut the screen and get inside, carving off pieces of the new statue. 

The Alvin Smith statue of Wild Bill before it was was picked to pieces.

Wild Bill Behind Bars, 1919, with two souvenir hunters posing inside.

   It lasts until 1955, but by then it has no head, a leg is broken and most of the detail work on the arms and hands is gone. 

Wild Bill bowed and broken and stored in the Adams Memorial Hall, 1957

   The remains of the statue are removed and a simple slab is put in the statue's place, but it is soon stolen. Today there is only a plaque marked "Wild Bill, James Butler Hickok." So far, no one has taken that.

"Are you satisfied?"
—Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Stylin'

September 18, 2017
   Still book crazy after all these years. Home stretch.

Wild Bill Stylin'
   When it comes to the Wild West, nobody left a wider range of impressive images behind than James Butler Hickok. The gunfighter, lawman and scout posed in so many different outfits it's a bit hard to track his many "looks." Unlike Billy the Kid who left only one known photo (and wearing a crappy hat, to boot), or Wyatt Earp, who never broke out of his bank teller look, Hickok always had it goin' on. 

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Bill Stylin'" (from a photo)

"Roses are red. Violets are blue. Horses that buck get turned into glue."
—Lee Pehl, horse breaker, from the new book "Orejano Outfit," by Kathy McGraine

Sunday, September 17, 2017

More Hat Etiquette Fodder

September 17, 2017
   If you are a subscriber to True West magazine you should be receiving the November issue this week. Inside this packed issue is my Cowboy Hat Etiquette feature, which is a survival guide for city folks who want to stay alive out West (Rule No. 1: Don't touch my hat!).

   One of the rules we had the hardest time with is the rule about when do you take your hat off in doors? Many current day cowboys have been influenced by their service in the armed forces, where the standing rule is: if you are inside the hat comes off. However, we found plenty of exceptions to this rule, including Cowboy Church, where you can wear your hat in church, but it comes off during the Lord's prayer.

   Meanwhile, we sometimes assume, incorrectly, that big hats didn't really come into vogue out West until the 1920s (Tom Mix, Tim McCoy, Hoot Gibson, those guys). Here's a guy in the 1870s sporting what can only be described as a monster brim.

Deadwood Thespian Jack Langrishe
with big hat with monster brim, 1870s

  Here's another odd twist—okay, a French twist. I was searching for art reference on theatre goers from the 1870s-80s and I came across numerous paintings depicting the theatre and bar scene in Paris. In virtually every scene, we see men and women with hats on, inside.

Toulouse Lautrec: "At The Moulin Rouge"

Toulouse Lautrec: "The Dance"

Edgar Degas: "Absinthe" 

Edgar Degas: Cafe Concert at Les Ambassadeurs"

   There must have been quite a few altercations, given those tall stove pipe hats blocking everyone's view. Now granted, this is French society, but you'd think they would be even more formal than the American frontier rubes, no? In terms of taking off your hat inside? Just very interesting, how hat etiquette evolved. I really think it was the military that changed the indoor hat etiquette, probably in WWII.

"My hats off to you, sir."
—An English Gentleman, pre 1965


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Paiutes Dressed as Apaches And A Mormon Too Funny to Be President

September 16, 2017
   Here's an interesting image. What appears to be an early photograph of Apache warriors, is actually young Kaibab Paiutes dressed up as Apaches. This was taken in the 1940s during a movie shoot. The irony is that the Paiutes were mortal enemies of the Apaches, but these young "braves" seem to be having a good time of it. 

Photo on display at the Pipe Spring National Monument Museum.

   And, by the way, the museum displays it as exactly what it is: a staged photo. I saw this photo after visiting Zion National Park last Wednesday and then traveling by Flex south into Arizona. The museum is between Colorado City and Fredonia,  in Arizona. All my life I have seen photographs of the Pipe Spring fortification and have wanted to visit it since it's in my home county, but due to weird state and county jerrymandering, the northern part of Mohave County is way-in-the-hell north of Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon and you really have to want to go there from Kingman (you can only access the area through Las Vegas and up into Utah and back down into Arizona, or, by traveling east to Flagstaff and then north to Page and into Kanab, Utah, and then drop down from there). This is the area where Warren Jeffs held sway at Colorado City (originally called Short Creek), with his polygamy empire, because it's so isolated and in no-man's-land. 

Pipe Spring Fortification today

"We have opened a telegraph office here this morning—Miss Ella Stewart operator."
—A.M. Musser, December 15, 1871. Ella Stewart is the future mother of the legendary Mo and Stewart Udall, prominent politicos in Arizona and on the national stage. Mo wrote a book, "Too Funny to Be President," and it was true at the time, although today, he might have to amend that title to "Intentionally Funny."

"Lord, give us the wisdom to utter words that are gentle and tender, for tomorrow we may have to eat them."
—Mo Udall

Friday, September 15, 2017

White Mesa In Paintngs And Photos

September 15, 2017
   For the past several days we have had a stunning view of the cliffs across from Maynard Dixon's cabin. He did several paintings of this same view as you can see from the photos and the paintings. Great stuff all around.

Maynard Dixon paintings of the cliffs across the valley from his cabin.

Maynard Dixon's "White Mesa"

White Mesa at sunset on Wednesday evening.

Sugar Something butte on the White Mesa range, also at sunset on Wednesday evening.

A stylized White Mesa in the Dixon painting over the mantel.
(sorry about the glare)

"Good to go, good to come home."
—Allen P. Bell

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Maynard Country

September 14, 2017
   This is our last day in Maynard Country. Had a great little road trip yesterday, taking in Zion, Pipe Springs and Bryce Canyon. Amazing country.

Blooming flowers in Zion National Park at dawn

Daybreak On the road in Zion

BBB in front of a clever play on words on the side of a gas station in Kanab, Utah.

Daily Whip Out: "Maynard" From a photograph that hangs in the living room of his cabin.

Maynard's art studio where I am finishing up work on my Wild Bill book.

Maynard's cabin and studio are located about halfway between Zion National Park and Bryce National Park, in Long Valley, on the southwestern edge of the Escalante Desert.

   After Maynard's death in 1946 (he died a month before I was born), Dixon's wife transferred the ownership of the cabin to a painter named Milford Zornes who lived and worked here for 33 summers. There is a small catalogue of Milford's paintings in the cabin and I have enjoyed seeing his work, as well. He was very prolific and lived to be 100. He was also a teacher who had good observations on art, like this"

"An artist's job is to know what to leave out."
—Milford Zornes

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maynard Dixon's Cabin & Art Studio

September 12, 2017
   Yesterday we motored from Page, Arizona, across into the wilds of southern Utah, where we landed at Maynard Dixon's cabin, near Mount Carmel. I am holed up here, in his studio, until I finish the Wild Bill book.

The 1870s irrigation ditch that dissects the Maynard Dixon cabin and property.
Very isolated, comfy and intimate.

Art print in Maynard's studio of an early, but very fine Dixon piece.

Here is the north light part of the studio with bucking art print in context.

The opposite corner of the studio, featuring a bronze of Maynard by Gary Ernest Smith.
That is my nude model, Kathy Sue, fresh from an assignment in Germany. She's very good.
Always shows up on time. Never complains. Okay, some of this is made up.

Maynard's studio, which was built to his specs the year after his death.

All in all, not a bad place to be holed up.

"At last I shall give myself to the desert again, that I, in its golden dust, may be blown from a barren peak, broadcast over the sun-lands."
—Maynard Dixon poem, May 16, 1935

Monday, September 11, 2017

On The Road Deep In In-din Country

September 11, 2017
   On a road trip to In-din country today. Got a first hand view of one of the premiere slot canyons in the world, Antelope Canyon, which by the way is an underwhelming name for such a spectacular canyon. It would be like if you named the Grand Canyon "The Trickle." Perhaps Serrated Canyon, or, Funnel Cake Canyon, or, even Cataract Canyon, no, sorry, that one is already taken. Anyway here's Kathy and I photographed at the bottom of said canyon, in a spot known as the Tear Drop. 

Photo by our Navajo tour guide Natasha.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror."
—Oscar Wilde