Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Deadly Dangerous Fifteen Hand Mammoth Jack

December 6, 2016
   So, I woke up the other day and realized The Great Western should ride a big, red, mammoth jack.

Daily Whip Out: "The Deadly Dangerous Fifteen Hand Mammoth Jack"

   Makes sense: a big bad girl would gravitate towards a big, bad jack to ride. So, how realistic is this for the Great Western to ride one of these demonic mules? I asked a mammoth jack expert and here are his comments:

     "Fifteen hand jacks are not concerned about the gentle ways of horse whispering. Most people
keep them in a fortified stall unless it is breeding time. A fifteen hand mammoth jack can be more dangerous than a 17 hand Belgian or Percheron stallion. They are more deadly dangerous. A chain on a strap over their nose will seldom even bend their neck if they take off. I doubt if a zebra stallion could be much worse. A fifteen hand mammoth jack would never back down in a fight to the death with a 17 hand ton draft stud. When they charge into battle, their senses shut down and they have no feeling, so pain means nothing. If a horse charges into battle at 35 MPH, a mammoth jack charges at 18 MPH, and while his charge isn't as fast as a horse,  the jack hits everything in his way like a mad bull.
   "Thousands of middle-aged people switch to riding a mammoth. They are slow, steady and strong and they will walk all day. But a breeding jack is a demon far removed from backyard, pet mammoth geldings. If you ever make a movie of The Great Western or Mickey Free and decide to put them on real mammoth jacks, it will be a real challenge.

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western On Her Big, Bad Jack"

  "True, Roy Rogers used Trigger—a stud—in films for twenty years, but a mammoth jack on a film set would be one dangerous unpredictable sucker to control from the beginning to the end. If they decide to take off and you have a hold of him, you might as well pull on his tail as try and stop him with the reins."
—Raymond Isenberg

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free On His Mammoth Jack"

"A mule is like a horse, but more so."
—General Crook

Monday, December 05, 2016

My Pledge to You

December 5, 2016
   Last weekend I awoke in the middle of the night, still high on tequila and Neil Young. I had stumbled on a new song, "My Pledge," which was recommended to me by Napster, a name I hate, by the way, because of the little rat-bastard-music-thief who came up with the name and the shame. My current iPhone music provider was originally called Rhapsody ($9.99 a mo), but they inexplicably changed their name to align themselves with the Twat-head who has encouraged an entire generation that it is perfectly fine to steal from artists and not pay them.

Daily Whip Out: "Mr. Rockabilly"

   But I digress.

   Napster aside, I was actually in a great mood, buoyed by the artistic genius of Neil Young ("A Southern man don't need him around anyhow. . ."). How many great songs has he written? I can think of a dozen that are in my top twenty of all time (see the lyrics to just one, below). Anyway, while the Stones are scraping the bottom of the blues barrel and Paul McCartney can't sing his way out of a paper bag anymore, much less write something original (Okay, Mac gets a pass here because he's probably way over his limit of hit songs anyway), but here comes this Old Man ("take a look at me, I'm a lot like you. . .") who pulls off this amazing new song, with a soaring creativity that takes my breath away. Imagine being in the studio and the singer says, "Okay, I'm going to do this as a talking song. You see this guy is talking to a judge and he swears to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and he's talking along, but on the first line of each stanza I'm going to sing over my talking voice, in a falsetto overdub, and I won't sing the entire stanza, just the first six or seven words and then I'll drop off. It's just going to be me, my acoustic guitar and a drummer. But I don't want ANY fills, just a snare and a bass drum. Trust me, it's going to be epic."

   And for crying out loud, it is! Best song of the year: Neil Young's "My Pledge." Get yours today on Napster.

"Stick around while the clown who is sick does the trick of disaster, for the race of my head and my face is moving much faster. Is it strange I should change, I don't know, why don't you ask her."
—Neil Young, "Mr. Soul"

Forty days and forty nights: The Arkstorm of 1862

December 5, 2016
   When it comes to atmospherics I have often been compared to a certain British Master. On Saturday last, I decided to embrace the accusation.

Daily Whip Out: "An Ode to The Great Western And J.M.W. Turner"

   As I have been researching the life of The Great Western I ran across the date of a flood in Yuma that wiped out all the surrounding towns and made Fort Yuma an island. Googling the flood and the date I came upon this:

The Arkstorm of 1862
   In late December of 1861 a major artic airborne wave trough moved inland over the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California and dropped heavy rain for 40 days and 40 nights. Following this biblical deluge, in early January of 1862, heavy snow fell in the mountains all the way down to the Central Valley. Then a series of warm rain followed, melting the snowcaps and sending water downhill at a rapid rate. There were four distinct rainy periods, starting in December of 1861, another just before Christmas and a third and four in the first weeks of January, 1862. A foot of snow, or more, covered the mountain passes to the north and then it got warm, too soon, and then it rained a warm rain and the water in the rivers became a mighty monster carrying ruin and destruction all along its course. The labor of a hundred men were swept away in a few moments time. Nine inches of rain fell in 36 hours

To paraphrase from the language of the day:

   The insatiate monster took everything in its path, crushing houses and grinding them in the maw of destruction, and sweeping all the broken fragments downriver at a frightening clip. In the light of Wednesday morning, a scene of desolation extended up and down the river bottom with Iron Works, foundry and machine shops all gone.

   Here's an eyewitness account:   
   Dozens of wood houses, some two stories high, were simply lifted up and carried off by the flood, as was "all the firewood, most of the fences and sheds, all the poultry, cats, rats and many of the cows and horses". The Chinese in their poorly built shantytowns were disproportionately affected.

   In March of 1862, the Wool Growers Association reported that 100,000 sheep and 500,000 lambs were killed by the floods. Even oyster beds in San Francisco Bay near Oakland were reported to be dying from the effects of the immense amounts of freshwater entering the bay. Full of sediment, it covered the oyster beds. One-quarter of California's estimated 800,000 cattle were killed by the flood, accelerating the end of the cattle-based ranchero society. One-fourth to one-third of the state’s property was destroyed, and one home in eight was carried away or ruined by the flood-waters. Mining equipment such as sluices, flumes, wheels and derricks were carried away across the state. An early estimate of property damage was $10 million. However, later it was estimated that approximately one-quarter of the taxable real estate in the state of California was destroyed in the flood. Dependent on property taxes, the State of California went bankrupt. The governor, state legislature, and state employees were not paid for a year and a half.
Here's how it played out in Arizona:
   In western New Mexico Territory (Arizona and New Mexico were connected at this time), heavy rains fell in late January, causing severe flooding of the Colorado River and Gila River. On January 20, 1862, the Colorado River began to rise, and on the afternoon of January 22 it rose suddenly in three hours from an already high stage nearly 6 feet, overflowing its banks and turned Fort Yuma in California into an island in the midst of the Colorado River. At 1 o’clock on the morning of January 23, the river reached its crest. Jaeger City a mile down river from Fort Yuma, and Colorado City, across the Colorado River from it were washed away. The river overflowed its banks to the extent that there was water 20 feet deep on a ranch in the low-lying ground just above Arizona City where the Gila River joined the Colorado. The riverside home of steamboat entrepreneur George Alonzo Johnson and the nearby Hooper residence were the only places in the town unharmed because they were built on high ground. Colorado City had to be rebuilt on higher ground after the 1862 flood.
   The Gila River also flooded, covering its whole valley at its mouth where it met the Colorado from the sand hills on the south to the foothills on the north. Twenty miles to the east of Fort Yuma, it swept away most of the mining boomtown of Gila City along with a supply of hay being gathered there to supply the planned advance of the California Column into Confederate Arizona. Further east the road was flooded, buildings and vehicles swept away and traffic was disrupted for some time thereafter by the mud covering the road to Tucson. The great flood in the Gila and Colorado rivers, covered their bottom lands with mud. Much of the livestock along the rivers drowned and the crops of the Indians along the river were destroyed.
The overflow of the 1862 Colorado River spring flood waters reached the Salton Sink via the Alamo and New Rivers, filling it and creating a lake some 60 miles long and 30 miles wide. This catastrophic weather system has become known as the Arkstorm.

"When it rains, it pours."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, December 02, 2016

An Angel Who Moonlights as A Massive Whore

December 2, 2016
   Still haunted by the conflicting truths about The Great Western. By most accounts she was an angelic nurse, and, at the same time, more than one admirer described her as "an enormous whore." Sylvester Mowry wrote in a letter to a friend, "Among her other good qualities she is an admirable 'pimp,'" for having procured for the flamboyant rogue a 17-year-old Mexican girl: "she is living with the 'Great Western' and comes up nights to my room."  Horndog Mowry was kicked out of Utah for trying to seduce the daugher-in-law of Brigham Young and he also fought a duel in Tubac against the editor of Arizona's only newspaper, who claimed, in print that Mowry was exaggerating Arizona's population to encourage migration. They met on the square with Burnside rifles and, after both missed, everyone retired to a keg of whiskey.

   Pioneer Jeff Ake claimed his father always called her, "The greatest whore in the West. . ."

   And, yet, when Olive Oatman was released from captivity, her escort "delivered her at Fort Yuma and she was cared for by a woman known as the Great Western and finally sent to an uncle in California." The troopers loved her and she allegedly received "rations for life" from Co. H 4th Infantry. According to Lt. Edward Tuttle, who arrived in 1863, The Great Western "had adopted three Mexican children and raised them (one boy and two girls) to maturity; the boy a fine cook; the girls helpers in her Laundry."

Daily Whip Out: "Midnight On The Colorado"

   Is it any wonder, she is haunting my dreams?

"She was a splendid example of the American Frontier woman."
—Lt. Edward D. Tuttle

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cover Boy Powhatan Clarke

December 1, 2016
   Back when The Top Secret Writer and I were busy doing the Mickey Free story, I became fascinated with one of the true life Medal of Honor soldiers in the Apache War:

Daily Whip Out: "Powhatan Clarke & Crew"

Fast forward to the current issue we are working on (February, 2017) and guess who is on the cover?

February, 2017 cover boy, Powhatan Clarke

"You can't be a full participant in our democracy if you don't know our history."
—Daivd McCullough

The Great Western Is Ready for Her Closeup

November 30, 2016
   I've decided that The Great Western will be my next book. I can't believe no one has fleshed her out into a full story. True the record is a little thin, and it is true several authors (Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy) have appropriated the concept of her into other story lines. Some of it, no doubt, is because there are no known photos of her, but that plays right into my strengths, or, at least, to my advantage.

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western In Distress"

I have a hunch I can capture her visage, if not her complexities.

Daily Whip Out: "Sarah In Shadow"

   My boon companion, Paul Andrew Hutton, has forwarded me a couple chapters that he had to cut for space from his best seller, "The Apache Wars." Here's a good example, as we pick up the story with U.S. troops being withdrawn from Arizona in 1861 because of the Civil War:

   As the troops departed on July 23 they torched the fort [Buchanan] and all the supplies

they had left behind. Even Paddy Graydon was not allowed any government

goods, for orders were orders, and it was the desire of the government to destroy

property rather than turn it over to the citizens of Arizona. In some ways the

government feared the citizens, and their secessionist sympathies, more than the

Apaches. Moore’s orders from Lynde instructed him to have his men march with

weapons loaded and not allow any citizens to approach his column.

“Well, this country is going to the devil with railroad speed,” reported

Thompson Turner from Tucson on July 17. “Secessionists on one side and

Apaches on the other will bring us speedily to the issue, and the issue will be

absence or death.”

   The game was up, and the Americans along the Sonoita and Santa Cruz packed up and left their 

fields. Johnny Ward [Mickey Free's step father] took his family into Tucson. 

Even old Elias Pennington brought his brood north. Bill Kirkland sold his Canoa ranch in

early July and headed to California. The new occupants at Canoa were

slaughtered by the Apaches two weeks later. Tubac, besieged by a large Coyotero

Apache war party, was soon abandoned. Most of the Mexican mine and ranch

workers fled south to Sonora. To make matters worse a large party of Mexican

bandits came north to loot the abandoned mines and ranches. Only Sylvester

Mowry, with a hundred heavily armed men, held out at his Patagonia mine.

Charles Poston, with Raphael Pumpelly and a black servant, also finally gave

up on his Arizona dream and headed for Yuma. Poston was struck by the

lonesome sound of cocks crowing on the deserted farms as smoke from the

burning wheat fields filled the sky. “It was sad to leave the country that had cost

so much money and blood in ruins, but it seemed to be inevitable,” Poston later

wrote, “but the greatest blow was the destruction of our hopes – not so much of

making money as of making a country.”

   The largest exodus from the “Purchase” was led by old Grundy Ake and his

friend William Wadsworth. Driving all the cattle of the Sonoita with them they

reached Tubac on July 20. With them was Sarah Bowman. Paddy Graydon had

decided to abandon Casa Blanca, for there was no longer any clientele to

purchase the services he and the Great Western provided. She sent her girls

south to Sonora and parted with the eastbound Graydon. She was going west.

The Great Western traveled with the Ake-Wadsworth wagon train to

Tucson but then headed back to the Yuma crossing. They made it safely and she

and Albert Bowman were soon well established in their old house on the Arizona

side of the Colorado River.

Daily Whip Out: "The Young Sarah Brava Comes Into Focus"

   Poston and Pumpelly arrived at Yuma to find Sarah back in business. They

boarded with her and Pumpelly, later to be a famous explorer and Harvard

professor, was mesmerized. “Our landlady, known as the ‘Great Western,’ no

longer young, was a character of a varied past,” he wrote in his memoir. “Her

relations with the soldiers were of two kinds. One of these does not admit of

analysis; the other was angelic, for she was adored by the soldiers for bravery in

the field and for her unceasing kindness in nursing the sick and wounded.” The

eastern dude watched this magnificent woman’s every movement “as with quiet

native dignity, she served our simple meal. She was a lesson in the complexity of

human nature.”

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western at Yuma Crossing"

   California volunteers soon flooded into Fort Yuma to prepare to march east

against the Confederates. Sarah once again did a booming business. Lieutenant

Edward Tuttle was suitably impressed. “She was a splendid example of the

American frontier woman,” he gushed. He was also impressed that she had been

awarded “rations for life” by the Fourth Infantry. Those rations did not continue

for long. Sarah died on December 23, 1866 at Fort Yuma in her fifty-third year,

the victim of the bite of a tarantula spider. They buried her in the Fort Yuma

cemetery, where the soldiers fired a salute over her grave. She was the only

woman buried there amidst all the soldiers. In 1890 the bodies at the abandoned

post cemetery were exhumed and reburied at the Presidio in San Francisco. Her

grave above San Francisco Bay has the same simple white marker reserved for all

the soldiers of the republic.

—Paul Andrew Hutton

"Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough."
—Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Johnny Lingo Knows What The Deuce He Is Talking About

November 30, 2016
   Inspiration comes at odd times and in odd places: for example, there I was in Yuma of my own free will. Drinks were involved and I was hanging with a wild crowd of historians at the Arizona History Conference, last April. Our collective IQs were shooting up higher and higher until we were all hovering into the mid-double digits. Like historians everywhere we were complaining about the low IQs of everyone not associated with history. Somebody said, "Right as rain," and another historian said, "I'm your huckleberry." That's when my friend, John Langallier, said, "You need to have me do a linguistics column where I explain to your fine readers where Old West terms come from." Much to his surprise, I agreed on the spot. The late, and great, Paul Cool (it was his last conference) told me I "was off my rocker." Hutton chimed in that I was "one brick shy of a load," and I agreed, and told John those are exactly the kind of sayings and words Johnny Lingo needed to talk about. 

   So, I came back to Cave Creek and assigned Dan The Man Harshberger to come up with a spiffy logo for the proposed column. Dan did two. This is my favorite.

It seems like it needs a clarifier at the bottom, something like this:

Linguist-minded Historian Expounds On Old West Slang

Wise Acre Knows Doodly and Where The Term Came From

Linguist Is Loaded for Bear And Cuts The Mustard

He Knows The Difference Between Diddly Squat And A Hole In The Ground

He Knows What The Deuce He Is Talking About

Highfalutin Verbal Hi-jinks Explained So Even You Can Understand

Old West Linguist Finds Himself In Hog Heaven

A Verbal Hootenanny for The Hot to Trot

Get Ready for A Verbal Humdinger

Listen Up: He's Got Some Splainin' to Do

It's Katie-bar-the-door for Numbnuts

Explaining Kit And Caboodle, Among Other Things

Linguist No Spring Chicken

   You get my drift. Like any of these? Do you have a better one? I want to hear it, if you do. Here's the other logo:

   Now we're cookin' with gas!

"Finding the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug."
—Mark Twain

Sarah Brava On Her Big, Bad Jack

November 29, 2016
   Woke up at midnight with an inspiration. My enormous, red-headed Sarah "Brava" creation needs a big ride, so obviously, she rides a mammoth jack. Got up at six and gave it a go:

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western On Her Big, Bad Jack."

   Still working on her features and her ride. Of course, she is not the only character I have created who rides a jack:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Rides Up The Ridge On His Mammoth Jack"

   Came into the office and did a couple sketches for a piece by historian Rita Ackerman on the lack of smiling in Old West photos.

Daily Whip Out: "Two Scowling Mark Twains"

Went with the top one. I like the red-eyed Twain, at bottom, but his nose is too long. Finishing up three features for the February issue of True West, including History of A Scene and Powhatan Clarke receives the Medal of Honor for his bravery at Canyon de los Negros, in Sonora, Mexico.

"Everyone wants  to live on top of the mountain, but the all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."
—Andy Rooney

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Pistol Packin' Flame-haired Saloon Owner Sarah Brava

November 28, 2016
  Went home for lunch and took another swing at the beautiful, flame-haired saloon owner, Sarah "Brava" Bowman.

Daily Whip Out: "Sarah Brava Standing Tall On The Banks of The Mighty Colorado."

   Paul Andrew Hutton claims she was the original "whore with a heart of gold." There's some evidence for that claim. At Yuma Crossing she adopted both Mexican and In-din kids. When she died from a spider bite three days before Christmas in 1866, she was breveted an honorary colonel and buried with military honors in the Fort Yuma cemetery. She cut a wide swath across the Southwest from Texas to New Mexico and on into Arizona and California. She was fondly remembered by all who met her. Thanks to Gay Mathis, here's her obit:

Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel Newspaper--Santa Cruz, CA--January 26, 1867--The Arizona (La Paz) Gazette of the 3d inst. says : Mrs. Bowman (familiarly known as the Great Western) died on the 22d ult., at Fort Yuma. She was buried the next day in the fort burial ground, with all the honors of war, the band playing the dead march, and the men of the garrison carrying their arms reversed, and firing a salute of fourteen guns over her grave, the flag being at half mast. It is said to have been the largest funeral that ever took place at Fort Yuma. All the business houses were closed, and every one tried to show the greatest respect to the last remains of a woman who was distinguished for undaunted courage and most tender humanity to the wounded at Reseca de la Palma, Buena Vista, and other glorious battlefields in Mexico.

"She could whip any man, fair fight or foul, could shoot a
pistol better than anyone in the region, and at black jack could
outplay, or—out cheat—the slickest professional gambler."

—Texas Ranger John Salmon Ford

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Midnight On The Colorado

November 27, 2016
   Nice turkey day on Thursday over at Grandma Betty's. James and Somer are here from Hawaii and they stayed at our house. They left for Encinitas last night.

   I am increasingly compelled to tell the story of  "an enormous whore." I realize this is "wrong" and unacceptably, not to mention—totally un-PC—but Sarah Bowman is described in vivid detail in the historical record, as such, and, although Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy have both based characters on her, I don't think anyone has done her justice. And, by justice, I mean, tell her story without flinching. Part of the problem is that she is such a a conundrum: as already stated, "an enormous whore," who allegedly stood seven-feet-tall, a  madam, as well as a"pimp," a nurse, a war hero, a killer and a consort. She supposedly started the first business at Yuma Crossing, a whore house, of course. What she meant to the denizens of all those who passed through there and lived there is a cornucopia of extremes. Not sure I can pull off her story, but she deserves an honest attempt.

Daily Whip Out: "Midnight On The Colorado"

Wish me luck.

The Great Western:
Born in Missouri in 1812, Sarah’s maiden name was long ago lost to history. She grew to be an impressive woman over six feet tall and close to 200 pounds. She was blessed with a well-proportioned if ample figure, and an attractive face framed by dark red hair. Sarah had a great appetite for life and for men. She married at least three times and the name of her last husband, a German immigrant in the Second Dragoons who was fifteen years her junior, stuck with her. A fellow soldier was suitably impressed by Corporal Albert Bowman’s bride.

“Today we are reinforced by a renowned female character,” Private Sylvester Matson wrote in his diary on May 9, 1852. “They call her doctor Mary. Her other name is the Great Western.” He described her as a “giantess over seven feet tall,” with a scar across her cheek from a Mexican saber wound. The camp story was that she had killed the Mexican soldier that wounded her.

“She appears here modest and womanly not withstanding her great size and attire. She has on a crimson velvet waist, a pretty riding skirt and her head is surmounted by a gold laced cap of the Second Artillery. She is carrying pistols and a rifle. She reminds me of Joan of Arc and the days of chivalry.”

   What are the odds of making this work? Perhaps a certain basketball player has the answer"

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
—Michael Jordan