Monday, May 29, 2023

Memories of Memorial Day & The Very First Tombstone Rendezvous

 May 29, 2023

   A fitting memory to all those brave guys

Mark Lee Gardner In A

Missouri Military Graveyard

on our Jesse James tour

   We got back today from Issaquah and I have to say, this old photo sums up our feelings about our grandkids

When Grandma Comes to Visit

   Meanwhile, I got this interesting suggestion from across the pond:

   "I finally got and read the Feb/Mar 2022 issue of True West, which was just incredible. But having read so much over the years about Kevin Jarre's original script, two things occurred to me. First, almost no Hollywood film is faithful to its original script. In filming and in editing, scenes and even whole characters and subplots get lost. For every film where the director or writer bemoans the changes made by the producers, there's a film released where critics and audiences think it should have been made shorter and tighter. There WAS of course a Wyatt Earp film made at the same time that kept all its nuances in by extending the running time, and I don't see anyone rushing to its cast reunion. Second, even if someone in Hollywood did decide to film the script, I doubt it would make as good a film as the Tombstone we already have. BUT —why doesn't True West publish it? With your illustrations? That would be fantastic! I have to think TW readers would snap it up, as well as a lot of the film's fans. It would be a way to bring it to life and let the Western-loving world see it at last. Plus, your pictures would be beautiful."

—Darcy Sullivan

Darcy Sullivan in the BBB Studio

   I actually think this crazy idea has some merit. I could illustrate that wonderful script, shot for shot, and without using one of the movie still shots, and it would be wonderful to have people see the incredible lengths Kevin went to in order to capture the real, historic, Tombstone. Of course, the rights issues are going to be ridiculous. Just for grins I called the original producer and he suggested I go through the legal department at Disney (Hollywood Pictures and Cinergi produced the film for Disney) and see if they would grant me the rights to do a graphic novel and while this is good advice, I seriously doubt that route has a snowball's chance in Florida of happening.

The Double Irony

   It was on this Memorial Day weekend (actually May 26), 30 years ago, that I read Kevin Jarre's original script for "Tombstone" for the first time. I was in the actual town of Tombstone for a rendezvous with these crazy guys:

The Renegades: back row, L to R: Bob McCubbin, James Dunham, Robert Palmquist, Jeff Morey. Kneeling, L to R: Allen Barra, Paul Northrop, Casey Tefertiller and BBB

   The photo was taken by Wyatt Earp. No, really. Wyatt Earp was in Tombstone that weekend doing a show on his most famous relative.

   Okay, I am going to paint a couple key scenes from Jarre's original script that did NOT make it into the film, just to illustrate how cool this could be.

"Well, that is exactly how you will get the Disney legal team's attention."
—A lawyer friend of mine who shall remain anonymous

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Snacks in The Northwest Country Where We Lounge And Do Nothing

 May 28, 2023

   When we are in Issaquah, we get treated royally with snacks on the half hour.

The Bearer of Snacks

   And when we're in the kitchen, and the stereo stystem is playing Billy Ocean, well, as you can clearly see we have an episode of girls gone wild.

Rockin' In The Free World

   Not to mention major trampoline action.

Trampoline Frances


   Lounging and snacking, and in the afternoon, we reverse it and it's all a good time.

"The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you are finished."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, May 26, 2023

Weston Rocks T-Mobile Stadium for The Mariners Game

 May 26, 2023

   Traveled to Seattle today to watch this guy lead his chorale group sing the National Anthem at a Mariners game against the Pittsburg Pirates.

Weston Rocks The Jumbotron

   That's Weston under the right elbow of the director. Were his grandparents proud? I kind of think so.

"I think I'm turning Japanese, I'm turning Japanese, I really think so."

— The Vapors

Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Younger Kit Carson Gets His Close-up

 May 25, 2023

   I am proud and excited to report we are publishing a very cool original article based on a chapter in Paul Andrew Hutton's next book. As we were prepping this issue for press we realized that most of the photographs of the legendary—and now controversial—scout and frontiersman, show him in old age, pained and a tad weather beaten and emaciated. 

First mockup from Dan The Man

   And, yet, at the time of the events covered in Paul's masterful story which you will read in the next issue about the so-called Bear Flag Revolt, Carson was 36- years-old, and in the prime of his life.

   Fortunately for me, our editor, Stuart Rosebrook, found this photo which I had never seen before of Carson.

A Much Younger Kit Carson

So we scrapped that original cover and I took a swing at a cover painting that skewed more towards his younger visage.

Daily Whip Out:
"Kit Carson In Fighting Form"

Kit Carson's Conflicted Descriptions
   As large as Kit Carson looms on the American frontier it's interesting how those who knew him described him. Here is John C. Fremont' description: "He was a man of medium height, broad-shouldered, and deep chested, with a clear steady blue eye and frank speech and address: quiet and unassuming." Contrast that with General William Tecumseh Sherman's description, who met the famous scout in Monterrey in 1847: "I cannot express my surprise at beholding such a small, stoop-shouldered man, with reddish hair, freckled face, soft blue eyes, and nothing to indicate extraordinary courage or daring. He spoke but little and answered questions in monosyllables." Either way, Carson made his mark on the West.
   Let's take a short look at a legendary life:

Kit Carson & The Conquest of California
   When he was a mere lad of 15, Kit Carson ran away from home in Missouri and joined a caravan of traders on the Santa Fe Trail. He fell in with a group of mountain men and for the next 15 years he learned the ropes on fur trapping and trading. He also got into a horseback duel with a French-Canadian bully named Joseph Chouinard, who was on a drunk tear at the annual trapper's rendezvous on the upper Green River in Wyoming. This was in August of 1835, when the two mountain men shot it out on horseback at close range. Carson severely wounded Chouinard. It's unclear whether his adversary was killed, but Carson  received a bullet crease on his neck and the spent power burns damaged Carson's eye and singed his hair.

   After witnessing the collapse of the fur trade, Carson had a chance encounter with explorer John C. Fremont, in 1842, that allowed him to act as a guide and fighter before he joined the fight in the 1846-48 Mexican-American War which became known as the Bear Flag Revolt. In 1849, he moved to Taos, New Mexico; five years later, he became an Ute Indian agent.

   By 1861, he was back in battle, in this case, fighting for the Union in the Civil War. Carson joined the 1st New Mexico Volunteer Infantry where he served as its colonel. After clashing with Confederates at the 1862 Battle of Valverde, he defeated the Navajos and rounded them up for a forced march to the Fort Sumner reservation.

   A year after being named a brigadier general in 1865, Carson moved to Colorado to serve as commander at Fort Garland. While there, he negotiated a peace treaty with the Utes.

   Carson left the Army in 1867 because of declining health. He died at Fort Lyon on May 23, 1868. His final words were, “Doctor, compadre, adios!”

Paul Andrew Hutton's Next Book

The Undiscovered Country is an epic history of the frontier movement and the struggle for the American West from colonial times through 1900, using seven lives —Daniel Boone, Red Eagle, Davy Crockett, Kit Carson, Mangas Coloradas, Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill Cody—to tell the story. It will be published late next year by Penguin Random House/Dutton.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Coffee's On And The "Hello, Bob" Coffee Mug Is Finally Ready For You

 May 24, 2023

  Coffee's on, and the perfect coffee mug is ready for your eyes only.

A Special offer, just for my blog friends

   Just for those of you who read this blog, I am going to include a brand new—totally free!— a set of four original BBB Old Vaquero Sayings Coasters, in with your order, when you buy the mug and a "Hello, Bob" shirt.

One of the BBB coasters

(you will get four different ones!)

"Quit your lollygagging and jump on this muy generous offer, Dude."

—Old Huckster Saying

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Fistfight at The Assisted Living Corral

 May 23, 2023

   Proof you can't make up anything funnier than the historic truth.

Jim Cummins In His Fighting Years

Fistfight at The Assisted Living Corral
   The late, great Ted Yeatman, in his fine book, "Frank And Jesse James: The Story Behind The Legend," relates how, in 1909, a former James Gang member, Jim Cummins, by then a resident of the Confederate Soldiers Home in Higginsville, southeast of Lexington, got into a lethal fistfight with J.R. McCormick an 85-year-old veteran of the Mexican and Civil War. Apparently McCormick called Cummins a name and tried to strike him, but the old James Gang fighter got in a good hook, and killed the old coot. Crazy. Or perhaps, staying with the Paul Simon theme, that should be, still lethal after all these years. 

After the breakup of the James Gang, Jim Cummins became a farmer in Arkansas and actually tried to turn himself in several times, but no one believed he was really Jim Cummins.

   Ted Yeatman also has the goods on Frank James in Oklahoma which I'll use to good effect in the book. I didn't know Cole continued on the show circuit with Cole Younger's Coliseum. In June of 1908 when his carnival played Richmond, Missouri, Cole learned about "Bloody Bill's" potters field grave and went there with the carnival band and said a few words and had a pastor speak. Some newspaper in the area reported, "He is advertised as the last of the famous Younger brothers, which, it seems to us, is going in the right direction."

Mark Lee Gardner at the memorial sign at the Richmond, Missouri cemetery (actually a small park and Anderson is one of the few graves there)

Bloody Bill's bloody grave

Reports of Frank's Death Have Been Exaggerated

"My friend, Greg Higginbotham, has portrayed Frank James for years and a few years ago we were walking the streets of St. Joe and Greg was walking up to folks, shaking hands, welcoming them to St. Joe. 'Howdy, I'm Frank James.' As we walked away, I heard a couple of ladies behind me whispering, 'I thought he was dead.'"

—Deb Goodrich

"If it's the sizzle and not the steak, then the outlaw name Jesse James takes the cake."

—Old Ad Man Saying

Monday, May 22, 2023

Frank James Changes His tune

 May 22, 2023

   It's been said that Frank James resembled his father and that Jesse favored his mother. A newspaper reporter, John Newman Edwards, rode out to the James family farm north of Kearney, Missouri, and interviewed the brothers and captured the differences between them, in a St. Louis Dispatch article, published on November 22, 1873:

“Jesse laughs at everything—Frank at nothing at all. Jesse is light-hearted, reckless, devil-may-care—Frank sober, sedate, a dangerous man always in ambush in the midst of society. Jesse knows there is a price upon his head and discusses the whys and wherefores of it—Frank knows it too, but it chafes him sorely and arouses all the tiger that is in his heart. Neither will be taken alive. Killed—that may be."

Daily Whip Out: "The Sober One"

   Now, contrast that description of Frank, with this comment by him late in life:

“The dad-binged play glorifies these outlaws and makes heroes of them…. I am told the Gilliss Theatre was packed to the doors last night, and that most of those there were boys and men. What will be the effect on these young men to see the acts of a train robber and outlaw glorified?”

—Frank James, in 1902, seeking a court order to prevent the play, The James Boys in Missouri, from being staged in Kansas City

   Sorry Frank, it has been all downhill from there:

Movie poster for Jesse James Rides Again

   By my count there have been at least 35 movies, so far, on the life of Jesse James. And what does this say about us?

"A distinctly American bandit has been remembered in a distinctly American fashion, through tourism, mass media, and show business."

—Erin H. Turner, editor of "Badasses of the Old West" 2010