June 13, 2003
I’m cleaning my studio and I keep finding these Redeeming paintings. I seem to paint myself in a corner and then try to redeem myself. The good news is they’re everywhere, the bad new is not that many are redeemable.
Well, I whipped out the Five Reasons Brushy Bill Is Not Billy the Kid sidebar on Monday. Wrote most of it from memory. I was stuck at four reasons and needed one more. I almost used the Brushy Bill Roberts was illiterate and the Kid wrote notes to the governor that are on public display, but Judge Hafner, a staunch Brushy advocate claims there is hard evidence of Roberts’ handwriting. So I was looking for something else and finally, at about an hour before the issue went out the door I remembered that Brushy claimed Garrett shot another guy, named Billy Barlow instead of Billy the Kid. So I quickly wrote the fifth reason, claiming there is no evidence of a Billy Barlow in the 1880s census for Lincoln County. I was 99% sure, but I wasn’t 100% sure, if you know what I mean.
As the hours and days ticked by I began to worry. What if, by some strange twist of fate, there really was a person named Billy Barlow and I haven’t heard or read about it? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing!? So I shot off an E-mail to Fred Nolan in England asking him if, to his knowledge, was there ever a Billy Barlow in that part of New Mexico. I finally heard from him last night. Here’s what he wrote:
As a matter of fact there is a William Barlow in Lincoln County in 1880, living in the Seven Rivers area. Unfortunately for the Brushy Bill brigade, little Willie is only four months old. However, his mother is 29 and does not seem to have a husband. Was he up in Fort Sumner, which by the way is in San Miguel County, remember?
Only kidding, Bob. He isn't in the SMC census either. There never was any Billy Barlow. Bet the farm on it.
Love to Kathy,
This is part of my reply: “My heart stopped. I was getting ready to call the printer in Kansas City. If Fred Nolan says there was a Billy Barlow. . .wait a minute. YOU SON OF A BRIT!”
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