Thursday, October 28, 2004

October 28, 2004
Rained all day today. Really soaked. Hard to get artwork in the office, etc. Worked more on small heads for humor pages. Did a Chinese laborer with a cooley hat, and another skull boy, plus a small cowboy with a nice Van Dyke (not Dick).

Called Bob Early at Arizona Highways to commiserate with him. He's stepping down as editor on November 5. Magazine is going in another direction. Many problems. He's a good guy and did a good job.

Came home for lunch and had leftover spaghetti and an apple. Got a packet from Neil Carmony with the crucial diary entries of George Parsons, with the actual notations, such as @ for at, &a for etc. Gus is inputting this into our timeline for Tombstone. Book is going to be a barn burner. No one has covered these aspects quite like this.

Deena heard from Ursula in Iraq (she called). They were attacked by insurgents with tall ladders, came over the walls into their housing compound (they're in the red zone), killed one of their guards, threw a grenade in the house which took out half the house. Sprayed gunfire into the house for twenty minutes. Ursula believes it was a warning (there was a dispute over pay, or something). An armed convoy got them out and they are on an army base, lucky to be alive.

Had a speech at five at the Arizona Historical Society down in Tempe. Left an hour early, roads wet and tricky. Traffic snarled all the way down into the beast. Got there at about 3:45. The speech was for the Arizona Historical League. My contact is Linda Corderman, who I saw at Ed Mell, Sr's funeral and she got my Spanish posters out of frame hell and when she called me to ask me if I could speak for free, I said, "Tell me where and when and I'll be there." They ate it up, or, I should say the women ate it up. Only about 50 volunteers, all women, but they bought every single book I had, plus four more special orders.

Note to self: it's the women who buy books, stupid! Especially women who are volunteers. A couple years ago, I had a speech for the Friends of Channel 8 (PBS) and there were only about 30 of them but they bought everything before I even spoke! I have had speeches for 350 Old West crazed re-enactor types (males) and nothing. Zip. Surprisingly cheap bastards, Old West men are. But women, especially women who are volunteers, lookout. I think they drive the entire American economy actually.

In my speech I talked about witnessing academia in Las Vegas last week and how it alarmed me. I talked about how history is really about relationships and connections and how my grandmother really is the one who got me exited about the Old West with our family stories. And then I told about the six degrees of seperation theory, how we're all connected in odd ways, and if we really stopped to ask, the guy behind us in line at the Circle K, his grandfather killed our grandfather in the Civil War, but we don’t stop to ask. Then I told about playing at the Moose Lodge in Tucson in 1977 and how this drunk cow-woman kept yelling at the band (Roy Brown & Country Gold) to play "Ridin' Down The Canyon!" because she was from "an old Arizona ranching family." After about the tenth time she yelled the request (we didn’t know the song and were ignoring her), she came up and leaned over the bandstand, and for some reason I asked her where she was from and she said “Duncan, Arizona.” And I said, “Have you ever heard of the Guess family?” And she looked at me like I was a ghost. Turned out she babysat my mother at the Guess ranch on the Gila River in the 1920s. What are the odds? And, what are the odds that we don't ask the right questions.

After the speech two different women came up to me with Duncan stories (Duncan has about 900 people). One, had an uncle that owned the Bonnie Heather bar (made famous because Sandra Day O’Connor wrote about it in her book) and the other woman, Patsy Ritters father built the Hidalgo Hotel in Lordsburg, New Mexico. My mother was born in Lordsburg and we stayed at the Hidalgo in 1991 when I made my first trip to NM to do research on Billy the Kid. It's long gone now, but Patsy still has some of the handmade furniture at her house and I could come see it if I wanted.

A guy named John bought a Wyatt Earp book then told me how he used to work at Strong's News Agency, which was our distributor when Dan Harshberger and I were doing the Razz Revue back in the seventies, and another woman bought a Billy the Kid and asked me if I knew Andy Tobias, who is our mechanic here in Cave Creek. Andy's mother and her are best friends.

So, there you go: when you scratch the surface, we are all six degrees apart, at best.

"When a woman hires a detective to follow her husband, it's probably to learn what that other woman sees in him."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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