Saturday, April 29, 2006

April 29, 2006
I was on the road all day yesterday. Made two trips to Prescott, once for the docent run-thru at the Phippen Museum's new artshow "Home Range Humor" and the second because I left my daytimer at the museum and it had all my notes for today's history session in Tucson.

Kathy joined me for the second trip up the hill and it made the repeat pass tolerable. We made the round trip in record time and made it home at ten last night. When I got up to the Phippen the first time everyone was talking about the death of the last living original member of the Cowboy Artists— Joe Beeler—who evidently passed away at a roping in Cottonwood on Wednesday. Another rider noticed he was slumping in the saddle. They tried to revive him but it was too late.

My talk with the docents went well. Sculptor Cynthia Ridgen dropped by and I had a nice talk with her. Most people don't know that Virgil Earp had a homestead on her ranch near Kirkland, and in 1985, when I came to Prescott on assignment for Arizona Highways, she and her dad took me to the site. She has tried several times to join the Cowboy Artists and has been turned down each time. I asked her if she thought they would ever wise up (her answer is below).

The show is quite good and I'm proud to say Honkytonk Sue and the Doper Roper look right at home next to cowboy cartoon greats Jimmy Swinnerton, Fred Harmon (Red Ryder), Herb Mignery, J.R. Williams and Jim Willoughby. The show will be up until September, so if you're in the Prescott area check it out.

Got up at five this morning and took off for Tucson. Got to the Hotel Arizona at the Tucson Convention Center at eight, and easily got to my session in the Grand Ballroom on "Peculiar Mysteries In Arizona's History." I was the chair (my first time at the helm) and when I was in doubt I just thought WWHD (what would Hutton do?) and it went fine. I was effusive with the praise on my panel members and then I shut up. Thanks Paul!

First up was Todd Bostwick, who presented a paper on the bizarre case of a whole bunch of lead swords and artifacts that showed up in a vacant piece of land outside Tucson in the 1920s, the seond up was Vince Murray who told the joke, "So a French guy walks into a bar. . ." and then segued into "The Legends, Myths, and History of Harqua Hala." And the biggest liar, I mean presenter, on the panel, was my Northern Arizona compadre Marshall Trimble who talked about "Father Keno and the Blue Maiden," a legend of the first flying nun, who allegedly flitted over from Spain, preached Jesus to the Pima 75 years before Father Kino set foot in Apacheria. It was fun. Standing room only. Gave out a bunch of True West mags.

From the session, I sped over to the Arizona Historical Society to bone up on the Wham Payroll Robbery. They have the court transcripts, which were thought to be lost but were found several years ago by author Larry Ball, who wrote the definitive book on the robbery. I have been unsuccessfully trying to get in touch with Mr. Ball for weeks. He lives in Arkansas, and every lead I got on how to get in touch with him went nowhere. When I walked up to the front door, Mr. Ball, of course was standing outside the Historical Society building waiting to get inside to do research on Tom Horn. Ha.

So we both went in the library and there, on reserve for me, was the official map of the robbery site and the five boxes of transcripts of the 1899 trial. When I would find something interesting, like say the map of robber forts on the west side of the road, I would say, "Hey Larry, is this where the boulder was?" And he'd come over and show me, adding, "What most people don't know about this location is that back here. . ." I swear, if I saw it in a movie I wouldn't believe it.

The museum closed at one and so from there I met writer Leo Banks at El Charro Mexican Restaurant in old downtown Tucson. What a great place! Old world charm and great margaritas! After the 48 hours I just had I was ready to have some fun. We did. Solving life and Old West magazine mysteries over the house specialty, carne seca, and we sat out on the porch on a beautiful Old Pueblo day.

I've got to get ready for the Forty Seventh Annual Arizona History Convention Banquet, which starts at 6:30. Then it's up early to make the trek out to the Wham Robbery Site north of Bonita and south of Fort Thomas (Safford area).

"I think they're afraid that if they let me in the CA, the only cowboy and the only woman would be the same person."
—Cynthia Rigden

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