Monday, May 15, 2006

May 15, 2006
Over the weekend we rented three movies from Blockbuster. In honor of Mother’s Day I let Kathy pick. She chose The Family Stone, Match Point and Proof. We all enjoyed Proof (Gwenyth Paltrow and Jake Gillenhaal) and Family Stone (Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker), but Deena and I thought Woody Allen’s Matchpoint was weak, although the mama liked it, and it was her day, so that’s fine. Speaking of my daughter, she sent the following to me after her business trip to Minneapolis last week:

Deena Bell Runs Into Strange Minnesota Custom
“The people in Minnesota are so incredibly nice, I don't think I met one snotty person... and that's hard to do! I sat next to a nice couple on the way home. the wife had just gotten knee replacement surgery and her husband was 6'6" and he had to sit in the middle because she couldn't straighten her knee... He wasn't happy to say the least but they were really cool. They were flying to Phoenix for her brother's graduation from ASU.”

I told my daughter she had just encountered "Minnesota Nice." I was doing research on the Jesse James robbery attempt in Northfield, Minn (just south of Minneapolis) and part of the lore is that the gang was very strict about their raids, being sober, etc., but on the day of the robbery attempt, Jesse himself, got a jug and the three designated guys who went into the bank were pretty sloshed, and Cole Younger, who was outside, didn't know this and it unhinged the robbery and they got shot to pieces. Everyone wonders why Jesse would do something so stupid, but here's my theory:

When Jesse, Bob Ford and Charlie Pitts were coming into Northfield they stopped at a small store. They got some tobacco and stuff and when they went up to pay, the woman said, "No, that's fine. Have a nice day," and Jesse looked at her incredulous and said, "Well, I'll take a jug over there." He told the Boys they would have no problem with these passive Norsky's. Big mistake. Those sweet Norsky's are nice until you try and take their money and then they get vicious (it’s the Viking DNA).

I got this inspiration when I stopped at a convenience market on my way to Northfield on September 10, 2001 and got coffee. I went up front to pay and the woman smiled and said, "No charge. Have a nice day." Amazing. Yes, enjoy Minnesota Nice, but whatever you do, don’t take advantage of it.

New Zealander Discovers True West
I discovered this really interesting magazine at Wellington Library last week called True West. It's amazing what I've discovered in it. For instance, you can buy a CD called The Frontier Saloon Piano where Dwain Bond plays authentic music from the Wild West on a 1879 Adam Schaaf of Chicago upright. I quite like what the founder of True West, Joe Small said (as printed at the bottom of the Letters to the Editor section) - "Now let the letters roll in and bare your very soul. That is what has always kept us going and I think it always will."
—New Zealand Guy (I forgot His Name And Lost The Link)

First Train to Albuquerque
FYI: One of my Santa Fe civic contacts informed me this morning of the State's recent purchase of rail corridor rights between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, approximately 60 miles. The intent is to develop commuter/passenger train service, This could be a potentially great distribution venue for us to explore as it progresses. I envision a trainload of folks reading True West between these two heritage cities, how about you?!
—Rob Brandhauer

A True West Trauma: Don't Try This At Home
“Had a horrifying experience last night when after making love to my beautiful wife I rolled over to immediately see a True West Moment on the TV. Therapy to follow.”

The View of Ghost Towns From Down Under
As a kid who grew up here is Australia watching the American westerns of the 50s and 60s, I became convinced that all Old West towns were clean, neat and tidy affairs.Watching Deadwood just blew me away, especially when your magazine authenticates it with pictures taken at the time the show is set.

It got me wondering - with the technology of satellite imaging are any previously unlocated ghost towns ever found? Also, is there a 'Holy Grail' of towns that every historian/enthusiast would love to locate?

Being over here makes magazines like True West important—since I can't afford to visit (and be accompanied by someone who could answer all my questions!) your magazine goes some way towards quenching my curiosity. Reading the history of the magazine and your involvement in it makes its continued publishing a must - especially for us 'Colonial Convicts' (ask the Brits - they STILL think of us that way!) who can't see all this stuff in person.

Thanks for a great magazine!

These days, ghost towns and even most mines (250,000 in Arizona alone!) are easy to find with GPS equipment. A couple months ago, a historian, Vince Murray and I went out to Harqua Hala and found Wyatt Earp's "Sore Finger" mine by using GPS (Global Positioning System via satellite). The GPS device actually wasn't completely accurate, but we were close enough and could extrapolate to the topo map we had with us.

Most real Old West ghost towns have evaporated by now. A decade ago we had a guide take us out to Drew's Station, which is a famous stagecoach robbery site outside of Tombstone, Arizona. All that was left of the station was the adobe corner of the main building (we assume). We took pictures and whooped it up. A couple years later I tried to go back with some friends and couldn't find it (all those damn creosote bushes look alike).

Other towns like Charleston, which is upstream from Drew's Station, are completely overgrown with catclaw and the foundations are all that remain, and they are hidden by the brush. When you drive by you’d never know a town was there.

When I was a kid, you could go out to ghost towns like White Hills, Cerbat and Gold Road and we'd play cowboys and indians in the buildings. It made for a great Old West playground. But time and people who want to redo their den with old barnwood, have stripped all these towns of everything.

The big almost-ghost towns that survive, like Bisbee, Jerome, Virginia City, Goldfield, Lincoln and Body have the best of both worlds. They still look old timey and for the most part authentic, but people have come in to renovate and restore what remains. And those towns usually have the best vibes

I just passed the 1,200 mark for sketches (six a day without missing). As some famous 96-year-old cellist remarked when someone asked why he still practices four hours a day: "I noticed a slight improvement."

Favorite Onion Headline de Jour
Traveler Amazed By Sheer Number of Mexicans

“Who is wise? He that learns from every One. Who is powerful? He that governs his Passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.”
—Ben Franklin

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