June 3, 2006
Fun times in Meade, Kansas. Got up at six, had a hearty breakfast in the Lakeway Hotel B&B restaurant. Homemade hash browns, farm eggs, Kansas bred bacon, thick sourdough toast, orange juice and thick black cofee, and it was all on the house!
Got to the Dalton hideout at 8:45 and judged several gunfight scenarios put on by the American Frontier Reenactors Guild. We sold a couple dozen BBB books (Classic Gunfights, Vol. I and Bad Men).
Met Jim Gray of the Great American Race. He's from Ellsworth, Kansas and owns Drovers Mercantile a great store and resource all throughout the West. Also enjoyed meeting a policeman from Fort Worth who drove eight hours after he got off work (East Side Gang Unit) to make the event. Tom Wiederhold has faithfully recreated an early Fort Worth police costume and does third person narrative of period lawmen. Cool stuff.
Also met Randy and Debbie Edens from Cheney, Kansas. They are also big supporters of the event. I enjoyed talking with two guys, Frank Deramo and Gary Burden from Arkansas who have been beat up by a local reenactor who claims nobody in the Old West wore their hair long. So I gave them the Sports Issue of True West which has a big photo of Commodore Perry Owens of Holbrook fame, who has a Greg Allman mane to beat the band. They had me inscribe it to their fanatical "friend" with this inscription: "Long hair in the Old West? Oh, yes!"
One of the judges was a Dodge City historian named George Lougheed, Jr. who shocked me by saying as the events began, "What does the term 'O.K. Wonderful Russ' mean to you?" Turns out he got his degree at ASU and knew Russ in the 1970s when Russell would stamp all his money with an O.K. Wonderful Russ stamp, thereby approving of the currency as passing his inspection. I have often wondered what people encountering the money, in say, far off Vermont might think of such a stamp on their greenbacks.
The parade came off at six. Jim McDowell, a farmer with two white horses pulling a farm wagon bore me down the main street past literally dozens and dozens of waving citizens. Rob Bandhauer ran behind the wagon, handing out True West magazines to the throng. When we pulled up to the courthouse area, where the announcing stand was, the guy says to us, "Who are you?" (Now that is small town!) I started to yell at him who I was, but the event organizer, Susen Foster came screaming up in a golf cart and gave him the script, and then we got the proper going over.
Going to a late dinner downstairs. Many of the gunfighters are joining us. Long day, but worth it. Meade, Kansas is my kind of town.
"Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are still sitting on our own bottom."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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