Thursday, May 31, 2007

May 31, 2007
Had a speech yesterday at Kiwanis up at Harold's Cave Creek Corral. Had fun, they are a ribald group. Gave away two boxes of mags and made everyone promise to subscribe. Also had a design pow-wow with Dan Harshberger, Abby Pearson, Meghan Saar and Robert Ray. Went over graphic concerns. I feel the current issue (July) is a bit claustrophobic. Talked about ways to air it out, etc. Good meeting. Design is a moving target and each issue brings challenges that stress the templates put in place. I guess my biggest relief is that they all care and want to put out a superior product, just like I do.

A Full Blown Confession
I was wrong. When I stated on the Westerns Channel that there are no photos of cowboys wearing hats with swept-up, winged brims from the 1870s and 1880s, that has proved not to be the case.

Johnny Western mailed me a photo (below) that clearly shows performer Buck Taylor of Buffalo Bill Wild West Show fame wearing a hat with almost comical winged sides (it sort of looks like those big, goofy, oversized cowboy hats they sell at the fair, doesn't it?). Amazing.

I have been looking at Old West photos all of my life and virtually all of them, I have seen—of cowboys—resemble this photo (below), which shows Salt War Texas Rangers, 1878, including one labeled Billy the Kid, at far right. This image was sent to me by Steve Sederwall of Capitan, New Mexico and is certainly an intruguing find. We know that John Kinney and a band of volunteers rode down from Silver City to participate in the Salt Wars, and it's possible Billy was with them. However, Paul Cool informs me that none of the Rangers named in the photo match the Rangers who were at San Elizario at the time of the infamous Salt Wars.

But I digress. What I wanted to point out is these men are wearing the style of hat that is virtually a uniform headgear look among cowboys on the American frontier from the 70s and 80s. But, upon seeing the Buck Taylor photo, rather than humiliated, I actually feel invigorated about it. This moves up the timeline on our theory about when the winged-phenom first hit the scene. By the 1890s you begin to see more and more range cowboys in hats that are winged. Could Buck have been a trendsetter? Did he start the movement away from flat brim to winged? Also notice his tiger-skin chaps and he has his name across the loops of his holster. Evidently, by 1887, Buck, or the costume designers for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, were getting quite flamboyant. And this predates Tom Mix and his wild costumes by 20 years, or so.

Wait a minute. I just reread the caption and it says the first cowboy as hero dime novel was released in 1887. That doesn't mean the photo is 1887. Could it be this photo was taken in the 1890s? If so, scratch my confession. Ha.

And while were at it, here are a few corrections from elsewhere:

I enjoyed your commentary on the new True Grit DVD, however, I wish I had known you were going to do it. Here are some of my reactions:

1.) The discussion on why we mount a horse from the left struck me as odd because it was assumed "cowboys' started it. Actually it comes from the military. It is difficult mounting a horse from the right side when weraring a saber on one's left side. Swinging both leg and saber over the horse's back is simply too cumbersome. Because of this, mounting from the left side while swinging the right leg over the horse became standardized.

2.) The big pistol Kim Darby used was a Colt's Walker which was also used by Clint Eastwood when he played "Josie Whales".

3.) You started to comment on Wayne's 1892 Winchester rifle, but somehow never finished your thought. There is an interesting story behind that rifle. While preparing to make STAGECOACH, John Ford decided he wanted the "Ringo Kid" to have or do something theatrical to quickly identify his character as being unique. Someone associated with the production remembered seeing the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show as a child. In the remembered performance, when the "Deadwood Stage" thundered around the arena, the guy seated in the messanger's seat thrilled the crowd by "spinning" his rifle. He could do this because the Winchester had a specially constructed large circular loop as its lever. Hearing this, Ford had such a lever made up and thus Wayne obtained his signature rifle. Because it had already appeared in STAGECOACH, HONDO, and RIO BRAVO, the rifle reminds the audience of TRUE GRIT it is John Wayne they are watching. I think the Wayne - Buffalo Bill connection is fascinating. Yes, the '92 rifle is an anachonism, but it's theatricality is so engaging that this historical quibble can be readily forgiven.
—Jeff Morey

Onion Headline de Jour
Unhealthy Online Support Groups: The Incest-Loving Daughters of The American Revolution

"Nothing changes more than the past."

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