December 3, 2007 Bonus Blog
As promised, here's the interview with Preston Randolph for a history class at Cody High School:
When and where were you born? Married? Children?
I was born on December 19, 1946 in Forest City Iowa. When I was six months old, my parents moved me to Kingman, Arizona, which was my mama's hometown. My father had a Whiting Brothers gas station at McConnico, then Peach Springs on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. We went back to Iowa in about 1949, but then moved back to Kingman in 1956, where I basically grew up, graduating from high school in 1965.
Later, I met Kathy Radina at her boyfriend's wake and we've been married for 28 years and have two children, Deena (27) and Thomas Charles (25).
When did you come to the west? Or, your parents come to the west and why?
My mother's family were ranchers and her father, Bob Guess, went bust in 1929 after buying his dream ranch on the Gila River near Duncan, Arizona. Earlier in his life, he had cowboyed for legendary rancher Tap Duncan. This was in 1912, up on the Diamond Bar, near the Grand Canyon, Bob Guess walked away from his Gila River ranch and moved the whole family to Mohave County (Kingman is the county seat) and went to work for Tap and tried to make a comeback. He didn't quite make it back into the game, dying of complications from an ulcer (he had five daughters).
My father was raised on a farm near Thompson, Iowa and was drafted in the Army AIr Corp in 1941. After basic training in Alabama, he was shipped by train to Kingman Air Base on his 21st birthday. As he walked down the deserted main drag with his duffle bag over his shoulder, he muttered, "I'll never come back to this hell hole."
My mother, who was living with her parents in Kingman, was among the 500 or so eligible females in town who suddenly had their pick of 10,000 "eager" GIs (I wanted to use a word that starts with an "h" but since this is for a school project I decided to be quasi-mature). She dated a lieutenant, a captain, and had the pick of the sprawling base before choosing a buck private from Thompson, Iowa to be her husband.
My mother worked for the local justice of the peace in the courthouse and my father opened Al Bell's Flying A on east Route 66.
Where were you raised? What was your life like as a child?
I worked in my dad's gas station icing jugs for tourists. I wasn't paid but got tips. With my entire first summer's savings ($11) I ordered Ed Bartholomew's "Biography of Western Gunfighters" which I ordered out of True West magazine.
I also played right field for the Oddfellow Yankees.
What was your education like? What was school like?
My senior English teacher, Mrs. Fay Logsdon, told me almost daily, "Pay attention Mr. Bell, or you'll regret it later." Oh, boy, was she ever right. Here I am a so-called writer, and I don't know jack about active verbs or passive blah blah. Big mistake. Take it from me—pay attention Buckos!
Who were you heroes as a child?
Most of my heroes were outlaws. My grandmother told me stories about Billy the Kid, John Wesley Hardin and Billy Clanton and how we were related to Big Foot Wallace. This thrilled me to no end.
As I grew up and started pursuing art as a career, I came under the spell of Charlie Russell and Frederic Remington, then later other talented artists like Nick Eggenhoffer and James Bama and that Jackson guy, who I can't think of right now, but did that great sculpture of the fleeing outlaw.
What did you do for fun?
The usual childhood pastimes like cruising for chicks and puking on our shoes.
When you first came to Cody what was it like? When was it?
I came to Cody for the first time in 1996. My mother and her second husband Lou Cady, Jr., bought a little ranchito out towards that lake west of town. It was cold, it was windy. I've been back several times since then, and the wind never quits, does it?
What has changed the most in the west since your childhood?
Too many damn chains. I hate it that the Chili's in Butte is exactly like the Chili's in Queen Creek, Arizona. And they're both in a strip mall that looks exactly like the strip mall in Provo, Utah, or Cleveland, Ohio.
And everything's paved! When I was a kid growing up in Kingman it was a dirt road to Phoenix!
When was the first time you went to yellowstone? What did you think?
I finally got to Yellowstone Park three years ago after a writer's conference in Cody. What a staggering piece of nature! You can read about it and see photos of the place til the cows come home, but until you stand at the edge of a lake and see primordial juices from the earth's core oozing up out of the ground all around you, well, let's just say we don't have that in Kingman.
What is your opinion on the Hollywood version of the West?
It's so easy to knock Hollywood's version of the West, but you know what? It's the main reason I became interested in Old West history. And, as much as we complain, Hollywood has gotten the history right more often than we give it credit for. That said, most Westerns suck. Ha.
What is your thoughts toward the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum?
I could live in the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum. I would rotate between the wings, living in each museum one day a week. On the weekends I would go to Trail Dust Town and eat at Zapata's. But that's just me. [Preston's parents opened Zapata's and now his aunt runs it]
What is the best thing about living out West?
No damned easterners and their snotty, condescending ways.
What do you think of America and the West as we head into the new millennium?
We are Westerners and we are proud of who we are and we like to have fun. If you don't like that, go back home and make someone else miserable.
What is your occupation and what do you do?
I am a troublemaker who likes to draw scandalous cartoons and provoke people, starting with my parents (and Mrs. Logsdon) and right up to now. If you don't believe me, check out my blog at twmag.com
When did you start and what has been the problems along the way?
I started causing trouble in the first grade and I dropped out of college three units shy of a degree. Does the term Attention Deficit Disorder mean anything to you? I also paint.
What do you see happening in the future?
More of the same ridiculous, insane behavior by crazy humans, only with different names.
What is your favorite part of the west?
The parts that haven't been subdivided, yet.
What are your accoplishments?
I'm 60 and I've only spent 14 hours in jail for a crime I did commit.
Any famous people you have met?
Does Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top count?
Anyone throughout history who would you like to meet and what would you ask them?
I would love to talk to JFK about Ms. Monroe. That had to be hot.
In your oppinion What is the West?
A rough place where big space confronts big ideas.
"Thanks for sharing, Mr. Bell, now come up here, bend over and grab your ankles."
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