September 22, 2011When I was attending the University of Arizona I played in different bands to make money. In the early seventies I answered a classified ad and started gigging with a Country-Western band called Roy Brown & Country Gold. Our bread and butter was playing VFWs. We also played often at a Moose Lodge just north of Speedway Blvd and west of Wilmont.
We did all the classics, "For The Good Times" and "LeRoy Brown" and "Tie A Yellow Ribbon". One night, a woman who was more than a little tipsy, started to yell out that she wanted to hear "Ridin' Down The Canyon." Roy Brown, our fearless leader (singer and rhythm guitar player) tried to ignore her but she wouldn't give up. "Play Ridin' Down The Canyon!" she kept insisting, louder and louder. After almost an entire set of songs that were not "Riding Down The Canyon," she came up to the bandstand to confront Roy face to face. "Dammit," she said, leaning over the railing, "I'm from an old Arizona ranching family and I want to hear 'Ridin' Down The Canyon'!"
I don't know why, but I leaned over from my drum set and said, "Where's your family's ranch?" She replied, "Duncan, Arziona." Well, that peaked my interest because my grandfather, Bob Guess, had a ranch on the Gila, just up the river from Duncan at a tiny place called York. I said, "Did you ever know Bobbie Guess?"
She looked at me like she had seen a ghost. "I baby sat Bobbie and her sisters many times," she said, suddenly as sober as a judge. Well, that was my mama and if I hadn't asked I would have never known.
Last night at Cartwright's restaurant, just east of the True West World Headquarters, we had a surprise guest at my bi-weekly, after dinner talk on the history of the Wild West. This lgendary woman is also from the Duncan, Arizona area and her family had a ranch as well—The Lazy B.
"Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness."
—Old Vaquero Saying