Friday, July 06, 2012

The Prescott Westerners and the man who met Big Nose Kate

July 6, 2012

Drove up to Prescott yesterday at three. Had a speech for the Prescott Westerners Corral, a group dedicated to authentic history. The last time I spoke to the Prescott Westerners I mentioned that a young medical student had interviewed Doc Holliday's girlfriend in 1940. A buzz went through the room. So much so that I asked what the matter was. Several people pointed to an elderly gentleman sitting near the front who was now smiling broadly at me. the entire room said, almost as one, "Dr. William Bork is seated right there." I literally jumped off the stage to shake his hand like some gushy Justin Beiber groupie. I mean, holy guacamole, HE actually talked to Doc Holliday's girlfriend.

After the speech I had a nice talk with him about the encounter, but as happens so often when you get to actually talk to someone who glimpsed history, he didn't really have any earth shattering news to tell about it. She was merely an old woman trying to cash in on her story and she had things mixed up, didn't tell a very good story and had unrealistic ideas about getting paid for it.

Still, it was a thrill to talk to him. When I was about 14 my mother dragged me to an old woman's musty house on Beale Street in downtown Kingman. I remember it was hot and the house was decorated like a museum and she had a big, old-fashioned clock that chimed every half hour. The time dragged by as I sat on an uncomfortable chair and listened to the women gab on and on about people they knew and when they died. I was quickly bored and basically day dreamed the entire time about basketball and a certain girl in civics class I had a thing for. I really couldn't wait to get out of there.

Years later, I found out that Wyatt Earp and Josie had visited this woman and her husband in Kingman about some mines in the area and there was a legend that Wyatt had a secret gold stash that the old woman knew about.

Wish I'd'ah Paid More Attention!

At the speech last night I had a similar encounter. Several people came up to me and introduced themselves. One of them turned out to be the great grandson of John Wetherell, a pioneer of Kayenta and discoverer of Rainbow Bridge and other important treasures of Navajo Land. More on that later.

Afterwards, I walked down to Whiskey Row and had a drink with John Langellier in Tommy Meredith's Jersey Lillie, above the Palace Bar. We were the only people in the bar and it was a hoot to talk history with John in such a historic place.

Two or three weeks ago we filmed a segment in this bar for our upcoming show on Channel 8. Here I am with Tommy behind the bar after we finished taping:

After two drinks ($5!), I walked back across the courthouse lawn where a bunch of kids were lollygagging (a teenaged girl is on a cell phone, and she yells to a nearby boy, "I've got a bug on my foot! Get it off me! Get it off!"), then across Gurley to walk along the shops. When I got to the next corner I spied a familiar image in the lobby of the Prescott National Bank:

These are the smaller versions of my sculpture "Not-So-Gentle Tamer" which is being proposed for the Prescott Valley Courthouse. Limited editions of the statue are available for sale, and proceeds will go toward the cost of the 10-foot, larger-than-life monument.

"Wish I'd Paid More Attention."

—Every history minded person who every lived