Thursday, August 30, 2012

Will C. Barnes & Peckasso Shapes Up

August 30, 2012

   After my pool skimmer take down of Peckasso two days ago, the little, budding cock has been a saint. For two days in a row, he has gone outside in the morning, pecked around, came back in the studio, walking straight to his kennel and stepping inside. Of course, after he did this yesterday, I sweetened the procedure by putting a juicy slice of watermelon rind in his cage this morning. But, hey, it's awful sweet of the little booger to step into his little prison cell. Tomorrow, he goes down to Uncle Tom's where he'll have a creekside condo.

   Meanwhile, I'm working on a little known Arizona character named Will C. Barnes. Most people know him for his classic 1935 "Arizona Place Names" book, but the guy led a pretty amazing life. A medal of honor recipient in 1881, Barnes rose to the rank of sergeant in the U.S. Army, then was discharged and went into the cattle business. Did that for quite a while, then served in the territorial legislature and other posts. He did a long stint with the U.S. Forest Service, where he started his quest to collect and research place names for the state, culminating in his classic book on the subject, published just months before his death. He was short, 5' 4", but he cut a dashing figure as a cowboy. This is a work in progress of Will (from an 1880s photograph).

Planning on a much bigger version for a new series we are planning on little known characters of the West who deserve some respect.

"We are grateful to him for opening so rich a field for the enjoyment of all who have any love of frontier flavor, imagination touched by humor, and a salty raciness possessed by all too few."

—Sidney Pattison, in 1935, reviewing Barne's Place Names book