Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Treasures From Rattlesnake Ranch

March 13, 2013
   Back from a long weekend field trip to the Tucson Festival of Books and Cochise County. On the way back yesterday, my regional sales manager, Greg Carroll, and I decided to take a detour and visit the Rattlesnake Ranch which is closing down after a 33 year run.

   The ranch is on the Gleeson Road, down a dirt road, east of Tombstone in the South Pass area. John and his wife Sandy quit the corporate world in Chicago and landed out here in the middle of semi-nowhere in 1979. John is 80 and needs to be closer to old age amenities so they are selling everything and moving to Sierra Vista. John was doing a brisk business selling off his stock when we pulled up about ten in the morning, but I got him to stand still for a moment:

John and Sandy definitely have some treasures. Check out this gun display:

I bought a rusted shotgun out of this assemblage ($20) because it reminded me of the legendary "Twilight Zone" episode where a pioneer (Cliff Robertston) with a sick child is transported forward in time to the 1950s, gets medicine for his son, gets chased by a cop back to the sand dune where he disappears in the wind just after dropping his rifle. The policeman runs to the top of the dune, sees no one, reaches down and picks up a rusted rifle with the stock rotted away and Rod Serling comes on and explains the unexplainable.

That's why I bought the shotgun.

I also bought one of these puppies ($35):

The 1876 Winchester on the right (it's actually a squib but I don't care. Just dig it and want it in my studio). The Rattlesnake Ranch is not without irony. Here is part of the "Camera Graveyard":

I still have my "State of The Art" Sony camcorder (upper right) which I bought for $1,500. Sign of the times—everything State of The Art eventually becomes ghost town junk.

But the crown jewel of my purchases was a dilly. For the past couple years I have been noodling a painting "Jugs Iced Free" which pays homage to my first job at my father's gas station where I iced jugs for free (and tips).

The problem is I was faking the jug from memory. I kept thinking, Dang, I need to find a real jug from the 1950s with all the bells and whistles on it. Where in the hell will I find THAT?!

Well, Rattlesnake John had one and I snatched it up for $25:

Here is the Royal Jug with the spigot at the bottom and the classic wooden handle. Just really a treasure, to me.

"One man's junk is another's treasure."
—Old Vaquero Saying