Thursday, June 27, 2013

Here's to The New Men of The West

June 27, 2013
Kathy and I stayed at Deena and Mike's bungalow in Pasadena (not far from Bungalow Heaven, an actual historic neighborhood designation).

Kathy stayed to help, but I had to come back to finish The Last Camel Charge, a very ambitious Classic Gunfight which goes to the printer today. Marched into the hospital and told the child's parents they had to tell me the name before I left. They proudly told me his name is going to be Michael Douglas,  (Mike is the father and his father's name is Douglas so I thought, well, it could work, in spite of the actor's name who got throat cancer from, well, you know). But, then they laughed out loud and told me his real name:

Weston Allen Bortscheller, b. June 24, 2013

Weston, as in Man of the West; Allen in honor of my father Allen P. Bell; and Bortscheller, in honor of Mike's family. I couldn't be more honored.

Took off from Pasadena at one and got home late last night. Drove the back way via Palmdale, Victorville, Old Woman Springs Road, Twentynine Palms and out across the Chuckawalla Wilderness. This is a route Wyatt Earp and Josie took every winter from LA to hang out at his Happy Days Mine near the Arizona border. Wanted to see what he saw every winter. This is the Iron Mountain area.

Really rugged and the whole region is mired in soft sand. Must have taken him a week to get out there via a buckboard.

And this is the approach to Vidal Junction, which I have been to many times on my way from Kingman to play sports against Parker and Poston, but I had never come in from the California side and always wondered what that was like, since Earp traveled it every winter. Past Vidal, and about half-way to Parker is the mountain range where Earp's mining claims were located.

Rugged country. I went out to the claim in 1995, and witnessed first hand Earp's camp which was the most historically preserved old west site I have ever visited. I would have a hard time finding it again.

And here is the Earp post office, just across the river from Parker, Arizona, named in Wyatt's honor after his death and his posthumous rise to prominence.

The first time I came by here was in the winter of 1961 when our eighth grade basketball team came down from Kingman to play Parker. Long trip and I remember looking out the window of the bus and seeing this huge wooden statue of Wyatt Earp in front of a curio store and thinking, "Oh, this is so fake. Wyatt Earp was in Tombstone, not out in this crazy desert." I have learned a thing or two since then.

But that old statue is long gone as are the characters who knew Earp. I gave a speech at Parker several years ago and this old guy told about Wyatt Earp walking across the Parker railroad bridge to have pie at his mother's cafe. He must be gone now as well. Even my generation is fading fast and it's time for new blood, and a new breed of Westerner to carry on the tradition of wild and wooly behavior. Here's to the New Men of the West and the kids who will make it happen.

"You come into this world scared, cold, crying and covered with blood. If you know the right people, you can live like that all the time."
—Old Vaquero Saying