Saturday, August 02, 2014

Hells Bells: Bob Bell Texas Ranger or Bob Bell Black NFL Lineman?

August 2, 2014
   I'm still cleaning and sorting in the garage. I know, I know, it's been eight weeks but it gets too hot after nine a.m. and, well, I get distracted.

   For example: this morning I found this framed photo in a dusty corner, behind a very large stack of layout boards for my many New Times pieces:

Texas Rangers, Company D

   This is the famous frontier division of the Rangers, and the price tag was still on it ($75), but what caught my eye is the caption. Turns out the first guy, seated at left, is Bob Bell.

   Well, this struck a chord because I was just thinking about all the Bob Bells I keep bumping into. starting with Bob "Bozo" Bell, the semi-famous Chicago clown who many think I stole my handle from. And, although it's tempting to think this is true, I didn't know about the guy until I was in college, about three years after I started using the name as a professional nom de plume. And, then there was Bobby Bell, the Kansas City Chief's lineman who later had a Bar-B-Q sauce called Bobby Bell's Bar-B-Q Sauce. Somewhere I still have a bottle of it (probably in the garage!)

   When I was finishing "The 66 Kid" book I discovered, in a centennial book about Swea City, Iowa, that one of the previous owners of the Ford dealership there was a guy named Bob Bell. It was Gabby Motors when my dad sold cars for them in late 1955, and I had never heard this, but it made me laugh at the way researchers I know find stuff like this and twist it to suit their nefarious and selfish uses.

   A certain Billy the Kid researcher found a census from the Bonita, Arizona area from the 1870s and jumped on the name William Kidd, and made the leap of imagination that this was, in fact, Billy the Kid (who at the time was going by the alias Kid Antrim and really wasn't known as Billy the Kid until almost four years later). Based on this logic, one can easily imagine some researcher in the distant future jumping on the Swea City Ford deal and spinning out a story about how Bob Boze Bell once owned a Ford dealership in Swea City, Iowa and this proves that he was not an artist but a cheesy, used car salesman. That, my friend, is only half true.

"The problem with this world is everyone is about half right."
—Bob Bell, former Ford dealership owner