Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cover Boy Powhatan Clarke

December 1, 2016
   Back when The Top Secret Writer and I were busy doing the Mickey Free story, I became fascinated with one of the true life Medal of Honor soldiers in the Apache War:

Daily Whip Out: "Powhatan Clarke & Crew"

Fast forward to the current issue we are working on (February, 2017) and guess who is on the cover?

February, 2017 cover boy, Powhatan Clarke

"You can't be a full participant in our democracy if you don't know our history."
—Daivd McCullough

The Great Western Is Ready for Her Closeup

November 30, 2016
   I've decided that The Great Western will be my next book. I can't believe no one has fleshed her out into a full story. True the record is a little thin, and it is true several authors (Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy) have appropriated the concept of her into other story lines. Some of it, no doubt, is because there are no known photos of her, but that plays right into my strengths, or, at least, to my advantage.

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western In Distress"

I have a hunch I can capture her visage, if not her complexities.

Daily Whip Out: "Sarah In Shadow"

   My boon companion, Paul Andrew Hutton, has forwarded me a couple chapters that he had to cut for space from his best seller, "The Apache Wars." Here's a good example, as we pick up the story with U.S. troops being withdrawn from Arizona in 1861 because of the Civil War:

   As the troops departed on July 23 they torched the fort [Buchanan] and all the supplies

they had left behind. Even Paddy Graydon was not allowed any government

goods, for orders were orders, and it was the desire of the government to destroy

property rather than turn it over to the citizens of Arizona. In some ways the

government feared the citizens, and their secessionist sympathies, more than the

Apaches. Moore’s orders from Lynde instructed him to have his men march with

weapons loaded and not allow any citizens to approach his column.

“Well, this country is going to the devil with railroad speed,” reported

Thompson Turner from Tucson on July 17. “Secessionists on one side and

Apaches on the other will bring us speedily to the issue, and the issue will be

absence or death.”

   The game was up, and the Americans along the Sonoita and Santa Cruz packed up and left their 

fields. Johnny Ward [Mickey Free's step father] took his family into Tucson. 

Even old Elias Pennington brought his brood north. Bill Kirkland sold his Canoa ranch in

early July and headed to California. The new occupants at Canoa were

slaughtered by the Apaches two weeks later. Tubac, besieged by a large Coyotero

Apache war party, was soon abandoned. Most of the Mexican mine and ranch

workers fled south to Sonora. To make matters worse a large party of Mexican

bandits came north to loot the abandoned mines and ranches. Only Sylvester

Mowry, with a hundred heavily armed men, held out at his Patagonia mine.

Charles Poston, with Raphael Pumpelly and a black servant, also finally gave

up on his Arizona dream and headed for Yuma. Poston was struck by the

lonesome sound of cocks crowing on the deserted farms as smoke from the

burning wheat fields filled the sky. “It was sad to leave the country that had cost

so much money and blood in ruins, but it seemed to be inevitable,” Poston later

wrote, “but the greatest blow was the destruction of our hopes – not so much of

making money as of making a country.”

   The largest exodus from the “Purchase” was led by old Grundy Ake and his

friend William Wadsworth. Driving all the cattle of the Sonoita with them they

reached Tubac on July 20. With them was Sarah Bowman. Paddy Graydon had

decided to abandon Casa Blanca, for there was no longer any clientele to

purchase the services he and the Great Western provided. She sent her girls

south to Sonora and parted with the eastbound Graydon. She was going west.

The Great Western traveled with the Ake-Wadsworth wagon train to

Tucson but then headed back to the Yuma crossing. They made it safely and she

and Albert Bowman were soon well established in their old house on the Arizona

side of the Colorado River.

Daily Whip Out: "The Young Sarah Brava Comes Into Focus"

   Poston and Pumpelly arrived at Yuma to find Sarah back in business. They

boarded with her and Pumpelly, later to be a famous explorer and Harvard

professor, was mesmerized. “Our landlady, known as the ‘Great Western,’ no

longer young, was a character of a varied past,” he wrote in his memoir. “Her

relations with the soldiers were of two kinds. One of these does not admit of

analysis; the other was angelic, for she was adored by the soldiers for bravery in

the field and for her unceasing kindness in nursing the sick and wounded.” The

eastern dude watched this magnificent woman’s every movement “as with quiet

native dignity, she served our simple meal. She was a lesson in the complexity of

human nature.”

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western at Yuma Crossing"

   California volunteers soon flooded into Fort Yuma to prepare to march east

against the Confederates. Sarah once again did a booming business. Lieutenant

Edward Tuttle was suitably impressed. “She was a splendid example of the

American frontier woman,” he gushed. He was also impressed that she had been

awarded “rations for life” by the Fourth Infantry. Those rations did not continue

for long. Sarah died on December 23, 1866 at Fort Yuma in her fifty-third year,

the victim of the bite of a tarantula spider. They buried her in the Fort Yuma

cemetery, where the soldiers fired a salute over her grave. She was the only

woman buried there amidst all the soldiers. In 1890 the bodies at the abandoned

post cemetery were exhumed and reburied at the Presidio in San Francisco. Her

grave above San Francisco Bay has the same simple white marker reserved for all

the soldiers of the republic.

—Paul Andrew Hutton

"Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough."
—Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Johnny Lingo Knows What The Deuce He Is Talking About

November 30, 2016
   Inspiration comes at odd times and in odd places: for example, there I was in Yuma of my own free will. Drinks were involved and I was hanging with a wild crowd of historians at the Arizona History Conference, last April. Our collective IQs were shooting up higher and higher until we were all hovering into the mid-double digits. Like historians everywhere we were complaining about the low IQs of everyone not associated with history. Somebody said, "Right as rain," and another historian said, "I'm your huckleberry." That's when my friend, John Langallier, said, "You need to have me do a linguistics column where I explain to your fine readers where Old West terms come from." Much to his surprise, I agreed on the spot. The late, and great, Paul Cool (it was his last conference) told me I "was off my rocker." Hutton chimed in that I was "one brick shy of a load," and I agreed, and told John those are exactly the kind of sayings and words Johnny Lingo needed to talk about. 

   So, I came back to Cave Creek and assigned Dan The Man Harshberger to come up with a spiffy logo for the proposed column. Dan did two. This is my favorite.

It seems like it needs a clarifier at the bottom, something like this:

Linguist-minded Historian Expounds On Old West Slang

Wise Acre Knows Doodly and Where The Term Came From

Linguist Is Loaded for Bear And Cuts The Mustard

He Knows The Difference Between Diddly Squat And A Hole In The Ground

He Knows What The Deuce He Is Talking About

Highfalutin Verbal Hi-jinks Explained So Even You Can Understand

Old West Linguist Finds Himself In Hog Heaven

A Verbal Hootenanny for The Hot to Trot

Get Ready for A Verbal Humdinger

Listen Up: He's Got Some Splainin' to Do

It's Katie-bar-the-door for Numbnuts

Explaining Kit And Caboodle, Among Other Things

Linguist No Spring Chicken

   You get my drift. Like any of these? Do you have a better one? I want to hear it, if you do. Here's the other logo:

   Now we're cookin' with gas!

"Finding the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug."
—Mark Twain

Sarah Brava On Her Big, Bad Jack

November 29, 2016
   Woke up at midnight with an inspiration. My enormous, red-headed Sarah "Brava" creation needs a big ride, so obviously, she rides a mammoth jack. Got up at six and gave it a go:

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western On Her Big, Bad Jack."

   Still working on her features and her ride. Of course, she is not the only character I have created who rides a jack:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Rides Up The Ridge On His Mammoth Jack"

   Came into the office and did a couple sketches for a piece by historian Rita Ackerman on the lack of smiling in Old West photos.

Daily Whip Out: "Two Scowling Mark Twains"

Went with the top one. I like the red-eyed Twain, at bottom, but his nose is too long. Finishing up three features for the February issue of True West, including History of A Scene and Powhatan Clarke receives the Medal of Honor for his bravery at Canyon de los Negros, in Sonora, Mexico.

"Everyone wants  to live on top of the mountain, but the all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."
—Andy Rooney

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Pistol Packin' Flame-haired Saloon Owner Sarah Brava

November 28, 2016
  Went home for lunch and took another swing at the beautiful, flame-haired saloon owner, Sarah "Brava" Bowman.

Daily Whip Out: "Sarah Brava Standing Tall On The Banks of The Mighty Colorado."

   Paul Andrew Hutton claims she was the original "whore with a heart of gold." There's some evidence for that claim. At Yuma Crossing she adopted both Mexican and In-din kids. When she died from a spider bite three days before Christmas in 1866, she was breveted an honorary colonel and buried with military honors in the Fort Yuma cemetery. She cut a wide swath across the Southwest from Texas to New Mexico and on into Arizona and California. She was fondly remembered by all who met her. Thanks to Gay Mathis, here's her obit:

Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel Newspaper--Santa Cruz, CA--January 26, 1867--The Arizona (La Paz) Gazette of the 3d inst. says : Mrs. Bowman (familiarly known as the Great Western) died on the 22d ult., at Fort Yuma. She was buried the next day in the fort burial ground, with all the honors of war, the band playing the dead march, and the men of the garrison carrying their arms reversed, and firing a salute of fourteen guns over her grave, the flag being at half mast. It is said to have been the largest funeral that ever took place at Fort Yuma. All the business houses were closed, and every one tried to show the greatest respect to the last remains of a woman who was distinguished for undaunted courage and most tender humanity to the wounded at Reseca de la Palma, Buena Vista, and other glorious battlefields in Mexico.

"She could whip any man, fair fight or foul, could shoot a
pistol better than anyone in the region, and at black jack could
outplay, or—out cheat—the slickest professional gambler."

—Texas Ranger John Salmon Ford

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Midnight On The Colorado

November 27, 2016
   Nice turkey day on Thursday over at Grandma Betty's. James and Somer are here from Hawaii and they stayed at our house. They left for Encinitas last night.

   I am increasingly compelled to tell the story of  "an enormous whore." I realize this is "wrong" and unacceptably, not to mention—totally un-PC—but Sarah Bowman is described in vivid detail in the historical record, as such, and, although Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy have both based characters on her, I don't think anyone has done her justice. And, by justice, I mean, tell her story without flinching. Part of the problem is that she is such a a conundrum: as already stated, "an enormous whore," who allegedly stood seven-feet-tall, a  madam, as well as a"pimp," a nurse, a war hero, a killer and a consort. She supposedly started the first business at Yuma Crossing, a whore house, of course. What she meant to the denizens of all those who passed through there and lived there is a cornucopia of extremes. Not sure I can pull off her story, but she deserves an honest attempt.

Daily Whip Out: "Midnight On The Colorado"

Wish me luck.

The Great Western:
Born in Missouri in 1812, Sarah’s maiden name was long ago lost to history. She grew to be an impressive woman over six feet tall and close to 200 pounds. She was blessed with a well-proportioned if ample figure, and an attractive face framed by dark red hair. Sarah had a great appetite for life and for men. She married at least three times and the name of her last husband, a German immigrant in the Second Dragoons who was fifteen years her junior, stuck with her. A fellow soldier was suitably impressed by Corporal Albert Bowman’s bride.

“Today we are reinforced by a renowned female character,” Private Sylvester Matson wrote in his diary on May 9, 1852. “They call her doctor Mary. Her other name is the Great Western.” He described her as a “giantess over seven feet tall,” with a scar across her cheek from a Mexican saber wound. The camp story was that she had killed the Mexican soldier that wounded her.

“She appears here modest and womanly not withstanding her great size and attire. She has on a crimson velvet waist, a pretty riding skirt and her head is surmounted by a gold laced cap of the Second Artillery. She is carrying pistols and a rifle. She reminds me of Joan of Arc and the days of chivalry.”

   What are the odds of making this work? Perhaps a certain basketball player has the answer"

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
—Michael Jordan

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Great Western Looms Over Yuma Crossing

November 23, 2016
   Got up this morning and took a run at a certain larger than life Old West character before I came into work. 

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western Looms Over Yuma Crossing"

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western Mish Mash No. 1"

   Did the above work-up on Sunday. Decided to leave it and scan it as is, and then develop her features day by day, bringing her slowly into focus. Yesterday, I went home for lunch and took another run at the murky Ms. Great:

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western Mish Mash No. 2"

   Dialing it in, one wash at a time. Set some goals last weekend and jumped in with both feet and my left hand:

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western's Scar"

   Legend says at the battle of Buena Vista, she received a saber scar to her cheek while working a cannon position before slaying the Mexican soldier who cut her. After that she cut a broad swath across the Southwest from El Paso to Yuma Crossing.

"She could whip any man, fair fight or foul, could shoot a pistol better than anyone in the region, and at black jack could ouplay—or, out cheat—the slickest professional gambler."
—Texas Ranger John Salmon Ford

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Smile Myths That Will Not Die

November 22, 2016
   We are dealing with the smile myths that will not die in the next issue of True West. What exactly are the smile myths?

Daily Whip Out: "I just survived the Civil War, the exposure time
on your camera is too long, I have bad teeth and I'm wearing
wool long johns. Why would I want to smile?"

   None of these cliche excuses, addresses the real reason most people didn't smile in Old West photographs. Historian Rita Ackerman puts it all in perspective in the February issue.

"Smile, and the whole world will eventually catch up to you and smile."
—Old Vaquero Song

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tall Tales of a Tall Whore

November 21, 2016
  Here's a murky pass at a murky past. Legend says she was seven foot tall and the biggest whore in the West. Turns out, only half that is true. She was only six feet five. 

Daily Whip Out: "The Great Western Lost In The Details"

"Who wants a wife with $15,000 and the biggest leg in Mexico?"
—Sarah Bowman (The Great Western) in a marriage proposal to an entire U.S. military column in Mexico: aka Sarah Borginis, Sarah Bourdett, Sarah Burdette, or, Madame Sarah Borginnis-Davis

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rare Old West Smilers, Part II: The Myth of The Long Exposure

November 17, 2016
   Okay, I posted a series of photographs of In-dins smiling yesterday to illustrate an upcoming feature in True West magazine on the real reason for the lack of smiles in Old West photos. I also mentioned that the reason most people didn't smile has nothing to do with bad teeth, wool long johns (see quote, below) or long exposures. This prompted the following response:

"Early glass and tin type photography had very long exposures. People were told not to move. The photos you are showing are after 1900 when film changed and exposures were much shorter. More candid and natural looking pictures could be taken."

Exposing The Exposure Myth

Well, sorry to rain on the long exposure theory, but here is a very early photograph of a gent grinning in the 1850s when the exposures were at their longest:

   And there are quite a few more. So far, our production manager, Robert Ray, has found at least a dozen more 1850s smilers. This shoots down the Long Exposure Theory completely. What's interesting here is, this also undermines the Portrait Theory—that artists for centuries had been painting most of their subjects with a serious look and that this somberness segued into photography—well, that doesn't quite hold up here as photography was in its infancy. In other words, you might make a case that painted portraits were for the most part somber affairs and when photography started gaining traction, the photographers emulated painters and shot their subjects with serious looks, but then later, as exposures were shortened, people loosened up and we get more smilers. This seems to upend that order. We have a new technology and many people are smiling right off the bat. It almost seems as if they later went the other way, and that in the 1860s, 70s and 80s sitters reverted to the serious look.

   Either way, for a more in depth take on the subject, read Rita Ackerman's piece, "Smile!" in an upcoming issue of True West magazine.

"If you were wearing wool long johns, you wouldn't smile either."
—R. Batson

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why Did The Pioneers In Old Photos Rarely Smile?

November 16, 2016
   It is a tired cliche that pioneers and frontiersmen in Old West photos rarely smiled. The stern visages of Wyatt and Doc, Kit and Sitting Bull easily come to mind. In fact I would go as far as to say, out of the thousands of photos we publish in True West every year, less than one percent show someone even partially smiling, much less, showing teeth.

   What's the reason for this?

   Several theories have been put forth: they lived hard lives and couldn't bring themselves to smile, or, they had bad teeth back then, or, the length of the time people had to sit still for exposures, prohibited them from smiling.

   None of these are true, or at least they are not the reason most people didn't smile in Old West photos.

   And frankly, I finally got tired of hearing these goofy theories and assigned historian Rita Ackerman to research what the real reasons are. Rita did a great job of researching and detailing the history of the smile in photographs. I don't want to steal her thunder, but it mainly had to do with not wanting to look foolish (see the great Mark Twain quote, below). So look for this in depth feature in an upcoming True West.

   Plus, there are more than a few photographs of Old West people not only smiling, but grinning ear to ear. You will see some of these incredible early photographs in the article when it comes out.

   In the meantime, take a look at these Edward Curtis photographs of In-dins smiling in the Old West. They apparently didn't get the memo about not smiling in photos. What's amazing, to me, is how contemporary they look.

   Full disclosure, most of these photos are from the twentieth century and that is when smiling began to become in vogue. I would go as far as to say, the smiling makes them seem fake, or inaccurate to the Old West. Do you agree?

Jemez In-din, 1926, An Isleta woman, 1926
Edward S. Curtis

Two Santa Clara Women, c. 1905
By Edward S. Curtis

A Clayoquot Girl, 1900

A Flathead Salish boy, c. 1910
By Edward S. Curtis

"A photograph is a most important document and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever."
—Mark Twain

Late Light On Sugarloaf

November 16, 2016
   I was driving home from work last night and as I turned the corner at Cahava Ranch I spied this wonderful late light on the mountains to the north of Cave Creek.

Late Light On Sugarloaf

I also love the nubbin on the saguaro, at left.

Finally, this morning I think I got a solid take on James Young for his headstone in Tucson:

Daily Whip Out: "James Young Arizona Trailblazer, final"

   I wanted to pay tribute to Jim's trailblazing attributes and perhaps I leaned him too far into the cowboy mode, but he, in fact, rode for "Texas John" Slaughter so I don't think the portrayal is out of bounds. Cool guy. And I want him to have a cool headstone.

"Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a forty-four, no less, no more."
—Infamous—and probably fake epitaph—at Boothill graveyard in Tombstone