Thursday, January 18, 2018

The True Story of My Passion for History

January 18, 2018
   Kathy started cleaning out the garage last weekend and in the pile of stuff she wanted to throw away, I found a small batch of old, mostly yellow, photographs, tucked in the corner of a ragged box.

Me outside our home on Ashfork Avenue on Hilltop, 1957.

My father's 1950 Ford Pickup parked outside
the lube room of Al Bell's Flying A on old
Route 66.

   On the back it says my dad bought this cherry truck from one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Hand. It also says he paid $350 for it!

   People often ask me if I've always been interested in Old West gunfighters and I think the next couple of photographs from this batch answer that question better than anything I could say:

Robert Bell, age 10

Gunfight at the Chloride Corral, 1959

   That's me on left and Daniel Harshberger on the right at an old mining operation outside Chloride, Arizona.

The Shooter With the Fake Mustache, 1958

   Seeing this photogrpah it's not hard to see where the following illustration came from:

"This Fight Has Commenced."

   One of my favorite TV shows during this period was "26 Men," a short-lived series about the Arizona Rangers. Incredibly, it was filmed in Phoenix at a place called Cudia City at 40th Street and Camelback. When my grandparents came out from Iowa to visit, we went to the Valley for a look 'round. I begged my father to take me there, and much to my surprise he did (so rare!). Although they were not equipped to handle visitors at Cudia City, they allowed us onto the set (when we came back a year later we were denied entrance).

My mother Bobbie Bell, Grandma Minnie and Carl Bell, and me in front of the Marshal's Office on the set of "26 Men." I was quite stunned, and disappointed to find out the bars on the jail cells inside were made of wood painted to look like iron!

  And that is the true story of how early I became hooked on Old West history.

"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten"
—Rudyard Kipling


  1. This is the story of 26 Men:

    Good stuff - I remember that as well.

  2. Those ears. Wing nut.

  3. if that's you on the left in the 'Gunfight at the Chloride Corral" you appear to be the slower on the draw. LOL Thanks for the pictures. Nice

  4. What a treasure you discovered. Makes you just want to sit and hold them close to your heart, doesn't it?

  5. I loved every bit of this article, and it reminded me of my childhood growing up on a dairy farm in Northern California. Played cowboy's and indians (can you still say that?) with my older brother. Rode real horses (bareback), had cow trails to ride our bikes on, and had pretend gas stations,etc., . The electronic world of today it is hard for kids to use their imagination. I'm 72, and very grateful for growing up in the 50's.


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