Sunday, August 30, 2020

Name That Other Saguaro!

August 30, 2020

   If you just joined us, thanks to Allie Baker and The Tree Relocators, we had two very unique saguaros delivered last Friday to act as sentinels at the entrance to Cactusland.

The new entrance to Cactusland

   We got some great names for the ventilated saguaro at right (see hilarious name suggestions below). Meanwhile, it's time to name saguaro number two.

Saguaro Number Two

   As you can see, she has her mouth open quite wide and appears to be saying something profound, or maybe not.

The Bird of Paradise

   I must commend everyone for the creative name suggestions for our new, ventilated saguaro. Kathy and I both read them and laughed out loud numerous times. Here are our favorites, so far:

"Reina de Predigones" (The Queen of Buckshot)

—Julia Flannigan

"Holy Moley"

—Marty Manning


—Julie Smith and many other variations on flipping the bird, including "Bird of Paradise" above.

"Saguaro del Fuego" (Fire Saguaro)

—Lydia O'Rafter


—Bill Rogers, nice Charles Schultz reference


—Scott Matula (Kathy laughed and laughed at this one. She thought it was so hilarious.)

"Seeing ourselves as others see us would probably confirm our worst suspicions about them."

—Franklin P. Adams


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Our Newest Saguaro Needs A Name

 August 29, 2020

    We need to name our new saguaro.

25 Holes In My Saguaro, Oh-oh

   So, perhaps something off of the holes?

With One Hole Going Clear Thru

   Which prompted Jeff Mariotte to offer this as a name:

Al Capp's Parody of Dick Tracy:
"Fearless Fosdick"

   And what does a Cooper's Hawk eating his lunch on my studio awning-brace think of this name?

"Neh. Not thrilled about it."

   By the way, that's a baby pack rat he's having for lunch. Let me know if any other names come to mind for our new saguaro.

"Do people actually name saguaros?"

—Some Prickly Pear

Boomers Fade

 August 29, 2020

   Every generation has its run, and then, to put it bluntly, it's done.

    Increasingly, I find my thoughts turning to the great Boomer fade. We are living through the fade even as you read this.

   It's easy to see—and look at objectively—when you're studying, say, the Old West, and you read about the cowboys and gunfighters witnessing the end of their lifestyle and in essence, their world. Here comes the car, there goes the horse.

Daily Whip Out: "Eclipse of The Oldtimer"

  But it's a little more painful when it's actually happening to oneself. In fact it's quite painful when you see the things you fought for and believed had some permanence, being swept away, by the incoming hordes of ungrateful, little X-bastards.


   But, at least now I know how The Greatest Generation felt about being replaced by the long-haired, Commie-loving Boomers, like me.


    Hey, give peace a chance, Man!

         And so it goes. 

"Every generation thinks it's smarter than the last and wiser than the next."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, August 28, 2020

Welcome to Cactusland, Part II

 August 28, 2020

   Today marks a new chapter in a magical place we call "Cactusland." That place, according to our first grandson, Weston Allen, is where the Gooses live. That would be his grandparents, or, Mr. and Mrs. Goosenstein, as Thomas Charles is fond of styling it.

   Anyway, after the big fire obliterated almost everything from our front door to Ratcliff Ridge, we decided, with the help of State Farm, to do something to make it less, well, depressing looking. Thus we met this scene at the end of our driveway this morning.

Entranceway Sentinel Number 1 Has Landed

   Of course, we had the best landscaper in the entire territory helping us.

The Queen of Cactusland Rennovation

Allie Baker

   It was cloudy this morning so the temperature was in the high nineties when they planted the first one, but by the time they came back to install the second one, it was a blistering 105 degrees. Don't know how these kids can work outside in this but they do it, all day, every day, without complaint. I went out take this commemorative photo and needed to be carried back inside.

The Cactusland Crew
Not really. But you get the point.

   I asked Allie to make sure the saguaros had "personality," and boy did she ever deliver on that. 

   Hint: gaping holes galore (one clean thru!). It's probably due to one of the three Bs: Boy Scouts, birds or buckshot. Or, it could be all three. Close up mug shots tomorrow.

"Every scar, every bullet hole only made me love those bad boys even more."

—Ex-Boy Scout From Kingman, Arizona, Don't Forget Winona

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lincoln Honey And More Anton Chico Juice

 August 27, 2020

   Working on a several images for the new Billy book.

Work In Progress: "Lincoln Honey"

   And I've got another ambitious piece going at the same time. When I get stuck on one, I go back and attack the other.

In Progress: "BB On DD"

   That would be Billy Bonney on Dandy Dick".

In Progress: "Little Miss Bonjou"

   Old West Pandemic Humor:

   I shoot a lot of photo reference, like this.

   Let's call this one "Tunstall Hamming." That's what you get when an artist asks his wife to shoot photos of him being shot out of the saddle to get the expression and body movements right. Few people know that John Henry Tunstall fell backwards into a swimming pool just like this one. It's historically accurate in every way (note the horny toad coming out of the far wall). Although, full disclosure, the real Tunstall actually had pants on.

   Or, so The Top Secret Writer tells me.

   Sometimes the photo reference I shoot is so good, I simply have Rebecca Edwards convert the image into an old funked-up tintype and call it a day.

Sheriff William Brady
had Billy and Fred Waite arrested and thrown
in the pit jail.

   Speaking of getting the history right, people always wonder where I come up with my incredible background information and I always tell them, when I don't know something, thankfully, I know the people who do know. Two examples:

"Anton Chico literally means 'Little Anthony' in Spanish, but it's probably a corruption of ancon chico, "little bend" and, in fact, the Pecos River does make a little bend around the village."

—Lynda Sanchez

More Anton Chico Background

"There are probably several homes and buildings (occupied or empty) in Anton Chico that would qualify as a State Cultural Property or as a site on the National Register of Historic Places. Anton Chico, settled circa 1822, attracted merchants, ranchers, and outlaws. The Kid and the Regulators scared off San Miguel County Sheriff Desiderio Romero and his posse in Manuel Sanchez's Saloon in Aug., 1878. While Manuel Moraga's traveling circus was performing there circa 1879, the Kid hadn't the money for a ticket, so Moraga let him in free. Later in the day, Moraga gave the shivering Kid a red flannel shirt and overcoat to protect him from the cold weather. When the circus returned in 1880, the Kid not only bought a ticket, he gave Moraga $75 for the clothing he'd been given the year before. La Iglesia de San Jose, where Garrett and his second wife, Apolinaria may have been married (my gut feeling says yes) was built in 1857. Sallie Chisum, who was sent to a finishing school there in 1879, married a local clerk, Germany-born William Robert, in La Iglesia de San Jose just two weeks after the Garretts' Jan., 1880, marriage. Many of Lincoln's Hispanic residents, by the way, came from Anton Chico.

—Michael Pitel

   Great stuff, but I'm not sure about that "finishing school" and I'm waiting for verification.

"Pat Riley was killed while sleepin' off a drunk at Grass Range. Pat took a booze joint and, after smokin' the place up and runnin' everybody out till it looked like it was for rent, fell asleep. The booze boss gets a gun and comes back and catches Pat slumberin'. Pat never woke up, but quit snorin'."

—Charlie Russell

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Lord Take Me Downtown I'm Just Looking For Some Insights

 August 26, 2020

   Not so long ago, I had lunch with Edmundo Segundo (Ed Mell) and a certain Blues Legend. Turns out, not only was the mole excellent, but the dude on the right unlocked a door for me.

The Mole Men Get Down

   A few months after our lunch at Mariscos Ensenada in downtown Phoenix, Billy Gibbons, above, right, told me he was inspired by a half-finished painting I had showed him, and he wrote the lyrics to a tune he is calling "The Sweethearts of Billy the Kid."

"La Querida at Midnight"

   On the phone, the ZZ Top lead guitarist, confessed he had been up all night writing lyrics for this Kid tune. That was very cool, and so were his lyrics. He asked me if I could add anything to give it some authenticity so I told him I would give it some thought. After the call, I jotted down some song lyric ideas about Puerto de Luna, Billy the Kid and all his sweethearts, real and imagained, and for some strange reason, the process opened me up to thinking lyrically, instead of my usual default position of being historically accurate, all the damn time. 

   Frankly, it was liberating and it inspired me to come at my third and final book on Billy the Kid from a different direction. 

The truth is not facts lined up

   And besides, I already wrote and illustrated that book.

"And I hear it's tight

Most every night

But now I might be mistaken."

—"La Grange," Billy Gibbons, ZZ Top

"Quien Es?"

It's this Kid, that's who.

   Which brings up another aspect of the book I want to delve into. All the Kid Krazy characters I have run into on my many road trips across Arizona and New Mexico seeking the truth about Billy the Kid. You know, like these crazy cats.

Johnny Eastwood (in white hat)
and William H. Cox, at left, and pards,
at Puerto de Luna, October of 1991

   Here's a nifty, little tidbit I am picking up from the first book, which answers the question, would we remember the Kid if he had received a pardon?

Local Cowboy Remembered

June 15, 1931

PORTALIS, N.M.—John Henry Bonney, of this city, believes his father deserves a place in the annals of Old West history. Mr. Bonney, 45, has written a manuscript detailing the exciting life of his dad, William H. Bonney who, according to the author, had many hair-raising adventures, as a young cowboy but which heretofor have never been told outside the immediate family.

   John Bonney relates that his father, who passed away last July, supposedly took part in a range war that occurred down in Lincoln County. According to his son, the elder Bonney once jumped out of a burning house because of an insurance policy. After numerous gunfights with unscrupulous county officials, Bonney eventually received a pardon from Governor Lew Wallace and married Paulita Maxwell, at Old Fort Sumner, on December 20, 1882.

   The Bonney family is well-known in the Portales area. William Bonney, Sr. had been a successful stock raiser here and his son, and grandson, carry on the tradition. Bonney's other son, "Billy" Jr. died in WWI.

   "I am hoping by relating this important story," John says, "my father will not be forgotten."

   He calls his manuscript, "The Authentic Life of a New Mexico Cowboy." So far, no publisher has agreed to print the story of this interesting pioneer from a bygone era, but John Bonney remains hopeful. 

"The only new thing in this world is the history you don't know."

—Harry Truman



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Catching Up And Moving On

 August 25, 2020

   Very hazy out. Turns out we've got a new fire up near Desert Mountain which is some ten miles from our house. And speaking of our house and our fire, May 30th, we've got some new buds showing up this morning.

New growth!

   And we've got a pool party going on even as you read this.

Arriba, Amigos!

   Our pool is 35 years old, cracked and sagging (and leaking!) so we thought it was time to have it redone. Five energetic and laughing Mexican tile workers agreed and jumped right in. They stripped this puppy in two hours flat and they joked and laughed the entire time.

   Get ready for a party on the patio, post-COVID, of course.

Flashback Post, August 25, 2012

   Peckasso still can't go into the coop, because one of the hens turned out to be a cock-comb-head and he has a thing for protecting his girlfriends. I can't keep him in the studio much longer or the cleaning lady will kill me. Not joking.

Flashback Meeting

February 25, 2013, Dan The Man
and Robert Ray in the
True West World Headquarters

   Speaking of Robert Ray, he just Zoomed me and walked me through transferring Tiff files from my computer into the Dropbox Team Folder which allows him to work on the Billy the Kid book at his house without setting foot in the office, above, ever again.

   I don't really like it, but it's the future, Man.

"The first 70 years after high school are always the hardest."

—Wonderful Russ

Monday, August 24, 2020

Little Miss Intense And A Certain Pecos Bad Boy

 August 24, 2020

      Unless you have raised a teenaged daughter—or were one yourself—you will never know how intense and actively disgusted young, coming of age, females can be, when provoked, which is to say, every single minute they are awake.

   This was the case with James Chisum's daughter Sallie, who, at eighteen was smitten with the Bad Boy on the Pecos, who everyone knew as "The Kid."

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Little Miss Intense"


   Riding 36 strong (according to John Middleton, "10 buffalo men have joined us") The Regulators, led by the Kid, joined the Chisum wagon train out of Bosque Grande on the Pecos River, bound for West Texas. 

Daily Whip Out: "Regulators On The Run"

   For a parent of a beautiful teenage girl, it's safe to say, nothing good could come of this.

"A father of girls is always a shepherd."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Horse Dragging And Other Outlaw Behavior In Anton Chico

 August 23, 2020

   Like any artist or writer who wants to tell an authentic story I made a vow to visit all the Billy the Kid historic sites I could before I published my first book. I wanted to stand where he stood and, if possible, ride where he rode. That's why I found myself in a rental car, at dawn, on the quiet and pastoral edge of Anton Chico, New Mexico.

Anton Chico at dawn, October 19, 1991

   This historic New Mexican village on the Pecos River figured prominently in the Kid story. The outlaw gambled here quite often and enjoyed the company of several women in the area. He traveled extensively up and down the river, also visiting the communities of Llano Viejo, La Loma, Llano del Medio, Dilia, Colonias, Puerto de Luna and Old Fort Sumner. His nemesis, Pat Garrett, was married in the Anton Chico church, not once, but twice (his first wife died, so he married her sister in the same church in 1880).

Newlyweds: Pat Garrett and Apolonaria
January 14, 1880, at Anton Chico.
They had nine children.

  As I drove into the main part of the village I became very excited because it looked like time had stood still. I was armed with a 35mm Canon and a video camera, so I took many reference shots of all the wonderful adobe structures throughout the village.

Anton Chico architecture

   For the first half hour I didn't see a living soul, except for this dog.

Anton Chico perro

   Then as I swung around by the church where Pat Garrett got married, I heard a loud dragging sound and turned, just in time to see this.

One of the Lucero boys dragging
a dead horse out of town.

   Later, Mister Lucero came back by and we had a chat.

Mister Lucero of Anton Chico

   He wanted to know what I was doing in town and I told him I was on the trail of Billy the Kid. He seemed to believe me, we laughed and I went on my way.

   I found out later, from some friends who live in Santa Rosa that I shouldn't have been driving around Anton Chico in a rental car, looking into houses and gawking. You know, they told me, that's the kind of thing a "gringo" does when they work for the DEA. 

   Oh, right. Got it.

   This is the kind of story, when you tell it to someone in law enforcement, like, say, John Boessenecker, he says, "Holy crap! You did what?!"

   Anyway, I survived the visit and here's the bottom line. If I hadn't gone there and walked those streets and took those reference photos I wouldn't have been able to do this scene with any accuracy.

Daily Whip Out: "Anton Chico Lookout"

   So, I've got that going for me.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely. on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

—Mark Twain

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Trailing Billy the Kid Revisited

 August 22, 2020

    I am deep into BTKIII (Billy the Kid III). This time around I am going to document my time on the trail tracking the Kid for the past 30 years, and this morning, via a Zoom call (we actually use Pulse), I asked my production manager, Robert Ray if he could find the road trip article I did for the shortly lived Old West Journal from the summer of 2000 (twenty flippin' years ago!). Not only did he find it, but here is a screenshot of the opening spread. When I saw it, I said out loud, "Damn, is that Buckeye Blake?" 

   Yes, that is a Buckeye Blake painting of the Kid slammin' and jammin' across New Mexico. The article is interesting on a couple levels.

   For one thing, I cannot believe how much artwork I have done, that I almost can't remember doing, it's been so long ago.

Daily Whip Out: "The Country Jake"

  And, then there this wedding portrait:

"The Newlyweds: Alexander
and Susan McSween"

   And the article documents some pretty ambitious—and dangerous—memories of me traipsing around Anton Chico. I actually witnessed a dead horse being dragged down the main street and I lived to tell about it!

   That photo and that story tomorrow. 

"Holy crap! You did what?!"

—John Boessenecker, ex-cop and current friend, on hearing what I had done

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Mas Queridas Por Favor

 August 20, 2020

   According to Paulita Maxwell, Billy the Kid had a querida in every plaza up and down the Pecos, and beyond. (she should know, she was one of them!) I intend to illustrate each and every one.

Daily Whip Out:

"Abrano Garcia, Sunnyside

Daily Whip Out:

"Miquilita Carrera of PDL"

Daily Whip Out: "Emily Bruja, Roswell "

Daily Whip Out:

"Sallie Chisum, Bosque Grande"

Daily Whip Out:
"Lily Huntress, Taiban"

"Maud Fealy, Buffalo Arroyo"

Not bad for a buck-toothed Kid from New York.

"He was so buck-toothed he could eat pumpkins through a picket fence."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

From Billy the Kid to Atom Bombs

August 19, 2020

   I have some empathy for Francisco Gomez from Lincoln, New Mexico. When he was 18 he met Billy the Kid at the McSween's home where Gomez worked. Both were about the same age and late in life, in 1938, Francisco was interiviewed by  the WPA Writers Project. Gomez told Edith Crawford that the Kid was a "nice young fellow, with light brown hair, blue eyes and rather big front teeth." Francisco added that his friend "always dressed very neatly."  The two even rode together in a posse and shot it out with two outlaws, one being killed, while the other "ran away." Francisco also had an earlier encounter with his boss's wife. In 1879 he gave an affidavit stating that he was seduced by Mrs. McSween and that he "had sexual intercourse with said Mrs. McSween. . .that this sexual intercourse became a frequent occurrence. . .chiefly in the brush near the river."

   So, that's his back story.

Late In The Game, The Dawn of A New Light

   Francisco Gomez led a full life. He rode with Billy the Kid and on Susan McSween. He survived them both. Now he is alone and all the others are gone.

Daily Whip Out:
"Mister Whip Out Francisco Gomez"

   Late one July night in 1945 Francisco is witness to a blast of light coming over the mountains beyond Carizozo. The bright essence arcs across the Rio Bonito and up over the Capitans. As the light recedes he can feel the past slip deeper into the darkness. He has just witnessed, indirectly, the detonation of the first Atomic bomb at the Trinity Site of the Manhattan Project. From Billy to Atomic Bombs, now that is a stretch for one lifetime.

"Founding Fathers strapped down in graves to prevent further spinning."

—2020 Onion Style Headline

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

From The Copper Cart to Spotted Dogs Under A Red Wagon

 August 18, 2020

   Every summer about this time, from 1955 to 1967, my family hit the road to the family farm in Thompson, Iowa for a one-week vacation. We always got up at four, left Kingman by five, then headed out on Route 66, and my dad drove an hour and a half before stopping for breakfast at this classic roadside diner in Seligman, Arizona.

The Copper Cart in downtown Seligman


    We returned for the annual Fun Run in the mid-eighties with my own son, Thomas Charles, and my dad for one last road trip meal at the Copper Cart. It is a cherished memory.

   In these dog days of August I like to get out on the road before the sun comes up. It's a peaceful and contemplative time. 

The hint of a sunrise over the

Hewitt-Yager homestead. 

   I always give thanks for this time of day. So many of my friends are too lazy to get up and see it. Or, they're dead. More of the latter as the days roll on like a broken down dam (John Prine reference).

   And speaking of weird flashbacks, I sometimes see history connections others might miss. In case you thought a certain little-ol-band-from-Texas was fly-by-night, here is historic proof to the contrary.

ZZ Gramps

   Speaking of history undone, I'm feverishly wrapping up loose ends on my final Billy the Kid book. And I have been curious about one angle. As you know if you've read either of my previous books on the errant boy outlaw, the author, Walter Noble Burns, put the Kid on the map with his 1924 book, "The Saga of Billy the Kid." So the question is, just how much had Billy the Kid been forgotten in the interem years from his death to the end of WWI? So I asked someone who knows.

   "Think about it this way. Less than a dozen, or so, dime novels featured Billy the Kid.  Compare that to Jesse James, who appeared in hundreds.  There was even a weekly called The Jesse James Stories.  Over the years, Billy did pop up in numerous newspaper pieces, the occasional magazine story, and a book or two.  Emerson Hough's The Story of the Outlaw, published in 1907, was an early one, but it didn't focus solely on the Kid, and it didn't sell well, either.  So, to answer your question, the Kid, while known, wasn't all that popular.  Brininstool would later take Poe's story and issue it as a booklet in two limited editions, one in 1919 and another in 1923.  The 1919 edition saw 350 copies printed and the 1923 edition was limited to 250 signed and numbered copies.  Clearly, if Brininstool only printed a total of 600 copies of this seminal work in four years, Billy wasn't a big deal.  It took Burns to make Billy the Kid a household name.  Not only did Burns' book lead to the first major film featuring the Kid, but it saw the republication of Poe's classic account by a trade publisher, Houghton Mifflin, in 1933.  Garrett's book was republished by Macmillan in 1927, again due to the interest in the outlaw spawned by The Saga of Billy the Kid.  And it's also because of Burns that we see the beginning of heritage tourism for Lincoln County and Fort Sumner.  None of these things would have happened without the publication of Burns' bestseller."

—Mark Lee Gardner

   See, it pays to know who knows this stuff.

   On a semi-related note: just how cute was the querida who broke the Kid's heart? Oh, about this cute.

Daily Whip Out:
"She Was A Beauty, A Mexican Cutie"

Or, as the old cowhands used to say:

"She's prettier'n a spotted dog under a red wagon."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, August 17, 2020

Here's When This Pandemic Ends And What Heppens Next

 August 17, 2020

   "The world has never seen anything like this," said the man who has never looked at a history book.

The Anit-Mask League posts a notice

in the San Francisco Chronicle

on January 25, 1919

   Yes, there was resistence to wearing masks in the 1918 pandemic, with many Americans refusing to do so, and so the government created slogans like, "Wear a mask or go to jail!" Our great grandparents weren't any happier than many of their great grandkids are about being forced to wear a mask. 

   So what else can we glean from that experience?

Three Waves

   There were three waves of illness in the 1918 pandemic. That plague started in March of 1918 and spiked three times. After the third one, the deaths subsided by the summer, in 1919. The pandemic peaked in the U.S. during the second wave, in the fall of 1918. This highly fatal second wave was responsible for most of the U.S. deaths attributed to the flu. By the third wave more and more people had achieved herd immunity and life returned to normal the following summer (1919).

   So, if history is our guide, next summer—in 2021,—life will return to normal and then we will get a bonus, something very, very groovy.


   All the sickness and mask wearing and massive death toll of the 1918 pandemic led directly to the Roaring Twenties! People were thrilled to be alive, to be able to go back into bars and to the bars they did go. Bathtub Gin parties, flappers, the Charleston. If you've never studied history, you never thought they were connected, did you? So get ready. It's coming again, after the third wave. We've got ten more months to go. Hang on. We'll make it.

A very funny New Yorker cartoon

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

—Mark Twain