Sunday, October 18, 2020

If My Father Had Made The Turn to Fort Sumner

 October 18, 2020

   In my second book on the Kid, I had the last man standing as Francisco Gomez, who not only rode with Billy the Kid and on Susan McSween but he lived to experience the atomic bomb blast just over the mountains at the Trinity Site (which is between Lincoln and Socorro). He died in 1946 and at the time I published the second book I assumed he was the last guy standing who knew Billy the Kid.

   Well, researcher and soon-to-be Kid book author, James B. Mills, of Australia, recently shared with me info on a guy in Fort Sumner who outlived them all.

Daily Whip Out: "Vicente Otero"

   This guy was alive in the summer of 1958 when my family was on the way to Iowa to visit the family farm. I saw the turn at Santa Rosa (Billy the Kid's grave 55 miles) but I couldn't get my dad to make the turn. If I had been able to get that stubborn Norwegian to make the turn, and we got to Fort Sumner and I had the good fortune to ask the right questions and charm the right people, I would have been able to meet and interview a guy who rode with Bill the Kid!

   Of course, there was only one problem.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"The Fanner-Fifty Kid"

   I was only twelve at the time, which of course would have stunted my interview capabilities and I would most certainly have asked all the wrong questions.

"Was the Kid fast on the draw?"

"Did he rob banks and trains?"

"Did his horse come when he whistled?"

"Did he dress all in black?"

"Did he carve notches on his pistols?"

   I think I can pretty much predict what ol' Vicente would have told me:

"He was my friend and he was none of those things."

"The problem with this world is that by the time you make it to greener pastures, you're too old to climb the fence."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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