Monday, February 28, 2022

Olive & Sharlot & Karen

 February 28, 2022

    It's Karen Johnson Collins' B-Day today. Happy Birthday to my very first girlfriend. She is still a very sweet thing.

Ingalls Onslaught

   One of the most bizarre shootouts in the history of the West happened in the tiny, outlaw town of Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory in 1893. Three wagon loads of federal Marshals (24 in all) went up against the Doolin-Dalton gang. That would be Bill Doolin and Bill Dalton. Other gang members present in the farming community included "Bitter Creek" Newcomb, "Arkansas Tom," "Dynamite Dick" all dead shots and all game. When the dust cleared, three lawmen were dead plus two civilians and the one who did most of the killing, not only survived prison, but got paroled, made a movie, went straight, then back on the outlaw trail, went to prison one more time and then was shot dead while babysitting. Like I said, this was a bizarre one. Watch for it on YouTube, soon.

Daily Whip Out Sketch:

"Dick Speed Takes Aim"

Truth & Consequences

The Olive Oatman & Sharlot Hall Story

In 1901 magazine journalist Sharlot Hall pursues the half-century old tale of Olive Oatman, a white captive of the Mojave Indians. But what begins as a routine assignment soon becomes a journey into a murky past, a search for a rumored truth, bringing Hall into contact with some famous Old West characters - legends in their own right - who help her follow an uncertain trail through the wild, unyielding desertlands of the California-Arizona border. Frustration, long held secrets, and deadly encounters mark her path as she learns to negotiate the slippery terrain between white and Native American versions of history. She discovers that “truth” is a relative term, laden with questions regarding Olive’s life as a captive, and her “rescue:” Was Olive a slave of the Mojave? Did she willingly return to civilization? At what cost? In the end, Olive herself delivers the truth—a harrowing confession—of choices made.

Daily Whip Out: "Sharlot In Clouds"

"The truth of it bears its own consequence. What you find makes you part of that consequence, and you have to live with that.”

This is the bravest comment I have heard in a very long time, proving once again that Courage—with a capital C—never goes out of style. The president of Ukraine is defiant in the face of Russian tanks. He has been on the streets of Kyiv, refuting rumors that he's fled. And, he has flatly refused a reported American offer of evacuation, by saying, simply:

"The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride."

—Volodymyr Zelenskyy

"Dang, that boy has Sand."

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Joe Powskey Rocks A Flattop!

 February 26, 2022

  When I was growing up in Mohave County nobody— and I mean nobody—rocked a flattop like the Hualapais. One of the coolest of the cool with a rockin' flattop was Joe Powskey, a talented Hualapai artist as well. Joe passed on February 13, at age 74. This one is for him.

Daily Reworked Whip Out:

"Joe Powskey Rocks!"

  And, here's photographic proof of the superior flattop of Mr. Powskey.

Joe Powskey, class of '67

No disrespect, but you could land a plane on that carrier deck!

Old Vaquero Sayings Book Status

Going into serious production mode on the OVS book and I'm still noodling what the old vaquero might look like. For one thing, I'm pretty sure he has that Carranza style, white mustache and long van Dyke. You know, like this.

Daily Whip Out: "Old Vaquero #4"

This is an homage (or poach, depending on your idea of "borrowing") to the artist Gerald Cassidy (1869-1934) who did this kind of painting with ease and style.

"Originality is remembering what was said, but conveniently forgetting who said it."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Night Man

 February 25, 2022

   Stories of the desert from a dead-serious trickster.

Daily Flashback Whip Out:

"The Night Man"

   He works the graveyard shift at a lonely gas station in the middle of nowhere. To him the deathly quiet is a godsend. Yes, he loves the solitude and the strange people who stop for gas—and other things—in the middle of the night. Towards dawn, he looks forward to the coming light, signaling the end of his shift.

Daily Whip Out: "Perfume Pass Surprise"

   On this particular night, he is in for the ride of his life.

Daily Whip Out: "Jugs Iced Free?"

   Or, is he?

"Ain't if funny how the night moves, when you just don't seem to have as much to lose."

—Bob Seger, "Night Moves"

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Popular Historical Beliefs That Are Not True And Kind of Funny

 February 24, 2022

   I'm driving out to Apache Junction today to talk to the folks at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Here's just a sneak peek at one of the topics we will discuss.

Popular Historical Beliefs That Are Not True

   There are tons of these, but here is just one that tickles me.

   Popular Belief: People in the Old West did not smile in photographs because their teeth were bad.

An Early Smiler

   Actual Fact: People didn't smile in photographs as a rule because they were aiming for the dignified look you were supposed to put forward in those times. They were going for the somber, serious look inherited from portrait paintings of kings and queens and notables, going back hundreds of years. Smiling was considered innapropriate for posterity. All that said, there are, in fact, hundreds, if not thousands, of photos from the Old West era of people smiling (see above) and even sitters laughing. They obviously didn't care about propriety or posterity and I love them for it.

   Funny, yes?

"I'll give you something to smile about."

—Some Creepy Guy at TGI Fridays

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

True Lies: How Much of Our History Is Actually True?

 February 23, 2022

   Fancy meeting you here.

Daily Whip Out Reworked:

"Bowlegged Vaquero"

(from a 1920s photograph)

   If someone had asked me a year ago what are the chances that a wagon train story would make a hit show, I would have said, "Pa-leeze. The wagon train story is deader than a doornail. There hasn't been a successful story about a wagon train for more than half a century."

   Well, you can credit one man with reviving that tired old cliche (Pioneer Colonialism anyone?) back to life and that is this guy.

Taylor Sheridan as Charles Goonight
in "1883"

   It proves a couple things: the power of emotional writing, the enduring power of founding myths, to be sure, but mainly it proves Stephen King's bromide from, well, read on.

   Some time back I read that to be considered a serious historian you only have to get the past right 67% of the time. I'm not exactly sure of that number, but I remember is was much lower than I ever thought it would be. The point being that so much of history is distorted, disputed, or just plain unknowable that to even get the past right two thirds of the time, you are considered a bonafied historian.

    Here's a newspaper headline clipped from this week's paper: "City Bars Snow Workers Under 30 As Too Lazy." Are you secretly thrilled, like I was, because you think today's youth are lazier than we were growing up? Well, okay, full disclosure: the headline is from 1934. It's from the Headline In History archives of The New York Times. hIn the summation of the February 18, 1934 article, The New York City's Department of Sanitation reported they would only hire workers over thrity because "younger men loaf too much on the job." Turns out they are actually referring to our grandparents (actually closer to my father's age who was born in the twenties) who actually thought we were a pretty damn lazy generation. And crazier, to boot. 

   And so it goes. Every generation thinks they are smarter than the last and wiser than the next.

Daily Whip Out: "Old Vaquero #2"

   The other enemy of history is time. The more time goes by, the more stuff, gets lost, or destroyed or simply forgotten. Here's a good example:

‘We estimate that more than 90% of medieval manuscripts preserving chivalric and heroic narratives have been lost."

—Dr. Katarzyna Anna Kapitan, an Old Norse philologist and Junior Research Fellow at Linacre College, Oxford

   And, so it goes. Time erases all, especially the "truth." And, by that, it should be added, which truth?

"Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”

—Stephen King 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

A Palindrome, An Ambigram And An Earthquake Interview Missed

 February 22, 2022

   Today is a palindrome AND an ambigram

   The date will read the same from left to right, from right to left AND upside down! Which is called an ambigram. Crazy.

   I have been studying good storytelling techniques and that search led me to this.

The Good-For-Nothing
   When you're a little boy and Dad calls you "good-for-nothing" it's just got to hurt.
   That's just what Guiseppe's Papa called him. . .good-for-nothing. Little Guiseppe good-for-nothing.
   And he wasn't joking!
   For papa came from a family. of fishermen. Three hundred years the men in his family had been fishermen in Sicily. And Papa himself was a fisherman.
   When he first came to America, he worked on the railroad until he'd saved enough money to send for his wife. Then he headed straight for San Francisco, to Fisherman's Wharf. . .to become a fisherman again. . .to perpetuate the family tradition.
   Eventually, Papa and Mama had nine children. And you can imagine that all of the boys got their sea legs early. . .began helping Papa out on his fishing boat from the time they learned to walk.
   All of them, that is, except Guiseppe.
   Guiseppe didn't want to.
   "What do you mean, you don't want to!" demanded Papa.
   Guiseppe explained that the rocking of the small boat and the smell of fish made him ill. It wasn't that he didn't want to help out; fish just didn't agree with him, that's all.
   That wasn't good enough for Papa. As far as Papa was concerned, Guiseppe was good for nothing. The boy had come from a long line of fishermen and there was no reason in the world for the profession to disagree with. him. Guiseppe was never too sick to go out and play with friends. Why, then, did it make him sick to help his Papa?
    Not why but what happened then is the rest of the story.
   Disturbed by his father's criticism, young Guiseppe tried very hard to adapt to the family business. The rocking of the boat and the smell of the fish still bothered him, so he turned to other tasks, such as sealing the boat and repairing the nets. But as hard as he'd try to remain unaffected, the fish smell was still in the gear and made his already sensitive stomach even more queasy.
   Guiseppe quit.
   He went out and odd-jobbed wherever he could. Errand boy. Newspaper boy. Sometimes he even pulled down a dollar a day. It wasn't pocket money; it was table money. Every cent Guiseppe earned, he turned over to the household for food and clothing.
   You'd think Papa would be proud of his son, but to Papa young Guiseppe was just being lazy. Odd jobs were lazy jobs, according to him. Real work was helping Papa on the fishing boat.
   This weighed pretty heavily on the lad. He started hiding under the bed when Papa came looking for him. Or, he ran off to play sports with his friends when he knew Papa was about to call him to the fishing boat.
   Tennis was especially interesting to him, watching the older boys play. He knew that tennis champs Maurice McLaughlin and Bill Johnston came from San Francisco, and he wanted to be like them.
   But the tennis passion didn't last long, and for the first time Guiseppe began to believe his Dad. Perhaps he was a lazy good-for-nothing who couldn't even stay interested in a sport. Maybe he never would amount to anything.
   That's the way Guiseppe saw it back then. Everything just seemed sort of gloomy and hopeless.
   But as it turned out, Guiseppe one day became the most successful member of his family!
   Oh, he didn't go back to fishing. Despite his ancestry, Guiseppe just wasn't cut out to be a fisherman. Or a tennis player, for that matter.
   When Guiseppe finally found something that interested him sufficiently to stay with it, his passion for it was so great that two of his brothers quit fishing and joined him!
  You've heard of Guiseppe by his American first name. Everyone else has, I guess, and that great big world beyond Fisherman's Wharf won't forget the fisherman they lost.
   Neither will they forget the boy who forgot about tennis only to enter the world of sports and turn it upside-down.
   For if that young man hadn't been too seasick to join the family business, he would have left a vacancy in baseball's Hall of Fame too great to fill. . .
   Guiseppe. . .Joe. . .DiMaggio.
—Paul Harvey, The Rest of The Story

An Earthquake Interview That Jolted Away
   I actually ran into Guiseppe near Fisherman's Wharf in 1989. As part of the Jones, Boze & Jeanne radio morning show on KSLX (100.7 FM) in Scottsdale, we, along with all the other radio stations in Phoenix, did a relief fund event at Colonade Mall for the earthquake that hit San Francisco during the World Series in October of that year. After the event, television station Channel 3 flew a whole planeload of reporters, including myself (I was the "News Director" at the station) to San Fran and we were taxied into town and over to the hardest hit quake zone to cover it. On the trip over I fell in with another crazy radio guy, Tim Hattrick (Y-95), and we roamed the area looking for people to interview and have fun with. Well, we found a whale of a person to interview but we didn't approach him. A Channel 3 photogrpaher took this photo of Tim and I, as we watched, in awe, as Joe DiMaggio came out of a condo—with two bodyguards—and got into a Lincoln Town Car and drove off. 

Tim & Boze: Speechless!

   Now, we were both radio hams and we were both notorious for being obnoxious with strangers, but the two of us stood across the street and said nothing. In fact, we even looked down, as a sign of respect, so as not to upset the legendary Joltin' Joe.

"Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. . ."
—Paul Simon, "Mrs. Robinson"

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Queens of Dreamy Draw Reach for The Sky!

 February 21, 2022

   That picture of the A-1 Softball Queens I posted the other day really set me off. Went looking and found some more great pics of these Valley of the Sun softball teams, which in turn inspired even more characters and storylines.

The Queens of Dreamy Draw Reach for The Sky

Fly Ball!

   The Queens of Dreamy Draw head out on the highway for an away game. that's Dodie behind the wheel, along with Charlotte, Lois, Dot and Margie crowded in the big, bulgemobile.

An Away Game

(one short of nine, better look in the trunk!)

A-1 Okay!

Flossie Ballard! Oh, that is too rich.

      Looking for their cuts, and soon to be in the Batter's Box.

On Deck!
Four of the A-1 Queens get ready to swing.

      Going to be a blast. Get ready for some major league fun.

"There's no crying in baseball."

—Tom Hanks, "A League of Their Own"

Sunday, February 20, 2022

The Restless Eyes of Crazy Horse

 February 20, 2022

   Thanks to some serious Crazy Horse fans and scholars (that would be you James Mills and Bradley Ross ) I have a little better description of the legendary Crazy Horse. He was known to have "light, brown hair and complexion" (counter intuitive, but okay) and he painted lightning streaks on his cheeks before battle and he had a serious scar above, or around the mouth area, when he was shot at close range by a very angry warrior who didn't appreciate Crazy Horse's amorous attentions to the angry warrior's wife. 

   "Crazy Horse did have fairer skin than the average Lakota and had dark brown curly hair. He was described by those who knew him, as in his fellow Lakota (including one of his best friends’s younger brother) as a slight, slender man, about 5’8 or 9” tall, with a thin face and small aquiline nose."

—James Mills

   Also, according to a woman who met him, Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun, Crazy Horse's eyes were "hazel." A newspaperman who encountered him in 1877 said he eyes were "restless." Okay, so a composite of all this is perhaps closer to here:

Daily Whip Out:

"The Restless Eyes of Crazy Horse"

Say What?

   Okay, so let's back this up. Eye Witnesses and kin describe Crazy Horse as having brown, curly hair, light complexion, a narrow face and nose—hazel eyes—and small in stature. Wow. If I didn't know better, I would say he was an apple: red on the outside, white on the inside. But that's history. When you expect it to go one way, it invariably goes the opposite way. And, here's the kicker: if I literally illustrated Crazy Horse to match this description he would look more like Pauly Shore than the greatest Lakota to ever walk the earth.

"History is too important to be left to historians."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The A-1 Queens of Dreamy Draw

 February 19, 2022

   As all the locals know, there is a back way into Paradise Valley from downtown Phoenix and last week I found myself traversing this little known, surface-streets-route back to Cave Creek, to avoid the rush hour on the 51. As I snaked up 12th Street, north of Glendale Avenue, and then made my way zig-zagging back to Dunlap, I spied an old sign with new eyes: The Dreamy Draw. Man, I thought to myself, that is a TV show waiting to happen. And, then this morning, when I saw the below photo, just like that, the entire pilot fell out of my brain and right into this blog post.

The Elevator Pitch (literally!)

   These Phoenix Queens played softball in the daytime but hardball at night.

The 1949 A-1 Queens of Dreamy Draw

   These gals were the roughest and toughest babes who ever stole second; they played softball in the daytime, then rampaged across the Valley from Durant's to Bill Johnson's Big Apple at night, leaving broken hearts in their wake at every turn.

Babe: She strikes out more than anyone on the team but she also has the most grand slams!

Dotty: Miss Prim & Proper on the diamond, but off the field, she's off the chain, with a six-pack of of A-1 pilsner beer for everyone!

Where's your team spirit? Drink up ladies!

Denise: Den mother and uptight bitch during the day but when the sun goes down, she's even more of a bitch!

Putalina: Everyone agrees she is hot as a pistol, but it's a team secret that she is still a virgin and a recent Southern Baptist convert from Apache Junction.

Rose: With a hairdo from Dairy Queen, nobody throws harder, but then as she moonlights as the governor of Arizona, I guess that's to be expected.

Aquanetta: She views the infield as a Hollywood jungle and since her husband bought the team she starts every game!

   If this isn't a Netflix Original Program waiting to happen, I'm not a successful publisher.

   Thanks to Harry Randolph for letting me "borrow" the A-1 Queens picture. Sorry, Harry, if I blasphemed your mother.

"That woman speaks eighteen languages and can't say no in any of them."

—Dorothy Parker

Friday, February 18, 2022

The Cattletrack Old Vaquero Sayings Design Team

 Feruary 18, 2022

   Me and the Boys—and one Girl—have been threatening to do a book on Old Vaquero Sayings for a couple years now, but with Covid and the stresses of everyday life, we could never seem to get in the same place at the same time. That changed, today.

The OVS Project Team at Cattletrack

   One of the design team members, Edmundo Segundo, third from right, bought one of my scratchboards right off the table, and his assistant, Kenny Richardson bought three.

Sold Daily Scratchboard Whip Outs

   I will say, those Mell boys have good taste in art.

Naco Vaqueros

   At least 20 years ago, we were in Bisbee with my son Thomas Charles and his fiance Amy Pothong. It was a Saturday and we were looking for some good Mexican food so we drove down to Naco, on the Mexican border, and thought we might find something muy autentico down there. We easily crossed the border and saw a couple of contenders, but I drove on down the main drag looking for just the right spot. About two miles down, I decided to turn around in the enveloping darkness, and spied two horseback riders coming along the roadway. On a whim, I put the Land Cruiser in park, kept the motor running, grabbed my camera and opened the door and asked the two riders if I could take their photo. They laughed and I shot this Hail Mary photo not knowing if the flash even worked or if I even got anything. When I got home and the film was developed (doesn't that sound antiquated!), I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

Naco Vaqueros On A Saturday Night

   Dressed up and riding on a Saturday evening. Two friends enjoying a horseback ride. I wonder where they are today?

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out: 
"Moon of the Mojaves"

"Love is blind but not the neighbors."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Visions of Crazy Horse

February 17, 2022

   One of the most iconic characters of the Wild West is elusive because there are no known photographs of him.

Daily Whip Out: "Elusive Crazy Horse"

   First off, I don't buy that alleged photo of Crazy Horse that is circulating online. Too cute, by half.

   So, what did Crazy Horse look like and how did he get his famous moniker? A quick search found this:

"As a young boy Crazy Horse was known as Curley Hair. Later he was renamed Horse On Sight. During a battle with the Arapahoes the young Crazy Horse showed bravery in the fight. As a result Crazy Horse the father, passed on his name to his son in honor of his war deed. The father would be known thereafter as Worm."

   Oh that is rich. To go from the coolest name in the West to one of the worst—Hey, Worm, up kindah early?—is some major sort of cruel father-son switcharoo irony, indeed.

   As for his looks, another online search found this:

"Crazy Horse never wore elaborate clothing. Instead of wearing a headdress he attached a single Eagle feather to his hair. When going into battle he painted a lightning symbol on his face and also carried a small stone tied to his upper body."

   Then, this:

"There is no authenticated sketch or photograph of Crazy Horse, but he had been described as possessing fair skin with soft, light-colored hair."

   A "Native American" site claims:

"He was an uncommonly handsome man. While not the equal of Gall in magnificence and imposing stature, he was physically perfect, an Apollo in symmetry. Furthermore he was a true type of Indian refinement and grace. He was modest and courteous as Chief Joseph; the difference is that he was a born warrior, while Joseph was not. However, he was a gentle warrior, a true brave, who stood for the highest ideal of the Sioux."

   Really? Fair skin? Soft, light-colored hair? Physically perfect? An Apollo in symmetry, full of refinement and grace? Modest and courteous? A Gentle warrior? Is this history or a Tinder profile?

Cutting Through The Pap

   So, with this hodge podge, revisionist pap, how can anyone capture an authentic image of the real man? The short answer is it's impossible, unless you are trying to appeal to factions who carry a pre-conceived idea of what he stands for. All that said, I have a hunch, he might have had a bit of a sneer.

Daily Whip Out:

"Crazy Horse Sneers"

   I know. I know. Crazy Horse allegedly preferred the one feather look and not the war bonnet. I did this Whip Out before I read that. Still, any attempt at capturing how he may have actually looked, needs to be more symbolic than individualist. Somewhere in this zone:

Daily Whip Out:

"Crazy Horse Still Crazy"

   Another search, another take:

"Born around 1840 to Lakota parents, Crazy Horse was originally named Cha-O-Ha, or Among the Trees. (His mother, however, insisted on calling him “Curly.”) When Cha-O-Ha reached maturity, he was given the name held by his father and grandfather—Ta-Sunko-Witko, or Crazy Horse."

The Impossible Search & A Noble Attempt

   At the end of the day, is it possible to even capture Crazy Horse as he may have actually appeared? Perhaps, but even if someone did, so many would hate it.

Ben Franklin with a partial halo?

"Trust gets you killed, love gets you hurt and being real gets you hated."

—Johnny Cash

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Here's A Shocker: We Actually Went to A Movie Theater!

 February 16, 2022

   Yesterday, Kathy and I did something we haven't done in over two years. No, not that. We drove down to Desert Ridge Mall and had lunch outside, at Barrio Cafe, then walked over to Barnes & Noble and I bought a C-note worth of new books (thanks to a B&N gift card from Carole Glenn for my B-Day last December). Of course, I had to first check out their massive magazine racks.

True West magazine front and center

   And then, here's the crazy part, we walked down to AMC Theaters to see if there was a movie we might want to see. Chose "Licorice Pizza" and watched it in a big, ol' empty theater with one other person. Haven't been in a theater since the pandemic began in February of 2020. Not sure how these theaters have survived and by the looks of it, they have a long way to go.

   Building out the next issue (May). Have some ideas on how to make that groovy.

I'll drink to that! Wedding Toast, 1905

   My son, Thomas, is teaching in Japan, and he has a favorite author. He ordered nine titles from a book store in San Diego and had them delivered to our house, and the box arrived today, via UPS.

Grahan Greene is in the house!

   At Tommy's recomendation, I'm going to read "The Comedians"

"If you want to know what God thinks about money, look at the people he gave it to."

—Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Bat Masterson Crowns Wyatt Earp


February 15, 2022

   After their adventures in Kansas, Texas and the Southwest, the two Sporting Men, Bat & Wyatt, essentially went their separate ways, with Earp going West and Masterson gravitating to the east. Bat's first trip to New York was in 1895, when he was hired as a bodyguard for millionaire George Gould. Wyatt Earp also served in the same capacity, acting as a bodyguard for George Hearst, who came to Tombstone to look at the mines, and later Earp also guarded George's son William Randolph, in San Francisco.

The Bodyguard Bat Masterson

   Masterson wrote to his friends in Denver how much fun he had fishing off of Gould's yacht and told them he intended to stay in New York. However, he came back to Colorado and had various adventures—most of them legitimate—all of them colorful, until he and his beautiful wife Emma, moved to Manhattan for good in June of 1902. Thanks in part to his Gould connections, a friend and journalist, Alfred Henry Lewis talked his brother into providing Masterson with a gig writing about boxing in the New York Morning Telegraph. Three times a week, he wrote under the banner of "Masterson's Views On Timely Topics." He wrote the column from 1903 until his death in 1921, becoming a successful writer in the process. This is something Earp could never master.

Alfred Henry Lewis Opens The Door

   And it was Alfred Henry Lewis who encouraged Masterson to write a series of sketches about his Wild West adventures to be published in Human Life magazine, and in 1907 Bat wrote up character sketches on Ben Thompson, Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, Doc Holliday and Bill Tilghman.

   In these sketches, Bat made it very clear how much he admired Wyatt Earp and one interesting thing is how much he disliked Doc Holliday, writing, "Physically, Doc Holliday was a weakling who could not have whipped a healthy 15-year-old boy in a go-as-you-please fist fight, and no one knew this better than himself, and the knowledge of this fact was perhaps why he was so ready to resort to a weapon of some kind whenever he got himself into difficulty. He was hot-headed and impetuous and very much given to both drinking and quarreling, and, among men who did not fear him, was very much disliked."

Not a fan of Doc Holliday.

   Through his connection with Lewis, Masterson met Teddy Roosevelt and Bat became a regular visitor at the White House. The president appointed Bat as a U.S. Deputy Marshal at a salary of $2,000 a year (the equivalent of $50k today). At one of these visits, Masterson supposedly said, "The true history of the West will never be told until Wyatt Earp talks. And Wyatt Earp isn't talking." A young press secretary, Stuart Lake, overheard this remark, and after Masterson died typing at his desk in 1921, Lake eventually got around to going out to California to find Wyatt Earp and get the true story. When he found the old frontiersman he was in for a rude suprise.

Boy Howdy!

   In the Twenties, the Western movie star, Tom Mix, and his friend, Wyatt Earp, decided to get culture, and Mix ordered a bunch of books on Shakespeare plays for them to read. Someone asked Earp what he thought of Shakespeare and his plays and the old frontiersman said, "That feller Hamlet was a talkative man. He wouldn't have lasted long in Kansas."

Not impressed with Shakespeare

The Man Who Didn't Talk Much at All

   One of the reasons Earp probably lasted in Kansas is partly due to the fact he was not a chatty fellow. When Stuart Lake finally caught up to Earp he complained bitterly that Wyatt was monosylabic, answering most questions with three answers. "Yep." "Nope." "Don't recall." And then Wyatt Earp died. Perfect for a writer. Now Lake could put any words in his mouth he wanted. Lake's working premise was, Hey, I talked to the guy. This is what he told me.

   So, in the end, with the publication of Stuart Lake's "Frontier Marshal" in 1931, Earp rose from the regional personality he always had been in life, into the icon he is today. Wyatt now stands shoulder to shoulder with Wild Bill, Jesse James, Crazy Horse, Custer and Geronimo. . . and, he has his good friend William Barclay "Bat" Masterson, to thank for that.

"Wyatt Earp is one of the few men I personally knew in the West in the early days, whom I regarded as absolutely destitute of physical fear."

—Bat Masterson

Monday, February 14, 2022

Bat Masterson Made Wyatt Earp Famous, Part I

 February 14, 2022

   When we think of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson as legends and icons most people naturally assume that at the start of the Twentieth Century, as interest grew for heroes of the Old West, a writer found the two aging lawmen, wrote down their stories and the numerous books and the glut of movies and TV shows followed right along. Well, that's about half true.

   Here's the real story.

   For starters, both men were about as brave as one can be without being a psychopath. One was from a working class Irish family in Canada and the other boy was from Pella, Iowa, via Illinois. Did the Irish lad William Barclay "Bat" Masterson, say "aboot" and did the Iowa farm boy, Wyatt Barry Stapp Earp, say, "I 's'pose"? Hard to say, but with the strong regional dialects being prominent in those days, it's possible.

 Fast forward: by the time they were in their twenties they were working together as lawmen and we have the photograph to prove it.

Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp

Dodge City policemen, 1876

    Bat is 23 in this photograph and Wyatt is 28. They made a good team and enforced the law during the wild cattle drives that crash-landed in Dodge every summer, and unleashed gangs of Texas cowboys who were ready to whoop it up and take out their youthful enthusiams and prejudices on Kansas Yankees, while the cattle were loaded on railroad cars to be taken eastward.

   Note the soft, leather gunbelts which appear to be part of a uniform? The badge we can see on Wyatt is also very unique with the sliver of a shield, as opposed to a five-point star badge or flat shield prominent in most photographs of the American frontier era. 

   Both young lawmen were known to be adept at "buffaloing" malcontents in Dodge by using the butts of their six-shooters as a club and hitting cowboys upside the head to subdue them. One oldtimer told about being in a pool hall when Earp demanded a trouble-maker come outside. When the Texan refused, Wyatt entered the hall, waded right into the gang of cowboys assembled and "buffaloed" the miscreant, dragged him outside and arrested him. Now this took some major "sand," and if you want to know what that might be like today, simply go into a biker bar, jump up on a pool table and announce that only "wussies" ride Harleys. You'll have a pretty decent idea of what Wyatt and Bat were dealing with on a daily basis during those rowdy cattle seasons in Dodge City, Kansas.

   After the 1879 season, the Earps headed west because "Dodge had lost its snap," was how Wyatt put it. After a stint in Prescott, Arizona, they gravitated to the new strike in the southeastern part of the Arizona Territory, called Tombstone. Wyatt was tired of "lawing" and was in town to make money, investing in a mine and trying his hand at various capitalist activities. He also kept his hand in dealing faro at the Oriental Saloon and soon wrote Bat to come quick because faro dealers were making up to $25 a shift, while cowboys made $30 a month!

   Bat came out in in the spring of 1881, and spent some quality time in the gambling halls of the Town Too Tough to Die. It's interesting to speculate what might have been different in the altercation of October 26 of that same year with the cowboys at the O.K. Corral, if Virgil had called on Bat to assist his brothers, rather than Doc Holliday. It's tempting to think violence would have been avoided, with both Wyatt and Bat having ample experience with just that situation, but we'll never know. But before that event came down, Bat received word that his brother Jim had threats against his life back in Dodge City. So, the loyal brother left Tombstone and traveled the 1,100 miles, the last part by rail, back to Dodge and, as the train pulled into the station, he jumped off on the opposite side from the depot, and almost immediately got into a gunfight with two of the guys who were threatening his brother, wounding one of his assailants (although Al Updegraph later claimed he was hit by someone else), Bat was arrested and forced to leave town with his brother. Later, Luke Short who had bought the Long Branch, got sideways with the town fathers when he attempted to bring in female "singers" who weren't actually singers, but you know. Anyway, Short's friends, including Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and others returned to Dodge in 1883 to intimidate Short's adversaries, which they did, and then they posed for a famous photograph, known as the Dodge City Peace Commission.

The Dodge City Peace Commission


Short was able to recoup some of his losses and leave town with some grace. After this Bat gravitated to Denver, and then on to New York City. Wyatt bounced around the West from Idaho to Alaska, and all up and down the Pacific coast from San Diego, Los Angeles, to San Francisco and on to Seattle. They may have run into each other at a prize fight, or two, but for all intents and purposes they never saw each other again, and yet, even though they were basically on opposite coasts, Bat's influence started the gears rolling forward and before Masterson died in 1921 he had planted the seeds to the legend that would carry Wyatt Earp, after his own death, to the pantheon of Western icons. Wow. 

   Tomorrow, I'll explain that wild ride in Part II of the Bat & Wyatt origin story.

"Wyatt Earp has excited by his display of great courage and nerve under trying conditions, the envy and hatred of those small-minded creatures whith which the world seems to be abundantly peopled, and whose sole delight in life seems to be in fly-specking the reputations of real men."

—Bat Masterson

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Nothing Is Gone Forever?

 February 13, 2022

   Yesterday, I rode in the Wickenburg Gold Rush Days Parade (Full disclosure: I actually walked). Beautiful day, great crowd. Handed out 11 boxes of True West magazines and then hung out at the True West table outside the train depot with Our Man On The Ground, Steve Todd, of Albuquerque, who drove over to do the event.

Our Man On The Ground, Steve Todd

      Had a very groovy wagon and help from these two:

Greg and Lucy beside the True West wagon

BBB Captured Beneath the Bull
(photo by Julia Macias Brooks)

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

   So many things that I believed were solid when I was growing up are gone. Central Commercial is gone. Paradise Valley Mall is gone. Mr. Lucky's is gone. And, finally, Nothing is gone—again.

Nothing Is Gone Forever?

Abandoned Twice, Appreciated Always

   The ghost town of Nothing, is on the edge of Mohave County, between Wickenburg and Wikiup, on Highway 93. It was founded in 1977 with a gas station and store, abandoned, then restarted and abandoned again. A town sign proclaimed:

"Thru the years these dedicated people had faith in nothing, hoped for nothing, worked at nothing, for nothing."

   It's all gone now, except for the sign clinging to sagging posts, but I always smile at the absurdity and the humor of the place every time I drive by on my way home.

How Ringo Really Died

   I don't believe Ringo's death was suicide. I met a lady about four years ago at one of my Vendetta Ride presentations at Ringo's gravesite. She pulled me aside after the presentation to tell me her family has lived in this area for about 150 years on Turkey Creek Road, which was used by the cowboys to get to and over the Chiricahua mountains and into Mexico with cattle. Johnny Ringo was also known to have a female companion out by Apache Pass. When it got hot from being on the trail all day Ringo would stop at his favorite spot to rest himself and his horse, and to cool off in the creek under the shady tree. Rumor has it that it was the property owner who was sick and tired of Ringo trespassing on his property, and he shot Ringo. The other part of the rumor was that Ringo was having an affair with the property owner's wife, and the property owner shot him and tried to make it look like a suicide to protect himself from being prosecuted.
—Gene "Rock" Kurz
Sedona, Arizona

"I don't care what is written about me, so long as it isn't true."
—Dorothy Parker