Thursday, June 30, 2022

Atomic Billy And Sharlot Hall Semi-Final And A Solid Defense of Grover Cleveland

 June 30, 2022

Mike Molsbergen just bought my original painting of "Atomic Billy," which was created to illustrate the span of life of Francisco Gomez who rode with Billy the Kid and on Susan McSween and lived until 1946, perhaps witnessing the glow of the first atomic bomb some 70 miles west of his home in Lincoln, New Mexico.

Daily Whip Out: "Atomic Billy"

  Three roughs and two Whip Outs later, we get to here.

Daily Unfinished Whip Out:

"When Sharlot Hall Pulled A Gun

On Grover Cleveland"

Note to self: make those boys mules, ground that rear wheel, keep the glow over Sharlot's head, get the rigging right, bring out the road rising from the near shore. Show the faint tracks disappearing into the raging water. Sign it. Frame it.

A Solid Defense of Grover Cleveland

"Navajo Grover Cleveland’s refusal to enter a flooded wash in 1912 simply anticipated the 1995 Arizona stupid driver law (ARS 28-910) that extends liability for the stupid driver who enters a flooded roadway and becomes stranded. Look at it this way; Grover was certainly younger than Sharlot (why else would a Dine or otherwise mother name her son after the 22nd [and 24th] President born before 1885?) who was a Territorial Officer. Like any other driver who has grown up in Arizona, (except for those who gave the state law its name) Grover knew that if he just waited, perhaps an hour or less, that the water would recede and it would be safer to cross. Sharlot wasn’t having it and forced him to carry on. She’s lucky he didn’t just leave her there and walk home. No doubt she was capable of driving a wagon, but one stuck up to the hubs and sinking deeper would have presented a dilemma even the talented Ms. Hall would find challenging. Luckily they both survived."

—Greg Scott

"Finish the work, otherwise an unfinished work will finish you."

—Amit Kalantri

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Sharlot And Grover Cleveland Assume The Position

 June 29, 2022

    If I get out on the road before six it's still in the mid-seventies. And I get to see cool stuff like this

Early sunlight on the Seventh Sister

Sharlot Gets Macho

   Still trying to nail the scene of Sharlot Hall pulling a gun on Grover Cleveland. Here is an excellent photo of Sharlot taken at the Grand Canyon.

Sharlot Hall at The Grand Canyon
(courtesy Sharlot Hall Museum)

Assume The Position

   So, I am definitely going to give her this hat for the ambitious gun pulling episode I am painting for the book. This morning I coerced two local models to join me at a certain driveway on Cahava Ranch Road where there is a rickety old buckboard parked at the front gate of an unoccupied abode. I wanted to get this done before the heat gets nuclear, so we arrived at about seven when it was already 92 degrees out and the male model bridled at putting on a bomber jacket in the heat, but he ultimately complied. The female model has worked for me for decades and she knew exactly what I wanted. We shot this as quickly as we could.

Thomas Charles and Kathy Sue
Assume The Position

   I was particularly interested in the position of the hands and feet on the narrow buckboard seat. This really helps me with the composition. An alternate title to this mother-son photo could easily be "Go Clean Your Room!"

Was Grover Cleveland Actually Afraid?

     In my reading of the facts in the gun pulling episode I have a hunch Grover Cleveland was being more practical, than being afraid. After all, Sharlot's macho version was a story she told to a female friend in Phoenix and that friend told her version to a researcher and then that story was interpreted by the author of the book on Sharlot. While it is true Sharlot was distraught about her mother being at death's door and in the hospital, and, it makes perfect sense she showed sand about getting to Winslow ASAP I'm still not convinced he was afraid of her.  I kind of lean towards the fact that he wanted to help her, period.

   I'll post the finish of this scene tomorrow.

Looking Down The Long Nose of Contemporary Snobbishness

  Got this comment on a recent blog post about the authenticity of swearing in shows like "1883": "Westerns rely on a lot of stereotype tropes, which can make them feel old-fashioned and painfully unrealistic."

   Okay, and if those stereotype tropes are replaced by new stereotype tropes, does that make the end result any less painfully unrealistic? Or, just agreeable to a certain set of stereotypical tropes?

"Go clean your room!"

—Every mother who has ever lived

Monday, June 27, 2022

A visiting painter goes large

June 27, 2022

   Got a visiting painter in the Triple B Studio this week. Her name is Harper and she is fearless and she loves to paint big as all life.

Grandpa Ha Ha predicts she will go far.

  If there's one thing I do really well, it's having serious doubts about the artwork I have completed. Nobody I know goes back to try and salvage a ruined painting more than I do. But the key to the exercise is—did I actually save it? Case in point:

Daily Whip Out: "Cowgirl Rocket Ride"

   This failed little painting has been sitting on the side of my art desk for months and I have opined every time I looked at it. On a recent walk up Old Stage Road I got the inspiration: I must walk past a dozen horses going up to Morningstar and back and yesterday I noticed a common phenom in the early morning light.

   Meanwhile, still trying to capture the nightime story effects of running washes and a buckboard on the brink.

Daily Whip Out:

"When Sharlot Hall Pulled A Gun

On Grover Cleveland, 2"

   Got the water, now to nail that buckboard.

"Mooing is easy when you don't know how."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Never Mind The Molochs Tour

 June 26, 2022

   My punk son, Thomas Charles, is visiting from Japan and he had to share with me his latest find, The Sleaford Mods and their zany tune, "Tied Up In Notts." We laughed and laughed. If I was ten minutes younger I would have been a punk. I actually enjoy the dumbed-down drumming and the one-note sarcasm, but I especially enjoy the attitude.

  I have a penchant for naming road trips. Back in 2015 I took the kids on a car trip to visit the country where I was born and that resulted in the Bell Family Farm Tour, which we shortened to BFF Tour, and then, in typical road trip goofiness, we morphed that into the BLT Tour which has a tiny bit of relevance since the bacon-lettuce and tomato sandwich is a huge road trip Iowa staple. Especially as you near Algona, Iowa. Anyway, my son and I have named their current visit, The Never Mind The Molachs Tour.

   Speaking of road trips, and my recent trek to Deadwood in that mammoth Yukon rental Gooser, I read a review of the new Lexus LX 600 F Sport this morning and I totally agree: ". . .anybody who plops down six figures for one of these woozy mammoths has got what's coming to them. May the hotshot real estate agents who buy them never find a parking place. May barn owls disgrace Courtney's open moonroof while she's taking riding lessons." This is penned by the hilarious journalist, Dan Neil, eviscerating all these new, ridiculous XL beasts in the Wall Street Journal. He goes on, "a fantastical beast of human folly: a chauffeur-driven luxury 4X4, with performance dampers and 22-inch wheels, brandishing a huge and crazy making seven bar chrome grille. That is so not me." And, one more zinger, regarding the purpose of this grandiosity: "to appall the middle class."

   Amen, Dan. Amen.

   A big storm blew in yesterday afternoon with ominous clouds and blowing wind and not one drop of rain.

Storm Over The Crow's Nest

   We call this kind of storm the "Guacamuggies," which was a term we came up with on KSLX on the Jones, Boze & Jeanne Show, because we disliked the term "monsoon" so much. Couldn't do that bit today! Today, weathermen call it a "haboob" which I dislike even more, but there you go. If you live long enough everything you love will be taken away. Even some of the things you dislike.

Nothing Is New Developments

  We tend to think of our ancestors as being rather prim and proper because most of the photographs they left us give off the air of properness and restraint, but every once in a while a crack appears and we get to see that they were just as goofy as we are. This is someone's great-great grandmother. Sobering, yes?

Victorian Funny Face

   One more take on Sharlot's buckboard driver:

Daily Whip Out: "Grover Cleveland No. 2"

   And, one more look at the kid who plays the Kid in the new series, "Billy the Kid."

Tom Blyth is a very convincing Kid

   And, I finally got a chance to dig into James B. Mills' new book and it is very good. Written from the hispano point of view, it is long overdue and a great read. I highly recommend it.

El Bandido Simpatico

   And how did we get to the Moloch part of the tour? Well, it's a theory base on a certain poem that's too complicated to go into, but here you go.

"Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!"

—Allen Ginsberg

Saturday, June 25, 2022

When Sharlot Hall Pulled A Gun On Grover Cleveland

 June 25, 2022

   Here is a little known story that needs to be illustrated for our Real Women of The Wild West book.

"While Sharlot [Hall] was still in the Marsh Pass area an Indian runner came with a telegram from the Tuba [City] agency for her.  Her beloved mother had been brought, critically ill, from Orchard Ranch to the Mercy Hospital on August 14.  Wasting not a moment, Sharlot made preparations to intercept the train at the nearest station, Winslow.  Commandeering the buckboard and their Navajo guide, Grover Cleveland, she started out late that afternoon to make an all-night dash over the all but invisible wagon track between Marsh Pass and Winslow.  A violent storm broke during the night, turning the normally dry washes which they must ford into raging torrents of muddy water.  Terrified, the Indian driver refused to go on.  Sharlot pulled a gun on him, forcing him to take the buckboard through the swirling waters and on down the nearly obliterated trail until he reached Winslow and the railroad station.  As Sharlot told the story later to her good friend, Alice Hewins of Phoenix, 'she did not know which he was most afraid of, the road or Sharlot.' "

Daily Whip Out: "Grover Cleveland"

Here's What Google Gave Me
   Marsh Pass, also known as La Puerta Limita, "The Border Gate", is a gap in Navajo County, Arizona. It lies at an elevation of 6,102 feet / 1860 meters along Laguña Creek. The name of Marsh Pass is thought to come from its location along a chain of swamps and lakes in the pass, that have since been drained by a deep arroyoThe original Spanish name of the pass, La Puerta Limita, indicated the border between the Mexican provinces of Santa Fe de Nuevo México and Alta California to the west. Marsh Pass was a location along the Armijo Route of the Old Spanish Trail between present day Kayenta and the Crossing of the Fathers on the Colorado River. There the route turned northwest toward the crossing on the Colorado River.[3]

   In order to illustrate this accurately, I need images of the rough passageways from Marsh Pass down to Winslow. On modern maps, the probable route appears to be Highway 4 down to Second Mesa and then Highway 87 down to Winslow where Sharlot said she caught the Santa Fe (going west to Ashfork and then the spur line down to Prescott).

   If I had to guess, Black Mesa traverses the highway from Tuba City to Keyenta, and it appears to have some rough canyons to the south of Marsh Pass and it was probably in that area that the swollen wash and the pistol pulling took place. Here's a modern map of the area. We're looking at northeast Arizona on the Navajo Res. That's Flagstaff, the big yellow mess at bottom left, and that's I-40 along the bottom.

It's a long ride, that's for sure.

   Or, maybe the scene is so dark, it won't really matter?

Daily Whip Out Study:
"Sharlot Pulls A Gun On Grover Cleveland"

   Special thanks to the Reference Desk Coordinator Tom Schmidt at Sharlot Hall Museum who found the above adventure for me.

"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human condition."
—Graham Greene

Friday, June 24, 2022

Oldtime Cowboy Covers & The Triple B Poser

 June 24, 2022

Kathy and Tommy are cleaning out old boxes in the house and as I walked by Tommy gave me a box full of these.

Old Time Cowboy Covers From

Shoot-em Ups to Light Bondage

Tye Leung saved many young Chinese girls from a life of bondage and prostitution in early San Francisco. She is one of the heroes of our forthcoming book on "The Real Women of The Wild West."

Daily Whip Out: "Out of The Darkness"

Roadside Miracles & The Meaning of Life

   A small boy with big ears piled out of a 1957 Ford Fairlane and ran into a roadside museum on old Route 66. What he saw in there would ultimately change his life.

The 66 Kid Gets Religion

Storm Over The Triple B Bunkhouse

Uno Guards The Entrance

   Such a good dog. Not for actually guarding the empty shell of a building, but because I posed him there, told him "to stay" while I backed up for the shot, and he held the position the entire time. What a poser! What a good dog!

"I was in darkness, but I took three steps and found myself in paradise. The first step was a good thought, the second, a good word: and the third, a good deed."

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, June 23, 2022

My Favorite Harlot Pulled A Pistol On A Ferryman

 June 23, 2022

   Took another run at one of the heroes of our Real Women of the Wild West book.

Daily Whip Out: "Sacagawea & Child"

     Another one of the feisty women who will be featured prominently in our Real Women of the Wild West book will be this iconic woman:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out: 
"Sharlot Hall"

  Sharlot loved a good fight, and broke gender barriers. She was a free soul and her writing expresses this sense of freedom.

“But I do enjoy everything – just the sunshine on the sand is beautiful enough to keep one giving thanks for eyes to see with. And all day long I’m glad, so glad, so glad that God let me be an out-door woman and love the big things. I couldn’t be a tame house cat woman and spend big sunny, glorious days giving card parties and planning dresses — though I love pretty clothes and good dinners and friends – and would love a home where only the true, kind, worth-while things had place.
“I’m not unwomanly – don’t you dare to think so – but God meant woman to joy in his great, clean, beautiful world – and I thank Him that He lets me see some of it not through a window pane.

• Sharlot was rumored to have had several affairs and catty women around Prescott called her "Harlot Shall."

• She pulled a gun on a ferryman.

• She was not a feminist she was a humanist.

• She was a Republican.

• Many letters were destroyed after her death along with many by her close friend, the painter Kate Cori, who is buried in the Hall family plot but there's no mention of Kate in the official biography of Sharlot by Margaret F. Maxwell.

   One more shot of my friend and Kid colleague:

Fred Nolan at the Cowboy Symposium,
in Ruidoso, October 14, 2012

"Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement part. Enjoy the ride."
—Anthony Bourdain


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

My Stage Partner Fred Nolan

 June 22, 2022

   In April of 2012 I was giving a history talk in a tent on the concourse of Ruidoso Downs where the annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium was being held and it just so happened that the foremost Billy the Kid scholar, Fred Nolan, was visiting New Mexico from Chalfont St. Giles, England. Fred and his wife, Heidi, came in the tent, unrecognized, and sat in the front row. The modest sized tent could hold perhaps 45 people and I started my talk on Billy the Kid and I kept quoting Fred Nolan and even wondering out loud what the great expert might say to all of this and I kept pushing it and speculating on this and that and then finally, I said, "Well, why don't we find out what Fred Nolan really thinks," and I invited him up on stage. The audience gasped and we went right at it, trading facts and insults and banter and we absolutely slayed that crowd! You would have thought we were Laurel and Hardy and had been working the circuit for decades. Such a great memory.

    This is a photo of us taken that day in Ruidoso. Fred passed last week at the age of 91. He was just the best.

BBB and The Late, Great Frederick Nolan

"Few things look as unstable as the rock-solid certainties of previous ages."

Geoff Nocholson

Deadwood Dead Giveaway

 June 22, 2022

   Last Friday I gave a history talk on the lawn of the historic Adams House in Deadwood, South Dakota.

   Before the talk began I asked my presenter, Rose Spiers, to take a photo of me with the crowd. One of the feisty females in the front row said, "Wanna sit on my lap?" Well, I couldn't turn that down, now could I?

In The Lap of Luxury at the Adams House

 We had a nice crowd and the day was balmy (read that windy) so we didn't use the PA and I just yelled at them for an hour. Many stayed until the end. It was fun. This is my third visit and talk.

"How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?"

—Charles de Gaulle

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

An Old Man Totters On Looking for Good Road Food

 June 21, 2022

   My curator, Kristi Jacobs, brought down a handful of semi-finished Whip Outs from the upstairs-crow's-nest area of my studio and I took a look at one of them and knew I needed to improve it. Ten minutes later, I scanned this:

Daily Reworked Whip Out:

"An Old Man Totters On"

   That's not how I look, but that's how I feel. Speaking of which, I had a couple walkouts at my history talk last Friday in Deadwood. Granted, they were old and they were women and perhaps they were just tired of hearing old stories, from an old man, about old outlaws. Or, maybe they had to pee. I know I certainly did.

   Meanwhile, my framer, Guzal, came by as well, and we talked about the 30 pieces to be framed for our Real Women Art Show at the Phippen Museum in November. This is one of them.

Daily Whip Out Revisited & Reworked:

"Cortez Sees Califia Off of Cabo"

Death of the Local Family Restaurant?

   One of the most alarming and depressing insights I had from my four-state-road-trip last week is seeing all the local mom & pop style restaurants that did not survive the pandemic. Every single small town I drove thu, from Cheyenne to Lusk, Wyoming to Hot Springs, South Dakota and, on down to Scottsbluff, Nebraska had more than one empty shell where a groovy looking little cafe once thrived. All the more reason to celebrate a major, rocking exception: Mariscos Playa Hermosa in Phoenix is such a thriving joy. A cozy, family run joint that serves up great food and is still thriving! Granted the big city version has a better chance of survival, but this old school place on 16th Street and Garfield has it going on.

   And since we had our son, Thomas Charles, and his family coming in from Japan yesterday afternoon, they requested Mariscos as the first stop after the airport pickup. And that is exactly what we did.


      We had the signature molcajete, which is chicken, streak, shrimp and fish hanging out of a steaming lava bowl. And we also doubled down on the Huachinango (Red Snapper). Take a gander at their outrageous and super creative menu:

   It gives me hope that the small town mom and pop cafe will return at some point in the future. Sure hope so. It's one of the main reasons I love road trips.

The Wagon Train Meltdown

   Another piece Kristi brought down from the Crow's Nest, was this one, which I also couldn't help but try and improve.

Daily Revised Whip Out: 

"And Then There Was Only One"

   The Oatman family started their journey with 49 other wagons, but by the time they reached the Gila Bend, it was down to one.

"Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is good."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, June 20, 2022

Nellie Bly The Mother of Embedded Journalism


June 20, 2022

   Leave it to a very feisty female who conquered the investigative journalism world (and the actual world) and it all started with a letter to the editor.

      Elizabeth Cochran Seaman grew up in Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. In response to an article in the newspaper that claimed girls were only of use for bearing children and keeping house, Miss Seaman, age 20, wrote an anonymous letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch. Impressed with her response, the editor published a note inviting the writer to accept a job writing at the newspaper. She did. As a journalist and columnist, she chose a pseudonym, Nelly Bly, from a popular Stephen Foster song at the time, although someone in the type room misspelled it as Nellie, or perhaps it was done on purpose to differentiate her from the obvious lift.

My, Oh, My, Miss Nellie Bly

   She was a stunner and she quickly made a name for herself as a journalist. She focused her early work on the lives of working women, writing a series of investigative articles on women factory workers. However, the newspaper soon received complaints from factory owners (who were advertisers!) and she was reassigned to cover fashion, society, and gardening, the usual role for women journalists. Dissatisfied, and now 21, she decided "to do something no girl has done before."  So she traveled to Mexico with her mother and spent nearly half a year reporting on the lives and customs of the Mexican people. In the course of her reporting she protested the imprisonment of a local journalist for criticizing the Mexican government, which was then a dictatorship under Porfirio Diaz. Threatening her with arrest, she fled the country. Safely home, she accused Díaz of being a tyrannical czar suppressing the Mexican people and controlling the press.

Nellie Bly in Mexico, age 21

   Nellie then went to New York where she broke through the usual male barriers and wrote pioneering pieces, such as her expose on the mentally ill, by having herself commited to an insane asylum for ten days. She is perhaps most famous for attempting to travel around the world, inspired by the popular novel "Around the World in 80 Days." She took trains, and ships, rode on rickshaws, sampans, horses and burros and in 72 days, she had traveled around the world,  and she published a book based on her adventure which sold well.

   She carried out the journey with the backing of Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. On the last part of her journey she passed through my home stomping grounds on a special train. She zipped through the California towns of Lathrop, Modesto, Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield. The train crossed the Mojave Desert by night, crossed into Arizona at 4:30 in the morning, then through Kingman at six, traversing northern Arizona. Around 9:00 p.m., after passing through Gallup, New Mexico, the train crossed a bridge under repair that did not have its rails fastened. Nellie emerged unscathed and she made it to New York in time to win the race. 

"I have never written a word that did not come from my heart. And I never shall."

—Nellie Bly

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Four State Yukon XL Goose-Athon

 June 19, 2022

   Back from a four state, road trip, goose-athon. This is something I have done my whole life, but this may have been the last one.

   First a Happy Father's Day shout out to the man who gave me the long distance driving bug and that would be this Norwegian car nut.

Allen P. Bell 

On his gravestone it says,

"He loved cars."

   This most recent road trip was initially designed to be a car trip all the way to Deadwood, South Dakota where I was giving a history talk, and then back, via Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon to our home. Gas prices put the kabosh on our enthusiasm for that version so then we decided on flying to Denver, renting a car and taking in all the sites on the way up to Deadwood, and back. At the last minute, Kathy had to bail because of a family health issue and so it ended up just being me.

   To make up for not going, Kathy booked everything and gave me the first class treatment, including priority boarding on Southwest.

   Somebody loves their old man. In 25 years of flying I have never been in the A-1 Boarding Group on Southwest. Thanks, Kathy Sue!

   Kathy also booked me an upgrade on my rental car. She asked me what I thought of a GMC Yukon and I thought it sounded like a version of my Ford Flex and I agreed it would be fun to be in a bigger, cruising model for the long trip from Denver to Deadwood and back. 

   In high school we had a guy we called "Goose." He loved to come up behind you in line at the cafeteria and poke you in the rear with his thumb. As you can imagine, this was quite irritating, but he loved it so much we all put up with it.

The Goose Returns

   Turns out Kathy got me a Yukon XL Denali, which is actually a tank that wants to be an aircraft carrier. When did cars go to this bulgemobile extreme? I admit I have seen this steroidal growth in some of the local trucks in our area, but dang, this Yukon was a flippin' land barge. Add to that, when I put in my destination in GPS and took off for Deadwood a new "added luxury" kicked in. My Yukon had a function in the driver's seat so that whenever you change lanes without signalling, a vibration-buzz goes off right under your buttocks area. In short, the car gooses you. And, since I-25 is a perpetual construction zone for the first 50 miles of the trip I was constantly getting goosed by my rental car. In what meeting did a group of Detroit engineers come to the conclusion: "What if we goosed drivers in the butt everytime they go over a stripe of any kind? Wouldn't that be an added value? Wouldn't they want to thank us?" Oh, yes, I would really, really like to thank the Gooseheads at GMC, each and every one!

   On a related note, on the way home from Deadwood, I hit a long section of highway south of Scotts Bluff, Nebraska where there was zero traffic. It was just me and my Yukon XL on a divided highway heading southbound at 84 mph. Just for grins I straddled the center stripe for about ten miles and got a very nice butt massage the entire way.

   It's the little things.

"What's good for the goose is good for the driver"

—The Yukon XL Goose-atron Team

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Another Big Nose Kate Revelation, Part III

 June 15, 2022

   The debate continues and the question remains the same: did Big Nose Kate have a big nose? 

Daily Whip Out: "The Big Honker?"

   If you are just joining us, Doc Holliday's biographer, Gary Roberts, told us he has been unable to find any earlier references to "Big Nose Kate" than from Wyatt Earp's mention of her in 1896 in a newspaper article. This morning I got this tidbit from researcher Janice Dunnahoo in New Mexico:

The Cheyenne Daily Leader

February 2, 1890

   This would seem to indicate that the moniker "Big Nose Kate" enjoyed a wider usage than just our Kate in Tombstone? Here is how Gary Roberts responded to this new item:

   "This is the way that we refine our knowledge of the past.  This item suggests that Big Nose Kate was a common cognomen for ladies of the evening.  It doesn't make a direct connection to Kate Elder.  Governor Warren (of Wyoming) is credited with the reference, although the details are limited.  It would be interesting to see if any other Wyoming paper  referenced the address or gave a more detailed account of what he actually said.  It is also possible that other references are out there which would confirm a connection to our Kate.  She denied that Doc was ever in Cheyenne, and by implication that she wasn't either.  I think it probable that Doc did make his way to Cheyenne and Deadwood in 1876 sans Kate, who was still with Tom Sherman in Texas that year..  But I am happy to have this item from Ms. Dunnahoo.  Every clue is valuable."

—Gary L. Roberts

"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Only The Memories Remain

June 15, 2022

   I don't quite know why, but this photo which I saw on Facebook the other day just hit me right in the heart. To me, it sums up the current status of the world I grew up in.

Photo by Blue Miller, Route 66 World

   So, the Kid (Thom Ross) turned this photo into a facetious postmodern statement of art:

"Turn This," Larry Rivers; mixed media on Arizona, 1958. Now held in the permanent collection of Bob Boze Bell's Memory.

   Ha. What a clever bastard. So right on.

   In the permanent collection of BBB's memory. Too true for school. It's almost all memory now. Even the kitch has turned south.

Even When He's Wrong He's. . .

"Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories."

—Steven Wright

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Kate Elder By A Nose

 June 14, 2022

  If you saw Casey Tefertiller's response to my question about the authenticity of Kate Elder's nickname, you will no doubt enjoy this follow up commentary by the esteemed Dr. Gary L. Roberts:

Did Big Nose Kate Have A Big Nose, Or Not?

  "Bob, You have hit upon one of the unanswered questions about Kate.  You correctly identify the two most common explanations of her sobriquet—a large proboscis (a term which usually referred to a deformed, poorly developed, tubular shape).  The existing photos do not indicate a proboscis, nor does do they suggest an unusually large nose.  

Kate Elder By A Nose

   "The more likely source of the nickname is the suggestion that she couldn't keep her nose out of other people's business (nosey).  It was hardly a desirable descriptor.  The problem is that we have no account of how and when she acquired the name 'Big Nose Kate,' except for latter day (mostly twentieth century explanations).  The earliest use of the name that I have found is in Wyatt Earp's  article in the San Francisco Examiner, August 2, 1896, 'How Wyatt Earp Routed a Gang of Arizona Outlaws.'

   "Kate was introduced in the third paragraph as the 'heroine,' although it was hardly a laudatory introduction, 'for Big Nose Kate was shaped for the part by nature and circumstance.'  The note about Kate being shaped by 'nature,' might refer to her physical appearance.  He added, 'Poor Kate!  Frontier whiskey must have laid her low long since.'  This is also the first account of Kate rescuing Doc in Fort Griffin. 

   "It is plain that Wyatt had no use for Kate, and the feeling was mutual.  When Stuart Lake's Wyatt Earp:  Frontier Marshal came out, Kate was incensed that Wyatt consistently referred to her as Big Nose Kate.  She wrote Anton Mazzanovich, clearly angry about Earp's use of Big Nose Kate.  She noted that on page 202 'Doc and I are referred to as Dr. and Mrs. John H. Holliday, but everywhere else in the story the author speaks of Doc and Big Nosed Kate.  It was very kind of Mr. Lake to refer to me correctly just that once in his impossible story, but he should have left out that 'Doc and Big Nosed Kate' throughout the book.'

   "All kind of descriptions of Kate as one of the worst kind of frontier prostitutes appeared in the early twentieth century.  And no one has seriously questioned whether she was known as Big Nose Kate.  It is hard to prove a negative, but given the fact that no contemporary document or newspaper item has been found that described her as Big Nose Kate, I have always wondered that it was a latter-day addition to her story.  

Daily Whip Out: "One Tough Broad"

   "There certainly were articles that portrayed her in the worst of terms (and would have given a likely place for a nickname like Big Nose Kate).  The Tombstone newspaper articles published when Doc was arrested for his alleged involvement in the robbery attempt on the Benson stage based on accusations by Kate, the local papers, while unkind to her, referred to her as 'Kate Elder.'  The Las Vegas Optic, July 20, 1881, was downright brutal to her:  'The woman, Elder, who now figures on the aggressive principle, was a Santa Fe tid-bit and surrounded her habiliments with a detestable odor before leaving 'the Ancient' that will, in itself, make her memory immortal.'  That was a missed opportunity for a  derogatory nickname!

Daily Whip Out: "The Santa Fe Tid-bit"

   "I am still looking for a contemporary reference to her as Big Nose Kate, and she may have been called that in light of reminiscences from the early twentieth century that use it.  But the records in Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arizona are silent on the subject in the 1870s and 1880s when  she was 'notorious.'   I will add this:  Wyatt knew her well, which may argue for its authenticity.  As far as I am concerned, the case is still open."
— Gary L. Roberts, author of "Doc Holliday: The Life And Legend"

   Extrapolating between Casey and Gary, it seems somewhat obvious that "Big Nose" Kate is a flimsey moniker, at best. Still, she will forever be cast with that moniker as long as the Tombstone story is told. On the other hand. . .

"Wyatt knew her well, which may argue for its authenticity."
—Gary L. Roberts