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