September 14, 2023
We are all connected. We just don't take the time to find out. The guy behind you in line at the Circle K; his grandfather killed your grandfather at the battle of Val Verde, but you'll never find that out because you just want to pay for the bag of ice and leave.
The Ridin' Down The Canyon Connection
I always tell the story about the drunk woman at the Moose Lodge on Wilmot Road in Tucson who kept yelling at us to play "Ridin' Down The Canyon." Roy Brown, the leader of the Roy Brown & Country Gold band, politely told the woman we didn't know the song and, of course, the woman being drunk, said, "What the hell! Everybody knows 'Ridin' Down The Canyon!" Two songs later she approached the bandstand and said in a demanding voice: "Listen, I am from an old Arizona ranching family and I want to hear 'Ridin' Down The Canyon.'" I don't know why, but I leaned forward from my drum kit and said, "Where did your family have a ranch, ma'am?" And she bellowed, "Duncan, Arizona!" and I said, "Did you know the Guess family? My mother's name was Bobbie Guess." She looked like she had seen a ghost and then she said, "I babysat your mother." On the break, I got her name, and the next day I called my mother and she confirmed the babysitting gig, adding, "We didn't like her. She was mean to us."
Probably because my mother and her sisters didn't know "Ridin' Down The Canyon."
Fast forward to August of 2023 and my homies, the O.K. Boomers are on Slack trying to figure out how to illustrate Marshall Trimble's wonderful story about his version of the Bobby Troup song, "Route 66" and how he always felt the lyric, "Flagstaff Arizona, don't forget Winona" was about his aunt, Winona Weston. Marshall's wife, Vanessa, sent us this photo of Winona, taken near Chloride, Arizona in the early forties.
Well, that sparked a conversation about Winona being in Chloride, because, well, I have a connection to that tiny berg. Here's a photograph, taken near Chloride in 1959, of Dan The Man Harshberger plugging BBB.
Gunfight at the Chloride Corral
(Dan The Man Plugs BBB)
And, just for ironie's sake, the above photo was taken by my mother, you know, the one from Duncan, Arizona, who moved to Mohave County during the depression and graduated from Mohave County High School in 1939.
The O.K. Boomers at work on Slack
The O.K. Boomers are Robert Ray (second from left), Dan the Man Harshberger (yes, the bad guy plugging me in the above photo) and Stuart Rosebrook. Robert and Dan live in Phoenix, Stuart is in Prescott Valley and I live in Cave Creek. We meet once a week on Slack to try and simulate a real, in person meeting.
So, Marshall mentions to me his aunt Winona graduated from Kingman high school and I said, what year? Turns out, my mother and Winona were in the same class! I found my mom's yearbook and there they were.
Now THAT is six degrees of Marshall Trimble. And, if we weren't writing a book together we would have never made the connection.
Here's one more connection for the road. Forty five years after the gunfight at the Chloride Corral, a kid halfway round the world sees "Young Guns" and gets hooked on the Old West.
James B. Mills Apes Emilio's Hairdo
James is going to appear in the next issue of True West along with Marshall and the O.K. Boomers. Oh, and there's one more connection, I almost forgot.
"Ridin' down the canyon to watch the sun go down
A picture that no artist 'ere could paint
White-faced cattle lowing, on the mountainside
I hear a coyote calling for its mate."
—"Ridin' Down The Canyon" written by Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette