Scrapbook Ninety Five…

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SEPTEMBER 2014

Forrest,

I was on Renelle’s treasure quest with her…..more the brawn than the brains.  She may have told you about me.  I worked with her in the Tetons.  I was her legs on a number of adventures as she would send me off into the hills with a set of GPS coordinates and an X on a map.  More than once, as I was thrashing through the brush, climbing over rocks, or staggering down a steep hillside, I wondered, ‘could that guy really have gotten the treasure here’?  We had some fun adventures, and I always hoped that I would find that box hidden away at the point she had sent me to.  She was so captivated by her search for the treasure, and except for her many sleepless nights of research, I think it was the most wonderful distraction for her.

We had a wonderful gathering of folks here in the Tetons to commemorate Renelle’s life.  She will be sorely missed.  The most repeated theme that day was how much Renelle embraced life.  What a wonderful inspiration!

Thank you for embracing Renelle too.  She had such wonderful times meeting you and sharing experiences with other treasure hunters.  I, like others, find some solace in the thought that perhaps Renelle’s spirit was finally able to find the treasure. ……..and if it did, maybe you felt a little poke in the ribs and heard Renelle say “HA!”.

PS- One fun story- On one trip to Gardiner, Renelle sent me way up towards the top of Sphinx Mountain.  It was a long sweaty climb with a great view from the top.  When I arrived back at the parking lot, we met a camper there named Bob.  We visited just a bit and then drove five hours back to the Tetons, arriving late in the evening.  I collapsed that night exhausted and woke to a phone call from Renelle at 4am.  She hadn’t slept a wink, and told me that she had to go right back up and talk to Bob.  I said there was no way she was going to drive five hours on no sleep, so I picked her up and away we went.  We had an interesting, if not surreal, visit with Bob in his tent at the trailhead later that morning.  I don’t think that visit got us any closer to the treasure, but we made a friend in Bob, and those hours on the road through Yellowstone with Renelle will be fond memories that I will cherish forever.

Thank You.
Scott Guenther

———————-

Thanks for the note Scott. Renelle and I talked often and she spoke fondly about giving you her heart by proxy. It was such a beautiful heart. f

Scrapbook Ninety Four…

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SEPTEMBER 2014

This ode to the chase was forwarded to me from a searcher who wants to remain anon because he thinks he knows where the treasure is and doesn’t want the birds to give away his secret. Everyone will recognize that it’s a take-off from Edgar Allen Poe’s Quote the Raven Nevermore. f

 

Only the Phantom

Once upon a night inspired, while I pondered weak and tired,
Over many a curious volume laden with a treasure lore,
While I plotted on its mapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As a Shadow’s gently rapping, rapping at my bedroom door.
‘`Tis a butterfly,’ I muttered, ‘fluttered by my bedroom door -
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly a tinkling bell rings in the spirit of a spell,
I listened good and listened well… there was no ringing at the door.
So, eager for a bath and rest; -as vainly I had sought the best
Path forward to surcease the quest – fulfill the quest for gold and more,
That it begins where eagles nest, then down into the canyon’s core -
Nameless here for evemore.

Suddenly my soul grew weaker; Shadow at the inter. speaker,
‘Sir,’ said I, my heart grows meeker, ‘this IS my place so I implore;
But the fact is I was halting, these hot waters from exalting
These warm waters from assaulting, threshold of the bathroom door’,
And, as I slipped into my sneaker, looked quickly down through open door; -
Shadow there, and nothing more.

Then fast asleep, lasting escape…, there’s rustling of the Phantom’s cape
That chased me – thrilled me with fantastic and covered me from pore to pore;
So that now, my heart stopped beating, through the shadow twilight fleeting
‘`Tis the Shadow now entreating and this fantasy explore.
Moaning Phantom at the window, knowing Shadow through the door;-
This is it and nothing more,’

And as the evening shades prevail, thinking of those who passed the vale,
Attentive still to Phantom’s wail, heard somewhat louder than before.
As the silence was then broken, but the Shadow gave no token
And the only words then spoken were the whispered words, ‘NO MORE!’
`Twas Phantom on my bathroom scale, wishing he was just forty-four,
Ounces that is, and nothing more.

‘There’s circumstantial evidence, I’ll be your guide in dream or trance,
Through wiles of nature, circum-stance; you’ll tract a thread to golden ore’,
Said Phantom perched upon the scale. ‘And have you trekked this secret trail?’
Asked I, afraid the chase might fail, ‘Have you’ve been down this path before?’
‘Alone and bold I went by chance’. ‘Phantom!’ said I, ‘but that’s infernal’,
And the moment seemed eternal… ‘How deeper then, should I explore?”
Quoth the Phantom, ‘Four-two-four’.
Merely this and nothing more.

Erratum:
And if this blending plagiarism, seems poor labour of a mime.
That changes… looking through the prism, of vodka raspberry and lime.
For, in expanding Universe, there is no lesser of a crime,
Than at the ending of a verse, copying and pasting of a rhyme.
It could be worse! (I’m out of time)

The Phantom

Scrapbook Ninety Three…

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SEPTEMBER 2014

renelle01

Renelle Jacobson

As the days of autumn approach each of us must know that our hour glass is slowly getting bottom heavy. Hopefully, as each crystal of sand drops, it takes with it the story of a fruitful life, full of grateful memories and dreams fulfilled.

And so it was with Renelle Jacobson. Three days ago she ran out of sand and she fell to an evil malady that made her suffer for many years. She was not fooled by what she knew was inevitable, and I know she left with a smile on her face. She lived a full life during her few short years, and our lives are suddenly poorer. I especially feel the loss. f

Scrapbook Ninety Two…

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AUGUST 2014

Me and Mummy Joe

Only a few minutes after you leave the East Entrance of Yellowstone, on the way to Cody, if you pay attention, you’ll see a big cave there on the left. Its mouth is 150-feet wide and looks like a giant opera singer yawning in the side of the mountain. The beautiful North Fork of the Shoshoni River splashes the opposite side of the road right there.

mummycave60s

 

The cave didn’t have a name when I first knew it but it always made a strong impression on me, and it was a favorite lunchtime respite for my family when we were headed to Texas after a summer in Yellowstone.

And of course I usually climbed into the cave and sat on a rock in the back to eat Fritos and drink my Dr. Pepper. That was in the 1930s and 40s.

 

 

Twenty-five years later I became friends with two of the men who excavated the cave. They were Bobby Edgar and George Dabich. For two years in the middle 60s they carefully moved rocks, shoveled dirt, screened for artifacts, compiled data, and helped uncover Mummy Joe.

mummyjoe

Mummy Joe during reburial in the cave

And the cave finally had a name.

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The archaeological dig underway in the mid 60s.

 

Once, when George and I were having dinner at the Erma in Cody, he spoke of watching an archaeologist uncover an Angostura point that was 28-feet below the cave’s surface. The weapon had been flaked to kill an ancient species of bison and had not seen daylight for almost 9,000 years.

 

 

George also talked about the artifacts he uncovered: stone choppers, hammers and grinders, projectile points, cordage, fragments of tanned sheepskin, arrow shafts, basketry, rabbit nets, and more than 2,000 leftover animal bones that had been discarded by the ancient dwellers.

dabitchknif

 

In 1967 I received a gift from George. It was a 5-inch long knife he’d carved from a mountain sheep bone that came from layer #3. He said it carbon-14 dated to about 682 AD.

George’s tales were colorful and compelling. He spoke of what it was like living in the cave 1200 years ago when Mummy Joe died, and of the trail weary hunters who returned from a hunt dragging elk hides full of meat that would sustain their clans through the freezing-cold winters. I was fascinated by the stories.

After midnight, with George’s words fresh on my mind, I drove to Mummy Cave. The night was so black that the snow-covered ground offered little moderation. With a small light as my only companion I climbed up and in, and sat on my rock against the back wall. In the lonely silence nothing was moving but the wind that whispered its way through the trees, down the river, and past the cave.

As I sat in the eerie quietness I could feel the austere grandeur of my surroundings. Who were these ancient people who called this sheltered place home? Over the last few thousand years several hundred nature-toughened Indians had rested their butts on the very rock upon which I sat. I just knew it. Can you imagine how that made me feel?

 

Today my thoughts sometimes harken back to Mummy Joe, who was wrapped in sheepskins so long ago, and buried deep in the dirt. What would I have thought when I was a kid, sitting on my rock, knowing that Joe was just a few feet away. Are there any among you who are as intrigued by America’s ancient past as I am? Tell me.

 

Scrapbook Ninety One…

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AUGUST 2014

Shelling Corn Painting

Keri sent me a full-page color magazine ad that our gallery ran in 1978. It advertised “Shelling Corn,” a large oil painting by Joseph Henry Sharp. It depicts Elkfoot Jerry Maribal and Crucita, two Taos Indians sitting on a banco by the fireplace in the artist’s studio.

jm04

The ad conjured up old memories from my seventeen-years as a gallery owner in Santa Fe. I can recall the entire history of that shelling corn painting. Well, maybe not the entire history, but I’ll tell you what I know.

It was painted about 1925-35, I’d guess, but it could be a little earlier. I gave a local family $55,000 for it. They obtained it from the artist in trade for Navajo weavings. I sold the painting for $65,000 to an old friend. When he wanted to buy a yacht his wife made him sell the painting back to me for $75,000. Later, we sold it to a good client in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania for $150,000. When he passed away the director of the Los Angeles Athletic Club acquired it for $250,000 and sold it for $750,000. It sold again for 1.5 million and then again for I don’t know what. Not bad appreciation for just 20 years or so.

I interviewed Jerry Maribal in 1980 while researching my Sharp biography. Jerry was 110-years old, and totally blind.

When I entered the room Jerry was reclining on his bed. He smiled and said, “I’m happy to see you Mr. Fenn.”

Meeting Elkfoot Jerry Maribal was a wonderful life experience for me. He said interesting things about his early life at Taos pueblo and about his relationship with Mr. Sharp. In his quiet way he spoke through the haze of far-away memories while I mostly listened, not wanting to interrupt him with the weakness of my own thoughts. As I left his room a granddaughter said, “The leaves will soon fall from the apricot tree.” I thought that was such a beautiful Indian-thing to say. Mr. Maribal died the next morning, and out of respect, the pueblo was closed to all outsiders for three days.

jm01

Photo from Teepee Smoke by Forrest Fenn

I can’t say that Elkfoot Jerry was a friend because we met only that one time. It was remiss of me for not meeting him earlier. And why didn’t I also meet Hunting Son, Soaring Eagle, Crucita, Standing Deer, Leaf Down, Agapito, George Eats Alone, Lady Pretty Blanket, Adalina, Wolf Ear, Strikes His Enemy Pretty, Mary Tailfeather, Shows A Fish, Medicine Crow, White Swan, Takes A Wrinkle, Julia Sun Goes Slow, Shorty White Grass, Naked Alberto, Hairy Moccasin, Albidia, Bawling Deer, and a host of other Indians who also posed for Mr. Sharp? I think I deserve another chance.

 

Scrapbook Ninety…

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AUGUST 2014

Forgotten Memories

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They don’t build guys like George Dabich anymore. If you saw him walking down the street wearing a brown cowboy hat you probably wouldn’t be impressed. He wasn’t tall, athletic, flashy, famous or rich. But you’d run out of things he wasn’t pretty fast because he had assets we all should wish to emulate.

As a 22-year old sailor in WW-2 George was cruising the South Pacific on a destroyer, the USS Brooks, when it was hit by a kamikaze. George was blasted end-over-end out into the ocean where he flailed around in burning oil and gasoline for hours until he was rescued and put aboard the USS Hovey, another destroyer.

In less than 24-hours that ship was torpedoed and sank while George watched again from the vantage point of an ocean burning all around him. He didn’t much care for the turn his life had suddenly taken.

After the Navy, George settled in Cody where he became a professional outbacker and hunting guide. And he was painting some pretty good Indian pictures. When we met, about 1967, I was teaching pilot training in the Air Force but had orders to Vietnam. His parting words to me were, “If you come back whole I’ll take you out where we can pick up some buffalo caps and maybe a skull or two.” We both were collecting western history things. That invitation may have motivated me to fly faster and keep my head down deeper.

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“Salute to a Warrior”, by George Dabich, cast at Fenn Bronze in Lubbock, Texas.

Upon my return I gave George a hunk wax and asked him to create some figures for me to cast in bronze. I’d set up a foundry in my garage. He did that and so did I. Our relationship flourished into close personal and professional bonds.

 

And of course he took me out into the Skylight country north of Cody where we found several dozen buffalo horn caps and a few skulls. This is my best one. It was a young bull. I found in some shades of a giant lodge pole pine. It was covered with reddish-yellow lichen, the faded remnants of which can still be seen between the horns and down. I removed the pine needles that populated the eye sockets and nose cavity. Wish now I hadn’t.

IMG_0751sm

And a basalt arrowhead was imbedded in the bone just inside his left eye. It penetrated only half an inch and broke where it was affixed to the arrow shaft. It didn’t kill the animal and the bone grew back around, holding it tight. I wish it had been me with the Crow Indian hunting party who released the arrow to fly on its last mission.

“In my solitude, it haunts me with memories of days gone by. In my solitude, it taunts me, with reveries that never die.” (Thank you Tony Bennett).

dabichhat

 

The brown hat I wear so proudly was George’s. He wore it while his hunters killed 28 grizzlies out there just east of Yellowstone. He placed it on my head beside a campfire one night, and said, “Fits you like a glass fits water, so I want you to have it.”

 

George died last year at age 91, and his passage went largely unnoticed, save for a scant few guys like me and some relatives. But the coyotes and sage brush know he’s gone, and so do the tall pines, under which he sat and drank coffee from a tin cup. The red embers of his camp fires will miss him badly, but not as much as me.

prparingsweatlodgesm

Preparing Sweat Lodge – George Dabich

 

Scrapbook Eighty Nine…

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AUGUST 2014

The Long Jump…

bridge04It was a huge monster of an iron looking thing. The bridge I mean, and I hated it with a passion. It crossed the Leon River on state road 53 about 6 miles west of Temple where I was born and raised.

Well, it wasn’t really the bridge itself that bothered me, it was the 40-foot drop to the water, and I’ll tell you why.

The cadre of friends I ran around with in high school was a pseudo-macho bunch. There was Edard, Kacir, Scotty, Paul Emery, Laurens, and several others who sat on the close periphery of our small group. They were all good guys and we were close, which made it even harder for me because I didn’t jump off of the bridge. I was going to until I looked down and heard someone say that submerged logs sometimes lurked just under the surface and if you landed on one it would break both of your legs.

bridge01

from google maps

“Let’s go,” they yelled, and all of them jumped, leaving me standing all alone on the asphalt. I couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden they were just gone and I wasn’t. How do you think that made a 16 year-old, 138 pound kid feel?

I knew what they were thinking “It was a test for toughness and Fenn’s tail fell out.” I could just see them telling every good looking girl in the whole junior class. It was a catastrophic moment for me and I felt terrible. My value shouldn’t be diminished just because those guys couldn’t see my real worth, should it?

bridge02

from google maps

It prayed on me, but for only a week or so. I felt my courage was only an inch too short to be long enough so I developed a plan that was indelible on my mind. I’d show those guys.

On a cold, moonless night about 3:00, I stole out of my bedroom window, jumped in the Bullet, and drove out highway 53. My mind was made up and nothing could stop me. No one was around so I stopped on the bridge and looked down. I couldn’t see the water but I knew it was down there somewhere. My pulse was tingling but without a seconds hesitation I climbed over the rail with all of my clothes on and jumped. I just did it and that was that. After what seemed like an hour I hit the water with a hard, cold splash.

When I surfaced my whole world had changed. I started laughing with an insane sense of empowerment. I really showed those guys, and ha, I did it at night. “Just wait’ll the news gets out,” I thought.

I was wet and frozen when I climbed in my bedroom window. Another idea came to me. Why should I even tell anyone? They probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. Besides, the power of what I did would be subjugated a little if they knew.

Looking back now, I think maybe I grew up a little on that dark night at the great Leon River Bridge, 68 years ago.

bridge03

© 2011 Larry D. Moore

Overview
Through truss bridge over Leon River on FM 817 in Belton

Location
Belton, Bell County, Texas

Status
Open to traffic

History
Built 1939

Design
Parker through truss

Dimensions
Length of largest span: 200.1 ft.
Total length: 412.1 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 15.7 ft.

Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 10, 1996

Also called
Waco Road Bridge

Approximate latitude, longitude
+31.06639, -97.44222   (decimal degrees)
31°03’59″ N, 97°26’32″ W   (degrees°minutes’seconds”)

Quadrangle map:
Belton

Inventory numbers
TXNBI 090140001505060 (Texas bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
NRHP 96001119 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)

Inspection (as of 04/2013)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Functionally obsolete
Sufficiency rating: 63.6 (out of 100)

Average daily traffic (as of 2011) 3,000

 

Scrapbook Eighty Eight…

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AUGUST 2014

 

Hello Mr. Fenn,

My name is Pat and I live in Denver, Colorado.  I had not known of your story until I heard a morning news cast about Yellowstone Rangers rescuing a person (people) in one of their rivers and your name was mentioned.  I looked into it further and read different websites and blogs……very interesting.  I must admit, I tried to figure out the poem, too.  My family and I already made reservations to Yellowstone before ever hearing of your story…….we LOVE going there.  My husband and I have 6 children……the oldest will be 30 and the youngest will be 16……she’ll be the only one able to make it this trip.  We’ve gone ever since they were little and all the pictures and memories are quite the treasure.  We had always wanted to see the Perseid Meteor Shower there and this year we’ll get the chance to do that, as long as the weather cooperates.  We hope to experience different things, but memories are what’s important.

woollyworm

Forrest’s Wooly Worm (aka wooly bug)

I have a story I’d like to share with you in regards to the Wooly Bug fly…….I saw a video of you making one!  Many years ago, my husband’s family would travel on vacation and many times gone to Yellowstone.  They had fished in different areas, Fishing Bridge (which you can’t fish now, but was extremely popular as you know), Yellowstone Lake, rivers/creeks, etc.  My husband was given a Wooly Bug by his father when he was a kid and he kept it throughout the years.  His father passed away nearly 21 years ago and when he travels there, I can see his heart is still there with his dad.  He walks through where the Fishing Bridge campground use to be, now belongs back to the bears, and searches for the rock he use to climb when they camped there.  Several years ago in particular while in Yellowstone, we decided to fish at Yellowstone Lake.  My husband cast his line, with Wooly Bug and bobber in tow, out into the water.  After a few bites or the Wooly Bug coming to shore, he reeled in his line and made a cast and it happened………..the line broke and his Wooly Bug his father had given him went into the water and was caught in the waves!  I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when that happened.  It was as if he had totally lost all the connections he had with his father…….the last bit of physical memory he had of him.  It was a very sullen day for him.  The following day we returned to the spot we fished and I could see it still bothered my husband.  While throwing his line into the lake with a different fly, I chose to walk the shore.  Yes, I found his Wooly Bug!  My husband Ray was extremely happy…..as if I had brought back his life!  He hugged and thanked me and I could tell it came from deep within his soul.  Ray placed the Wooly Bug back into his tackle box and swore he’d never use it again.  About three years or so ago, I took the Wooly Bug, with a picture of a trout Ray caught with it the very last time he used it before he lost it in Yellowstone Lake and placed it in a shadow box for display.  I’m attaching a picture of the Wooly Bug and trout for you to see.  We plan on doing some fishing this coming week…….vacation is Aug. 9-16.  A quote my husband loves to say is, ‘A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.’

Mr. Fenn, in regards to the Wooly Bug, do you sell any of the ones you make?  I would LOVE to present one to my husband rather than finding one at the store…..they’re a bit hard to come by here.  Any information is greatly appreciated.

Mr. Fenn, I wish you continued success in unearthing history and telling their stories, not wanting history to go silent.

Sincerely,

Pat
——————–
From dal-
You can watch Forrest make a wooly worm and talk about them on the “Gone Fishing” videos:
http://dalneitzel.com/video/fishing/index.html

 

Scrapbook Eighty Six…

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JULY 2014

 

brushFun is where you find it.
I just put my tooth brush in the dish washer so I have a few minutes to talk about how I’ve learned stay happy in today’s gloomy world.

When I was in junior high I hated washing the dishes, especially after supper, which was our family’s big meal. So sometimes my father would assign those duties to me alone, thinking it’d be a satisfactory supplemental punishment for doing one of what he called my “personal inconsiderations,” like putting itching powder in Skippy’s shorts.

itchingpowder
There were five in our family plus a dog, so when you threw in a skillet, rolling pin, cleaver, and potato masher, the dish washing and drying task became monumental.
But I developed an antidote that I recommend to anyone who feels down and wants to acquire a more positive attitude.

dirtydishes
While standing on a stool in front of the kitchen sink, I’d break into song as if I were on a national stage and performing before the great kings and queens and Tsars and Tsarinas of the world. What my voice lacked in quality it made up with in quantity, and the flourish of scrubbing a pressure cooker only enhanced the drama. As the crescendo built so did my motivation and our neighbors could probably enjoy me clear down the block. Even my father had to admit that I could perform Oh Sole Mia with unusual aplomb?

Often the dirty dishes disappeared before I was ready to take my bows. Sometimes I wasn’t finished with my aria, and I’d look around, desperate for something else to wash. Finally, that done, I would step down from my stage happy, having forgotten that I’d washed and dried the dreaded dirty dishes.

That subterfuge was a great life lesson for me and over the years it has manifested itself in ways that have allowed me to stay positive – at least some of the time.

Oops, the dishwasher just stopped, gotta go.