Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Seven…

scrapbook

December, 2019

 

Wherever the Bugle Blows

On the 24th of August, 1968, I was shot down in south Vietnam. One-hundred and nineteen days later, I was shot down again, that time in the jungle of Laos.

Thirty minutes after I ejected from my crippled fighter, it was dark. There could be no rescue attempt at night. No one knew where I was.

But the next morning, at first light, a recovery plan was in operation. A C-130, full of search and rescue experts, was circling high, directing my rescue. A forward air controller (FAC) spotter plane had found me and pinpointed my position on the ground. It was Lt. James Swisher.

Four Sandy airplanes whose duty it was to strafe all around my position to keep enemy heads down, were doing their job. Four F-100 fighters, flying low and fast, and pulling Gs, were ready to roll in on any enemy position the FAC could find. Several other fighters, including a Misty, were close by, sauntering just out of the way, and ready to come in if needed.

A Jolly Green Giant helicopter (the Candy Ann) came in low and dropped 240 feet of cable with a heavy jungle penetrator attached. Airman Bob Sully, and M/Sgt. Lee Maples, were watching from the chopper. When they saw me unfold the penetrator’s legs and strap on, they activated the hoist that reeled me 175 feet up through the tangle of trees and an additional 65 feet above that canopy to the relative safety of the helicopter.

Meanwhile, a spare Jolly Green circled 1000’ above my position and was ready to assist if the Candy Ann started taking battle damage.

Looking back at that incident, which occurred almost exactly fifty-one years ago, I am still humbled, and proud. And honored that all of that effort was expended in harm’s way just to save my life. I wish I could express myself more eloquently.

I wanted to say those things now, at a time when our military seems to be taking heat from every radial. Are we ready to handle a homeland assault from a foreign power, especially one who possess gigantic weapons? We were not on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Could that happen again? We must keep our military strong.

Forrest’s collage painting

This old flag flies to warn anyone who sees her weak. Long after they have gone, she will wave, still at her peak, daring all of those who call her out to test her wrath and act as foes. Her strong stripes still proudly there, her resolve still strong, her teeth still bare, ready to charge again…wherever the bugle blows. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Six…

scrapbook

December, 2019

 

The Promise of a Dream

Many years ago, when I was being wistful about what was ahead for me, I dreamed above my probabilities. It was fun to fantasize that someday I would write a children’s fiction book, and another that was non-fiction. And see a poem of mine in print, and one of my oil paintings hanging on the wall.

As I matured, I learned that some of the wishes, which seemed so far from me once, might have fallen within my realm if I would just try. So I did.

My book, The Beat of the Drum and the Whoop of the Dance, was a biography. And later, The Thrill of the Chase, showcased poems that I wrote.

Today, my children’s book is being shipped from the printer.

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Front and back covers of my children’s book

Meanwhile, my oil painting dries on the living room table. It’s called, As the Bugle Blows, which depicts a time in my life that sublimely underscores my passage through it. Maybe I’ll talk about that at another time. And now to my country song. It’s called Cold Coffee in a Hot Cup. f

My children’s book, Educating Ardi, does not contain any clues or hints to my treasure location. It was printed in only 100 copies, and will not be for sale. It is mostly just for family. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Five…

scrapbook

December, 2019

 

Eric’s Funny Part

IMG 1239The name Eric Sloane should be synonymous with wood. He wrote a book titled A Reverence for Wood. In his preface…

“…one day we were flying over the New England country side. ‘Someday soon,’ I said, ‘I must do a book about trees and wood.’ Down below, the wooded hills were just turning to their autumn colors, and the shadow of our plane raced across a sea of crimson and russet.”

When he was building his home in Santa Fe, he had some boastfully-wonderful old weathered boards. They were being saved to build doors and kitchen cabinets. He loved their roughness. They were stored outside in the sun and rain where they could take on more of a color that he called “personality gray.”

But while he was back east for a short visit the carpenters nailed them up as joists. Eric’s recovery period was rather lengthy and I dutifully listened to the story more than a few times during our frequent lunches.

Eric never lived to know that my dedication in Seventeen Dollars a Square Inch (a personal tribute to Eric Sloane) was really a dedication to his memory, in a funny abstract way.

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When Eric learned I was collecting artists palettes, he lamented that he didn’t have one to give me. He had no use for one when he painted because he mixed his paints on a wooden board that was attached to his easel. “Never mind that,” he probably thought, “I’ll just saw off my mixing board and give that to Forrest.”

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And that’s what he did, but not before painting a covered bridge and nailing a favored old paintbrush on for added flavor.

Although I had palettes from many important artists, including Nicolai Fechin, none was more revered than Eric’s.

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I just measured the palette with my spread right hand, which is exactly 8 ¼ inches, little finger nail, to thumb nail. So the palette is 33 ½ inches wide. But just for fun I measured it with my ruler also. Yup, 33 ½ inches wide. I always like to be exact. f

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Jimmy Dolittle, Eric Sloane and Neil Armstrong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Four…

scrapbook

December, 2019

 

Eric’s Humor

More than 40 years ago, when Eric Sloane was building his home in Santa Fe, I gave him a painting by Leon Gaspard. It was a house warming gift depicting two Taos Indians on horseback, up close, and riding directly toward the viewer. They were wearing shirts with broad, brightly colored vertical stripes. And they each had on pauncho hats, one with a feather sticking up and out at a rakish angle. 

Eric decided to put it on the left side of a fireplace, and it looked great hanging there, except that he didn’t have anything to offset it on the other side of the fireplace. That problem was quickly solved when he painted the same Indians wearing the same clothing, up close, and riding directly away from the viewer. Another typically looking Leon Gaspard painting with Eric Sloane martini-style humor. I told him how much I liked it, and we both had a good laugh. Eric was pleased to see that I recognized the subtle humor in what he had done. 

The next day he came into my gallery and presented me with a still-wet Gaspard-looking painting depicting two Taos Indians on horseback wearing shirts with broad, brightly colored vertical stripes. And they each had on pauncho hats, one with a feather sticking up and out at a rakish angle. He titled it Gaspard Memories and here it is: 

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How can you not love a guy like Eric Sloane? f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Three…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

I had seen the movie, A River runs Through it, but had not read the book. “You should,” my friend said, and she gave me a copy. After only 8 pages a mood came over me and I put the book aside to write this story. It is something I had to do. The book will be there later. 

I Remember Bip

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Our hair is beginning to turn white

He was as close to me as anything could be, my arm for instance. His real name was Bippy, but I can’t imagine why. Perhaps it was given to him when he was just a pup and any flippant designation, applied with a laugh, would fit. You know how humans are around babies. 

As he matured, my little brown dachshund moved off of his pad and into my heart, and even closer if there was such a place. He started sleeping on our bed, and then under the covers. It was nice to awaken in the middle of the night and feel his warmth at my feet. 

Bippy became Bip, and then The Bip, as if the crown jewels had been injected into the name. In my work place he was always under the desk. If I moved an inch, he knew it. When I rose to walk, The Bip was always trotting, 3’ in my trail. 

Once, in Lubbock where we lived, at the time, my wife and I had the occasion to drive from the Red Barn (the name of our art foundry) to visit Glenna Goodacre at her home. We drove about 3 miles through downtown to get there. My little dog was in his usual car-riding spot on the top of my driver’s seat, and behind my neck. 

After a visit with Glenna we were ready to go, but The Bip wasn’t hanging with me, and he was nowhere around that we could see. He had never been to Glenna’s before and it was not like him to wander off into in a strange neighborhood. For three hours we searched, up this street and down that one, all about. He just wasn’t there, and I was sure someone had stolen him, or that he had been hit by a car. I was rife with despair. 

After more hours of circling and looking, we drove back to the Red Barn. And there he was, The Bip, sitting by the front door and wagging his tail if to say, “Where have you guys been?” 

How did he get from there to here, 3 miles through heavy traffic, and red lights, and big trucks? Those are the things that souls are made of. 

Peggy and I were going up the Amazon River when we received a frantic phone call from Santa Fe. A vicious dog had attacked Bip, and he was having trouble. We charted a small pontoon plane, which I think was held together with bailing wire and duct tape, (it had no heading indicator or altimeter) to come land beside our boat, and carry us to Manaus, Brazil, which was 250 miles across the unmapped Amazon jungle where we could catch a flight home.. The Bip saw us and wagged his tail. He quickly recovered. Reunions following near disasters, are wonderful.IMG 7507

In 1981, a friend assisted Bip in writing his autobiography. It’s called Bip, and has his signature on the leather cover. It’s a 30-page fictionalized account of Bip as an artist, and Eric Sloane illustrated it with 7 drawings.

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The book was published at Northland Press in Flagstaff, AZ, in one copy. 

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The book starts out:

I never wanted to tell my story. I think that should be stated at the start. I find most autobiographies rather self-serving. I hated “Doggie Dearest,” which I found highly exploitive, “For Whom the Dog Barks, “Memoirs of a Schnauzer of Pleasure,” “Cheaper by the Litter,” and all of the other volumes I have read over the years have left me cold. I always assumed that my art, not my printed word, would make the world aware that I have been one of the most colorful artists of the American West, Throughout all the years I have been painting, I have naively assumed that somehow my reputation would be discovered through the gallery we operate. But now that I am getting old, I think it is time that I tell the whole story.

At about 13 years, Bip’s muzzle turned white, and he got a cancer on his right fore-arm. It was an ugly balloon looking thing, the size of a cue ball. Our vet just shook his head, a gesture I wasn’t ready to accept. The 2nd vet, a wonderful man named Clint Hughes, said he could operate and fix it. 

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He operated for an hour and he did fix it, and he allowed me to sleep the night in his operating room on the floor beside my little dog. I knew he would be stressed. At about 15 years the terrible malignancy returned, and Clint fixed it again. We were on a roll. 

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Then at 17 years or so, The Bip began to fall apart. His liver failed and he had other problems. His eyes told me he was ready. Clint came out of retirement to help us, and as The Bip went limp in my arms, all of us cried. 

But I wasn’t ready for all of that to happen, and I told Clint I wanted my little dog to spend one last night on my bed, like he had done so many times over the years. “He’s no longer there, his spirit has gone.” Clint said. It was a kick in the gut to me, And I quickly reacted. “Who says he isn’t still there, where is your evidence, please show me your evidence?” Why do we arbitrarily believe things that we’ve been told? Just because someone said it doesn’t make it true.  Throughout the night me and Bip were together in spirit. It was a warm sleep for me. 

The next morning, I wrote The Bip’s biography and placed it in a fruit jar that had a rust-proof lid. My words said what I needed to say, so I signed it with my name and date. 

Then I made small wooden box. The boards were new and the nails were applied with loving care. Then I wrapped Bip in some warm covers and buried him under the big plum tree just outside my office at the gallery. 

Many years later, when we sold our gallery, I moved Bip to a place just outside the bedroom at our new home on the Old Santa Fe Trail.

Chiseled on a flat sandstone slab, and placed atop his little space, are these words, Bip, so long old friend, for now. I just went out and brushed the snow away to see if there was a date. There wasn’t, and I’m glad, because I don’t want to know when he passed away. I just want to remember that, in a real way, he is still with me. fContactThat story is full of reminiscing words and I feel better for having said them. 

Now it’s back to A River Runs Through it, page 9. Thank you S. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Two…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Related Cultures?

I’m getting emails from some who want to see more of our collection. I hope you don’t think I’m over doing it. 

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This beautiful 9” Sinagua lady is a pitcher. She was made of clay in north-central Arizona, and I excavated her on a friend’s ranch. She had 2 holes punched in her from a previous encounter. Can you tell where I gave her some necessary medicinal repairs? 

Dal thinks she’s ugly but what does he know about little ‘ole pottery ladies? He probably thinks her nose is too high on her face, and it is by today’s standards. But in her day, 1,200 years ago, she was right in the middle of what was culturally vogue. Her profile makes me want to agree with dal just a little bit. 

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When my trowel found this woman, she was resting supine in the volcanic ash-like dirt. The 151disc beads in her necklace were made of shell, catlinite, travertine and argillite. They had become unstrung over time, but were still in place. I restrung them on cotton. Same for her turquoise earrings.

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Meanwhile, and 4,000 miles to the south, the Chancay Indians of coastal Peru were making anthropomorphic figures like this 6” guy. His eyes of ostrich shell are inlaid in his wooden face. The other facial features are made of shell beads. Notice that his nose is up between his eyes. 

Inlaid in the right side of his headpiece is a recycled spiny oyster pendant (the other side probably had one also). Both sides of his earrings are inlaid with small slabs of turquoise, which are difficult to see because they are held in place with some kind of dark mastic.

For several thousand years most all of the cultures up and down the Americas, constructed their art from identical raw materials. It nearly always included turquoise from what is now the United States. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty One…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Olden Wood

I like old wood when it has aged in a dry environment. It takes on a deep mellow patina. Can you see it in this 18th century Spanish Colonial chest? It’s just 9” long and 4” high.

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Perhaps at one time its purpose was to provide a travelling home for some special religious object, like the 7 1/4th inch bulto below. An old tag on the back identifies it.

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Our Lady (of Guadalupe)

Circa 1810 carried by Don Pedro Don Baptista Pino who was the only delegate from the New World to the courts of Spain. He was trying to acquire money for teachers and priests. The statue was carried with him at all times. 

Today, the old chest serves a useful purpose for me. It provides a home for 880-dollar coins. The value of the chest and the coins is about $3,500.

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I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. Ideally, I would hide it somewhere in the New Mexico Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, but nearer than 8.25 miles from town. Then invite kids 16 years old and younger to go search for it. It can’t be out in the weather. What would you do with it? 

Here are a few of my old Spanish Colonial wooden crosses. f

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Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

The Power of Dance

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Joe Rivera acquired this skull for me from an Indian who said it was used in a ceremony in Greengrass Montana. I wonder what he meant, because there is no Greengrass, Montana, at least not on my map.

My recent post (SB-138) prompted some interesting comments about the Sun Dance, so I’ll tell another story.

About 20 years ago, Peggy and I went to Lodge Grass, Montana, to visit our friend Joe Medicine Crow. Since his place was just 20 miles south of Crow Agency, we had to visit there also. 

That whole country is pretty much sparse of trees, except along the Little Bighorn River and in the coulees. Off in the distance, on a rise, we saw some pickup trucks and a few horses parked in a small cluster, all by itself. Because it looked so strange and out of place, we drove over. I sensed that something special was happening, but I didn’t know what. We parked on the prairie about 200’ away, and cautiously walked over. The Crow Indians were having a Sun Dance. 

I asked an elderly Indian woman, wearing a beaded dress, if we could watch the dance. She said, “Yes, but get smudged.” (cleansed) A young Indian boy approached us swinging a large tin can that was heavy with smoke. He was burning sweetgrass. (Two of my all-time favorite smells are sweetgrass in the field, and citronella on my hand). 

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Sweetgrass maintains its pleasing smell for months, and then suddenly, its gone.

The boy feathered some smoke on us and we walked over to where 7 men were participating in the dance. A woman next to us was quietly chanting as she cut her arm with a razor blade. She was mourning her dead, and blood was spilling on the ground.

Peggy and I understood the sacredness of the ceremony and we stood reverently, without speaking, just looking. About 40 others were in a circle around the dancers watching the event with us, mostly Indians. Although the dancers were wearing modern clothing, the ceremony was ancient, and we felt blessed to witness it. 

After an hour or so, Peggy and I eased slowly back. It was time for us to go. Again, we were smudged by the cleansing smoke of sweetgrass. 

An Indian woman thanked us for coming and we spoke for just a minute. I asked her why 6 of the 7 dancers were white men. She said, “When the white man cannot find what he needs in his own religion, he come to us.” 

How can we ever have peace on this planet when every religion is correct from its own point of view? f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Nine…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

New Life From an Old Body

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This old juniper tree, adjacent to Shiloh’s house, was totally collapsed by the weight of snow about 15 years ago. It didn’t much care, it just grew sideways instead of up

In 1914, an archaeologist named Nels Nelson, working for the National Museum of Natural History in NY, took a photograph of a juniper tree at San Lazaro Pueblo. It was in full growth and seemingly in good health. I have that photo someplace but am too lazy to go into my basement and look for it.

Many years later, I took this photo of the same tree. It looked melancholy and forlorn, a stump of its former self. Well, here, you can see for yourself. 

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Sometime after 1914, someone cut all of its arms off, probably for no greater gain than to build a fence. It must have been a painful experience because an axe was used to do the cutting. Orange lichen soon covered its remnants as if to say “We’re helping you buddy, hang on.” It couldn’t, so it didn’t. 

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About 20 years ago I couldn’t stand it any longer so I brought that beautiful thing home. Now it relaxes under a growing pinon tree by my gate. It has earned a rest. 

Juniper is a hard wood that grows slowly and rots slowly. Nevertheless, I know that in another 100 years it will be gone. But in leaving, its decomposing body will fertilize a new generation of growth. I planted a small cluster of juniper berries near its soft underbelly, where they will get moisture from the ground, energy from the growing rays of sun, and nourishment from juniper decay.

Covenants on my 2 ½ acres say that no additional structures can be built on the property. So I expect the berries to germinate undisturbed, and enjoy full growth for many years. And every spring their own berries will residuate as the process renews.  

Please don’t anyone say I can’t influence the future? f

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Eight…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Paul Dyck and Me

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Paul and I at his ranch on Beaver Creek

Paul Dyck was my friend and compadre. Although he was 13 years my senior I would like to have passed through some of his life adventures at his side.  

He was born in Chicago in 1917, and spent much of his early life in Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Florence, Italy. 

Paul returned to the United States and married Fawn on Elk, and they settled in among her Lakota people on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. That’s where Paul met One Bull, the adopted son of Sitting Bull.

Although One Bull was many years older than Paul, they became such fast friends that he was adopted into One Bull’s family. In discussions between the two that lasted into the wee hours, they talked about the early Indian way of life and about the Custer Fight. One Bull said that some historians had written that he was the one who killed Custer in the fight, but it wasn’t true. Although he was in the battle, he said he never saw Custer. He was 23 at the time, and he died in 1947.

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Sitting Bull with his pipe, and One Bull

As a painter, Paul had an intuitive flair for color and description. So much so that the Sioux named him Rainbow Hand. He was fascinated by the carving that Gutzon Borglum was doing at Mount Rushmore, so he went over and got a job carrying water to the workers. 

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Original watercolor from Paul’s book Brule’

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Oil painting by Paul Dyck

After Fawn died in childbirth, Paul moved to Rimrock in the Verde Valley of Arizona. His ranch house was on Beaver Creek and when the water was up, a car couldn’t cross it. So Paul would come get you in his tractor. 

Paul’s house looked like an aircraft hangar, with the ceiling about 40’ high (I’m guessing). His bedroom and bath were off to the side and upstairs. It was generally considered that he had the greatest private collection of antique Plains Indian material in existence, and his big room was full of it. It included more than 80 beaded dresses, and 70 war shirts. 

Paul was one of the authorities on what he called, the “Buffalo Culture.” His book Brule’ about the Sioux people of the Rosebud, brought him national acclaim. Museums and universities sought his council, and he was awarded an honorary PhD by the University of Montana.

Paul was married two more times. Jean Hamilton was his third wife, and the love of his life. He called her Star. When she died, he was devastated, and started spend time reading out by his corral where he had two buffalo. He fed them by hand, and delighted in watching his bull hook a big tractor tire and toss it high into the air. 

About 2004 I videotaped a lengthy interview with Paul at his ranch. He said a few things that ran contrary to the generally accepted history of the Custer fight. Supposedly, White Swan, a Crow Indian scout with the 7th Cavalry, was in a club fight with some Sioux warriors and was left prostrate on the battlefield. 

According to Paul, two days before the battle began, White Swan was dispatched to track down a trooper who had deserted, and return him to duty. A fight ensued, the deserter was killed and White Swan was severely wounded by a conk to his head. When he returned, the Custer battle was in full swing, and he collapsed on the battlefield, forever deaf and dumb from his fight with the deserter. Paul said that One Bull, who was in the fight, told him that story. 

It is terrible when history is written wrong, but worse still is not knowing who to believe. f