Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety One…

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SEPTEMBER 2018

 

George and Me

George Montgomery was born in 1916, which made him 14 years my senior, but we didn’t care about that. We were really good friends who collected western art and Indian artifacts together. He was a movie star and an artist. Our gallery sold his bronzes. We both loved Montana where I spent many summers. He was born in Brady, MT, and half of his ashes are buried there.

But our similarities started slowing down really fast after that. He was a genuine cowboy who worked on his family ranch. That was nothing I wanted because they had to get up too early, work outside when the ground was frozen, and dig fence post holes in the blazing summer sun.

Other dissimilarities: George was 6’3”, strikingly handsome, possessed the gift of glib in a good way, and made 105 movies. Some with John Wayne.

And he was haunted by a fear of flying the likes of which may be noted in the broad annals of aviation history. One time we were having Frito Pie at the Santa Fe Five and Dime on the plaza. Our spellbinding stories to each other occupied too much time in the telling, but we loved them anyway.

Suddenly George looked at his watch and cried, “Oh God, I’m going to miss my plane.” He had an important meeting in LA that absolutely could not be missed. I thought he might collapse, and the airport in Albuquerque was 65 miles away. “George,” I shrieked, “You can make it if I fly you to ABQ, what do you think?” He looked horrified. “Ok”, he whimpered.

Twenty-five minutes later we were in my little propeller driven airplane heading south. Albuquerque Center handed us off to Approach Control, who turned us over to the tower. They cleared us to enter a right base leg for runway 27 and we were number 2 in the pattern. An aircraft on a half-mile final approach was cleared to land ahead of us.

Well, the small airplane ahead of us crashed on the runway and started to smoke. Two people crawled out of the wreckage and fled. Suddenly there was a lot of commotion on the radio.

George looked straight ahead and didn’t say anything.

The excited tower operator reported that runway 27 was now closed and advised us to enter a right base leg for the north/south runway. We touched down over a mile away from the accident and didn’t interfere with the copious emergency vehicles that raced down a taxiway.

George looked straight ahead and didn’t say anything.

After some back-and-forth discourse with Ground Control, we were cleared to taxi to the gate where his jumbo jet was loading passengers through an up-ramp.

When I stopped, George quickly got out of my plane, jumped off the wing and boarded the airliner just as the door was about to close.

I don’t remember if I yelled goodbye. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety…

scrapbook

SEPTEMBER 2018

 

A recent conversation with a friend about Eric Sloane prompted me to go through his papers in my file cabinet. The first item I found was the following story that I wrote many years ago, and never published. I remember with great fondness that interesting event with my friend Eric.

Today I look around at me,
And rue so many things I see.
Maybe it will help if we
Recall the way they used to be.

 

The Sheet Episode

One winter morning about 1980, while gathering some sun near the pond behind my gallery, I told Eric a funny Taos story about an Indian who had been invited to dinner at the home of Louise and Joseph Henry Sharp. During the meal, the host and his wife retreated briefly to the kitchen. When they returned they found that their guest had departed along with Louise’s prized white linen table cloth that had adorned the table. The dishes were askew and Louise was aghast. The next day Sharp witnessed the Indian walking near the plaza wearing his new wrap-around table cloth.

My story reminded Eric that in 1925, when he visited Taos Pueblo, most of the Indian men wore white sheets as an outer garment. He recalled that many years earlier, some of the men wore nothing at all in the summer time, except maybe an eagle feather hair decoration.

During the Army presence at the pueblo after the revolt of 1847, some of the wives complained that the feathers didn’t cover up enough. Kit Carson took the matter up with the Governor of the Pueblo, and after some deliberation, the Indians agreed to wear clothing, but only if the Army supplied the garments.

A simple solution was effected with the issue of regulation army sheets for the Indians to wear, thus starting a long and colorful tradition at Taos Pueblo. Everyone was happy, especially the female tourists.

Standing Deer by Joseph Sharp – Forrest Fenn collection

Unfortunately, over time the Army disappeared from Taos Pueblo, and so did the white sheets.

So, Eric and I decided to re-supply sheets to the Indians, expecting them to be thrilled, and we could wallow in the realization that an interesting episode in Taos Pueblo history had been rekindled. The next day, with a gross of J.C. Penny sheets in my car, we struck for Taos where we spoke with the Governor of the pueblo. After telling him the Kit Carson story, we suggested that he take our gifts and issue them to what we were sure would be a delighted group of natives.

We departed the pueblo with the gratification that belongs only to those who have made great cultural contributions on a magnificent scale. Our friends held us in thrall until the next day when a friend of Eric’s in Taos phoned him to report that the governor and two of his friends were successful in wholesaling large quantities of sheets on the plaza.

Eric and I had a good laugh at our own expense but were somewhat pleased to know that at least we had added, in some small way, to the economic growth of the pueblo. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook One Hundred Eighty Nine…

scrapbook

AUGUST 2018

 

Does Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Really Exist?

I met Forest Fenn one day in the early 1970’s while visiting family in Lubbock, Texas.  I was around 10 years old and with my dad who had an interest in everything and anything art.  It’s all a blur now.  I had no real idea of where we were or what we were doing at the warehouse in what seemed to be an industrial side of town.

My dad had learned of a foundry and a caster of bronze who was moving to Santa Fe to set up a foundry. We found him and he made time for us. Dad asked Mr. Fenn many questions that day about the lost wax method of casting bronze sculptures.  I was fascinated by the discussion and was even more interested when Mr. Fenn handed me a small piece of dark brown casting wax and told me that if I sculpted something out of it he would cast it for me.

I naively took this man at his word. I lost no time and quickly sculpted a rather crude horse figure, placed it in a box and sent it back to Lubbock. Several months past and the horse crossed my mind a number of times. But back in those “no internet’, “no over-night shipping” days we had a healthy patience about expectations and waiting.

Sometime later a small box bearing weight arrived by mail and I recognized the name on the return address  – Forrest Fenn – Santa Fe, New Mexico. I hurriedly open the box and unwrapped the packaging and there it was, my little wax horse exactly as I had sculpted it, only now it was in solid bronze. I was amazed. A sculpture that I had created with my hands now was in a form that was as permanent as it could possibly be. I felt like a real artist!

Looking back on all of this, there was no gain in it for Mr. Fenn.  He had to fabricate a mold, and then melt the wax out of the mold followed by sweat and the extremely high temperature of a foundry. He took on the risk of pouring the molten bronze into the mold, followed by the finishing work and a patina applied perfectly – even to an insignificant piece of “art”. He did all of this while keeping up with the address of a boy he would probably never see again. And, Mr. Fenn never asked for anything in return.

The horse is almost comical looking and it sits today in my living room. And although very few people notice it, when I do, I think of a young boy and a man who did not know each other but made a promise with each other. And that promise was kept.

Many people are searching for the famous treasure. I feel a responsibility to tell all, that, I already found the real Forrest Fenn treasure -over 45 years ago!

By the way, Mr. Fenn, Thank you. 

Bill
Natchitoches, La.

 

 

 

 

 

After the Search on Friday…

January 22nd, 2016

by CYNTHIA

 

As I pulled into the Santa Fe Animal Shelter parking area this morning, I was astonished to see the number of vehicles awaiting my arrival. Despite the brisk 34 degree temperature, most of the folks were already milling around, introducing themselves. I immediately joined the gang and handed out a few packets of photos of Randy’s maps that I had printed for 3 teams. We discussed the plan for the day. We all would caravan in seven vehicles as close to Montoso Peak and the canyon edge as possible within the red circle on the maps. If any of the vehicles could no longer tolerate the muddy, slippery conditions, we would stop as a group and place those folks in the vehicles that could climb and grip the sloppy tracks to a spot close to the canyon edge.

We put John Brown in the lead because he knew the way to the mesa area we intended to go… he had been there previously with Gene, I believe. I followed in the FJ, Radcrad and Mike Hendrickson were next in line, followed by Katya and Billy who had organized three guys to help search using their drones (Tizz, Sam, and another). Eventually Tom G and Amber and her little dog June fell into line.

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One nice thing that Katya mentioned before we were under way was that Cid’s Market in Taos paid for a bag of groceries for us to make a nice lunch in the field. Kudos to Cid’s…really cool.

About the time we hit the asphalt, Katya received a call from her 3rd drone operator that he was running late but he’d catch up on the dirt road to Montoso Peak. If you don’t know the area, you’d likely get lost in a second. So anytime we came to a fork, Roger (Radcrad) tied an orange ribbon to a branch to mark the way.

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During one of the stops, some of the guys revisited the map of the area.

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I wish I had pictures of the “road” once we started the journey around Montoso Peak because I’m not sure I have the proper words to describe the drive…for me, it was basically terrifying… and I was the one driving the probably most capable vehicle for the conditions out there. The path twisted and turned and tilted between the juniper trees, all the while our tires slinging mud and snow. To make it even worse, there were sections of jagged rocks poking up here and there, as well as an area the guys referred to as “the steps”…large rocks that we crawled over and around going down a short section of steep grade…which I knew we had to climb up over on the return trip. The only saving factor for me was that there were no cliff edges on either side, so even if we’d slide off into a ditch and flip, we likely wouldn’t be killed. Sometimes the path through the trees was so tight the branches would sweep both sides of my car….one branch was large enough to knock my side mirror against the side…

John finally stopped ahead of me, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I realized he was parking…we had made it.

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After each person gathered their gear, we teamed up, traded cell phone numbers (yes we had a good signal), and Tizz handed out radios to each team. We agreed on the return time to the vehicles as 4:00 pm since we knew returning home would be difficult as well and we needed daylight.

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Amber from Texas and her dog June, Roger, and Mike Hendrickson.

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Billy blessing us and our surroundings before heading out. Drone operators Tizz, Sam, and ?…

Even though we were sort of close to the mesa edge, we still had quite a distance to the river. I teamed with John Brown and Roger…our destination was to sweep the gully along the hill in front of us as we made our way to the edge. Tom G and Amber headed to the edge farther south, and the drone team meandered where needed to find the best place to launch the drones. According to my GPS coordinates, we were exactly where I’d hoped we could go… within the red circle on Randy’s map.

You will see my day through pictures of John. Roger searched a bit away from us so I have few pictures of him or the other teams.

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John heading down the mesa hill into the gully.

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As I walked, I searched every nook and cranny along my route…

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Heading towards the rim…three searchers near center of photo.

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John ahead of me as we made our way down into the gully.

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I was above John about 6 feet when he said he saw “something”…”what” I anxiously asked. 
He described it as a place where branches and pine needles may have been placed on the ground. There was a small yellow spot in the snow where someone may have urinated and what looked like dog kibble scattered about. He picked up the kibble and told me to look at it…it was a stretch but we made the exchange. Excitedly, I examined it and said I thought it was rabbit scat, but I couldn’t be certain….I handed it back. He broke it in half and smelled it… confirming what I suspected. We discussed the yellow snow…even if it was human urine, it could have been from SAR…we left it alone.

John and I continued our hike and search for Randy down through the gully…we eventually got to an area that was too steep to continue, so we started a diagonal descent out of the gully and across the hill side. We wanted to get to the river… to the raft.

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I included a lot of pictures of the terrain, trying to capture the unfriendly ruggedness…there are no trails per se in the area we were at. There was a lot of scree…the loose stuff that causes people like me to fall on their butt and slide part way down…it worked, and I was happy to be wearing my heavy canvas pants.
I think John and I got about half way down the side of the hill to the raft area when we decided we just didn’t have enough time. Disappointed, we both agreed to be safe…we didn’t want the burden of time along with the uphill struggle when we had to climb back up the hillside to the vehicles.

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We ran into Katya and Billy taking a breather. Notice the steepness of the side of this hill. Tough hiking conditions, IMO.

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John and I continued a diagonal path up and saw the slab of rock in below photo. It would be our break stop. We each used binoculars…looking for Randy.

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The teams began streaming to the vehicles a bit early…the drone folks radioed to us that they’d be a bit behind schedule. We agreed we all leave together…we’d wait. No man left behind.

As we began the dreaded drive out of there, I noticed it was already 4:30. The progress was so slow due to the horrible road conditions that sometimes my speedometer barely moved off zero. It wasn’t long before twilight fell upon us…seeing all the ruts and jagged rocks became even more difficult. At the last stop while I waited for the others to catch up, I took the photo below… Despite all that mud, and snow, and ice, and rocky terrain, this was the view as we went home…an almost full moon over the mountains above Santa Fe…

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I’m sorry to say that none of us found clues to find Randy. The drone crews each took over an hour of videos which they will download and analyze over the next day or two. They filmed the entire side canyon just south of where the raft was found. They also filmed, I believe, the edges of the Rio Grande canyon as well.

We all said our good-byes at the SF Animal Shelter where a few of the cars awaited their owners. Forrest requested a small group go to his place and provide him with an update of the day’s activities. I was delighted he was so kind as to have a platter of snacks available for us… with 6 little cans of Dr. Pepper. I was famished and ate accordingly…

There is no organized group search planned for tomorrow. A few individuals are going to go out on their own. Katya and her crew will analyze their drone videos, and we will go from there.

I want to thank all you awesome people who helped search today…everyone used good judgment and stayed safe. We really worked as a team and made sure we didn’t leave anyone on the mountain or stuck in the mud. I’d also like to thank all those who post their ideas on Dal’s blog. Because of the maps that Stephanie made available, we had a good idea of where to go today. We realize this area had been searched by the professionals previously… I guess I just had to see it for myself.
God bless Randy and his family and all you wonderful folks in the search community…

Cynthia

 

Drone Day…

January 22nd, 2016

by Katya and Bill

I just got home. Long drive home to Taos after long intense day searching. Sasha was not there today.
I brought a crew of 5 of us today. Two drones and two drone operators. They got a lot of footage and we are eagerly waiting the results.
Taos Internet is very s l o  w. Billy is working on uploading still photos from the day. Says it will take an hour and will send them off to you right away.
I’m crawling in to bed now.
Katya

 

Bill’s Photos Below. Click on the pic to make it a bit bigger.

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Katya and Bill-

 

Scrapbook Eighty…

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JULY 2014

 

Hi Mr. Fenn. As I’m broke and half a continent away from my search location I got creative in searching my location: Craiglist! I went into the “Bozeman, MT” jobs section, under the category of “Etc.” and said that I was looking for a Treasure Hunter. Told them I would split the treasure with them if they found it and offered gas money for their trip. Not expecting much, if any, of a response, I was surprised twenty-four hours later when I had over a dozen different people offering to partner up with me. Turns out everyone wants to search for treasure, they just need an excuse, or someone who claims they know where it is anyway. Ha ha. Following my detailed directions my Craiglist partner went out to the Lamar Valley where he was quickly semi-circled by bison whom he escaped by crossing the Lamar River–part of the directions, though instead of wading across as I told him, he had to swim the last 15 yards. Oops. Shows you how little you can plan for.

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Luckily everything worked out and he had a great adventure, sending me back lots of photos–he even waived the gas fee. The only thing that would have made it any better would be if the had found the treasure. Oh well. Gonna go through my list of applicants and find someone to check out my other solve… Have a good Fourth weekend.

Bill