Comparing Chests…


by dal


This month an intrepid searcher ran across an image of a chest in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts that looks a great deal like Forrest’s bronze chest, named Indulgence, hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. It is not Forrest’s chest. It is certainly a chest that on the surface, looks a great deal like Forrest’s…but it is not the one we are looking for. Forrest’s is still hidden in the mountains north of Santa Fe.

The Museum’s chest was donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1969. The museum specifies the dimensions of the chest as 9.6″ x 9.6″ x  6″. Forrest measured his chest and knows it to be 10″ x 10″ x 5″ But aside from dimensional differences there are other discrepancies that can be detected by examining photographs of both chests.

Here are images of both chests:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

The angle and lighting in these two photographs are clearly different and we really only have the front of each chest to compare. But in spite of those limitations and their apparent similarity..there are interesting differences which suggest that these two chests were probably made by different artists, possibly in far different centuries.

The most noticeable difference is the overall patina of the bronze. Forrest’s is dark, copperish and rich looking while the museums is bright with a slight yellowish cast and very shiny.

The irregularities between the two chests show up better when we look closer at the figures. To begin, let’s look at the row of shields that adorn the edge of the lid…specifically the 4 on the left side of the hasp.

Here is a closer look at that area on each chest:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

At first glance the 4 shields may look identical. But they are not. Their positions are ever-so-slightly different.

The first shield on the far left is tilted barely to the left on Forrest’s chest but on the Museum’s chest that same shield is tilted ever-so-slightly in the opposite direction.

The differences in the second shield from the left are easier to see. On the Museum’s chest that shield has its upper left corner missing. But on Forrest’s chest there is no missing corner.

The third shield on the Museum’s chest is quite tilted while on Forrest’s chest that shield is perfectly straight.

Notice the design between the shields. Between the third and fourth shields on Forrest’s chest we can see four rounds and a cross in the center. But on the Museum’s chest the cross is less distinct and has become a diamond.

Now let’s examine an area on the front of the chest to the right of the hasp. we see a figure lifting a ladder with other figures below the ladder. Here is the detail area from the photos:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

This detail is more difficult to make out until your eyes get adjusted to what you are looking at…

The area I want to focus on is the ladder and the hand that is holding the ladder from above.

First, note the apparent thickness of the ladder rungs in the two photos. The rungs look much thicker in Forrest’s chest. This is because of the lighting, which on Forrest’s chest exacerbates the high relief of the rung compared to the hollow area under the rung. On the Museum’s chest the rungs do not show the high relief. the area under the rungs is shallower.

Next, notice the angle at the wrist where the hand is holding the ladder. The angle in that wrist is much narrower on Forrest’s chest.

Now look at these two images showing the lower right corner of the chest.


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

There is a dent in the bottom plate in Forrest’s chest which does not appear in the image of the Museum’s chest. It may be easier to see this difference in the full images of the two chests.

There are many other differences as well that can be detected in the images of the two chest’s. But here is one very curious similarity which causes one to wonder how these oddities could come about on both chests.

Look at the top right corner of each lid:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

Both chests have a drooping corner. As if something very heavy was dropped on the corner of each lid or possibly each was designed with a drooping corner in mind..remarkable!!

My point is that although the chests appear, at first glance, to be the same, there are many differences between the two. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that these two chests are the same…or that Forrest’s chest has been found and hidden in the Detroit Institute of Arts. These are two different chests. Similar but not the same.

My guess is that over time, more of these chests will surface in museums and collections around the world…Indulgence is hidden in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe…That’s the one I want to find.




Here is an alternative photo of the chest at the Museum. Patina looks closer to Forrest’s chest but the noted differences are still apparent. Forrest’s chest and the Museum’s chest are different in dimensions and in details.




Scrapbook One Hundred Seventy…


MARCH 2017


Once in a while I do something right.

Wilson Hurley was an artist, and a good one. The price of his paintings frequently ran up to around $100,000 for the larger ones. He was entertaining in a conversation. His father was Patrick Hurley, who, during WW2 was Ambassador to China. As a kid Wilson travelled widely with his father and he had personal letters from Generals MacArthur and Eisenhower. In 1945, Wilson graduated from West Point and became a pilot in the Air Force, serving as a forward air controller in Vietnam. We always had plenty to talk about.

Well, sometime in the 1980s probably, some guy ran a red light and hit Wilson’s car. The jolt pinched a nerve in his neck. He was incapacitated, unable to paint for a year maybe. He couldn’t make a living so he sued, and it went to court in Albuquerque.

Since I had a gallery in Santa Fe and sold Wilson’s paintings, I was called to testify as an expert witness about the value of his work, and how much money he lost by not being able to paint. I was duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Problem was I didn’t like the defense attorney at first sight, and every sight after that. I didn’t know the jerk, but he was someone I very much enjoyed not caring for. His villainous face and bulging eyes made him look like Peter Lorre. The judge broke with tradition and wore a blue robe, my favorite color. The scene was set with only a few spectators.

Well, most of the questions from the jerk’s mouth came out reeking with sarcastic idioms that were aimed at discrediting me. He covertly insinuated that I was a derelict witness, not qualified to be on the stand. I was happily getting fed up with this guy. When one of my answers turned into a short dissertation, the defense jerk interrupted me. “Yes or no, Mister Fenn, yes or no,” he yelled in a croaky belligerent voice. All of a sudden the court room was a very hostile environment. I just sat there as the lawyer’s eyes captured me. It was like a 40 pound turkey staring at a June bug.

I turned to the bench and said, very apologetically, “Judge, I swore to tell the truth and the whole truth. If the defense attorney won’t allow me to do that I must respectfully withdraw my oath.” There was silence in the court as everyone sat stunned. The defense attorney looked like he’d just crawled out from under a garbage truck. I posed straight ahead and tried to stay collected, hoping the judge wouldn’t cite me for contempt.

Finally he called the lawyers into chambers and as they disappeared, and the door slammed, I relaxed. It could go either way, I thought. When Wilson, who was also a lawyer, saw the jury feigning snickers his frown turned to a smile. When the legal force returned, the judge said I could answer the questions as I pleased, and I was re-sworn. I ducked that bullet with impressive form. Wilson agreed.

Surely what I did was not only legal, but necessary, although no one had ever heard of a witness being unsworn before. At lunch Wilson paid. I ordered chicken fried steak with the gravy on the side, and no veggies. It had been a good day. f

Wilson Hurley


Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Nine…


MARCH 2017


One late Friday afternoon in 1951, I found myself in Eunice, LA., visiting Peggy Proctor and her family for the weekend. It was raining when a buddy dropped me off on his way to somewhere else. Peggy and I had been dating since our early grades in high school and everyone considered me part of her clan.

At the time, I was a PFC in the Air Force making $95 a month, and attending Radar Mechanics School in Biloxi, MS. I was on the red-eye shift, 1800 to midnight.

Sunday evening came too early and I had to be in school the next afternoon or really bad things would happen to me. The Korean War was new and the military was unreasonable about discipline. PFCs were easy targets.

I told Peggy to not worry about me and when I heard her front door reluctantly close behind me, it was dark and Biloxi was more than 200 miles away.

After walking a couple of blocks while holding my little suitcase over my head against the irrational moisture, I heard voices coming from a little church just ahead. The front doors were open and the warm incandescent lights were compelling. When two ladies saw me dripping in the vestibule they rushed over, and with typical Cajun hospitality, pulled me inside for coffee.

The congregation was playing Bingo. All of a sudden I was in a completely different world.

I didn’t have enough coins to jingle, but I did have a quarter, just one quarter, and the sign on the wall said “Cards – 25 Cents.” What the heck, I thought, and I invested all of my cash. There were three winners in the first game and I was one of them. Now I had $3.75, and hope was flickering.

The bus station was three blocks away and I started running. The drizzle stopped bothering me. When the ticket man told me the fare to Biloxi was $3.95, I felt numb. I spread all of my money on the counter and asked if I could please buy a ticket with that amount?

His finger started counting and with each word he spoke my pulse rate increased. Our eyes locked for an eternity and then he said, “No you can’t buy a ticket with that amount,” still looking at me hard, “but I’ll give you 20 cents.”

I waved to my friend behind the counter as I climbed into the bus. He was smiling, and I knew everything would be alright.

I came away from that experience with some thoughts to live by.

  1. There is no such thing as a self-made man.
  2. Give it your best shot and see what happens.
  3. Never underestimate the power of a quarter.
  4. Give some of it back when it is needed.



Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Eight…


MARCH 2017


I thought I was the world’s greatest fighter pilot just like all twenty-four-year-old recent graduates of pilot training who were long on ego, and short on everything else.

When I walked in General Russell Spicer’s outer office and asked his secretary if I could please see the general, she asked if I had an appointment. When I said no, she asked me what I wanted. I told her I would like to have permission to fly the general’s F-86F. He was Chief of Flying Safety for the entire Air Training Command at Scott Air Force Base, and had no business letting a lowly 2nd Lt. fly his airplane, especially since I had never flown that model before. That’s what I had going against me.

Colonel Russ Spicer in WWII

I had not met the general but knew him by reputation. Everyone did. He shot down three German airplanes in WW-2 and when his P-51 took battle damage, he was forced to bail out over the English Channel. He floated around in a one-man dinghy for two days, finally washing ashore in France. His hands and feet were frozen when the Germans took him prisoner. As the senior officer in Stalag Luft 1, he gave a speech that the German commander said was “riotous,” and Spicer was sentenced to six months in solitary confinement and then execution by firing squad. The day before he was to be executed, his POW camp was overrun by Russian soldiers and the Germans fled. Spicer was liberated.

Major General Russ Spicer in the 1950s

When the general’s secretary picked up the phone and said, “General, I think you should come out here,” most of my cockiness went south, and I suddenly felt like a crippled ant in an elephant parade.

The general’s huge, black mustache startled me because it separated his nose from his mouth in such a commanding way. I wondered if he could intake air. When he grinned at me, and after we saluted, he invited me into his office. “What can I do for you, Sir?” the general asked as he lit his pipe and offered me a seat. I told him my name, and that I was a pilot in the 85th Fighter Interceptor Squadron flying the F-86D, and that one of our hangars was next to where he kept his plane. We talked for a while. I had seen him many times approach the field at 1,500’, 250 knots, make a tight pitchout, drop the gear and flaps, and land. To me it was like poetry. His F-86F was the same model that had shot down most of the Migs during the Korean War, and I really wanted to fly it

He looked at me for a few seconds, then picked up the phone. “Get my crew chief for me please.” The general said, “Pull my airplane out because Lt. Forrest Fenn is coming down to fly it.” I was really grinning. I thanked him, saluted, and turned to leave when he said, “Don’t you dare break my airplane.”

An F-86F passing the tower at Nellis AFB

The crew chief stood on the ladder and talked me through the engine start. That must have been 1954, and I flew for about an hour. It was the thrill of my life to fly that airplane. I went back to my squadron thinking I was the world’s leading ace. When my boss learned what I had done, he came over and congratulated me, not because I had flown the general’s airplane, but because I had guts enough to ask him if I could.
But that’s not all of the story.

Five years later I saw the general again. He was commander of the 17th Air Force at Wheelus Air Base, Libya, where we had a gunnery school. He remembered some brash Lt. asking to fly his plane, but he didn’t remember my name.

Thirty years later, the lady who purchased my gallery hired one of General Spicer’s sons to be her driver. Is this a small world, or what? f


Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Seven…



Jon Lackman conducted this email interview with Forrest for a publication that did not use it. Rather than let it die in his computer Jon has decided to share it with us. The interview was conducted in May of 2015.

Thanks Jon!!


– My apologies for the morbid impolite question, but it seems quite possible that this treasure hunt will be the first line of your obituary. Are you comfortable with that? Is there something else you’ve done that you’d prefer to come first? 

FF: I said in my book that my obituary should say, “I wish I could have lived to do the things I was attributed to.” During my art gallery years I advertised full page color in some of the most prominent magazines of that time, which made me an “expert” in the eyes of many. It was good for business, but it also made me a target. My treasure story lit a fuse that will burn until someone finds the chest full of gold, and perhaps beyond, My 20 years as a fighter pilot was a much larger part of my life. In Vietnam I flew 328 combat missions, and was shot down twice. The reality is that what my obituary says will be of little consequence.

– I’ve read that you wrote the book and set the treasure hunt to get kids off their little texting machines and outside to smell the sunshine.  Apart from this, are there any other important messages that you wanted to get across? 

FF: Yes, I have two daughters who are in their 50s and don’t know who Clark Gable was. I wanted them to know that their great great grandmother watched Comanche Indians run through her barnyard in Ft. Worth trying to catch chickens.

– You have said some things in scrapbook entries that seem too bizarre to be true, like the fact that you keep your jeans on when you shower.  Are you at times just pulling people’s legs?

FF: Yes, I didn’t think that comment would fool many people. I was trying to make a point.

– Last month, you indicated that still nobody has correctly solved beyond the first two clues.  Is this correct?  Still nobody has solved beyond the first two clues?

FF: Very few people tell me exactly where they are searching so there is no way for me to know. Some searchers have been within 200 feet.

– Without saying how you know, you have offered reassurance that you know the treasure is still in its hiding spot. Is there any method planned for hunters to obtain this reassurance after your death? 

FF: No sir.

– Do you intend to keep releasing occasional small hints for as long as you live? Have you made any plans for clues to continue surfacing after your death? 

FF: No sir.

– I’ve also read that you wrote the treasure hunt for an unemployed redneck with 12 kids.  Does this mean that all of those people who are delving into Native American history, Greek mythology etc are looking too deeply?  Can hunters really get to the treasure location with just a good map, the poem, and a decent knowledge of words? 

FF: I wrote the book for everyone who feels a sense of wanderlust. In your last question if you change the last word to geography, my answer would be yes.

– How much progress can be made by someone just thinking and searching the Internet from home? (Another way of saying this: How many clues can only be decoded in situ?) 

FF: All of them, in theory, but not likely in practice. A searcher must go to the site to find the treasure.

– People have become fixated on you telling them to bring a sandwich and a flashlight.  Are they just wasting their time focusing on these things as clues? 

FF: They certainly are not clues.

– How much more likely are hunters to work out where warm waters halt with the aid of TTOTC, compared to without it?

FF: You sure ask confounding, but insightful questions. The clues are in the poem, but there are hints in the book.

– Can you give me one quote that will inspire my readers that it is possible to find your treasure?  Something to motivate them?  Something to tease them.

FF: Those who solve the first clue are more than half way to the treasure, metaphorically speaking.


Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Six…



Graveyard Logic

At an opening in our art gallery during the mid-eighties, I met a nice young
married couple. They were in their twenties or so, and I’m sure of that.
People smiled at the sight of them walking around, holding hands, and
munching on the finger things we had near the wine cooler. In subsequent
weeks I saw them infrequently around town, whispering to each other, and
holding hands, a sure sign of impending problems.

I don’t remember her name, so for some subliminal reason probably, I’ll call
her Angel. She was walking toward me one day as I departed the bank on
Palace Avenue. Her eyes were red, her hair was a gnarling muddle, and she
was sobbing uncontrollably. I was startled.

When we stopped to talk, and as she smeared a hankie across her face, she
explained what a bad person her ex-husband was and that she would never
recover from what he did to her. “It’s been two months, you know.” No, I
didn’t know, but that was okay.

After a long coffee respite at the Plaza Cafe, her emotions subsided
somewhat. I learned that Angel was a professional potter who was trying to
support herself in a failing market. I felt terrible, and wondered what I
could do to help.

Finally, it came to me. I told her to go make her divorce in the form of a
pot, “because we’re going to have a funeral.” She started laughing and
hugged me, then laughed and hugged me some more. The spell of doom was
broken and she hurried away to her studio.

Well, ten days later I was digging a hole at the north end of room block two
at San Lazaro Pueblo. It was beside a pre-historic path that led down to the
clay mine. Angel was sniffling into her hankie. It had been an awkward
forty-five minute drive as I had tried desperately to concentrate on the

She had made the ugliest pottery thing I have ever seen. It was about 18″
high, 10″ across, and it reeked with dismal black figures that had sharp
edges. The iron nails that she had driven periodically around that poor jar
had been mostly destroyed and were crumbling as a result of the
high-temperature firing. Angel had written her ex’s name in big black
letters, but I am sure it was misspelled. “Ferd,” it said. I wondered what
that was all about.

After she threw some things into the pot, I put the lid on, placed it
reverently into the ground, and covered it up with dirt. Then she started
piling rocks on the grave. She kept piling them on. I suppose maybe she was
afraid that somehow her divorce would get out of the hole.

Leaving her alone to conduct the funeral, I walked back to wait in the car.

Well, I’ve never heard such carrying on. It was so loud! There was yelling
and sobbing and singing, and screaming maledictions. She spit out a few
words, the definitions of which I was not cognizant. During one loud scream
I heard the word “Fred,” and I think the blossoms started falling from a
nearby cholla cactus. I quickly rolled my car windows up.

Twenty minutes later, we were driving home. Angel was giggling and her hair
looked nice. All of a sudden she rolled the window down, threw her hankie
out, and looked at me. She just looked at me and smiled. That’s all! Wow,
once in a while I do something really good. f





Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Four…



When Forrest sent me this poem I was put a little aback, Here is what I sent him:

“I don’t know how long you worked on that poem but it is pretty delicious, gut-wrenching and personal…
It’s very cool Forrest…
I think it reveals a lot about your feelings about war…
and loss…
But it conceals a great deal as well and that will be what folks will discuss…

I noted a couple of typos…or maybe they are intentionals…

Imagination is more fun than knowledge 
Did you mean to spell knowledge correctly…?
You have a reputation for your unique spelling of knowlege..

where on some Flanders Field my favoured companions fought.
Did you intend to use the Brit spelling of favored?…probably so…it works very well…

This mysterious vestige of a sailing past, shappend by myriad winds and waves, 
Did you mean shappend or shaped?

And here is what Forrest replied:
“Leave everything alone.”

Below is Forrest’s poem and original note:

Imagination is more fun than knowledge

A wanderer chanced upon this driftwood art, shipwrecked and lonely on a sandy shore. At least to me it plays that part; an olden sailing ship,
and nothing more.
Or maybe it’s a desperate soul, a sentimental sort, standing on a sodden knoll, searching for his Candy Ann, who, absent from her role, lately departed from a distant port.
And no one was there to pay her toll.
Or is it not his throbbing Ann, wrapped in shroud against the breezing cold, yelling with all she can, a screaming voice so loud, and nothing there is told.
Is she below the saline door forever reaching back no more?

But is it all for naught, wild upon my imaginations fraught; dreaming of wild journeys too late sought, or of cold battles where on some Flanders Field my favoured companions fought.
Let it stop now, and be no more.

This mysterious vestige of a sailing past, shappend by myriad winds and waves, occupies my hand at last, subject to whatever whim my mind, in its wanderings, craves.
And that will henceforth, forever be her lore.

A treasure searcher, a pleasant stranger, posted me this wonderful wooden hand-size object along with words that bare, wonderful enough to covet, yet too personal to share.

This paragon of expression stands straight and bold. Its blackened keel, harden by fire, hints of battles fought and won. A single jib yet unfurled, still serves testament to this vessels willingness to bare its gun.

Surprisingly the forces of oceanic turbulence combined to pare this ready boat. I’ve told you what I think, but what else does it know?

Thank you for the favor, Mister Poe. f



Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Three Point Five…


DECEMBER 20, 2016

Crew of the Candy Ann and Forrest after snatching him from the jungle in Laos. This photo was taken on December 21st after Forrest spent the night in the jungle and was rescued by these guys on the 21st.

I am toasting myself with hot chocolate because 48 years ago today I was shot down in Laos and enjoyed all of the fruits such a jungle paradise could provide. It would be my hopeful lot to retrace my steps and retrieve my pistol and Minox camera, both of which were unceremonially extracted from my person as I egressed that location, up through breaking limbs and leafs galore, via a life-saving hoist. But alas, perhaps I shall fail that rendezvous in lieu of, and deference to, demands made by my 86 year-old carcass. I guess my parachute is still hanging in that tree where I left it. I will wish it a Merry Christmas and thank it for doing a great job. Ain’t life grand? f

F-100F  Super Sabre cockpit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Forrest flying an F-100 Super Sabre.

If you’d like to hear Forrest tell the story of being shot down and then rescued the next day follow the link below to go to a video interview of Forrest filmed by the Air Force Association a couple years ago.

The interview is in two parts. The link to the second part is on the bottom of the video page.


Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Three…




Remember the story titled “The Everlasting Forrest Fenn” that appeared in the California Sunday Magazine last summer? The writer, Taylor Clark, visited Santa Fe early in 2016 to interview Forrest. After he wrote the story and his editor approved it for publication it went to a “fact-checker” whose job is to make sure the purported facts in the story are true and not simply the imaginative construction of the writer. So, the fact checker must contact someone who can authenticate the facts in the story. In this case that was Forrest.

California Sunday Magazine comes inside the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Examiner every Sunday, so potentially, a few million eyeballs browse the colorful, photo essay stories they publish.

I was perusing my files and ran across the following note from last May.  I thought you’d find it interesting. Below is the fact-checker’s questions about “facts” in the story and Forrest’s factual replies. Do a little fact-checking on your own. Compare what Forrest wrote to what was actually written in the story. What do you think?

The California Sunday Magazine story is on our Media Coverage page on this very blog…
Look about three links down..


The cancer in your kidney was in more than one spot? 
It was under my kidney embedded in the inferior vena cava, which is the vein that takes blood from the lower body back to the heart. There was just one spot

Your cancer was removed in 1988? 
My kidney was removed in 1988 and also the cancer.

You were shot down in an F100 over Laos? What happened? How did you survive that?
I was shot down twice in the F-100. The first time was in south Vietnam and the second time in Laos. I crash landed the first time on a small airstrip and walked away. The second time I parachuted into the jungle and was picked up by a helicopter the next day.

You’ve searched for artifacts in deserted canyons?
Deserted canyons is not a good phrase. I have looked for artifacts in the mountains and deserts of New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana.

You’ve sold moccasins to the Rockefellers and sculptures to the Spielbergs? 
Yes, I sold antique Sioux moccasins to Peggy Rockefeller and Charlie Russell sculpture to Steven Spielberg.

Two years before you were diagnosed with cancer, your father was diagnosed with advanced cancer?
Yes, my father had terminal pancreas cancer.

And he took a handful of pills after he was diagnosed?
My father was given 6 months to live and 18 months later he took 50 sleeping pills

When you talked about facing death, you expressed that you’d rather die alone, but with dignity, and at first, you thought you might take sleeping pills at the site of your treasure? 
Yes, since I was told I was going to die I wanted to do it on my own terms as my father had done.

So it would be fair to say that you sort of see this as a dignified way to go out, rather than sort of dying slowly?
I saw my alternative as being a hospital bed that would offer a temporary postponement with a hose in my nose, tubes down my throat, and needles in my arm. And with friends and relatives watching and crying. That was the last thing I wanted.

Initially, you weren’t really sure how you’d want to die?
I don’t understand that question. If I had my way I would die under a tree somewhere deep in a pine forest and let my body go back to the earth.

But then one night you were lying in bed when you got the idea for hiding the treasure chest and then leaving behind a poem. Correct? 

But then the whole scheme was a disappointment because the cancer treatment fortunately ended up working?
Yes, I got well and ruined the plan.

However, you still liked the idea of hiding a treasure, so you stuck with that part of the plan?

The hidden treasure includes Ceylon sapphires and Alaskan gold nuggets the size of chicken eggs?
Yes, two nuggets weigh more than a troy pound each, and hundreds of smaller ones. There are two Ceylon sapphires, hundreds of rubles, 8 emeralds and lots of diamonds.

And while some of the things included in the treasure came from your own collection, you bought some of the things to add to the chest?

Even your wife didn’t know when you buried the treasure, correct? 
I have never said I buried the treasure so please don’t say that. I hid the treasure, but that does not mean it is not buried. I just didn’t want to give that as a clue. My wife’s name is Peggy.

You hid it in 2010?
I have never pinned it down that close. I just say I was 79 or 80 when I hid it.

It took you two trips from your car to get all of the treasure to the hiding spot because it weighed 42 pounds? 

So you were 80 then?
I was  79 or 80. I have a reason for not wanting to give an exact date.

And you kept  what you’d done completely secret? 
What I have done is no secret at all. My book describes it. The hiding place and when I hid it are secrets. I am the only one who knows where it is.

And even your daughters didn’t find out until you published your autobiography?
Yes, but I call it a memoir.

How long did it take you to refine the poem included in your autobiography? 
I worked on it for 15 years, changing and rearranging words.

You originally had 1,000 copies published?
Yes, because I didn’t think anyone would want my book.

And you’ve now sold around 20,000 copies?
I gave the books to the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe, and they sold them. I have made no money and have not sold any of the books personally

And you gave rights to your book to Collected Works because you didn’t want to be accused of doing this for the money? Is that correct?
No, I did not give the rights or the copyright away. I gave only the books. I didn’t want anyone to say the hidden treasure is a hoax for me to make money on the book.

But the treasure is worth a lot of money, correct? 

So that would be funny if people accused you of trying to make money off of this. 
You are correct. I didn’t even get my publishing costs back.

You added to the gallery a brick-laid plaza, a gold-fixtured guesthouse and a sculpture garden with a scenic pond, correct?
The brick plaza is part of the big guest house. There were 3 other guest houses and the pond has 2 waterfalls.

And you did that by hand? You did that yourself?
No, I had contractors do it for me, but I helped.

And the pond once housed two pet alligators, Elvis and Beowolf? 
Yes, but the name is Beowulf, not Beowolf.

Did you self-publish The Thrill of the Chase? 
Yes, I have self-published all 10 of my books. The name of the company is The One Horse Land and Cattle Company.

Your walls are lined with age-cracked pottery, feathered headdresses and a case of arrowheads. Correct?
Age-cracked is not a good phrase. How about ancient pottery?

You grew up in Temple, TX? 
Yes, born and raised

Your dad was the principal of the elementary school you attended?

As you were rising in the Air Force ranks, you realized you worked best as a schemer, working on your own? 
I was not a schemer, but I knew that if I was to compete with PHDs and aeronautical engineers I had to out hustle them, and I did.

You left when they tried to promote you to colonel lieutenant?
I was promoted to Lieutenant colonel but turned it down and retired. If I had accepted the promotion I would have had to stay in the Air Force two more years, and I wanted out.

How, if at all, did your experiences in Vietnam impact the decision to leave? 
When I was shot down in the Laotian jungle I had a lot of time to think. I kept telling myself that there had to be something better than this.


If you are interested in comparing some of what the fact-checker fact-checked, against what was eventually published in the story you can find a link to the California Sunday Magazine story on our Media Coverage page on this very blog…
Look about three links down..