Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Four…

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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…

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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 Twenty Five…

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November, 2019

 

Young at Heart

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Peggy must have done something to make me mad so I did this to her. My math wasn’t very good and she didn’t correct me so I’m sure I got her age right. We moved to Santa Fe in 1972 and this full-page notice in the Santa Fe New Mexican must have appeared about 4 years after that.

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Peggy has always looked young for her age and even today people are saying that she doesn’t look 69. f

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Twenty Four…

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November, 2019

 

Three Sevens and a Vacuum Cleaner

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Bitburg Air Base about 1957

When I arrived at Bitburg Air Base in 1957 they didn’t have housing for Peggy and I. She was coming over from the states to Germany in about 6 weeks, so I checked into the Bachelor Officer’s Quarters. It was okay for a temporary place to stay, with a strong emphasis on temporary. The bathroom was flanked by bed rooms on each end. The bed was a wooden Army folding cot about 20” wide. I think it was designed for a combat zone by someone who hated the human body. But I was going to stay there for only a few days, right? 

No, wrong. When my wife finally arrived, we still didn’t have suitable living quarters, so Peggy moved into that cot on top of me. Getting up in the middle of the night for a potty break was almost impossible and I don’t want to say anything more about that. 

A month of that and they moved us into 4 rooms on the 4th floor of a 4-floor walk-up. I think the Air Force had never heard of an elevator. We were young and happy and not making much money. But life was good because we both went way out of our way to make it that way.

The question of buying a vacuum cleaner came up a few times. The cost was $19.95 and we were not budgeted for that kind of extravagance. Peggy was pretty insistence and she usually got her way. I balked and we had several “discussions.”

Fortunately for me, our squadron was sent on temporary duty to Wheelus Air Base, just outside of Tripoli, Libya, where we had a gunnery camp. Derelict trucks, tanks, and airplanes were placed out in the Sahara Desert for us to shoot at with our F-100 fighter guns. Occasionally we saw packs of wild dogs and we strafed them instead. They were known to attack and kill pilots who had to eject from a crippled airplane. 

Wheelus was not the end of the world, but it was rumored you could see it from there. They had a thing called a Ghibli. It was a sandstorm that came out of the west and you could see it coming from 75 miles away. With the winds out of the Sahara blowing sand more than 60 mph, it was almost overwhelming. Visibility could reduce to 20 feet. When we saw one of those things coming there were 2 options. You could run back to your tent and be 100% miserable for 2 days, or you could rush to the Officer’s Club and be 95% miserable for 48 hours. 

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It didn’t happen very often, but when it did, I chose the club. They locked the doors, taped up the cracks, and nobody got in or out until the Ghibli ran its course and dissipated in the Mediterranean Ocean.

That left us with 2 things to do at the club, eat or play poker. The problem was the food. They had powdered potatoes, powdered milk, powdered ice cream, and cooked meat that no one ever talked about. That left me with the poker option, and there were a few games scattered around the club that I could sit in on.  

I forgot to say that there was also bourbon, scotch, vodka, and myriad other such libations that freely flowed into everyone’s mouth but mine. I didn’t drink.

Fortunately, about 6 years earlier, when I was a corporal, there were frequent poker games in the barracks. Not wanting my lot to fall upon chance, I went to the base library and checked out Hoyle’s Book of Odds. We played only 5 card draw or 7 card stud, dealer’s choice. 

I memorized all of the odds for each game, and made myself 2 rules, never ever play a hunch and don’t bluff again after you’ve been caught bluffing. I also knew that most poker players who drank while playing, liked to play hunches.

At Wheelus, one dark Ghibli night, in the wee hours, it came to a showdown between me and my boss, a major named Charlie Davis. The game was draw and I was dealt 3 sevens, a jack and a duce. I discarded the jack and asked for one card, which didn’t help my hand. By holding 4 cards I figured my boss would think I was holding either 4 to a flush, or 4 to a straight. The odds against drawing a helping card were very high and I’m sure my boss knew that. He probably grinned when I wasn’t looking.

Charlie was sitting straight across the table from me and the 4 other players dropped out. I was startled when the major also drew only one card. Was he trying to do to me what I was trying to do to him? I figured his best hand to be 2 pairs and my 3 sevens would beat him.

The pot was big, over $40. Nether of us was completely broke, we just didn’t have much money. This pot was the culmination of the nights work, and important to both of us. I was thinking about Peggy. 

He bet five-bucks and suddenly it was put-up or shut-up time for me. Should I fold my hand and let him win? He was my boss and my career depended on how he rated me at the end of the year. 

Or did I call his bet and take the pot home? I didn’t dare raise. My thought processes were on fire. I would probably work for the Major another year or so, no more. But Peggy and I had already been married 5 years (going on 66 now). The decision was easier than I thought and that night I phoned Peggy and told her she could buy the vacuum cleaner. 

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And Major Davis wrote me an efficiency report that got me promoted to Captain. 

In all of these years of marriage, my wife has never argued with me, but I’ve argued with her a few times. Always, when she sensed strong words were coming, she’d say, “Well honey, I’m sure you’re right,” and she would walk away, which totally debased me. She knew that in 10 minutes we were going to do it her way anyway, so why discuss it. But I was always the winner because I won the argument. That’s just the way us alphas are. f

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Nine…

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MARCH 2017

EUNICE, LA

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.

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Scrapbook One Hundred Two…

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NOVEMBER 2014

 

Age

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Of course she wasn’t 29 but I don’t dare mention that. You know how women are about their age. That ad ran on November the 16th sometime during the 20th century, and that’s all I’m going to say, except that the phone started ringing and she didn’t know she knew so many strangers.

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Peggy

If you want to know her age you can ask Peggy, but if you do I suggest you come wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a bible.

A few relatives know that I’m ___years older than my wife so I can’t talk about that either because anyone who’s good at math could figure it out. But I’ll give you a hint; all of my friends tell me I don’t look 49.

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Some men are a little secretive about their age also – like Dal, so I would never embarrass him by saying. But he’s 20 + 9 – 7 x 3 + 13 – 6 + 8 + 8. If his wife works the arithmetic and tells him his age he’ll probably deny it. But he is however old he is.

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Maybe I’m just mad because political correctness won’t let me say what I’m thinking.  Guess I’ll just go fishing. f