Monday, April 28, 2008

Stagecoach Shotguns and Purty Music in Mayer, AZ

Well for a moment there I thought the time machine door had opened up once walks a rangy looking cowboy type with a shotgun by his side and asks in a deep smoky voice (not exactly menacing but smokey,) "Where's Mike?"

"You're not gonna shoot im are ya," I asked all wide eyed.

Turns out it was just Catfish Campbell in to show MIke who loves antiques, his grand daddy's "stagecoach shotgun" a Swedish made job from about 1897. It was made by Husqvarna.

There we were all sittin' and talking about old west history when Catfish walked in. Man, you can't get a more western feel than that in Big Bug Station on Central Ave. in Mayer. The place was originally a stagecoach station on Big Bug Creek hence the name.

Later in the day I was all set to run some errands but as I was leaving my aprtment two doors down from Big Bug Station I heard purty musical strains pouring out the open door. Well there ya go, the Judge was in on his break and he was strumming his guitar and singing with my friend Dexter (earlier in my blogs I talked about him as the Killer Killer) who was playing a fiddle! Only Cordes Junction Bob and I were there to hear it. But that made it feel like my own special personal treat. I heard the boys say something about fried balogne, eggs, and gravy and didn't know if that wasa the name of the tune or ifin the music reminded them of eatin' such. Twer no nevermind which as the whole scene just polished of my day real fine. You can see it has even affected my citygirl speech.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Deserts are a Magnet Alaska, Arizona or Australia

I have always been more comfortable where ever there is desert. Even in my years at Prudhoe Bay Alaska I was happier at Prudhoe Bay an arctic desert than in Anchorage. At age thirteen Mom and Dad drove me from Missouri to California, (yup. I am one of those Route 66 kids) to see the grand opening of Disneyland.

I fell in love with the desert then. I went back to Freshmen year in highschool and wrote a composition about the desert and its magic. Also drew a desert landscape that depicted the vastness. I did this in art class and it included saguaros, an arroyo, and part of an old mine entrance with Route 66 stretching on endlessly into the horizon. At thirteen I was hooked. So deserts draw me like a magnet and desert loving people become my friends. The high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the frigid desert of the Northslope of Alaska, and of course my passion, my addiction, the arid opal bearing deserts of Outback Australia. Hence the name Parched Earth Opals.
So, as I am not in Mayer for a few days, I write today of why it was natural that I ended up here writing of desert rats and people who wear many hats.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mayer, AZ Cattle and Goofy Monikers

Ron one of our better story tellers here in Mayer, had us in stitches yesterday morning over coffee at Big Bug Station. It all started when he told us that he was working on installing a new cattle guard. I inquired as to what made cattle guards work. I was informed that cattle as well as horses are very cognizant as to where they put their hooves. It seems cattle shy away from cattle guards because they can see down into the emptiness below the grid and it seems to frighten them off. They cross them like crazy if a bit of snow packs in between the grid and it looks solid. Now I don’t want to steal Ron’s thunder and repeat his story but reckon you ought to ask him when you see him to tell you the story about the cow that did get its ankle stuck in a cattle guard.

You see it involves the antics of a local of many years ago, long since passed, and includes a guy by the name of Bill Spitznickle. Bill was a grown man at that time. I always listen closely to any story that has characters with names like that. Just think back to your school days as a kid. There were always other kids whose names were as memorable as Billy Spitznickle and I just bet they where big in your life somehow or were connected to a most unusual incident. For instance: my first crush was on a young lad about fourth grade whose name was Herby Puchner (pronounced Pookner) and mom paid him to walk her kindergarten daughter, me, the three blocks to school in the mornings. Come on you know you have a story that involves a kid with although not as complicated as Rumpelstiltskin, was still most unusual. Anyway, several other players along with the cow were in this episode in young Ron’s life including the hapless fellow who had to suffer the humiliation which is inherent, it seems, in much of what is funny to those around them. It wasn’t Spitznickle but I needed this story to bring up my wonderment at “where did all the somewhat goofy last names go?” I just can’t spoil Ron’s story without at least getting permission to tell it here first.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dynamite and Coffee in Mayer, AZ

Wellll, not really dynamite. Just stories about a fellows life working for Hercules Powder. His dad did, too. And they both made it out alive. His dad barely did 'cause one day back in New Jersey when the plant went kaboom and his father, an explosive chemist, dove into a concrete culvert to save his life. Trouble is the culvert was very narrow and Dad got wedged in partway under the road. He really could dive. Not all were so lucky that day. Tim had been a powder monkey and a tester of dynamite batches. Tim was just two years old and was told that the blast blew out windows for miles and at his house, a brass doorknob fleww off and whizzed over his head in his cot, missing him by inches as he slept. tim is way older now and long retired. He wears his dad's great ring with a red Hercules emblem on it. Tim is softspoken but his stories seem to raise the decibels and are easy listenin'. We shared stories and respect for the power and danger while sippin' coffee. Mike Connors, the owner and host, downed a sweet roll. I liked Tim's low cal dynamite stories with coffee better.
This site tells the story of that blast that happened in 1940

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Aprils Fools a Night of Banjos

Banjo, harp, guitar, and concertina along with great talent, superb songwriting and witty story telling was served up the night of April 5th at Big Bug Station. This was the first musical concert that I had been in town and able to attend. Someone had added a large fern to decorate the stage and the banjo artist said “Who would have thunk I’d be playing banjo in a fern bar!” Bill Burke and Fred Coon from Phoenix along with D-Squared with Don and Deb performed. The house was packed with an attentive and appreciative audience from the surrounding area. Whatever ghosts still linger in this old dance hall from 1902 must have been just as thrilled as I to hear such tunes once again filling the room. Mike Connors’ Big Bug Station has great acoustics for such performances complete with a mini stage and spotlights that he manned from the upper alcove that over looks the hall.