Wednesday, April 13, 2011

3544 Eighth Street, Thatcher, AZ March 16, 2011

I placed, photographed and documented #97 at the corner of the ranch where Spade lives.
Since the death of my first horse, Princess Lulu, in the Fall of 2010, I struggled with whether or not to purchase another horse. I decided that, preferable, it would be a horse from a cattle ranch. I’ve adored the ranch horses that I’ve ridden. Their "job training" makes them versatile and unflappable - obedient.
Outside of me riding this horse for pleasure, it will also function in the role as my "hospice horse." I put together sort of a program for the terminally ill cowboys and cowgirls receiving our hospice services. In the past some of them requested to spend some time with a horse before they die. If they lived within a few mile radius, I would ride Lulu over to who ever’s home they were spending their last days at.
There was this particular elderly cowboy who had his visit with Lulu in the AM. Only a few hours after we had left his home - the man died. He had gotten his last dying wish. Then Princess Lulu ended up in "hospice" herself due to a malignant tumor in her eye. In the end, she had to be put down. I’ll never forget that October day, when the rancher I paid to follow through with that horrible task, came and picked her up. Lady Latte, my other horse, cried out for Lulu all that following night. My heart still aches whenever I think about that day. I swore that I would never get another horse. I swore I wouldn’t ever let myself be vulnerable to that kind of pain again.
The local sheriff and rancher had to thin out his 17 horse herd. That’s how Spade, half quarter horse and half thoroughbred, came on the market. What a dream to ride this gelding and so unflappable. The only draw back to this horse was his height and the fact that he was very difficult to mount without me climbing up on something because of my bad left knee. The only problem Spade presented was an inability to line up and stand still next to objects I chose to help me dismount. He would continually swing out his hind quarters no matter what approach I tried with him.
I told the cowboy, who was the sheriff’s son, if he could teach Spade to line up with the objects I needed him to so I could mount and dismount - he had a sale. The young man said he would work on that task with Spade, then give me a call.
I’m still waiting for that call. Cowboy and indian icon art piece #97 is in tribute to Spade.
May he find his proper home on the range.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Duncan Cemetery, Greenlee County March 15, 2011

I like to place cowboy and indian icon art pieces in honor of folks who were around during the Apache wars. They were the actual witnesses of this racial and cultural conflict. When I stand over their graves I wonder, "How did the Apache wars actually impact this particular person’s life?" I know that the person can’t actually answer me but I still wonder.
Greenlee county was affected by Geronimo and approximately 200 Apache braves after they left the reservation in 1882. Geronimo and his marauding band pillaged, tortured and killed settlers in this area.
I placed, photographed and documented #95 near the grave of Clarence London. He was born on 11/14/1882 and died on 7/17/1969. As a baby, he may have not been a direct witness of Geronimo’s rampage but his family sure was.
Then I placed, photographed and documented #96 near the grave of Mary Jane McCleskey.
She was born on 3/30/1835 and died on 4/6/1916. Now she was old enough to witness an Apache rampage. However, she lived a long and presumely healthy life. Her death definitely was not at the hand of an Apache. Mary Jane did take with her to the grave memories of others, around her, who met such a violent, bloody demise.
I read in the Eastern Arizona Courier today that the airstream trailer that I placed #81 was burned to the ground on 2/26/11 - with every other dwelling on the property - by the fire fighter’s class from Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher. This was part of their "hands on" training. The fire was large. Nothing left on the property was salvageable. The cowboy and indian icon art piece was burned into ashes along with those leafy patterned curtains I loved from the 1950's. I will always have the memory of exploring that airstream trailer with those soiled but fabulous curtains. Who knows. Maybe one of those student fire fighters rescued the cowboy and indian art piece before everything was set a blaze. It could be sitting on the dashboard of his or her car or truck right now. Maybe.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Corner of Comache Drive & McCarty Trail, Duncan, AZ March 15, 2011

Today I visited with my patients in Greenlee county. The weather is warm enough for the lizards to scurrying about but not hot enough to scorch me through the windshield of my car while driving down the highway. For lunch, I stopped in Ole Jo’s diner in "downtown" Duncan. The walls of this diner are unpainted plywood and wooden posts that host the cattle brands of the local ranchers. There are also old photographs, rodeo posters, sheet metal art (painted black and depicting aspects of local life such as roping calves, bull riding, etc.) and rustic antique accents. Part of the diner is a bar. One has to go through a set of swinging wooden doors, just like in the old western saloons, to enter the bar.
At the diner, there happen to be a group of older female bicyclists who also stopped there for lunch. The started out in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and were in route to San Diego, CA. The other locals and I watched them clown around the diner and bar. They snapped photos of each other as they "played cowboy."
They asked me if I could take a group photo of them which I did. Then they wanted me in the photo. Hmmm, I thought I would jazz things up. So I went outside to my car, grabbed one of my cowboy hats and a horse bridle that I had in my back seat. The ladies were delighted and snapped away!
After the fun and games, they got back on their bikes and headed to a location in New Mexico. I got into my car and drove off to my next patient’s house. While I drove around the area, trying to locate the street my patient lived on, I came across a forlorn white brick house with no address. It was in the carport that I placed, documented and photographed #94. The cowboy and indian icon art piece found a new home in the part of the carport that wasn’t caving in.
After I met with my patient and her family, I headed back to Safford. My transportation was 4 wheels, not 2. These 4 wheels would get me home in time for PM feed. At home, I could exchange my 4 wheels for 4 legs of a horse power. The type of horse power that nuzzles me as soon as I open the corral gate - a welcome that can’t be found in any new town or long and winding road any where in the United States.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station, Greenlee County, AZ March 2, 2011

The U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station in Greenlee county is located on a small hill where main highways intersect venturing off to Safford, Clifton, Duncan and Mule Creek. This ranger station rest stop area is impeccably clean and looks as if it was built within the past 10 years. Bike racks, pristine male & female bathrooms along with 3 covered stainless steel picnic tables sit about 50 feet from the actual "ranger station." Every time I drove by this particular spot - I’ve yet to see anyone here.
Today I placed, photograph and document #90 on one of the picnic tables. It found its new home on a picnic table with the best view of the comings and goings of Hwy. 75. Too bad I didn’t have a small plastic picnic basket with small plastic food to go inside it. If the cowboy and indian plastic figures ever became animated - at least they would have something to eat.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fort Bowie Post Cemetery Bowie, AZ February 12, 2011

On this particular Saturday, 400 visitors (including me), 34 reenactors, and 16 National Park Service staff celebrated at the former site of Fort Bowie the 150th anniversary of the Bascom Affair. No, all these people didn’t get together to celebrate a romantic tryst of Mr. Bascom from 1861. This affair was an incident the sparked the Apache Wars of America’s southwest.
Race relations gone extremely bad. It was an affair like this that spawned the cinematic tales of western classics and The Cowboy and Indian Icon Found Art Project for that matter.
Lt. George Bascom apparently tried to arrest the Chiricahua Apache, Chief Cochise on a trumped up charge. Bascom accused Cochise and his Apaches of stealing his cattle at the same time they allegedly kidnaped the son of a Mexican woman who lived with him.
The Chiricahua Apaches stated that their beloved chief escaped his wrongful imprisonment by cutting through the tent which was used as a jail. When it was all said and done the Apache Wars raged on intermittently for the next 10 years.
Since there were casualties of this war, there was also a cemetery at Fort Bowie. The remains of the deceased were buried there between 1862 and 1894. In March of 1895, the graves of army officers, enlisted men and their dependents were moved to the National Cemetery in San Francisco. Only 23-33 graves remained at Fort Bowie.
I wanted to place a cowboy and indian icon art piece at the cemetery in honor of the remains left behind. I placed, photographed and documented #88 at the grave site of Little Robe. It was believed that this young brave probably died of dysentery. He was part of a group of Apache prisoners, women and children, captured near Nacori, Mexico on August 7, 1985. This group included 2 of Geronimo’s wives. Little Robe was identified as one of Geronimo’s children.
Traditionally, the Apaches buried their dead by sealing them in crevices or small caves. The body would be placed with the head toward sundown. The burial would then be concealed by covering it up the rocks, sticks and foliage from the area. It was unusual for an Apache to tell anyone else where a person was buried.
This Indian boy’s life was a casualty. The settler’s son, whose kidnaping started the Apache Wars, was later reunited to his family. Both suffered because of prejudice and revenge.
Later on in years, little boys and girls would have playful skirmishes - some playing cowboys with toy guns while others played indians with toy tomahawks, bows and arrows. All whimsically reacting probably some scene they saw in a western film at a Saturday matinee.
Maybe they might even grow up to be an artist like me - gluing plastic figures on numbered rocks and leaving them in forlorn locations in the American west - still haunted by memories of prejudice and revenge. Now quite a few are tourist attractions where souvenirs, made in China, glorify the "old days." Emotional memories wiped clean by progress and technology.