If you've ever wondered what it's like to run a magazine or how crazy my personal life is, be sure to read the behind-the-scenes peek at the daily trials and tribulations of running True West. Culled straight from my Franklin Daytimer, it contains actual journal entries, laid out raw and uncensored. Some of it is enlightening. Much of it is embarrassing, but all of it is painfully true.
In addition to this current journal, my early journal entries show the rocky road and money lost in the True West Business Timeline.
Bob's biography - The Unvarnished Truth
Got this interesting link to a story about young Japanese girls who are hooked on history. While it's the history of Japan they are attracted to, the parallels to our Western history are compelling.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
Bob Boze 11:24 AM
April 14, 2010
Yesterday I posted a scratchboard of Coyote Pass near Kingman and a friend asked me, "Didn't your dad used to drive you as a baby over that pass in a '49 Ford? And don't you wish you still had that Ford?"
Yes, and yes. Here is a photo of my father and his pit crew on the annual Route 66 Fun Run in 1993:
Left to right: BBB, Al Bell, Milton Cece (his Norwegian cousin from Iowa) and Ray Hader (pit boss). This was taken in Seligman across the street from the Sno Cap Drive-In as the cars for the Fun Run lined up. This guy had painted this huge postcard backdrop and for $20 you could have a professonal photo taken. I thought this was a very cool idea and wished I would have thought of it. Later, when my father was ordering more photos for his friends the guy admitted that we were the only ones who bought a photo (there were over 500 cars on the run!). After I found this out, and in subsequent Fun Runs (we drove in it every year for at least a decade) I would quiz the vendors (tables with really cool books on Ruote 66 classic gas stations, etc.) and they would invariably tell me that they weren't doing jack for sales. I always asked why they thought this was the case and one astute vendor said, "All their money is in their cars." Ha. I think that nails it.
And here's a couple photos of the view from Coyote Pass looking towards the snow-capped Hualapais:
"Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 75 mph can double your vocabulary."
—Old Biker Saying
Bob Boze 9:56 AM
April 13, 2010
Cooler out and cloudy, but no rain. Actually very nice out.
I'm rereading Martha Summerhayes' Vanished Arizona and enjoying it even more than the first five times I read it. One of the main reasons I always enjoy her adventures is that she goes right through my old stomping grounds. The soldier columns followed the freighting outfits, run by Captain Hardy, as they marched up from Fort Mojave on the Colorado River to above Hardyville (about where Bullhead is today), then traveled west to Packwood's Ranch (which must have been near Union Pass), then across Golden Valley and up Coyote Pass into Beale Springs (just outside present day Kingman). Here is that view looking into the throat of Coyote Pass:
Really dramatic views both ways. And here's Martha's description of Beale's Springs:
"Beale's Springs did not differ from the other ranch [Packwood's], except that possibly it was even more desolate." I like to joke that she predicted no civilized people could ever live here, and she is pretty much right about that.
And here's a view of Weaver's Needle and the backside of the Superstition mountains:
Caught this view on my way across the McDowell Indian Res. We're looking at the Sups from the northwest, looking southeast.
"Those who attain any excellence commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often granted upon easier terms."
Bob Boze 11:31 AM
April 12, 2010,
Had a very nice weekend working on a variety of things. Whipped out a series of small scratchboards. Here's the Gila chugging along on the Colorado River near the Needles:
And here's the Gila going up stream near El Dorado Canyon:
And here are the deckhands with their long poles gauging the depth of the current near Parker:
The deckhands, usually of Mexican and, or, In-din blood, would call out "Four!" (as in four feet deep), then "Three!" "Two!" "Two light!" "Quarter less two!" And, in the case of Martha Summerhaye's, when she wrote the deckhands on her trip yelled out, "No alli agua!" (No water there). In these situations captains like Jack Mellon would either "grasshopper" the boat over a sandbar with poles and spars, or, if the water over the bar was too shallow, the captain would turn the boat around and "crawfish" the boat over, cutting a channel with the stern wheels. Simply amazing.
—A Swiss traveler remarking at Captain Mellon's ingeniousness for getting over sandbars
Bob Boze 10:52 AM
April 10, 2010
Went for a walk with Peaches at about 7:30 this morning. Just about perfect out. Halfway up Old Stage Road Peaches lurched around on her leash and I turned to see a large coyote coming right up behind us, within fifteen feet. My big "Hey!" and my flailing arm movements scared him off, but barely. He merely loped off about fifty yards and looked at us contemptuously.
Walked on with no further incidents although I met a woman on a cellphone walking her dog without a leash and she said, "Hi, Baby." Then to me, "Is she friendly?" "Not really," I said as Peaches took a couple lunges at her dog. "She's kind of territorial." Which is an understatement. The irritating thing is, the woman kept right on going with the damn phone in her ear, oblivious to any danger around her (the coyote, Peaches the Predator, etc.). When you think about it, we are all part of a food chain conga line with a predator at every level, for everyone.
Walked on down to the creek at Rockaway Hills and enjoyed the running water. Heard a gun shot, coming from up the creek and marked it in my mind for the potential police report: ("Yes, sir. I heard the gunshot at precisely 7:41, but at the time I didn't know my nutbag neighbor had shot a woman on a cell phone.")
Came back and cleaned out my dark room in the studio and converted it to a storyboard room. Put up a couple peg boards with sketches and ideas for a new video project I'm working on with three talented guys in the biz. This will be under the umbrella of the True West brand. We believe there is room for a new kind of history doc, and a new way of doing re-enacting that isn't so clunky and old school. Besides, those kind of docs are dead and gone.
Did a couple scratchboard landscapes: one of Weaver's Needle and another of Coyote Pass, west of Kingman. I sure enjoy these little landscapes, but sometimes wonder if they're taking me where I need to go. Gee, I wonder what ol' H.D. has to say about this?
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
—Henry David Thoreau
Bob Boze 11:21 AM
April 9, 2010
Working on more Colorado River steamboat images and studying the outrageous demise of the venture (more on that later). Does anyone know why there were no steamboats on the Rio Grande, at least in New Mexico? Or, were there? And, come to think of it, I don't recall any on the Rio Grande in Texas. I assume they must have plied the eastern end of the river as it got closer to the gulf. If you know, please edify me.
A couple corrections from yesterday's post, the first train across the Colorado River was at Yuma on September 30, 1877 and here's a photo of the event:
Yes, that's Fort Yuma on the bluff in the background. Meanwhile, up river, the Atlantic & Pacific tried to cross at a point fifteen miles south of Fort Mojave, but the river was in flood stage and running at 1,600 feet wide and the swift current uprooted the pilings as fast as they could set them. A tent town sprang up on the California side, named Needles for the outcroppings nearby. After three months of effort a bridge was finally erected but it washed out in 1884, in 1886 and 1888. So the A&P went downstream ten miles and constructed a high cantilever span at a narrower point that became known as Mellen (a misspelling of the legendary river captain Jack Mellon). Here is a photo of that bridge going up:
And, amazingly, that is the steamboat Gila parked at the foot of the bridge, having brought up supplies (although the tracks had been laid from the west to this point and the east to this point and supplies could easily have been brought in by rail). I believe this railroad bridge was still being used when we traveled to sports events in Needles in the 1960s and we crossed the Colorado on the Traveler (our bus) on another bridge just south of this bridge. Needles was an arch rival of Kingman and we were raised to believe all the girls there were whores (I was shocked when I later met a guy from Needles and he said they thought the same thing about Kingman girls. Perhaps we were both right).
"A whore is a loose woman from another town, who doesn't know your sister."
—Ben Rux, Kingman sage
Bob Boze 2:19 PM
April 9, 2010
I did a taped interview earlier this week for "Colorado Matters" a KCFR (Colorado Public Radio) program. The subject was us naming two Colorado museums in our top ten museums piece in the current issue of True West. Here is the info, if you want to access the interview:
The interview with Bob Boze Bell is currently scheduled to air today,
Friday, April 9 on Colorado Matters.
Here's how you can listen:
Colorado Matters airs on KCFR (Colorado Public Radio) at 10 am and
again at 7 pm Mountain Time.
Here's a link to the frequencies:
Plus you can stream the broadcast live online at:
or play it on demand in the online archives after 11 am on the day of the show.
Also an mp3 should be posted to the podcast page later in the night.
You should be able to download and save it to your computer if you want to.
Bob Boze 9:13 AM
April 8, 2010
This morning I received a big box from Jim Pfluger the Director of the National Ranching Heritage Center. Inside were two, big, brand-spanking new books: "Pitchfork Country: The Photogrpahy of Bob Moorhouse" and "The Spurs of James Wheat: Pioneer Collector" by Bruce Bartlett. Both are beautifully done with great cowboy pics.
Meanwhile, one of my hosts at the NRHC, Emily Arellano, sent me this photo she took on the NRHC grounds. I'm posed below one of the several historic windmills on the property:
"You gotta love Lubbock: big wind, big hats & big country."
Bob Boze 3:37 PM
April 8, 2010
Flying R came out to the True West World Headquarters yesterday and traded me a custom-made red braid hatband for a Tom Horn painting. Here tis:
Looks good against the white of that Beaver Brand Hat, no?
"What's red on white and proud all over?"
Bob Boze 2:10 PM
April 8, 2010
Still gripped by the lore of the Colorado steamboats. This is one of the blessings of Attention Deficit Disorder. I wake up excited to learn more. Unlike George Eastman, the unmoved mover of Kodak, I have never awakened in the morning and said, "I have nothing to live for."
I never realized how much of the world I grew up in (Mohave County, Arizona) was developed from the opening of the river to steamboat access in the 1860s. Fort Mojave (today spelled Mohave, but I much prefer the Spanish spelling), Beale's Crossing and Beale's Springs, Hardyville, Wauba Yuma Mining District, the McCrackin Mine, Signal, Cerbat, Mineral Park and Chloride were all developed because of steamboat shipping, both in and out of the district.
One district I was not aware of was the Eldorado Canyon Mining Co. which was on the Nevada side and north of Searchlight, but evidently it was a huge deal. And, by the way, Searchlight got its name from the last steamboat on the lower Colorado River.
Here's is another view of the Gila chugging up the muddy Colorado near Liverpool Landing:
The Gila was launched in January of 1873 (so she was only a year old when Martha Summeryhayes rode the Big Red River), and was 149 feet long, with a 31-foot beam, a depth of 3.5 feet, and drew only 16.5 inches of water. The book I'm culling this from, "Steamboats On The Colorado River: 1852—1916" by Richard E. Lingenfelter, doesn't have the horsepower of the Gila, but it's interesting that two other steamboats that preceded her had steam engines that produced 50-75 horsepower, which seems awful weak to carry 50 tons of freight, but they did.
The shipping rate was about $50 per ton, which also seems low, but the locals in the 1860s considered this extremely high, and the owners of the steamboat company were raking in about $250,000 a year.
As soon as the railroads arrived and crossed the river, in Yuma in 1879 and in Needles in 1889, the steamboats were doomed and the owners sold out to the railroads, who immediately cut the pay of deckhands and started charging $5 for dog passage (before they had been free). Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, here's a scratchboard of a bandido I whipped out this morning:
It's from a movie still of Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country, but for our purposes we'll call him "Billy Bandido."
"Colorado River have big problem: too thick to drink, too thin to plow."
—Levi Levi, chief of the Hualapais
Bob Boze 11:00 AM
April 7, 2010
Got a call from my road warrior daughter yesterday. She was driving from Chicago to Green Bay, Wisconsin to give 401K presentations at a slaughter house (they recommended she stop and buy Vick's to rub under her nose to combat the smell). She was supposed to fly into Milwaukee and fly straight in, but flights were canceled and she ended up in Chicago with a rental car. I told her I hoped the scenery was good and she told me it was foggy and rainy and she couldn't see much of anything.
When I venture out on the road, like my trip to Lubbock last week, I am always reminded of Deena's world, because she is battling road and flight problems almost every day.
My therapist wife turned me on to a concept called the reticular activator (not sure of that spelling). As I understand it, your mind is looking for solutions to problems and often when we are doing other things, a recessed part of your noggin' will activate and, butting in, remind you that a solution is nearby. The most profound example of this, to me, is when, in 2002, True West was losing $30K a month and my brother-in-law told me the only way we were going to survive is if I could find someone with national magazine experience. I told him that was a tall order in remote Cave Creek, Arizona and he said, "Not my problem." About two weeks later my staff was arguing over a cover design at Robert Ray's computer and, over the wall, I happened to hear the word "Hearst." I excused myself, went out front in our little store and saw four or five people standing there. I said, "Who just said 'Hearst'?" And this guy near the door said, "I did." "Why did you say Hearst?" And Bob Brink famously replied, "Because I ran the magazine division at Hearst for 26 years and I just retired to Carefree."
So I'm a firm believer in the power of the reticular activator.
A couple days ago I ran a diary entry from Martha Summerhayes (Vanished Arizona) where she described being on a Colorado River steamboat, named the Gila, and that the steamboat pulled a barge where the soldiers from her husband's company were loaded for the trip up river from Yuma to Fort Mojave. I wondered what that would look like, but didn't have much hope that I would find any photos of such a specific combo at this late date. And, I have never seen any photos of this phenom in all my years of researching.
We had a design meeting two days ago in the conference room and when we finished and were coming out someone stopped me and asked me a question. I answered it, but as I did I just happened to look over at an overflow bookshelf we keep in the makeshift hallway, behind the production department. For some reason, this title jumped out at me:
"Steamboats On The Colorado River: 1852—1916." I grabbed it and took it into my office, but I got sidetracked by other problems and finally put it in my bag to take home.
Last night, at home, I sat down on the couch and took a gander inside the book. Here is a photo of the Gila, which is the exact boat Martha was on, and along side are two barges:
The Gila is the boat in the middle and the barges are docked on either side. There are also photos in the book of a barge being pulled (they just strung a big rope back behind the paddle wheel) and also of the Gila towing a barge full of coal.
Amazing, that we had this book in our library and that I happened to get stopped right in front of it on that particular day.
Needless to say, I started reading the book and now I've got steamboats on the brain. And, of course, I want to do a piece on it for the magazine. Unlike the Mississippi, the Colorado River would all but dry up in stretches during the winter, but the really good steamboat captains and their pole wielding deckhands could literally move these multi-ton boats over sandbars and through two inches of water? Amazing, but true.
Here's my morning sketch of the Gila tied up near Castle Dome:
So that's my incredible reticular resource example for today. Gee, I wonder what ol' Luc de has to say about this?
"The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities and make the most of one's resources."
—Luc de Clapiers
Bob Boze 10:45 AM