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Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com


Welcome to the Louis Kraft writing website. The goal is to explore where I’ve been and where I’m headed while entertaining you and updating you on the status of my life, events, and projects. The goal is to be loose and free while not preaching. As you see, there are a number of tabs (and information will change on them whenever appropriate) but this website will not be static, for I have control. It also has a blog (and if you followed me elsewhere you know that I’m open to discussing whatever catches my fancy). The blog entries will be categorized, and linked to specific categories that appear on the right side of the screen, for example: “Sand Creek POV” (“POV” stands for point of view), “Errol & Olivia,” “Navajo Blood,” “Wynkoop & Cheyennes,” and so on. Note that these categories won’t appear until there is a blog topic that is linked to them. There will also be Kraft categories for when I explore myself and the craziness of life or when I mix my writing with my life or when I just need to let off some steam. Nothing will be sacred on the blog … that is, unless it’s harmful to yours truly, or anyone else (living or dead). “Harmful” also includes racist prose, which will not be tolerated. Comments may be added by clicking the comment image to the right of each post. Note that you will no longer need an ID and a password. As of now all you’ll need will be an email address and your name.

— Louis Kraft

Pailin, LK, and an upcoming date with our future

 

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2014

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog

As in the past, click on an image to expand it


Those of you that have read some of the blogs, know that I interlace a lot of personal information into the blogs. The reason is twofold: 1) To add life and spice to the blogs, and 2) To document information for a memoir that I’m  writing.

What follows is 100 percent personal. It is from the heart, and it is in preparation for perhaps the most important meeting of my entire life.

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I have introduced and discussed Pailin in previous blogs. If you’ve read these blogs you know how we met and how that chance meeting altered both of our lives.

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Pailin in the front yard of Tujunga House, shortly after she moved in (17nov13). Last year I published a blog called, “Who says they don’t raise cowgirls in Thailand and other stories of Sand Creek,” and I featured this image. As soon as I took this photo of her it became one of my all-time favorites, and it is on my desk. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

Our date with U.S. Immigration is a day away, on August 11. It is a one-shot deal, and will play a major role in our future. We succeed or we fail in our quest to obtain Pailin’s Green Card. If we fail, from what I understand we’ll have an opportunity to appeal our case. To date, I know no one that has won through appeals. As we have two wonderful friends who must overcome this hurdle (and we pray for their success every day), we know what the odds become if we stumble on August 11. This date was supposed to have been in mid-September at the earliest, and everything I did was geared toward that time. About a week after I completed my first round of research at the Braun Research Library, Autry National Center (Los Angeles, Ca.), the unanticipated change of date arrived. I have been under the gun ever since, and let me tell you I am dragging and feeling it now big time. I can’t remember the last time I felt stress but at the moment it is gobbling me up on a daily basis.

That said, and with the hope that this blog doesn’t perturb Immigration, I am giving you a quick introduction to this special lady that I met on June 15, 2013, and who has become my best friend, my love, and my wife.

“No way, never”

In June 2013 I set up a dinner party with four friends (Robert and Annette Florczak, and Greg and Nam Maradei). Robert is writing what is going to be an exceptional book about Errol Flynn and Greg is a Flynn fan. I met both of them and their very pretty wives earlier in this century during Flynn events that brought us together.

florczak&maradei_15jun2013Robert and Annette have become two of my best friends in LA. Greg is a delight to know; bright, funny, and always focused and interested in Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and the Indian wars. Nam is another story. She is absolutely gorgeous, funny, and a person I really enjoy knowing. At the moment I think I’m on the wrong side of her good side. I could explain the reasons, but I’m not going to.

As the dinner neared Nam approached me in regards to her bringing a coworker to the dinner. It was going to be for five people as I had not had a girlfriend since mid-2011. I said, “No thanks; I’m not interested.” I think she was angry and I asked Greg about this. “No,” he said, “Nam doesn’t get angry.” I gave in and told her to invite her friend. Nam told me that she’d ask her. As it turned out, her friend also demurred. Like with me, Nam pushed until the lady agreed to join the dinner party.

After she had a yes, Nam contacted me and told me that the additional guest asked what she could bring. I said: “The salmon, the potatoes, the salad, the bread, and the wine.” BTW, that was what I served. “Very funny,” Nam said. “What can she bring?” “Just herself,” I replied.

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Nam Maradei and Pailin in the backyard of Tujunga House on 15jun13. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

On the 15th I posted a sign on the front door. “Clothing is optional in this house.” It was a joke, but you’ve got to know I love pulling people’s legs. Robert (who had visited previously) and Annette arrived first. While Robert and I showed Annette the house Greg and company arrived. I answered the door. Greg was on the steps, Nam on the walkway, and the lady behind her. The lady held a vase of orchids. My eyes zeroed in on her. My opinion then and now was and is: “Wow!”

The exploration of the house continued. At one point the lady spoke to Nam in Thai (Nam is Thai and so is the lady). “Whoa-whoa, wait! What did you say?” The question was ignored. I finally asked what the lady preferred to be called as I had heard three names. She said, “Nuch.” “Nuch it is,” I said. (Note that after we got to know each other and we began to deal with documentation that “Pailin,” as it is her real name, came into use; and as I like “Pailin” better, it became what I call her.) We returned to the living room and talked and joked and took some pictures (at the time I had an antique Cannon film camera). Everyone wanted to see the backyard and I led the exodus outside. Although I am changing the front into a desert landscape in the backyard is still basically a garden. The entire yard is enclosed by bushes and trees which give complete privacy. … More pictures and talk and I had to return to the kitchen to prepare the food. … The salmon and potatoes were cooking but I had to chop the salad and make the dressing.

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This is the only photo I have of Pailin and myself that was taken (off her phone) on 15jun13. We are with our good friends Annette & Robert Florczak. The orchids that Pailin brought are in the foreground. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

After dinner Greg wanted Pailin to kiss me. This was something that she didn’t want to do (and I now know absolutely why) and she refused—which I totally agreed with. Why should two people who don’t know each other kiss? Pailin was quiet and yet firm in her refusal and this was something that I really liked. I also said “no” but to no avail and Robert spoke up, backing Pailin’s refusal. Eventually Greg realized that no one was going to kiss. For me, this was the turning point in a meeting that I didn’t want to happen. I saw a pretty woman who had a limited knowledge of the English language and yet she had a quiet control over her life. I liked what I saw and decided that I wanted to see her again. Luckily Nam pushed and Pailin and I shared phone numbers and Facebook addresses.

Greg then insisted that I give a demonstration with the sword. Not anticipated and not wanted but I agreed. Later that evening I removed my socks (Tujunga House is shoeless), gave a demonstration, and shocked both Annette and Pailin, who were on the couch. Both shrank back in fear. Not my intention.

It was time for everyone to leave. Pailin came with Nam and Greg, and as the driveway is sometimes rough to back out onto the street I offered to signal when all was clear. Numerous attempts to get Greg out of the driveway failed. Finally Pailin stepped from the car. “Nam and Greg asked if I like you, and they said that if I do that I should hug you goodbye.” We hugged.

I had posted the following words on Facebook on June 17, 2013:

“Nervously I said ‘yes,’ [to Nam's request] but whatever the future brings it was a good ‘yes,’ for I had a terrific day/evening w/five people—five friends. I’ve done a fair amount of talking about Indian wars friends on the blog, but the next one will deal with the key friends in my L.A. life … “

The beginning

A day or so after the dinner party I contacted Pailin about seeing her again. She said, “I don’t know. I’ll get back to you.” She did, a day or so later, and her answer was positive. We decided upon Thursday.

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On Thursday we drove to Santa Monica to explore the cliffs above the beach. The staircase down to the beach, the beach, the pier boardwalk, and eventually the Santa Monica open mall, which led us to a Thai restaurant. We got to know each other. We joked, we took pictures, we had fun as we explored. I found a human being who was frail and yet an adventurer, I found a lady who was shy and yet open, and most important I found a person I wanted to know.

I had found a small shy person, but one who was excited discovering the world. In a previous blog I had compared her to the English seaman Sir Francis Drake and the American frontiersman Kit Carson. These comparisons are massive compliments.

nuch&lk_2shotSittingSMpierCROP_20jun13_wsWe had a language barrier that we dealt with and we enjoyed each others company. Pailin was special and I wanted to see her again and again. And over the coming weeks we would see each other. … The Autry National Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and we began dancing the salsa to live bands at the Autry on Thursday nights.

We talked about our pasts and learned some of the tragedies and sadness we had survived. Learning of Pailin’s father’s, son’s, and mother’s passing within three years and of her desire to leave Thailand as she found it impossible to live in her homeland and deal with the horrific loss of her loved ones that lived with her on a daily basis.

Early on in our relationship she told me that many years had passed since she last loved someone and didn’t know if she could again. At the Autry she asked me to give her time, that she needed time.

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By then I knew that I knew someone special, and I did.

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Pailin in the Tujunga House dinning room (2sept13). We have spent a lot of good times in this room; eating, joking, talking serious, working on English and Thai words. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

There was absolutely no pushing. When we could we saw each other. We got to know, really know each other, and we became comfortable in each other’s presence. We communicated mostly with Skype as we could see each other and share our environments as we talked. We joked, and let me tell you this is one thing I’m good at—pulling people’s legs and playing games. Pailin gives as good as she receives, and she loves playing around.

The dancing at the Autry ended after only six weeks and summer drifted toward fall.

A tragic time

Pailin lived through a stretch of roughly three years at the beginning of this century that were devastating. I don’t know how she survived, much less created a positive life for herself.

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Pailin praying for her son at Wat Thai on 18sept2013. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

Her father died in 2000, her son in 2002, and her mother, who took care of her after her son’s passing, in 2003. After that her sister, who was a colonel in the Thai Army took care of her. At the time Pailin had a successful business. She had three restaurants in Lampang Province, Thailand (the Central Hospital, the military hospital, and the military golf course). Her days began at six in the morning when shopped for that day’s food and had it delivered. Her day ended at midnight. But the pain was overwhelming, and she decided that she needed to leave Thailand and find a new life.

Every year on the anniversary of her son’s death, Pailin visits Wat Thai, the Thai Temple of Los Angeles in North Hollywood, Ca., to pray for her son.

Our first adventure

I had an upcoming talk on Lt. Charles Gatewood and Geronimo at an Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) event in Tucson, Az., in late September. At this time we had barely pecked each other on the lips. I decided to ask her if she’d like to go, and when I did, I made it clear that she would be safe in my presence. To my surprise she said, “Yes.”

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This is my lady on the morning of September 26. She is ironing my pants (something I’ve done since my mother did it for me), and although I tried to stop her, she insisted. More importantly, you are seeing her as I see her—gorgeous w/o makeup and totally alive. She was probably saying, “Don’t take the picture.” For me this image is worth a 1000 words. (photo © Palin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

But Pailin wanted more than a trip to hear my talk—she wanted to explore. She indeed has Kit Carson and Francis Drake blood flowing through her veins.

We left LA in the wee hours of September 25, 2013, and reached Tucson by mid-afternoon. Mike Koury, who heads the OIW, kindly paid for an additional night for us at the hotel. That day we basically kept to ourselves before going out for an early dinner.


My visits to Tucson date all the way back to the early 1970s, and beginning in 1995 and continuing for 10 years for two Gatewood/Apache books. In 2012 Glen Williams and I drove to Tucson to see the disappointing Geronimo exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society and to explore southern Arizona.


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I didn’t have any photos of the talk and Mike Koury (OIW) kindly supplied me with two the other day. I gave the talk at the Radisson Suites Tucson on 26sept2014. The next day Mike and his crew of Apache experts led a three-day tour that tracked Geronimo and the Apaches through the American Southwest.

The next day I spoke about Gatewood finding Geronimo, Naiche, and the remaining Chiricahua Apaches in the Teres Mountains in Sonora, Mexico, talking them into returning to the United States, making sure that they reached Skeleton Canyon (35 miles north of the international border) safely where they officially surrendered to end the last Apache war. The talk is on You Tube: Gatewood’s Assignment: Geronimo.

Guidon Books, Old Scottsdale, Az.

After the talks the OIW members met for hamburgers, hotdogs, and potato salad, which is food we don’t eat. We made an appearance at the north side of the swimming pool and talked with friends before we departed to eat at a highly recommended Thai restaurant. The next morning we were up early and on the road. We had miles to go with a stopover in Old Scottsdale to see Shelly Dudley at the new location of Guidon Books (she and hubby Gordon took over after her father’s death). Good times for me seeing an old friend in a great new location. The signing of books and exploring the huge new space. Pailin was like a kid in a candy store.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Miles to go and the Vette cruised northward. An impromptu short detour for Pailin to see her first American Indian ruins.

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The Montezuma Castle National Monument is a perfect example of long-gone civilization that is still available to view in a protected valley with cliff dwellings (unfortunately visitors can’t explore the ruins that are high above on stark cliffs). The Sinagua people, which were pre-Columbian people whose culture was closely related to the Hohokam and other people indigenous to the American Southwest. It is a wonderful, quiet, and pristine place to visit. Peaceful, beautiful, … I could live here.

Williams, Az., the gateway to the Grand Canyon

I had hoped for Pailin to meet two of my great friends, novelist Gary McCarthy and his wonderful wife Jane. It wasn’t to be.

psWilliamsCollageBorder_27sept13_wsThe temperature dropped by the minute, but still I was able to lead Pailin on a cool walking tour of Williams. She loved it. We ate at a Mexican restaurant that I like very much. Thai people cherish their spicy food, but this salsa verde was way too hot for her taste. BTW, I don’t buy salsa verde anymore, for the Thai version of it is to die for. She makes it for me whenever needed. If you haven’t experienced what I call “Thai salsa verde,” you are missing one of the great taste pleasures in our world. I often tease her that I’ll dip watermelon in it. “No-no-no!! NO!” she proclaims. I do love teasing.

The Grand Canyon … for a morning plus

You need to know that Pailin and I are two people from different cultures, that we have experienced bad times, and that although we are thrilled to know each other that we viewed our relationship during this trip closely. Mainly, who is this guy and is he for me, and who is this lady and is she for me. By this late date you can guess the answer.

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South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Az. The fawns allowed Pailin to get close to them, but when I approached to take a photo that showed how close she had gotten to them I became one human too many and they took off. (28sept13)

Talk about being on the road early and making the most of our time, we had plenty of time to experience the south rim of this American treasure. And boy has it changed since I last visited in the early 1980s. Pailin had visited in 2012 (I think), and she knew a lot more about it than I did. I followed her lead and we maneuvered easily and quickly to what she thought we should see.

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My lady and our mode of travel. We are about to leave the Grand Canyon on 28sept2013 and head for Las Vegas, Nv. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft and Louis Kraft 2013)

The time was too short, way too short, and we had to return to the Vette and cruise at a fast pace for we had miles to cover in a shorter time than we had. Pailin loves to travel, and the miles passed easily as we chatted and worked on the English language, and to a lesser degree the Thai language. Not because I’m lazy, but because she has a great desire to master the English language.

Our destination was the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, Nv. Pailin and I don’t gamble. So what was our rush?

The reason was a joke. Even though we had a confirmed non-smoking reservation and had paid in advance, Excalibur made it clear that when check-in for all rooms became available on a first-come first-serve basis. On the phone I had made it clear to the hotel staff that we would not sleep in a smoke-polluted room. We had chosen Excalibur as it was a location that Maverick Airlines picked up travelers, and they would pick us up the next day. This was of major importance for what Pailin wanted to do on the trip. And believe me, I bought into this 100 percent. We did not have a problem when we checked in even though we were two hours late. As Excalibur had no decent restaurants, we ate Thai food at another hotel and then went to bed early.

September 29, 2013

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One of my favorite images of Pailin, the explorer ready to venture into the unknown. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft, 2013)

With Maverick Airlines scheduled to pick us up early at the hotel we got up before first light and prepared for what would soon happen. Both of us were excited. We had been forewarned to dress for cool weather and we did.

On this morning I realized that I knew a lady who had the same view to walking into the unknown as I. We were about to do something that neither of us had done before, and Pailin was ready to step into whatever was about to happen. Wow! I had never seen this before. The oversized minivan picked us up and we drove to Henderson, Nv., and the helicopter that would deliver us to the Hualapai Indian Reservation on the west side of the Grand Canyon.


I had worked on a film in 1979 called Raise the Titanic, and doubled Richard Jordan. I spent 11 days at sea on a U.S. nuclear helicopter carrier (will have to dig to find the vessel’s name, USS something) off the coast of San Diego (we went far enough to sea that the California coast wasn’t visible). I’m sorry to say that this is a forgettable film, but I had a great three months of work. The Pacific Ocean was rough, the wind harsh, and the vessel bounced like a duck toy in a bathtub. The director had a shot wherein a helicopter would land on the ship, I would climb into it, it would take off, and then land on the vessel a second time. I presented my price and the director rejected it; I would work for my usual cost. “No way,” I said. “You pay what I want or I’m not getting on that damn thing.” I felt certain that tragedy loomed. “You’ll work for your usual fee.” I shook my head. “No. Put Jordan on that frigging thing.” Makeup applied a fake beard on a sailor to match Jordan’s and my beards and he worked for free. I was thrilled when the helicopter took off and then landed safely on the vessel. That said, I had made the correct decision.


Our destination: Hualapai Indian land on the west side of the Grand Canyon.

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At the Henderson airport we boarded the Maverick helicopter. Let me tell you that cruising at 1800 feet is cool. Let me repeat that—COOL! Actually I would have liked to have flown closer to the ground but was told that this would be dangerous.

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We landed on the Hualapai Rez and began to explore. Pailin had had an introduction to the Indian wars, she had visited Indian ruins, and now she walked on American Indian ground. She had entered my world, and although she hadn’t realized it when she told me what she wanted to do it had come to pass.

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Pailin and lk enjoying the Skywalk. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

Like I said above, the spirit of frontiersman Kit Carson and pirate Francis Drake flows through her. She is an adventurer, an explorer, and she was in her element. LK couldn’t have been a happier guy.

The time was short—too short, but we made the most of it. We stepped onto the famed “Skywalk.” and we explored the upper regions of the cliffs on the Hualapai Indian Reservation.

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Hours passed, and it was time to return to Las Vegas and reality. Another helicopter ride and that would be cool. But a sadness hung over us for we both knew that our trip would soon end, for the next day, 30sept13, we would drive back to Los Angeles.

We had six days together. We had cruised along open roads and we had explored. We came to know each other—really know each other (without being intimate). We felt comfortable together. What already existed but to date was unsaid, we knew. More important, we knew that we wanted to spend more time together. We had our lives in front of us.

LK’s past and a peek into who I am

To keep this short I had been married once, and if you remember the Jerry Reed country song called “She Got the Gold Mine (I Got the Shaft),” you get the picture. It ended in divorce in 1992. A jealousy/hated/conspiracy theory (for almost everything) had unleashed a desire to destroy any happiness I might find in life. … This would play a major impact on the next 22 years of my life, and it hasn’t ended.

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I discovered 19 black & white negatives in 2013 that were dumped at Tujunga House in 2010 as part of two truck loads of boxes that supposedly belonged to my dead sister. Actually much of it belonged to my father and mother, and my sister had taken a goldmine of documents and images that I didn’t know existed. The negatives had blotches all over them. They were faded and totally unfocused. From the time of their creation or were they always this way? I’ll never know. As negatives for creating prints they were useless. A disaster since there were images of my mother, father, his best friend & partner, my brother, me, and my best friend at this time—roughly from the 1971-1973 time period. At the time I was writing a blog titled “A gunslinger in a bathroom” and needed something. This image suits me and my dark view of racism. (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

At the time I wrote for a company in the South Bay (SoCal) and in the 1990s I saw a woman walking down the street reading a book. Whoa-baby, she reads! This was my kinda lady.

In the fall a little over a decade later I dropped off a sport coat for cleaning. On that day a big customer of the shop, Johnny Depp’s then leading bodyguard, was present. We chatted. An hour passed in conversation (and the owner joined in when there were no customers). Two days passed and I picked up the coat. As I was leaving she said, “I will see you again, won’t I?”

Two Asian ladies, and two long relationships. Not planned; they just happened. There were other relationships for shorter lengths of time with ladies of other race.

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This image is perhaps the real lk. No fast car, no wide-brimmed hat, no guns, and no swords. Just lk and his iMac. Fully 70 percent of my waking hours are intense as I work on my computer(s). Oh, there are breaks wherein I walk around the house (or the yard) and talk to myself. Good conversations, even when I’m madder than hell and in a gunslinger state of mind. (photo © Louis Kraft 2013)

I bring this up for what I consider a major reason. My wife was white, and often other women (white and other races) have accused me of being racist, and only targeting Asian women. Some of these women are good friends, other women have been friends who may have been jealous and wanted more from me than I could give. This list includes my daughter (but her words are coming from her mother’s mouth). This accusation is incorrect, for just quirks of fate brought me together with the two Asian women listed above, as well as the other women. I have never been a wolf on the hunt. After the last long-time relationship ended, I didn’t ask anyone out for two years (and that was Pailin). My days have been long (doubly so when I worked for a company and met freelance deadlines, and even more so now as working for companies is long gone in my rearview mirror).

I’m not a recluse and I’m not anti-social. Actually I’m just the opposite, for I get along with people.

Enter Pailin in a way I never dreamed possible

Our trip made me begin to think about something I had never considered doing before in my life. Ever.

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An image of Pailin late at night on 16aug13 in her apartment. We were using Skype, and as you can see she is totally relaxed. I’m the little blip on the upper right of the screen. I only use Macs after spending decades using UNIX, PCs, and being introduced to Macs twice (the second time on my request). At the end of my tenure with Sun Microsystems I had a PC laptop, a UNIX box, a Mac laptop, and viewed everything on an oversized monitor, … ‘course when the network went belly up I would be dead in the water). You do not want to know my opinion of PCs; it is unprintable. (Image © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

Pailin and I communicated using Facebook chat (which allowed her to translate words before replying) and with Skype late at night (which allowed us to see each other as we talked), She lived in Los Angeles, an easy drive down the 170 and 101 freeways, but she wasn’t happy with the area, and neither was I. Her apartment was close to Beverly Drive and three nights a week music and loud talk blasted from a bar until two in the morning. Drunks were in evidence for at least an hour after the bar closed. …

In early October while we were sitting in my dinning room, hanging out, and talking about anything, nothing, the English language, Thai words, actually I don’t remember, I asked her if she’d like to move in with me. A first, for me as I had never-ever considered doing this in the past. Never. She said yes, and planned on completing the move on November 1. This started me on a major project (which still hasn’t been completed due to writing projects) of tearing the house apart. It was over-crowded for one person, and now I needed to make room for two.

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Pailin began the move on 18oct13, and this collage represents her initial delivery and work before going to her shop that morning. The other images represent a view from the computer/library to the living room (#1), from the library to the computer/library (#2), and another view of the living room (#3). The images of Pailin are in the master bedroom, and believe me she has done a great job of re-imaging this room. (photos © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft (2013)

Stuff had to go, and for the next two months both the black trashcan (trash) and the blue trashcan (recyclables) were full to the brim. I still have a spare bedroom (my research room that guests or my daughter stay in) full with stacks of books that I hope to sell (some have been given to people with interest in the Indian wars that have helped me or are long-distance friends or in one case my great friend Glen Williams).

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Pailin in the front yard of Tujunga House on October 24, 2013. (© Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

Mañana … or mañana or whenever I have time (and the spine is in agreement). I have been turning the front yard (that is hidden from prying eyes on all sides by shrubs) into a desert. A lot has been done, but much more still needs to be completed, including adding more stepping stones and small colored stones. Again, time is the culprit.

On October 18th Pailin began moving her belongings into Tujunga House. It was a fun time, an exciting time as we began to work at merging our lives. I told her to feel free to make Tujunga House her home, and she did. Although Pailin planned the move for November 1, she moved in on October 27.

A merging of cultures

My mother and father did not harbor any racial prejudice, and they greatly impacted my life. In 1970 I joined Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). I had hoped to work with American Indians, but by the time the first week of training concluded in Austin, Texas, I had become a celebrity. At that time Austin rolled up the sidewalks at 10:00 PM. We lived in a skyscraper dormitory on the Univeristy of Texas campus. Everyone bought booze and brought it back to our living quarters (ladies on one floor and the men on the floor above them). We hung out in the bedrooms (two split by one bathroom). One night around two in the morning about 20 of us were still up and drinking (recruits and representatives that would eventually choose us). I said something to a white couple that I liked. I don’t remember what, but it was probably out of line. Suddenly I had a knife at my throat while I was held from behind. It was one of the Chicano representatives, and he didn’t like what I said. Let me tell you that my heart was pumping. Somehow I kept my cool and told him that if he killed me his cause would be dead and he’d be in prison as there were just too many witnesses. After about a minute he released me and the incident ended.

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Left to right: Louis Kraft, Sr. (on a Suzuki), Lee Kraft (on a Kawasaki), and lk (on a Triumph) in 1970 just before I began my tour of duty with VISTA. Until the last 10 days of my mother’s life my father and I had been at war. Those 10 days changed everything (she died in 1980 and he in 1999). My brother and I were close, very close, and the last 10 years of his life we played softball together on winning teams (he died in 1990 at age 33, and I have not yet gotten over his death). There are a lot of stories to tell here. Will I? I hope so. (photo © Louis Kraft 1970)

At six when I appeared for breakfast I was surrounded by people that wanted to know the details. What details? I was scared stiff and was thrilled to see the sun rise. At the end of the week we received a lot of shots and the Indian, African American, and Chicano representatives began to choose their teams (just like you do for a sandlot football game). I went early, but I didn’t get to work with Indians. I would work with African Americans in east Oklahoma City. Cool stuff; perhaps I’ll do a blog about this in the future. Unfortunately there are no photos.

After my mother died in 1980 my father opened his door to young people that needed a place to stay (and it didn’t matter what their race or religion was), and this continued until his death.

For years I had enjoyed being around people of different races and colors, but it was in 1990 when I landed the first of a handful of technical software writing positions that the doors began to open to people from around the world. It was a slow trickle at first but by 1998 the writing was on the wall, and by 2000 when I left the world of space, caucasians were close to becoming minorities in the software world. Within a handful of more years this had become fact. I couldn’t have been in a better place for I was totally at home working in a melting pot of people from around the world.

Racism was unacceptable when I was young, … and it is unacceptable today.

Pailin, like myself, is totally at ease with people of other races. We were meant to meet; it just took time before that day happened. She is good with my culture and I with hers. Our world would soon become a melting pot of Thai and American culture.

A new life for us

Pailin and I were already comfortable together and we didn’t experience any uncomfortable moments while making the transition to living together. Work on attempting to make Tujunga House workable for us would continue for months, and we still have a long ways to go before the house and yard are as we want them. The problem has been merging this with my writing workload and my spine.

Pailin is my lady, my love, and as my great friend. Vee, my friend from Massachusetts, says that Pailin is my muse. Vee is right, for she is. I cherish each and every minute I have with her.

Our main meal of the day is breakfast, and it is a major part of our day. Pailin prepares almost all the meals. I’m a good cook, but Pailin is better. She loves to cook and the kitchen is hers. Once in a while I cook, and this usually is along the lines of salmon or trout or skinless chicken with vegetables and salad. Pailin has become a wiz cooking salmon her way (which is new to her). Her Thai meals, which are very healthy are to die for (I mean, “to die for”) for they are “alloy mark” (delicious). Her soups are out of this world, all are good, but I probably have a top 10, and whenever she repeats one of them I point out that it is one of my favorites and I am capable of eating two or three or four days in a row. Her fried rice, which isn’t “fried” rice like when you eat out. Not even close. Veggies and sometimes ground turkey (which I introduced her to) or fish or shrimp. Alloy mark! We buy tilapia often. She cooks it and the following day she strips the flesh from the bones and mixes it with herbs, green onions, lime juice, and other goodies including chile (chile peppers aren’t just from the Southwest), and there is a bite. It is served cold with lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and rice (sticky or regular or both). This became an instant favorite. There are noodle dishes, and rice dishes, and she can do wonders sautéing chicken or fish or tofu (we eat a lot of tofu, something I’ve been eating for decades) with a variety of veggies and served with rice. This is just a handful of the many meals she serves (and I’m shortchanging her on what she can do with fruit, including cooked bananas; especially the Mexican style bananas, which can be purchased at Thai grocery stores but for more money).

Thanksgiving 2013

thanksgiving2013_collageThanksgiving is one of my favorite days. I have a lot to be thankful for and I love the traditional dinner that I grew up with—mainly turkey, dressing, and the various vegetable side dishes. I’ve been cooking turkeys by myself for well over two decades (twice a year), and over this time I have made the recipe for cooking the bird and dressing my own. Sometime in the 1990s I decided to skin the turkey. By then I had also had a great Southwestern influence in what I cooked. Traditionally, per my mother’s cooking, dressing included celery, mushrooms, and onions. In 1992, my first year flying solo, I added Anaheim chilies to the mix (and it has been a constant for over 20 years). Turkey and dressing is one my favorite meals (and it can go with anything.

Before leaving Thailand Pailin had a huge restaurant business, which included a military hospital, a military golf course, and the Central Hospital. She shopped for and ordered the required food at six in the morning and then oversaw what was prepared each day (her days ended at midnight). Pailin is a marvelous cook; she enjoys cooking and it is one of her pleasures in life. I can’t go into detail with her cooking here, but she could easily open a restaurant that would serve superior-tasting dishes. My problem is that she can cook so many great meals and so many different ways that she seldom repeats a meal. My problem is that when I really like a meal I want to eat again and again (that is, not once and let’s move on). Without going into detail her soups and main dishes are out of this world.

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Our Thanksgiving dinner included turkey, dressing, rice, spicy coconut tofu soup, and water with lime juice.

Pailin and I spent the day together—just us. I cooked turkey and dressing and she made coconut and tofu soup and rice. We mixed and matched, and it worked just fine.

Some health problems hit me at this time and they would last for almost eight months. It would turn me into almost a vampire, a creature of the night, as I had to avoid the sun at all costs. The virus is not gone, but we have it under control (fingers are crossed) and I’m no longer using multiple antibiotics. That said, I still avoid the sun as much as possible.

An operation happened (not mine or Pailin’s) and I needed money to pay for it. I agreed to a contract for pay to edit, fix, and rewrite a novel. This evolved into a partnership. It was needed money, but the book when I finally complete it will be something that I’ll be proud of. My partner is a good man, a physician (and if you’ve seen some of the blogs you know him as Robert Goodman, MD), and if it wasn’t for him making a decision of what I needed to do in 2002 I would have been walking with angels for years (notice that I didn’t say hanging out with the devil).

December, good friends, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve

Many who don’t know SoCal or Los Angeles badmouth LA all the time. They do this without knowing the City of the Angels or Southern California.They do this without knowing what they are talking about. LA has smog, but it is much improved; read less than before (Denver has smog, Phoenix has smog—major cities have smog, and it depends where you are in that city in location to the sea how much is present). Definitely LA has traffic. It has worsened over the years, and it will get worse. Too many people want to live in LA (even though there is an exodus the population continues to grow).

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An early morn photo from the front porch of Layton & Vickie Hooper’s Fort Collins, Co., home in April 2012. I had a Ned Wynkoop talk in Centennial, Co., and Layton & Vickie invited me to stay at their home (about 70 miles north of Denver) for a 9 of 11 day research and speaking trip. I spent most of my time snowed-in in Fort Collins. That said, I had a great time with two people who opened their home to me and became my friends. Pailin could survive in this land, but my car and I cannot (both the car and I are surfer dudes; both of us would be found frozen on the roadside). (image © Louis Kraft 2012)

Seventy or eighty degree weather with sunshine and no smog in December.

That about says it all (if you forget the traffic).

Many people talk up the thrill of a white Christmas. Not lk. Back in 1997 a company in Boulder, Co., flew me in for three days to interview. They paid all expenses, including a rental car, and extended my time to over the weekend so I could look at property. To save them money I stayed at a friend’s house in Longmont. He was the leading engineer at the company. One night after dinner he took me outside to experience the temperature (my cold weather gear is a sport coat and scarf). He wore a t-shirt; I was shivering. “See,” he said, “not bad.” He had a thermometer outside; it was 18 degrees. After flying home the vice president said he was working on getting me a raise over my LA salary and would pay for the move. Before the deal was finalized he left the company for a position in California. The money offer was reduced and the company would not pay for the relocation. “Thank you, but no thank you,” I said politely. Although the Rockies had snow (the roads had been plowed), there was little on the ground in Longmont. In the coming years I would be snowed in during three separate trips to Colorado.

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Vee Morra became my friend at the end of the 1960s, when she and her husband, Doug Matheson, and I connected. Doug, an actor, also obtained his B.A. from the Theatre Department (now California State University, Northridge). Times change and Vee and Doug divorced, but eventually moved to Massachusetts to be near their son. I’m proud to say that they remained friends, and toward the end of his life she took care of him. Vee is open, inquisitive, and a true and loyal friend. She and Pailin quickly became friends on 12dec13, something I was thrilled to see. They are sitting in the living room at Tujunga House. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Veronica Morra, and Louis Kraft, 2013)

Veronica, “Vee,” Morra, a good friend of mine from our college days and after visited SoCal from Massachusetts in early December 2013. As she was staying with her long-time friend Saul Saladow, who spent four years with me in the Theater Department during our college years (and who went on to have a good career as a film editor), I invited them over for dinner. Pailin and Veronica (Vee) hit it off immediately. This made me feel good. The four of us enjoyed a good day and evening hanging out and chatting. This was an evening that I didn’t want to end. Vee and Pailin have continued their friendship on social media.

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This is one happy lady. This image of Pailin on 19dec13 is one of my favorites of her. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Pailin and my work on the house continued, but due to me falling behind on my writing the progress slowed. It had to or I wouldn’t be going to bed 24-7, but one of the places where it continued in a big way was in our bedroom. I’m proud to say that Pailin did a major redesign of it. It is our room, and it is her room. Although it still houses some of my important book/article material (including my work, Errol Flynn material, and Indian wars material not Wynkoop or Cheyenne Indians related), her influence dominates the room.

Christmas

On Christmas Pailin shared gifts and our love. We spent the day together quietly (and I was one with the birth of Jesus). We ate Thai food that Pailin cooked on this day (the reason follows). A good day for both of us enjoying our environment.

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Pete and Nina Senoff came over to hang out and share a Christmas dinner on 26dec13. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, Pete & Nina Senoff, 2013)

The next day we again celebrated Christmas, but with two good friends, Pete and Nina Senoff, who came over that evening. I cooked turkey and dressing with Anaheim chile and Pailin and Nina cooked Thai food. All three of us attempted to keep the spices as mellow as possible. Pete, whose stomach can’t handle food with even a hint of fire in it, avoided everything spicy.

Put Pailin and Nina together and they are like sisters whenever together.

Everyone thinks that Pailin and Nina brought Pete and I together. We had gone to high school but hadn’t seen each other in years. Nope, it was the other way around. Pete and I reconnected in 2012, I met Nina, and once Pailin and I started dating I introduced her to them. It’s a good combo. A good night for all.

New Year’s Eve

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Pailin & lk at Wat Thai in North Hollywood on 31dec13. We moved through the festivities enjoying ourselves. We saw friends, and Pailin saw friends that I met that night. As the midnight hour approached the monks led prayers in the main room (second floor) and in a room on street level). This is an important religious holiday for the Thai people, and let me tell you that everyone made me feel welcome. I am not an outsider. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

New Year’s Eve arrived. This has not been an evening that I have celebrated in years. The changing of the year represents another year older. I also deal with a lot of death and sadness at this time.

For the Thai people, this is an evening of prayer and celebration. Wat Thai, the Thai Temple in North Hollywood, which I had visited for the first time on Pailin’s birthday the previous July, and had visited numerous times since, hosts a festival that includes religious ceremony, Nina and Pete attended, as did some of Pailin’s other friends. It was a chilly evening and got into the 50s. It also presented a mix of prayer and celebration that I had never experienced before. BTW, I should add that I have always felt welcome at Wat Thai; the Monks have always been open and friendly and concerned about my well-being.

Introduction to a writing world & the beginning of our life together

As I hinted at above, my writing workload is extreme and 2014 has been an exercise in not falling too far behind. Without warning an Immigration meeting that I thought would be in mid-September at the absolute earliest changed. Suddenly it became August 11. Although I had been moving slowly toward what I thought would be a fall deadline turned my work schedule upside down. And let me tell you that the pressure built as I scrambled to prepare what we’d present (while seeing my writing output hit the skids). The growing pressure to prepare properly for our interview with Immigration on August 11 has dominated much of my time for weeks.

The above means not much has been accomplished in 2014 (as far as getting closer to book deliveries). See below for a current status:

  • I did take three weeks off from my projects to review a proposed National Park Services brochure on Ned Wynkoop (at the drop of a hat).
  • Writer/historian Jeff Barnes asked me to complete an interview for him (he posted it on his blog; An Interview with Author/Historian Louis Kraft).
  • Good Sand Creek research has been partially completed at the Braun Research Library (Autry National Center) but a lot more is to come.
  • Writing continues on Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway manuscript (although good progress content wise, I’m down on word count). This will change after the Immigration interview.
  • Great progress on The Discovery, the medical malpractice novel I’m doing with Bob Goodman (this, also, has been impacted by Immigration, but I will meet my deadline for the next 100 pages).
  • The Flynn/de Havilland book creeps forward.
  • I have promised Greg Lalire that I will complete the Geronimo article by year’s end (it is scheduled for the October 2015 issue of Wild West).
  • I wrote two short pieces for the August 2014 Wild West upon Greg Lalire’s request earlier this year, and completed the copyedit process, which also included “Wynkoop’s Gamble to End War.”
  • And finally the blogs. They are mandatory, for they continue to link me up with writers, historians, and fans. They bring in information and will hopefully result in additional work. Let me tell you that writing them and doing the photos/art/design is not a two-day project. I have a great friend in Denton, Texas, Glen Williams, who provides editorial comments when he can.

Pailin gives me room when I need to get something done when she is home. She never complains, and wants me to succeed.

Add the painting projects inside the house (not to mention the removal of stacks of books), the ongoing yard work (it is a jungle), and work to complete turning the front yard into a desert, and I just do not have enough hours in the day. … Also add that I spend about three hours a day that is geared toward me walking and sleeping.

But in spite of all of the above, Pailin and my lives continue in what I can only call an exploration of two lives and an ongoing friendship and bliss than neither of us had experienced before. She is like no other person I have known before. Every day is new and different and is based upon the bond that we took care to create slowly.

The importance of February 14

Before 2013 drew to a close Pailin and I had discussed marriage, and us remaining together for all time. She was my lady, my life, my best friend in ways totally different from any person I had ever known before.

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This is Louis Kraft, Sr., at a dinner party at my Thousand Oaks, Ca., home in summer 1991. He is sitting by the pool. A half block walk and you entered the Santa Monica Mountains. I have always liked dinner parties and over the years have hosted many. When my dad was alive he was always invited. My sister, her husband, and her two step-sons were present, as was my brother’s most-important lady in his life and her new husband (a great guy, who worked as a grip in film production), my great bud Jerry Argabrite and wonderful wife, Sue, and his son Jason, and my daughter Marissa rounded out the guests. M’s mother? She didn’t make an appearance. She was upstairs avoiding the event—supposedly sick. At this time I also owned a house in Encino, Ca. If you remember the song at the beginning of this blog, that time was about to happen times 10. (photo © Louis Kraft 1991)

I had thought that we’d marry in late spring or during the summer. Pailin wanted to marry on Valentine’s Day (February 14). I told her that this was not the best day in my life. Although my father and I had been at war for our entire lives (this is memoir stuff) he was always there for me. When my mother (his wife) went into the hospital for the last time on December 26, 1979, we spent every waking hour together with her until she died 10 days later. This ended our war. We became friends and bonded as I had never done before or since. When my younger brother died tragically 10 years later it was just him and me. He had a daughter, my sister, but she was out for herself. She had no clue her mother was dying, didn’t know her brother, and again had no clue her father was dying. I warned her two days before he died that the end was at hand, and on that fatal day I left over 30 unanswered messages on her phones. I took care of my father the last five-six years of his life, and our friendship and love grew. In the wee hours of February 15 my phone messages were answered. Defending her reason for ignoring my initial comment that our father would die, my sister said, “I didn’t believe you.” It was more than that; she had her weekend planned. My father died on Sunday, February 14, 1999.

February 14, 2014

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Pailin and I arrived late at the Albertson Chapel, having been caught in traffic. This image was taken shortly after we arrived. Left to right foreground: Sabrina Subanna, Kobie Poopan, Annie Aunroun, and Pailin (left rear: Nam & Greg Maradei, and Annette & Robert Florczak; right rear: Jackie Vinai and Anna Pinij).

I told Pailin that February 14 was not a good day for me. I also told her that it could be a good day for me, that it could be my last day with my father and my first day with her as my wife.

We worked hard and made it happen. February 14 is a day I’ll never forget.

Most of Pailin’s friends are in LA (or in Thailand, as are her brothers and sisters). Except for a few, my friends don’t live in LA (they are spread all over the place). We kept our wedding invites small (actually 19), and all lived locally. They had about a two-week notice for a day that fell on a Friday. We have lots of photos taken by our friends, but there isn’t room here to publish them (some have been seen on social media and I have printed others for the upcoming Immigration meeting).

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I invited my good friends Robert & Annette Florczak, Marjorie Chan (a film & TV costumer that has been my friend since we met in the early 1980s), Pete & Nina Senoff, and Greg & Nam Maradei. The other guests were Pailin’s close friends, including Sabrina Subanna (her niece, and a very special person in my life too), Montanee Sothtitham and Kobie Poopan, two ladies I enjoy knowing, Caterine Jensin, Siwan (Mam) Techadi and her husband Chai, Jackie Vinai, Cherry Keawpanyo, to name some. Other Thai friends had been invited, but their bosses refused to allow them a few hours off work. You do not want to know my opinion of these two employer assholes, for it isn’t printable.

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The ladies having fun with a goodbye kiss. Left to right: Jackie Vinai, Caterine Jensin, Annette Florczak, Pailin, Annie Aunroun, Jenny Atchara, Sabrina Subanna, and Montanee Sothtitham.

Most everyone had to return to work, but those who could came to a reception at Tujunga House, including Caterine, Jackie, Sabrina, Robert, Greg, and Pete. Pailin prepared Thai food (herb soup, grass noodle salad, and fried noodle), and two of her friends (Cherry Keawpanyo and Pulsri Inwattanna) who couldn’t get time off created a Thai desert that they gave her on a platter (Kanomchan). Good food with good friends.

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Pailin and lk with the Reverend Fernando Howard, who had married us on 20feb14 (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Six days after our marriage we visited Fernando Howard, who married us. He is an Apache, living in Los Angeles. During our pre-marriage meetings he had told me that he studied his people’s history, and especially Chiricahua Apache war leader and mystic Geronimo. As you can guess we talked about Geronimo and the Apaches. He included an Apache prayer in our wedding ceremony. During our visit Pailin and I gave him one of my books, Gatewood & Geronimo (University of New Mexico Press, 2000). He was thrilled, and it made me happy.

We did not go on a honeymoon. That is still to come. Soon I hope.

April and the Errol Flynn connection

In June 2009 I was set to speak on a panel at a Western Writers of America convention, but my back went out. As it was a road trip I canceled. Saturday, June 20, 2009, marked the 100th anniversary of Errol Flynn’s birthday (he had died at age 50 in 1959).

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Pailin and Jan McNulty at Tujunga House on 11apr2014. (photo by Tom McNulty 2014)

Jack and Louise Marino hosted a party at their Burbank, Ca., home, a party that I would have missed. Jack and Louise only lived a few miles from Tujunga House so the drive wasn’t too uncomfortable. I know a lot of Flynn people due to my Flynn writing. But on this day, other than seeing friends I had the great bonus of meeting two gents that I knew long distance but not in person. David DeWitt, who hosts a terrific Flynn blog (The Errol Flynn Blog), and Tom McNulty and his wonderful wife Jan. Tom wrote by far the best biography on Flynn (Errol Flynn: The Life and Career, McFarland and Company, Inc., 2004). BTW, Tom has a unique blog that reviews literature and at times adds his comments about Flynn and his work (Thomas McNulty’s Blog).

David was a houseguest in early 2013 while he visited Los Angeles to see if he would move here. Good times as we bonded and spent our time chatting about anything and everything. Alas, he decided to make South Carolina his home.

Jump forward five years to April 2014

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Tom McNulty and lk at Tujunga House on 11apr14. (photo by Jan McNulty 2014)

Tom and Jan again visited SoCal to see the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards ceremony and see relatives and friends. On April 11 they spent some time with Pailin and myself at Tujunga House. Jan and Pailin immediately became sisters and the four us enjoyed each other’s company, which of course included Flynn talk. The time passed in a flash, but we did see them at the writers and illustrators awards ceremony two days later at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.

The Thai New Year

The Thai people have a number of holidays, but the most important is Songkran, their New Year, which happens on April 13.

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Left to right: lk, Belle Marsan Henning, Sabrina Subanna, Pailin, and Cherry Keawpanyo standing on the balcony of the main floor of Wat Thai of Los Angeles on 13apr13. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Pailin asked if I would participate. Of course I would. This day, which includes festivities, is a very holy day with prayers. It also includes donations and gifts to the monks. We joined the celebration at Wat Thai in North Hollywood. Many of Pailin’s coworkers and friends also attended, and many of them are my friends now. Also present were Belle and John Marson Henning, who bought the Thai Swedish Massage in Studio City (it is now called the Belle Sabai Thai Massage), where Pailin works as a massage therapist.

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LK with two of his favorite ladies on the Thai New Year (13apr14), my life and love Pailin, and her niece, my very special in-law Sabrina Subanna. We are on the balcony outside the main room of Wat Thai. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Sabrina Subanna, and Louis Kraft 2014)

There are prayers and there is a festival. Wat Thai is open to all and the atmosphere is always friendly. I always feel welcome. More, I’m always open to experiencing something new. I can’t/won’t say anything in detail here for honestly there is still a major language barrier for me. I try. I always try. And like Spanish, French, Apache, and Cheyenne, I have Thai words, … more Thai words than the others except Spanish, but this won’t last for long.

My knowledge will grow with time. It always has in the past, and it will in my future.

Flynn continued to dominate our spring

Good pal and Flynn expert Robert Florczak, who was present when Pailin and I met on June 15, 2013, saw that Flynn’s last A-film (and his next to last film) was going to play at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on May 15.EgyptianTheatre_entry+RF&PSK_montage15may14_ws

Good timing for us as Pailin had the day off. I thought her first complete viewing of a Flynn film would be one of his swashbucklers or westerns as she likes action films. She had seen the end of San Antonio (1946) and Adventures of Don Juan (1948) when I hadn’t completed exercising before she arrived home at night (I exercise with film as it is a great way to study plot, character, and dialogue, and in the case of Flynn a good way to study his acting as I’m writing about it). She liked both. She would now see The Roots of Heaven, which dealt with saving elephants in Africa. Flynn had a supporting role. Annette had to work and couldn’t join us but Greg and Nam Maradei did. A good time.

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I caught a great portrait of Pailin in the upper lobby of the Egyptian sans the crowd as the film’s screening was co-sponsored by the French Consulate in LA before the screening. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft (2014)

After the screening I immediately asked Pailin what she thought of the film. I feared that she might have been bored, but she wasn’t. The film had a wide scope with a good mix of characters, it slipped in humor and had the threat of violence, and unfortunately death. We saw a great color print.

She has since seen They Died With their Boots On (1941) with Flynn as George Armstrong Custer and Olivia de Havilland as Libbie Custer (this is the film that hooked me on the Indian wars). She loved the green onion scene with Flynn and Olivia, and since we often eat green onions she play-acts Olivia’s Libbie who lied about loving onions. Next up for my lady, The Sea Hawk (1940) or Adventures of Don Juan. I still have hope that she’ll agree to learn the sword. Hope always burns eternal.


For those of you waiting to see The Last of Robin Hood, those days are getting close (at least in LA). Robert, who functioned as the technical consultant on the film has let me know that it will begin screening in LA at the end of August. Kevin Kline plays Flynn (if ever I had produced a film on Flynn during Kline’s entire film career he would have been my only choice for the part), Susan Sarandon plays Florence Aadland (Beverly’s mother), and Dakota Fanning plays Beverly Aadland (Flynn’s companion and last love). With luck Pailin can get the night off when I see the film with Robert and hopefully Annette.

The writing world put on hold

Progress on Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway has been slow as research has dominated the time allotted to this manuscript. June kept me at the Braun Research Library, Autry National Center (former Southwest Museum), at Mount Washington. Pailin wants to take part in future research trips that must happen later this year or next year. Her enthusiasm is infectious. She is interested in exploring everything, and is always ready to go.

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Pailin with Doris and Bob Goodman. Flemings Restaurant in Woodland Hills, Ca., on 26jun14 (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, Doris & Bob Goodman (2014)

On June 26 Pailin and I met Bob and Doris Goodman at Flemings in Woodland Hills for dinner. Bob is the physician that I had partnered with for The Discovery, a medical malpractice story that is based upon reality but which is fiction. I’ve known Bob and Doris for about 25 years. Bob is my internal medicine and heart specialist and has played an important role in me continuing to walk this earth. Over the years we have become friends. Back in 2009 he hired me as a consultant on some of his writing projects. In 2013 my working relationship with him deepened when I agreed to partner with him on this novel. Although it is character-driven we are approaching as a thriller to keep the pages turning.

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LK with Bob Goodman at Flemings Restaurant in Woodland Hills, Ca., on 26jun14. Bob and I have partnered on The Discovery, and both of us think that it is going to be a page-turner. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, Doris & Bob Goodman (2014)

Pailin still has the ongoing task of mastering the English language. Let me tell you that she has made great progress. It is something that she works at on a daily basis. Word meaning and pronunciation combined with sentence structure. My lady is shy but once she meets someone she is capable of opening up with a warmth that to date has allowed her to win over all of my friends that she has met.

At Flemings Doris and Bob didn’t allow Pailin’s vocabulary or shyness to hinder this first meeting. Doris was absolutely marvelous and within half an hour she and Pailin had bonded big time. And Bob was right there with Doris in opening up to Pailin’s charm.

A July 3, 2014, notice

Progress had continued on The Discovery, as it had with the Sand Creek manuscript. But when a document dated July 3, 2014, arrived work on both manuscripts came to a complete halt. Pailin had been notified that her (and my) meeting with U.S. Immigration would happen on August 11. Originally we had been told that it wouldn’t be until mid-September at the earliest. I had been slowly moving toward the latter date with my preparation. Taking more than a month off the anticipated date placed me in a tight spot in regards to what I still needed to complete.

At first I had attempted to continue making progress with the malpractice novel, but I quickly realized that I had to stop. Our preparation for the U.S. Immigration meeting is multi-leveled with the ultimate goal being that we convince the agent who interviews us that we are who we claim to be—two people who fell in love and married.

On social media I have shared perhaps 35 percent of the images that we’ll present on August 11. A number of them are reprinted in this blog as they help tell our story.

Oh, although behind on my upcoming deadline for delivering the next 100 pages of The Discovery manuscript, I will make it. Luckily I had initially set September for that delivery. This is still totally doable.

Bob and Doris will be our first dinner guests after the August 11 meeting is history. They had made it clear that they wanted to taste Pailin’s Thai cooking. They won’t be disappointed.

The Fourth of July

The sale of fireworks is illegal in Los Angeles. No matter, for explosions begin three or four days prior to the holiday and continue for days after the day of bombs bursting in air. I generally am a stay-at-home humbug on the evening of the Fourth as I want to hang close to the house with water hoses at the ready.

ps&lk_4jul14_2shotCollage_wsThe above is not a joke. LA is a fire zone even without drought. We are limited to three days watering outside per week (for us, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday).

Pailin wanted to remain at home with me on the Fourth as she wanted to experience the war zone (some of her friends gave her grief for not partying with them). The garage is detached and has a flat roof. I placed chairs on it, and we used an extended ladder to reach our perch for our surround-sound light show that would last deep into the night.

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The left and right top photos are views from the Tujunga House driveway looking east. The explosions had been set off from the middle of the street about 600 yards away. The middle top explosion is about 1/4 mile north of Tujunga House. The bottom landscape is looking west just before nightfall. The left insert is of a parachute bomb that landed in the brush in front of the entry to Tujunga House. Over 12 other fireworks of varying types landed on the Tujunga House property.


Trust me, the 4th of July is not my favorite holiday as I view it as little more than a fire watch. The police? Hell they get the night off (absolutely no sirens or patrol cars on 4jul14; on any other day at least half a dozen).

And July 5, 2014, which is a special day

ps&lk_PresidentThaiRest_3jul14-1_wsJuly 5 is Pailin’s birthday. We had gone to the President Thai Restaurant in Pasadena on Thursday, July 3, to enjoy an eat-out dinner and to celebrate her birthday partially.

It was a good night for me with my lady, who was oh-so happy.

On the fifth we were up early to eat and do our chores so that we could go to Wat Thai before she had to go to work.

Since her move to Los Angeles Pailin has celebrated her birthdays at Wat Thai.

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Pailin and LK with the two monks that prayed for my wife. The prayer had just ended. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

On this very special day she donated to the temple and the monks prayed for her. This is the second time that I have taken part in this very exceptional day in Pailin’s life. I know more now, but not nearly enough. I am now at home and relaxed in this religious environment to which I’m still only an observer. But it is a key day in Pailin’s life, and that makes it an extraordinary day in my life.

And in conclusion

Since February we have been working with our lawyer to prepare for what will happen on August 11. We are prepared, Pailin is totally relaxed with me much less so. That said, I’m always relaxed in interviews (tomorrow will be more of the same). For those of you that have supported what will soon happen, thank you. We’ll have our lawyer and interpreter present. Tomorrow will be a good day to live.

Upcoming blogs

  • The National Park Service, Ned Wynkoop, and an unacceptable approach to documenting history
  • Unscrupulous writer-historians and how they dupe their readers
  • The song remembers when

— Louis Kraft

Cheyennes, George Bird Grinnell, & the Braun Research Library, Autry National Center

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2014
Contact me at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog
As in the past, click on an image to expand it


The best place to start is with a little background of something that doesn’t exist anymore (at least not as it was, and sometime in the not-too-distant future never again). As I type these words I’m sad. The city of Los Angeles had something special.

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The Southwest Museum of the American Indian, which is now part of the Autry National Center of the American West. (art © Louis Kraft 2014)

Writers of history and especially the American Indian shame on you. The diverse population of the city of Los Angeles, which I believe still has the largest Native American population not living on the Rez (most likely the Navajo Reservation, as it dwarfs the other reservations), I’m ashamed of you too. But more I’m ashamed of the city and the county of Los Angeles, for you had a treasure and you didn’t support it. Shame on you!!!!

Los Angeles, you constantly brag about the quality of culture that exists within the city and county borders. We have everything. Great museums, great theaters, great restaurants (I think every food possible, sans one—American Indian; how many times do I have to say that damned word, “shame”?). And let’s not forget the mountains, surf, and weather that are to die for. Yes, we do have a number of days during summer and a number of them string together and the temperature is an ungodly 100+ degrees, but these have shrunk in number over recent years. We don’t compare to Phoenix and the rest of the Valley of the Sun; for unlike the residents of that sprawling metropolis the people of LA don’t fry their eggs on the pavement (that’s right; lk isn’t seeking any kissy points from Arizona; the only establishment that welcomes him back is Guidon Books in Old Scottsdale). Oh, I should add that Christmas time is shorts and broad-brimmed hats, and if you still have your American football legs (mine were during the days of the late-great Johnny U. and Joe Montana) a round of competitive tossing and catching the pigskin after a Christmas dinner under blue skies in mid-70 to low 80 degree weather with 20 or so buddies often happened.

Charles Lummis, the American Southwest, and well you know, … the future

Charles Lummis (1859-1928) earned a living as a journalist, but without doing due-diligence research I wonder how much family money he had.

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This image for this magnificent exhibit that the then Autry Museum of Western Heritage presented for a little over three months in 1996 represents what the Autry had been and what the 2003 merger with the Southwest Museum can become. Friend Paul Andrew Hutton played a major role in this exhibit coming to life. It was by far the best exhibit that I have ever seen at the Autry or the Southwest. Let us hope that the merged museums can again recreate this type of excellence. I saw the exhibit twice; first with my good friend writer/historian Eric Niderost and later by myself. … Over the years the Autry would create another masterpiece, but I believe most of it came from in-house—they paid a long-overdue homage to Gene Autry a few years back. Alas, it is long gone, but it should have been made into a permanent exhibit, and this is coming from someone who didn’t like Gene’s singing, B-moves, or what is now called the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.” Hell, I guess that I now live in Anaheim of North Hollywood, Los Angeles. (photo © Louis Kraft 1996)

I’ve not met many rich journalists. In direct relation to what he would do, Lummis stood for Indian rights and historic preservation. He was also an historian, photographer, ethnographer, and archaeologist. He had a passion for the Southwest and the Indian people that called this land home.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Charles Lummis, who was the driving force behind the Southwest Society, saw the creation of a museum that would house art, history, and science of the American Southwest. The Southwest Museum opened in downtown Los Angeles in 1907. Seven years later it moved to its current location at Mount Washington on the western side of the Arroyo Seco, and in which in the coming decades the 110 freeway would snake through and connect downtown Los Angeles with the city of Pasadena in the San Gabriel Valley. Sumner P. Hunt designed the original structure in the style of Spanish Colonial Revival that climbed the hillside. Over the years additions would be added. The Braun Research Library opened in 1979. If one doesn’t drive up the hill to the parking lot, he or she can walk from the subway just below the famed institution to a tunnel that leads to an elevator that rises 150 feet to the bottom floor of the original structure.

The Friends of the Southwest Museum claim that the museum houses 238,000 Indian artifacts. True? I don’t know, but that’s a pretty impressive figure. Over the course of his life Lummis amassed a large and impressive collection of American Indian artifacts that mostly focused on the Southwest, and quite a number of them along with his photos, papers, and documents are housed at the museum. Other notable papers and/or collections include those of Edward S. Curtis, Frederick Webb Hodge, and George Bird Grinnell, among others.

There has been a lot of planning and politics since the merger of the Southwest Museum and the Autry in 2003. It is not my intent to comment on that here other than to say that even though the historic Mount Washington site may someday be history, the oh so-precious collection it houses will continue to live in a 200,000 square foot building in Burbank, Ca.

The Braun Research Library is one of the premier archives that I have spent many hours, days, months, and more visiting in an attempt to learn what is hopefully the truth. Other than the Braun here are other classy archives in which I’ve researched:

  • The Fray Angélico Chávez History Library (Santa Fe, N. Mex.)
  • USC Warner Bros. Archives (Los Angeles, Ca.)
  • Arizona Historical Society (Tucson, Az.)
  • Western History Collection, Denver Public Library (Co.)
  • History Colorado (Denver; I have not researched there since the new facility opened)
  • Fort Larned National Historic Site (Larned, Ks.)

Of course, there is a disclaimer here, and it is as follows. Sometimes it is more economical to order research. National Archives (various locations) and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. are two such library-archives.

A long and winding road to the Braun Research Library

Let’s drift back to the dark ages. In 1987 I spoke at the Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) “First Annual West Coast Indian Wars Conference” in Fullerton, Ca. (alas, it was the first and only OIW SoCal conference).

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Jerry Russell holding court on private property above the supposed Sand Creek village massacre site in 1987 (see photo of Marissa Kraft, below, for more about this visit). (photo © Louis Kraft 1987)

This event cemented my relationship with Jerry Russell, who ran the OIW and who always had my back covered.

Jerry is long time gone, and I still miss him. At that conference I met Mike Koury (The Old Army Press), a great speaker (he should do it more often), who took over the Order of the Indian Wars after Jerry’s death. Mike and I became friends and for years and years he has done everything possible to help my writing. I also met Chris Summit, former historian at the Custer Battlefield National Monument (since renamed to the Little Bighorn National Monument). He was round and perhaps short. I thought that he would make an impact on Indian wars writing, but he dropped from sight (don’t know why; hope he is well). The reason I mention him is because during the two-day event (February 28-March 1) he told me that I should check out the Braun Research Library at the Southwest Museum for it would be a boon to my Cheyenne Indian research.

I never forgot Chris Summit’s words.

Years passed and believe it or not, with the publication of Custer and the Cheyenne (Upton and Sons, Publishers, 1995), a quirk of fate thrust me into a 10-year quest to understand a long-forgotten 6th U.S. Cavalry officer named Charles Gatewood and his involvement with White Mountain and Chiricahua Apaches. A Custer book signing at Guidon Books, in Old Scottsdale, Az., alerted me to the Gatewood Collection at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson. The following month resulted in a nine-day trip to view the Gatewood Collection (over the years I would spend another three+ months at the archive).

Enter Kim Walters

Gatewood had preempted what I thought would be my next Indian wars book (soldier/Indian agent Ned Wynkoop and his relationship with Cheyennes and Arapahos). In the late 1990s I took off the Gatewood/Apache blinders and heeding Chris Summit’s suggestion contacted the Braun about doing Cheyenne research as related to my longtime project on Wynkoop.

This is when I met Kim Walters.

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Kim Walters doing research at the Braun on June 18. I hadn’t seen Kim since the Wynkoop book had been published and it was good to see her again. Her current title is: “Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture—Autry National Center.” (photo © Louis Kraft and Kim Walters 2014)

At that time Kim’s title was “Director, Braun Research Library,” a title she held from 1990 until 2011. She quickly became my go-to person. My sole interest during these visits to the Braun was the Cheyennes in Wynkoop’s life. With Kim’s terrific digging I became privy to prime Cheyenne research in the George Bird Grinnell Papers. At the time I didn’t know of a 77-page document that lists Grinnell’s Papers (and don’t think it existed in its current state then).

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Head Librarian Liza Posas shows lk where the George Bird Grinnell Papers are stored in the Braun’s stacks. Liza and I have discussed me submitting suggestions that will aid the 77-page listing of Grinnell’s papers, among other things that are not for this blog. The suggestions will not be egotistical; simply constructive comments that will hopefully aid researchers in the future. (photo © Louis Kraft and Liza Posas 2014)

I would not see this extended list until Braun Head Librarian Liza Posas supplied it to me earlier this year (see below for more on Liza). Good digging by Kim!!! And especially so since the key documents she located for me are not listed in the contents of the Grinnell Papers. That said, they are in the folders listed in the 77-page Grinnell Papers document (I checked to ensure that they were still located in the same folders). The information that Kim found for me saw print in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011).

Soon after completing the Cheyenne Indian research for the Wynkoop manuscript I returned to the Braun to search for images for Gatewood & Geronimo (University of New Mexico Press, 2000), and again I struck gold in various collections with Kim’s help. The images included:

  • A little Apache girl about four years old holding a small puppy (perhaps my favorite image ever in any of my publications for I could write a book about her)
  • A studio portrait of Gen. George Crook (1880s)
  • The Chokonen Chiricahua Apache chief Chihuahua
  • The Chihenne Chiricahua Apache war leader Kaytennae w/Benito
  • The mixed-blood Mexican-Apache Mickey Free
  • The Chihenne Chiricahua Apache Mangus

Moving forward

The Custer book tossed my name into the hat, but it was Gatewood & Geronimo that made me a player. Kim Walters and the Braun helped make this happen. Thank you, Kim.

Custer and the Cheyenne had been contracted but G&G was spec. I figured I didn’t have a good enough name to move away from regional presses and submitted the manuscript to Westernlore Press (Tucson, Az.). It was immediately accepted, and I said I wanted a contract. “I’ll get to it, when I finish one of my books,” Lynn R. Bailey told me (he was also a writer). I gave him three months and repeated my request. He told me he’d get to it when he was ready. I fired him, and that day sent a query letter to the University of Arizona Press. I waited a week. Nothing happened. I sent a query to the University of New Mexico Press.

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(left to right): Bonita & Dr. Leo Oliva (more on good friends Leo & Bonita in an upcoming blog), and Dr. Durwood Ball. After Leo and I spoke at the Pawnee Fork village site (he about the events that led up to Gen. Winfield Hancock destroying a Tsistsista, Dog Man, Lakota village on the Pawnee Fork in Kansas in April 1867 and I about Wynkoop’s effort to save the village), Durwood followed us back to Fort Larned so he could see the hill that Hancock’s army climbed on April 14, 1867, only to halt when they saw the battle line of Cheyennes and Sioux in the valley. Wynkoop asked permission of Hancock to ride between the lines and sooth Indian fears. Edmund Guerrier, a mixed-blood Cheyenne, rode into the valley with him. Durwood spoke that night about Col. Edwin Vose Sumner, the subject of his next book. BTW, the photo is black & white, and with the late afternoon sun everyone was in deep shadow. I turned the image into a duotone and lightened it. (photo © Louis Kraft 2012)

Durwood Ball, then editor-in-chief at University of New Mexico Press, contacted me immediately; he wanted the G&G manuscript (the U of A Press contacted me a week later; am sorry—too late). Durwood, like Jerry Russell, always had my back, especially during the production process which had a few bumps. I don’t see him near enough, but whenever we are together it is like we are neighbors and hang out on weekends.

A quick return to the Braun, but not in person

I had less success at the Braun with the second Gatewood book, Lt. Charles Gatewood & His Apache Wars Memoir (University of Nebraska Press, 2005). I had wanted to use the same Apache girl image again in this book, and started the process perhaps three months before my deadline but due to problems with the Southwest’s schedule (nothing to do with Kim) I couldn’t secure the needed documentation to proceed with the publisher. The deadline arrived with nothing from the Southwest. No big deal for I always have another 10 or more images that I want to use with documentation in place if an alternate is needed. Problem immediately solved. I wrote fully two-thirds of the text and the remainder is my editing of Gatewood’s long-winded and very passive prose. This volume is by far my best-selling book (I think in large part as the publisher promoted it aggressively).

Chuck Rankin, the Cheyennes, and the tragedy of Sand Creek

For me writing nonfiction, real nonfiction, is a long-term process. Put another way, it is not wham bam, thank you ma’am. What does this less than satisfactory statement mean? I must put in the time and walk the walk to know what I’m writing about.

This section needs to lead with a major disclaimer. Chuck Rankin, editor-in-chief at OU Press, is a good friend. He has also played perhaps the most key role in my Indian wars life, and this includes my writing not with OU Press. He liked my last blog with a lone criticism; he did not like the image I posted of him. Chuck has told me many times now that he prefers to reside in the shadows and not in the limelight. I do my best not to talk about him, but damn!, if you could only use one word to describe me as a writer it would be biographer. Chuck, I can’t help myself. It’s what I do.

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lk with Chuck Rankin on 15oct11 at the Western History Association convention in Oakland, Ca. Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek became available to the public in Oakland. Chuck gave me the book poster behind us. I framed it and it resides in my living room at Tujunga House. I know Chuck doesn’t like this type of publicity, but he does great work and any writer who works with him is damned lucky. This should not remain in the shadows; it should be proclaimed! (photo © Louis Kraft & Chuck Rankin 2011)

Right around the time that Chuck and I signed the contract for the Wynkoop book (without checking, I think 2005), he started pitching me on writing a book about the Sand Creek Massacre. I said, “No, I don’t write books about war. I write about people.” He pitched again and eventually we began to talk about the possibility of a book. Sometime before the Wynkoop book was published I pitched him on a “people” book, and the conversation continued. We came to a verbal agreement on the storyline about the time the Wynkoop book saw print. It took me almost another two years to create a 36-page proposal that was satisfactory to both myself, Chuck, and OU Press. During the entire time Chuck supported the project 100 percent. His input and patience were exceptional. Two reviewers also provided constructive criticism (one being good friend and great Indian wars historian John Monnett).

Unfortunately I won’t tell you about the storyline.

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My daughter Marissa and I had been tracking Custer when Jerry Russell’s OIW traveling tour ended at the supposed Sand Creek Massacre site on private property in 1987. I called Jerry and asked if we could join the trip to Sand Creek and following banquet. He graciously said yes. This actually turned into an article for True West (1990). While the tour assembled on the bluffs, Marissa and I explored the land below. There were rattlesnakes, including babies. She isn’t looking at one here. (Photo © Louis & Marissa Kraft 1987)

Without telling you anything I need to pull the Tsistsistas from the mists of time and into their golden age, and as soon as possible I need to make the story people driven.

More, I must interlink people story lines. When you have one or two lead players this isn’t a hard task. However, when you increase the major player count to 10 or more, this task becomes complicated. To make this work I must know the leading (and supporting) players intimately, for only then will I be able to move about in the story smoothly. Research, research, and more research is the key (and this is mixed with writing and rewriting every step of the way).

For all my research and writing dealing with white/Cheyenne relations and history (and this dates back to the dark ages), there is still a lot that I don’t know about the Cheyennes (and to a lesser degree about the whites and mixed-blood players). This is a no-brainer; I must increase my knowledge about the Cheyennes and others.

The Braun becomes a major player

Liza Posas, Head Librarian

When I contacted Kim at the beginning of the year regarding revisiting Mr. Grinnell’s Papers she informed me that she had moved on at the Autry. She pointed me to Liza Posas, copied Liza on the email, and suggested that she send the 77-page Grinnell listing. This marked the beginning of my relationship with Liza (I believe that it was in February).

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John Monnett at The Fort on 10apr13, a cool restaurant in Morrison, Co., that serves venison, rattlesnake, buffalo, and so on. He may look like a dreamer, but he’s actually a very good listener. (photo Louis Kraft & John Monnett 2013)

My friend John Monnett constantly has Cheyenne manuscripts in progress, and we had talked about my return. When he learned of the extended list he asked to see it, and Liza sent it to him. Months would pass before I could visit the Braun and meet Liza and Research Services Associate Manola Madrid (more about Manola below). Liza and Manola prepared to work closely with me to ensure that I saw what I wanted/needed to see.

No Kim. Shock, pure shock? No, not at all. This might have been my first reaction to a change that I didn’t expect, but it vanished beginning with Liza’s first contact with me.

During our initial emails she partnered with me to ensure that I was primed for a successful search regardless of the final outcome. What? What does “I was primed for a successful search regardless of the final outcome” mean? Just this: If I find documentation I can use, great; but if not, and I am certain that I have looked at everything that is related to my search and found nothing, I have also succeeded. Huh? That’s right, I have succeeded for I no longer need to worry that I missed something because the search was not complete, that is I didn’t look at everything.

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Liza Posas at her desk at the Braun. (photo © Louis Kraft and Liza Posas 2014)

To repeat, and I’m talking about Liza here, her lone goal was to help my research succeed. And when I met her late on that first day—wow! I met a person who was not only involved and interested but would be available (even though she had to spend time at the Autry across town). And more, she’s a fun and positive and bright individual. The Braun has a first class person performing a needed task of ensuring that our history—yours, mine, and specifically in this case, the lifeway and history of the Cheyennes will continue to survive.

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This is my MacBook Pro on the first floor of the Braun at the beginning of the day on 18jun14. You can see the open balconies of the second floor. I spent a good amount of my time at this table and to a lesser extent the other tables in the room. Intense work is about to begin. My kind of workplace! (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

Liza okayed some research for John Monnett, and it happened. The year 2013 gave John and myself time to cement our relationship thanks to our mutual friend Layton Hooper, who only became my friend that year when he and his wonderful wife Vicki opened their home to me in Fort Collins, Co. I think it was for nine days (or somewhere close). Good times, times I want to repeat (if not in their new home in Arizona then at Tujunga House). Ditto you John M.

I will say this; I have always put in the time and have walked the walk. More important, none of my books are based on a preconceived thesis that I must prove at all costs. You would be shocked if you knew how many so-called historians work from a set premise and everything they write and every citation they use only sees print because it supports what they are selling. Worse, some of these historians cite fiction, create quotes, and facts that don’t exist. This discussion is not for here but will appear in a future blog.

Manola Madrid, Research Services Associate

Manola Madrid greeted me at the guard station in the Southwest Museum on my first day back at the Braun. She had worked with me in the past and we had an instant connection. On this day we worked on the third floor.

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Manola Madrid on the third floor of the Braun. On this day, June 9th I worked at the table facing the Braun’s stacks. During a break she and I chatted. I asked if I could snap a few photos and she was open to the idea. It was at this time that we discussed John Wayne and his portrayal in John Ford’s The Searchers (1956). Photo © Louis Kraft and Manola Madrid 2014)

Like Liza, Manola was and is a delight to work with (Liza spent her morning at the Autry but returned to the SW Museum that afternoon and we officially met). Manola is a wizard with the archival material and she always had what I wanted to view ready upon my arrival. We have a lot in common and often when I came up for air from my prolonged and intense viewing of pages we chatted. And our subjects freely drifted and swirled about in what caught our interest at that moment. Overall I think highly of John Ford’s film The Searchers for how it explores racism on the frontier. John Wayne is brilliant; I only like one other of his performances (She Wore A Yellow Ribbon). Manola had a different take on the film, and that was the portrayal of the Comanches wasn’t very good and that over the years Ford did not portray the American Indians in a positive way. I agree with Manola.

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One of the numerous DVD covers for the film.

Still, Manola’s view doesn’t diminish Wayne’s brutal portrayal of a man who lives on hate but who must find his own soul or murder his kin whom he spends the entire film searching for as she has been tainted living in captivity. For me the film works because of the murderous hatred that drives Wayne’s search but more importantly because an ingrained love for a child now an adult is strong enough to prevent murder. This story premise is strong and overrides the clichéd portrayal of the Comanches (but then the story is told through Wayne’s racist eyes). A strong-strong piece of storytelling.

If you haven’t seen it, you must.

Hanging out with Liza and Manola at the Braun

When I research I become a predator; that is I’m a hunter for information.

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Manola Madrid working on Kraft’s photocopy request on 18jun14 (this will easily take her deep into July). One thing I learned a long time ago, a researcher must “work smart.” That is, he/she must document what they see while ensuring that they request copies of what they can’t transcribe error-free during their allotted time at the archive. (photo © Louis Kraft and Manola Madrid 2014)

I’m searching for people and actions and I’m not locked into Tsistsista Chief Black Kettle or Northern Tsistsista warrior Roman Nose or Dog Man Chief Bull Bear (although anything that I can find about them that I don’t know is gold). Dog Man Chief Tall Bull is always on my wanted list but he is good at avoiding detection. There is a fifth player who has appeared in three of my books, Stone Forehead. But this search at the Braun (and it will continue at least three-fold in the future) I’m open to experiencing a people and lifeway that I don’t fully know. To date the Braun hasn’t provided much on High-back Wolf (at least not yet). His death, although I think I know how and why it happened, is shrouded in mystery (read: stories that don’t coincide).

Early on I became overwhelmed with letters from George E. Hyde, who wrote A Life of George Bent written from his letters (OU Press, 1968). I requested (I thought) one folder of letters, and that was all I expected. There were more. Four, five, six, more (?) … I didn’t count, and all with the same folder number but with a letter or number extension (Hyde pops up throughout Grinnell’s papers). The letters are a marvel. There are copies of Grinnell’s letters to Hyde (but few in comparison). Ladies and gents, in case you don’t know it Hyde worked as a writer-editor for Grinnell (not once, but at least twice over the years).

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The lk hardbound of the seventh printing of the OU Press reprint (1983) of Grinnell’s 1915 classic book.

Here’s my humble opinion on what I saw: George Hyde should have had a writing credit on Grinnell’s book The Fighting Cheyennes, and I believe he should have had the leading credit. How’s that for a piece of heresy? Why? How? I’m sorry, but this was not what I searched for (I took only a few notes from this for a book that I’ll never write unless I live to 100).

… Obviously Hyde functioned as a ghost writer (and he provided ranges in his negotiated fees). What follows are paraphrases from what I saw of Hyde’s work for Grinnell (and they did not come from what I saw in the original Hyde folder I viewed):

  • Hyde informed Grinnell that the 17 page chapter he provided was loaded with errors, all of which he corrected. He then rewrote the chapter and it grew to 23 pages.
  • Hyde submitted a chapter that he wrote from scratch upon Grinnell’s request (and this was not a lone instance).

I wonder how Hyde felt about with how Grinnell recognized his contribution to The Fighting Cheyennes: “Mr. George E. Hyde has verified most of the references and has given me the benefit of his careful study of the history of early travel on the plains.” That’s it. The quote is from: Reprint 1915. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, seventh printing, 1983, x.

If I were George Hyde, I wouldn’t have been pleased.

A question for thought: How many of the words in The Fighting Cheyennes are Hyde’s and not Grinnell’s?

I must state that I’m not belittling Grinnell. He was adventurous and went after what he considered important, and by so doing carved out a highly successful and extraordinary life and career.

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The lk copy of volume 1 of the hardcopy reprint of Grinnell’s 1923 two-volume classic (New York, Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1962), The Cheyenne Indians: Their history and ways of life. Of course Grinnell adds firepower to the misspelling of Ben Clark’s name (see “A surprise discovery”) Even though Grinnell received letters and invaluable help from the Indian wars scout and Cheyenne interpreter, he misspelled his name in the Preface (I’ve seen what I’m about quote in more recent paperbound versions of the book, in an Introduction). Grinnell wrote (p. xv), “In the South, Ben Clark helped me.” Three paragraphs later (xvi) he stated, “I owe much” to my interpreters, which included Clark, among others. … I can’t see Grinnell making this blatant spelling error; could it have made it into the printed book due to erroneous editorial insistence upon spelling Ben Clarke’s name without an “e”? Probably.

That first day I moved away from Mr. Hyde (he would pop up again and again, and sometimes in a totally surprising location). Manola was cool with this, making it clear that she would provide whatever I wanted to see.

And see I would do. And this would include early Cheyenne life and migration that I had not seen in book form. I would also see tidbits of key players that I didn’t know.

A surprise discovery

Ben Clark was Custer’s chief of scouts during the attack on Black Kettle’s Cheyenne village on the Washita River in Indian Territory on November 27, 1868. Ben Clark and George Armstrong Custer did not get along, but I have seen primary source information that Clark provided and it was key to me writing Custer and the Cheyenne for Upton and Sons, Publishers. Guess what? The primary source information was listed as Ben “Clark,” as has been every reference in book form that I have seen on Clark. Oops!!! Ben Clarke—that’s right “Clarke”—was a very literate man. He not only could write good sentences that are intelligent, his handwriting was extraordinary and is easy to read. I’ve seen letters that Ben Clarke wrote, and trust me, each letter was signed by Ben “Clarke” and the handwriting is consistent. As stated every book that I have seen, including Custer and the Cheyenne, has misspelled his last name. Talk about an uphill fight to correct the spelling of a man’s name. Shameful.

A tip

My opinion of and respect for George Hyde and his interest and knowledge of the Indian wars is large. Grinnell could not have hired a better writer-editor. What I saw blew me away. If someone wants to write about the Grinnell-Hyde relationship and throw in George Bent, the mixed-blood Cheyenne who moved between the races and who worked with both Hyde and Grinnell, you might have one hell of a story to tell. A story that focuses on the three men during the time that they tried to document Cheyenne history, culture, and lifeway.

BTW, Grinnell did not limit his research to the Cheyennes. He also spent a lot of time meeting, befriending, and interviewing Pawnees that lived through the tumultuous times dating from at least 1830 and through the reservation years. There were other tribes that he also had an interest in (the Blackfeet, Sioux, Apaches to name three), but to what extent I currently don’t know.

“Success or Failure?”

I had announced this upcoming blog with the words: “Success or Failure?” Bad boy Kraft for there is no success or failure research—all is successful. Reason: If I find something, great! If I don’t, I now know that where I’m searching is a dead end.

If you are researching Cheyennes, do yourself favor and take a long-hard look at the George Bird Grinnell Papers.

The Man Who Walks With His Toes Pointed Out … 

I used the word “Cheyenne” in the title of Custer and the Cheyenne as opposed to the proper word usage of “Cheyennes” as I’m not talking about a group of people but a single person. The title points to one person, a Cheyenne person.

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This Upton and Sons, Publishers’ book cover is here as it makes this article publicity for the book (published in 1995 and still in print), which in turn makes the next image, which is from the book also publicity. You’ll see the importance of this below.

From 1849 until his death in 1876 he was the keeper of the Cheyenne Medicine (or Sacred) Arrows. As such, he was probably the most powerful person on the central and southern plains, and when he traveled to the north, there too. He had been a warrior, but now he was a chief, a mystic, and a man of peace. The arrows had been given to The People (the Tsistsistas, or as most of you know them, the Cheyennes), and they gave the Tsistsistas power over the hunt and their enemies in war. Ma?heo?o, their one God, their All Father, using the Tsistsistas’ profit Sweet Medicine, provided a set of rules for the arrows that must always be followed at all times. Otherwise a darkness would cover The People and tragedy would haunt them.

What I have just told you is an absolute key for the Sand Creek book working. And let me tell you this is no small task to pull off.

In three of my previous books the keeper of the arrows has played an important part. In the Custer book he is that lone Cheyenne of the title. You can bet that he’ll again play a role in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway.

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I had seen a lot of Mr. Reedstrom’s illustrations over the years and I contacted him about this and other images for Custer and the Cheyenne. He was gracious and allowed me to use the requested images, and in this instance he allowed me to change the title of his artwork. I will forever be grateful to him for in 1995 and continuing to this day I have zero photos of Stone Forehead. If you know of any, please contact me. (BTW, magazine and book publishers I designed this book along with over 250 books and countless newsletters and ad material over the years.)

He was known as Stone Forehead or Rock Forehead or the Man Who Walks With His Toes Pointed Out. He was also known as Hohonai´viuhk´tanuh, Nan-ne-sa-tah, Nan-ne-sat-tah, and by the white man Medicine Arrow or Medicine Arrows (and by the way, I have found yet another Tsistsistas’ name for him).

One online review ripped the Wynkoop book for specifically listing Stone Forehead’s various names. That was this reviewer’s major peeve: Why waste paper space listing crap that no one gives a shit about (there goes my “GP” rating; I’m back up to “R.”). I’ll tell you why … I’ll tell you why. Recently a book dealing with the Cheyennes talks about two different people: Stone Forehead and Rock Forehead. The author had no clue that he was writing about the same person. DUH????

I need not write any more about this, other than to say, “Hey, online reviewer sharpen your teeth, for my next Indian wars book will give you plenty to bitch about.” I can see his words now: “This tragedy of a writer refuses to learn. Instead of reducing the number of names for a stupid Indian, he has increased them. Un-f—ing believable!”

And the search goes on …

Liza and Manola pulled what I needed to see. They figured out ways to keep me working when they realized that I didn’t take lunch but simply sat at a table outside the Braun and continued to work. Actually on an online interview that is long overdue, is long-winded, and at the moment unsatisfactory. Worse, it isn’t close to being completed. At the moment I’m working at cutting and cutting and cutting. I owe a letter to Wild West, as well as an article on Geronimo, and let’s not forget the malpractice novel, Sand Creek, or everything that must be  in place by September for a date with U.S. immigration (that might determine my continued residence in the U.S.).

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lk spent prime time with Rick West at the two-day event without really knowing much of his background (dummy me didn’t know who he was other than he played a prime role the creation of the Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.). I discovered an open, kind, and interested person. A good listener and someone I enjoyed getting to know, if only slightly. In case you don’t know, he is a full-blooded Southern Cheyenne peace chief. Also, in case you don’t know, he is president and CEO of the Autry National Center. I believe he assumed this position in December 2012. Earlier that year I had parted company with the technical world and didn’t want to approach him for fear that it might look like I was hustling him for a job. In 2011 I had approached him on a five-part documentary that would have been costly on Wynkoop and the Cheyennes. He wasn’t interested, even though I had key people lined up (including Indian wars historian Jerry Greene and Cheyenne Chief Gordon Yellowman; both spoke at the symposium).

Yes, I juggle projects. I must, for most projects take years to complete and no writer can disappear from the public for that long and expect his readers to return. That means articles must be written, talks (and this is now a sorry subject, and one from which I’ll not bend—when I go on the road I will receive my full salary and all expenses, as I had as recently as September 2012, or no talk). Look on the bright side; I have more time to write.

The days are busy, but on the plus side they keep me out of trouble.

Upcoming blogs

  • The song remembers when
  • Unscrupulous writer-historians and how they dupe their readers

— Louis Kraft

Sand Creek Massacre, The Discovery, Errol & Olivia and Ned Wynkoop Updates

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2014
Contact me at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog
As in the past, click on an image to expand it


Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway

The Sand Creek manuscript differs from my previous nonfiction work in that it features multiple leading players as opposed to one or two.

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lk in costume as Billy the Kid (sans the revolver and gun belt). A 1969 publicity photo taken by best pal Dennis Riley, who was then a photographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy. This photo session was the first of many over the years. Dennis and I became close during our high school years and this lasted through my four years of college, his college and military service, and long after. Although we don’t see each other often now, it is always like yesterday. We were constantly in trouble but he was always there for me and me for him. (photo © Louis Kraft 1969)

This includes my written plays in which I have performed. They date back to 1969 with Lew and Billy (Billy the Kid’s meeting with New Mexico Territorial Governor Lew Wallace); 1982′s The Fencing Lesson (a man and a woman cross sabers with deadly intent in a battle of the sexes); the Wynkoop one-man plays that have played in four states, and 2009′s Cheyenne Blood, which again featured two characters—Ned Wynkoop and the Cheyenne woman Mo-nahs-e-tah, who survived bloody attacks on Cheyenne villages (Sand Creek, 1864; and Washita, 1868). This is the phonetic spelling of her name.

Yes, Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is going to be a stretch.

How do I bring the leading players to life? How do I mix and connect the leading players’ story lines? And how do I create text that flows while remaining true to the facts and not putting the readers to sleep?

These are big questions, and they live with me every day.

And of course there are welcome interruptions

In 2001 Fray Angélico Chávez History Library (part of the New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe) curator Tomas Jaehn (pronounced “Yen”) began the process to create “The Louis Kraft Collection.” A number of years later a former girlfriend wanted to know why Tomas was interested in my work and associated documentation? I told her I didn’t know. “Didn’t you ask?” “No.” “Why not?” I told her that I had been associated with the library since the 1980s, Tomas was interested in my work and letters, and that was good enough for me.

Good enough for me, but not for her.

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I met Tomas Jaehn shortly after he replaced Orlando Romero at the New Mexico History Museum. Eventually the archival portion of the museum would be renamed the Chávez History Library. We hit it off immediately. There’s really nothing more to say here other than I’m lucky to know my good friend.

In 2006 I did a 10-day road trip to the Chávez to make an archive delivery and near the end of the trip talk about “Gatewood’s Administration of the White Mountain Indian Reservation” (during the 1880s Lt. Charles Gatewood, 6th U.S. Cavalry, commanded a troop of Apache scouts and administered the Apache reservation headquartered at Fort Apache, Arizona Territory). The former girlfriend flew to Albuquerque on July 2 and spent a few days in Santa Fe before flying home on July 5. She met Tomas when I made the delivery on the third.

I knew what was coming. “Why him?” she asked Tomas when he gave her a tour of where and how the collections were preserved. She insisted upon seeing the LK Collection. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but knew something would. As it turned out Tomas liked my body of work. More important he felt that since a good portion of my work dealt with Gatewood and the Apache wars and Ned Wynkoop and the Cheyennes that it was ideal for the Chávez, which houses the most complete Edward W. Wynkoop Collection.

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lk in front of the original entry to the NM History Museum (4jul2006) during the trip to Santa Fe to make a delivery to the archive. This entry still exists but is no longer used to enter the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library. Times have changed, and I think for the better. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

Before and since the creation of the archive Tomas has done everything to aid my writing and speaking efforts, as well as help me obtain documents and primary source images. Over the years he and his family have become good friends.

This month Tomas alerted me of a primary source Sand Creek battle participant document that the Chávez is considering purchasing from a private collection. I reviewed it for Tomas. During the course of our conversations he said I could use this to-date unused view of events in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway (if the library buys the document; and if not, he thought he could convince the document owner to allow me to use it). Fingers are crossed, as there is information worth sharing. I should know the final outcome soon. Unfortunately I can’t share any details at this time.

**********

George Bird Grinnell completed a massive amount of research over his life documenting American Indians (mostly Cheyennes and Pawnees, but other tribes also). His papers are at the Braun Research Library, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, California. The Grinnell Papers take 77 pages to list the folders and diaries. I have 10 days booked at the Braun in the future and have submitted the first round of documents that I must read. Twenty-seven folders and diaries, and this is just the beginning of what I will view before completing my Grinnell research for the Sand Creek manuscript. Earlier I had mined the Grinnell Papers for Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, but that research centered on Cheyennes that played roles in Wynkoop’s life. I have a fair amount of Grinnell’s writing in-house, but from past experience his research notes are where the gold will be found.

A glimpse into the LK creative world

Add my ongoing high wire act while juggling a life that is so crowded that at times it feels as if I’m being yanked in four directions at the same time.

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Pailin at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, Ca., on 15may14 for a screening of Errol Flynn’s last A-film (and his next to last film), the 1958 release of director John Huston’s The Roots of Heaven. I caught a great shot of her here for I was able to eliminate the crowd (the screening was co-sponsored by the French Consulate in LA). We joined my great friend and Flynn expert/writer Robert Florczak (unfortunately his gorgeous wife and my good friend Annette couldn’t join us due to work commitments), and Nam & Greg Maradei (I hate to repeat myself, but if not for Nam, I would have never met Pailin). Pailin is very aware of my Flynn/de Havilland writing, and this wasn’t my choice for her first complete Flynn film (she had caught the tail end of Adventures of Don Juan and San Antonio when she arrived home from work earlier than expected (and was glued to the TV screen), for I had been carefully plotting her initial introduction to Mr. Flynn’s screen persona. That said I couldn’t refuse seeing Roots on the big screen. At this time Pailin prefers adventures (and is certainly drawn to the American West), but the film has scope and didn’t bore her. BTW, I study film five nights a week. Reason: A writer can learn a lot about plot, character, and dialogue viewing good films. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Pailin’s application for a Green Card has been filed and moves forward. This means that I have begun preparing an extensive photo album that shows that she and I are who we claim. At the same time she and I need to prepare carefully for our immigration interviews.

Let’s not forget my writing projects: The Discovery, Errol & Olivia, Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, and that Geronimo article I owe Greg Lalire at Wild West. It now has firm deadline and publication dates. (I will make the deadline if it kills me; unless he takes aim at me first.) In addition to the article I need to complete a portrait of Geronimo that I promised. To date I’ve created two of Mr. G, but don’t like either. This means back to the drawing board. The Flynn projects (E&O + the second book on EF) are major pieces in my life. They must be completed and published. Like Wynkoop, Charlie Gatewood, and the Indians and their lives, Mr. Flynn has influenced my life. Actually EF, his film roles and life, have played a major role in my life. Certainly he opened the world of the Indian wars and racism to me.

As the subtitle of my website reads, “Follow the winding trail of a writer as he walks a solitary road …” implies I have spent a lot of time alone. At the same time I’ve never been lonely. Boy, talk about two sentences that state opposites. My friends are good and they are always with me even though most don’t live nearby.

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lk at the 2012 Western Heritage Wrangler Awards in OK City. An article of mine, “When Wynkoop was Sheriff,” won a Wrangler. A cool and fun three-day event. (photo © Ownbey Photography 2012)

For me writing is a fight and a struggle. This is a constant, and it is every day. If it weren’t a fight and a struggle why bother? Creativity and finding what is hopefully close to truth doesn’t happen with reading a few facts and then typing a few paragraphs. That’s just the beginning. What has been read may be wrong, which in turn makes my paragraphs wrong. The creativity results from years of not buying into “the easy” or worse “the set premise that must be confirmed at all costs,” but by maintaining an open mind and allowing the discovery of truth and often this isn’t what I expected to find. And this must dictate the story line. Writing, and I don’t care if it in nonfiction, fiction, or whatever, needs a number pieces to work together seamlessly. We’re talking facts, hard cold facts combined with prose that propels the story and doesn’t put the reader to sleep. Sometimes I’ll spend hours on a single paragraph, and if not satisfied more hours. Merging the facts with writing style takes me years to complete, and knowing this has made it mandatory for me to buy into my subjects 100 percent before I write a single word of the manuscript. If I don’t buy into my projects 100 percent, I would walk away from them long before they reached completion.

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The Santa Barbara, Ca., art was created in 1977 for my then theatrical manager, Richard Steel Reed. This was a commissioned work (for $300.00), but eventually the art would return to me. The sketch of Patric Spann, was one of many I created for Infonet in the late 1990s when I served as editor-in-chief, art director, designer, staff writer, and photographer for an engineering newsletter that I pitched and created, and which was distributed to Infonet’s offices in 68 countries. A cool job that I had one hell of a lot of fun doing (art © Louis Kraft 1977 & drawing © Louis Kraft 1997)

Over the years I have learned that there are additional ways to add value to the story and bring in extra cash. Money is a necessity. In the past I lived in a world that handed me bags of greenbacks. This allowed me to do whatever I pleased whenever I pleased. Extended research trips with stays in first-class hotels (when available) were the norm.

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These images represent my wanderlust without a money care. The top image is of me at the helm on the half deck of the pirate Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde II, a replica of the vessel he circumnavigated the globe in between 1577-1580. Originally the helm had a whipstaff; the wheel didn’t exist in Drake’s day. I’ve been aboard this vessel three times (its maiden voyage to San Francisco, Ca., in 1976, it’s voyage to Oxnard, Ca., in 1985, and in London, England, in 2009). I’m one with the sea and hope that I will live long enough to write about Drake. The black & white image was shot by my great friend George Carmichael, whom I met at UCLA during the early 1980s. Initially George and I butted horns in a fiction class, a clash that resulted in a 30 year friendship. George died at the age of 90 on April 2, 2014. I’m still struggling with his passing, as he was one of the major players in my life. (photos © Louis Kraft 2001 & 2009)

Mr. Shakespeare aptly said in his soliloquy about the phases of life:

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players … “

… and I have entered one of the later stages of life. This point of my life has changed my entire outlook and has made my focus not on money but on what is important to me.

I don’t write for companies anymore. I only write for me and the companies that contract my freelance writing. The select few publishing companies that I choose to write for will continue to pay me as long as I write cutting-edge prose that is hopefully close to truth, prose that moves and doesn’t put their readers to sleep, and of course don’t piss them off too much. As long as I can do this, my publishers (and they are top notch) will continue to print my words.

They may cringe at my opinions, and at some of my blogs (when they read them), and even worse when I commit heresy and submit my attempts at art and question designed layout that is considerably less than sparkling (I’m being kind here). Although rough around the edges (and I’m being kind to myself here), my art (no matter how juvenile or simplistic, or worse) has brought in money dating back to 1976. … In 1996, and while still an employee of the first software company that I wrote for, Infonet (now British Telecom Infonet), I watched the documentation department disappear (similar to the dreadful play, and worse films, Ten Little Indians). But as I wasn’t ready to become history I reinvented myself and created a web-based system that documented one of Infonet’s major tools for in-house consumption. At the same time I pitched a newsletter for Research & Development that would be distributed worldwide with me as editor-in-chief, art director and designer, staff writer (I already had design and newsletter experience in a hands-on and management capacity), photographer, and artist. This wasn’t ego-based, rather it was simply keeping me employed and earning the almighty buck. More important, I learned to go after what I wanted (or in this case what I needed). It bought me a couple of years, good years, until I decided to move over to the space industry.

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This image is a work in progress. It displays Cheyenne warriors talking before setting out to hunt. Although I may use it in a publication someday, I am almost 100 percent certain that it won’t see print in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. But then again, who knows? (art © Louis Kraft 2014)

This leads to creating art for publication, which can lead to multiple printings in various formats (and extra cash). Of course there is a downside. Sometimes snide critics frown upon a writer using art that he created in his written works. I guess they support the system of using often used images (which is unfortunately the case) one more time as opposed to adding something new to a publication. I’m big on collages too, for collages count as one image in book or magazine form. More important, they can visually support the text and add value to the printed work. Another no-no? Probably, but I’ve moved beyond nitpicks that are based upon a long in-place vision on how nonfiction should be presented.

Currently I’m considering using art for illustrating Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. When I restored and fine-tuned (with documented permission from the various archives) all the images and photos for my submission to OU Press for Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, my friend and editor Chuck Rankin told me that I didn’t need to do this. Moreover, he said that he wanted his writers to write. I ignored him. If he reads this blog I hope he’s sitting. That said, Chuck, at the moment the above is just a consideration for the image delivery. Will it happen? Probably not. Of course I’m a firm believer in never saying “never.”

When it comes to writing progress is king

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Celebrating Olivia de Havilland’s 93rd birthday in her Paris garden on July 3, 2009 (her BD is on July 1). She is a pure joy to know: Bright, funny, sexy, political, and oh-so caring. In this image she is looking at her birthday card. Two of her gifts are on the table (others included flowers, photos, and various writing). As every time I’ve been with her, this day and evening did not disappoint. (photo © Louis Kraft 2009)

Errol & Olivia
At the moment Errol & Olivia lags behind. For those of you interested in this book on Ms. Livvie and Errol, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter how far I may fall behind in word count, for whenever I write the fingers dance over the keys. This book has two goals: Bring Mr. Flynn and Ms. de Havilland to life while detailing their life and times between 1935 and 1941. The manuscript includes a prologue and an extensive epilogue. I am attempting a biographical approach that I’ve never seen before. Most of the writing about Flynn and de Havilland in book form (fully 60 percent) is repeated cliché, by that I mean that often the tomes merely repeat what has already been written. Truths and errors, and sometimes out-and-out lies, are repeated over and over again. Flynn and de Havilland were not, as unscrupulous writers have proclaimed, who you think they were (or in OdeH’s case, as she is). This book, and the following book on EF, will be the best two books I write. Patience is the key.

The Discovery
As the readers of my blogs know, I have partnered with Robert S. Goodman, MD, to produce a malpractice novel. The Discovery is Bob’s story idea and Bob has done a lot of work on the plot, including creating first class medical and legal detail. My job is to wordsmith and bring the characters and plot to life.

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Robert S. Goodman, MD, in his office on 30may2014. Bob & I had a good review/update meeting on May 28. We spoke on the phone on the 29th and per my request he was answering questions I had and reviewing the manuscript. I told I wanted additional photos of him and we agreed on the following day. On the 30th he had his review and answers ready for me. I have never partnered before, and I can’t tell you how happy that I have with Bob for I think that between us we can create a good novel. (photo © Robert S. Goodman & Louis Kraft 2014)

To do this I’m approaching it as if it were a thriller. That means that I must make the pages turn and hopefully prevent our readers from going to bed at night. For this type of writing to work, really work, and capture a reader’s imagination it must have a voice. To do this I’m using an approach I’ve never done before: I’m writing as I read and mark-up Bob’s text. Before each time I meet with Bob to discuss status, I read my current draft and edit and rewrite it. The early chapters have been rewritten twice and the latter chapters once to date. This process will continue as I work my way through Bob’s manuscript. On May 28 Bob and I met for the second time to discuss the manuscript’s current status and to ensure that we are in agreement on how I’m proceeding and re-imagining his characters and plot. Currently my draft of The Discovery is 236 pages, and there’s still a long ways to go before I have a completed first draft. But trust me for my goal is doable and will happen.

Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway
As stated above work is ongoing on Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, and the month of May has seen the best research and writing to date.

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OU Press Editor-in-Chief Chuck Rankin at the 2012 Western Heritage Wrangler awards in Oklahoma City. Chuck has always been there for me, and over the years he has had the patience to listen to me. He has taken the time to discuss matters in which we don’t agree and has given me the room to experiment and grow. Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek was the runner up this year. (photo © Ownbey Photography 2012)

And, like The Discovery, the story is character-driven, and as such I’m approaching the writing as much as possible as if the story is a thriller. Obviously the writing can’t be totally that of a thriller, but the goal is again to not put the readers to sleep. Although this has been in place for a while a good portion of the text doesn’t reflect this yet. The reason is simple. Facts must be in place and hopefully as close as possible to what actually happened. If facts must be deleted or fixed there is no point in rewriting them until they are as close to truth as I can make them.

Fingers are crossed that the upcoming time spent digging through the George Bird Grinnell Papers at the Braun Research Library will prove to be a goldmine for my Cheyenne research.

**********

I hope the above provides an update to my writing progress and provides at least a hint of my creative world. …  There is only one constant in my life and that is Pailin. She is my life, and as a good friend of mine named Vee in Massachusetts said, “Pailin is your muse.” She is, and as long as I do everything possible to ensure that our relationship thrives and grows my writing will continue to thrive in its “golden age.” Reality? I don’t know. Probable? Bet on it.

A publicity blurb

The August 2014 Wild West magazine will reach newsstands in early June.

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People often ask if I win all my battles with editors and art directors. The answer is, “No, I don’t.” I lost a big battle with the Wynkoop art, for the art director insisted that it could spread over two pages without affecting or destroying the reason why I created the painting. I fought to keep my art on one page but lost. I had the option to kill the article; yes, the anger directed at me was strong and hateful (and I had faced it in the past) but I didn’t want to do this and luckily production moved forward. I had given into what I knew would ruin the image I created, and unfortunately my previous 20+ years of design work proved correct. Egotistic incompetency would never survive in the software world (too much money is involved; for example, the cost of my documentation suite in the space world was $100 Gs). Wynkoop’s face is so close to the spine of the magazine that the curled brim of his hat is lost which destroys the effect of his dramatic gaze toward the Indian battle line. That’s life. There’s a big lesson here for me and believe me I will never forget it: The essence of the work is always more important than the money it can earn. Always. (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

Egotism aside, “Wynkoop’s Gamble to End War” is perhaps the best magazine article I’ve written. I pitched it to Greg Lalire in 2012, and he later pitched me on two short pieces for the August issue. I agreed as long as I could write what I wanted. “Must See, Must Read” is usually a plot summary of five films and five books. Greg agreed that I could deal with what the films and books meant to me. The other is ‘Wild West’s Top 10 List.” Usually this list is one column and less that a full top to bottom page. I counter pitched why Wynkoop was a major player during the 1860s Cheyenne wars, and he agreed to the idea. You know by now that I’m wordy. It’s two columns top to bottom of page and Greg needed to point to the Wynkoop/Gamble article to make it fit.

Upcoming blogs

  • Cheyenne research at the Braun Research Library: Success or failure?
  • The song remembers when
  • Unscrupulous writer-historians and how they dupe their readers

— Louis Kraft

Cheyenne High-back Wolf, Errol Flynn, Pailin, The Discovery + a Greg Lalire bonus

Cheyennes have been coming to life every morning for over a week.

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Greg Lalire has been a good friend of mine since the dawn of time. He’s charming, understanding, and a good fellow to know (not to mention that he is a great editor). Jennifer Berry of the Weider History staff took this photo. I like that Greg chose to display the Wild West cover with Red Cloud. (photo © Greg Lalire 2014)

I don’t have writers’ block. I never have writers block; it’s just a matter of finding the time and regulating it accordingly.

I’m certain good pal and great editor at Wild West Greg Lalire might have a few words to say about this (but I’m not going ask him to share). Probably something like, “Hey Kraft, get the lead out and do some real work, work that’s actually usable in a Weider History Group publication.” Everything I promise Greg (well almost everything) is a dollar short and I hate to say it but sometimes years late. At best I’m the little boy who cried “wolf” one time too many.

My great friend Glen Williams, upon seeing Greg’s (I assume) dust jacket portrait for Captured: From the Frontier Diary of Infant Danny Duly, said he looks like a gentleman. Greg does and is. He is a class act over and over again and I count myself lucky to know him.

For more on Mr. Lalire and his immediate future see below.

“Better late than never”

As Don Juan de Maraña once said (actually this is what Errol Flynn as Don Juan once said in Adventures of Don Juan, 1948): “You know what they say, ‘Better late then never.’” Of course Mr. Flynn’s Juan had just been caught again. But this time he was innocent and tried to protect the offending lady and avoid a duel.

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Errol Flynn as Juan de Maraña in the final duel (Adventures of Don Juan, 1948).

Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself. If you haven’t seen Flynn’s Don Juan, do yourself a favor and see it. I guarantee that it will be a very enjoyable two+ hours of your life.

Errol Flynn? Look at the above Don Juan image—that’s Flynn. Who was Flynn? He was a combination of a graceful athlete and a natural actor. He lived his characters long before Monty Clift, Jimmy Dean, and Marlon Brando claimed the limelight in the 1950s. Of course Flynn got pounded for this.

Again, look at the Flynn Don Juan image above. We’re talking sword fighting ladies and gents, and it isn’t easy to do. It’s strenuous. Sword fighting for the stage or screen is done without protective gear (other than perhaps knee or elbow pads). One slip, one misplay, one loss of concentration can mean the loss of an eye.

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This is a late-1940s German one-sheet for The Sea Hawk.

Sword fighting for screen or stage is by the numbers just like dance. You know what your partner is doing and they know what you are doing. If you mess up and don’t back off (or your partner messes up and doesn’t back off) someone is going to get hurt and blood—real blood—will flow. I’ve been there and done this and I guarantee that the blood is red and afterwards sparks will fly.

Stage combat for the screen or theater is different than competition dueling, which is boring to watch. I had front row seats at the 1984 Olympics in LA and was bored to death. Slash, thrust, parry, lunge, point. Ten seconds. Ready. Fight. Nine seconds and another point is scored. This is not dramatic.

To create a dramatic duel on film is a multi-talented grouping of people: a director, duel choreographer, director of photography, actors, stunt men, and most important an editor to piece the filmed cuts together. Without this combination you have nothing. And with it, you have the makings for an exciting duel. This doesn’t happen often. When you see a good duel, give credit to where credit is due.

A Flynn film list

A good pal of mine, Robert Florczak, is also writing about EF. Robert is big on lists. I’m not, but here’s a short list that I can live with. Not the end of the world, but let’s say this: “Kraft, pick five Errol Flynn films; everything else will be destroyed.” I can do this. In no order the five films are:

  • Adventures of Don Juan
  • They Died With Their Boots On
  • Gentleman Jim
  • The Sea Hawk
  • Uncertain Glory

All five films were released in the 1940s. You want to see Flynn, see these films. I can name a top 10 film list and neither  Captain Blood nor The Adventures of Robin Hood make the list. I don’t buy into the cliché, Flynn, Indian wars, or anything else, and never have. For this blog I had originally drafted, “Email me if you want to know my five films that round out my top 10 Flynn films.” That’s a cheat and I don’t cheat (here or in my life). My bottom half on my top ten follow (and they never make it to the top five):

  • Virginia City
  • Dodge City
  • Objective Burma
  • Four’s a Crowd
  • The Dawn Patrol

Two are westerns, one a comedy, and two war films. Three date to the 1930s and two to the 1940s. All five are great films and again they demonstrate Flynn’s acting ability. If you want to enjoy Errol Flynn’s performances on camera see these films. You will not be disappointed.

A typical day

Let’s just call this day or any day a typical day. Actually all my days are typical except for Thursdays for that is when my lady is off (our days together are different, but, alas, do include writing). I hate to say it but sometimes it feels like I write 15 hours per day seven days a week (on average). Typically I’m up between 4:00 and 5:00 AM and writing within 15 minutes. I have three hours and sometimes four hours before Pailin gets up.

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Although this image was taken on 15feb2014, which wasn’t a typical day, it certainly represents Pailin’s mornings. She is full of energy and constantly doing something. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Depending upon when she leaves for work, we have three hours and sometimes a little more together. She makes breakfast (everything from soup that is to die for to fish to fried rice w/veggies, tofu, and perhaps chicken or fish and it isn’t fried). We enjoy each other’s company and discuss the future. I do the dishes and make the day’s juice. We then do some chores (from yard work and the place is an overgrown jungle to cleaning before she prepares to leave. The time is easy, fun, special. The parting is tender and sometimes sad for way-too-many hours pass before I see her again.

The minute she’s out the door (and sometimes before) I’m back at the computer pounding keys (some of this is business and not manuscript related). Believe it or not I plot my days and know exactly what I’ll write on any given day. My work load is set: Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, Errol & Olivia, The Discovery, the lk blog, and magazine articles (yep Greg, I do think of you and the Weider History Group). I finish the morning with that day’s manuscript. Early afternoon is on the second project (let’s say E&O if Sand Creek had been first), the current blog, and then in late afternoon-early evening medical malpractice (believe it or not I have put in 10 straight hours on the novel more than once).

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The hours that Pailin and I spend together in the mornings are special. … A decade or so ago, I relaxed on a hotel bed and switched channels on the TV until I stumbled upon former president Bill Clinton preparing a sack lunch for wife Hillary. By the time he had the lunch ready and packed she had rushed outside to start the car. He grabbed the sack lunch and darted out the front door. His timing perfect he gave her the bagged food as she backed out of the driveway and sped off to work. He waved at the vanishing car. All in fun this short film is hilarious. I wish I knew the title so that I could see it a second time. … Off the top, this is close to how I view Pailin’s exits to work. I make sure she has what she needs for the day, help her carry everything outside, and wave as she drives off. Am I the spitting image of Bill Clinton in the long-lost short as my lady heads off to work? I doubt it. But if yes, I’m good with it. (photos © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

The Sand Creek manuscript has come to life; research (and there is still a ton to do!), constant thoughts, and actual writing. BTW, just because something is on paper it doesn’t mean that it won’t be changed, corrected, or perhaps deleted in the future. As the great NY Yankees baseball catcher Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” (BTW, I’ve seen this quote many times and it changes; I’m not sure if this is the correct Berra quote.) Translation: “The writing ain’t done until it’s published (and it could still need more work).” I hate to say this, but my editors and their publishing teams cringe as my projects move into production for they don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth, and honestly don’t want to hear it. I firmly believe that the writer should take part in every step—EVERY STEP—of the creative and production cycle.

I once knew a Custer expert who now walks with angels (at least he claimed to be a Custer expert, and I’m guessing that he now walks with angels). His ego was 10 feet wide, and he came off as a blowhard. I never read his books (a short one was perhaps 250,000 words), most of which were privately printed (and you can guess why). One day I asked him if he felt his books could be improved if he edited and wrote them a second time. “Why?” he responded. “There’re perfect.”

Really? If given the chance I would rewrite everything I’ve written for none of it is perfect.

 Walking with Tsistsistas

I walk with the Sand Creek story on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean that I write every day. That said, research and thinking are constant. The main problem that I’ve had is how to make the early chapters flow forward in an active voice. Complicating the problem is that in early Cheyenne history the people are nameless. The reason is simple: Early contact with whites often had no one present capable of translating the Tsistsistas’ (Cheyenne) language to English and back. The encounters happened and whites had a hint of who the Indians were but had no idea of individual names or the people who traded with them.

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This is Ivan Hankla, a Tsistsista (Southern Cheyenne) that I met for the first time on April 30, 2004, at Fort Larned, Ks. We hit it off immediately and I spent a good part of the Fort Larned Old Guard two or three-day convention hanging out with him and James Coverdale (Kiowa) in Ivan’s tipi or on the boardwalk or parade ground at the post. You are looking at the interior of Ivan’s tipi, which is a good view of how Cheyennes decorated their lodges. He (and James) kindly allowed me to take a number of photos of them on May 1, 2004. On the first I talked about Custer, Stone Forehead, and the Sweetwater village that Custer boldly rode into (March 1869). I asked Ivan and James if they were going to go to the talk, and they told me that they weren’t registered with the convention. I told them to forget that, that they were my guests. I invited them to my talk and they attended it in full native regalia. Ivan would be perfect to assist my Sand Creek manuscript but unfortunately he died a few years back. Our relationship, although mostly long distance, was always like yesterday when we were together. I miss him. (Photo © Louis Kraft 2004)

As Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is dependent upon people actions (mainly Cheyenne and white) the early chapters have presented a problem to me as I’ve chosen to begin the manuscript with early Cheyenne life, development, and migration. Certainly I’ve been writing long enough that I should be capable of composing active prose. This isn’t the problem. In the past my books have all been people driven. Sand Creek will also be people driven, but this won’t begin until chapter 3, and a lot has happened to the Cheyennes by then. Let me put this another way, they had created a tribal structure and lifeway long before the white man entered their lives and began recording encounters.

Actually, the Cheyennes are a merging of two tribes: Tsistsistas (which is the word for Cheyennes) and the Suhtai. Their merging gave “The People,” which “Tsistsistas” means, two sacred objects that have played  major roles in their religion, lifeway, and future. The sacred arrows (“Maahótse,” but often written as “Mahuts,” which is a phonetic spelling of how the word is pronounced) and the buffalo hat (Is’siwun).

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Kiowa James Coverdale w/lk at the Washita Battlefield NHS on 6dec2008 (photo © Leroy Livesay 2008)

Sweet Medicine, the Tsistsista culture hero who spent time with Maheo, the Cheyennes’ one God, and received Maahótse, while Red Tassel, the Suhtai culture hero, received Is’siwun. There is no room here to discuss and explain Maahótse and Is’siwun but they play (and played) significant roles in Tsistsista lives (past and present). I must understand and present what Maahótse and Is’siwun mean to the Tsistsistas for Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway to live.

I walk with this on a daily basis. Once I have a draft that is readable dealing with this portion of Cheyenne history I hope that Cheyennes Chief Gordon Yellowman, Dr. Henrietta Mann, and Minoma Littlehawk might be open to reviewing the subject matter, along with my pal the great Indian wars and Cheyenne historian John Monnett.

Let me raise a red flag here. How often have you been confronted by a zealot who tells you that you are stumbling around in darkness if you don’t see God as they do? I’m talking about myself, Catholicism, and Christianity here. Why? What makes one person’s beliefs absolute truth when another person’s beliefs, which they may also totally believe, false? Why can’t people accept religious beliefs and other religions that differ from theirs as also valid? Why do people hate and kill in the name of religion? And worse, why do the victors in war do everything possible to destroy a conquered people’s lifeway, language, religion, and family? Are their lives and beliefs that much of a threat?

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Cheyennes Chief Gordon Yellowman (left) and Harvey Pratt at the Washita Battlefield NHS event on 11nov2011 at the overlook to precious land, sacred land. Upon my arrival before the event began Harvey made a point of meeting me, and we hit it off. On this day Harvey spoke about what it was like to be a Cheyenne warrior during the 1860s and today on foreign battlefields. I met Gordon when he and Cheyenne chief Lawrence Hart blessed the Pawnee Fork Tsistsista-Dog Man-Lakota village in Kansas in 1999. Since then we have spoken at several programs together. Upon seeing me he said, “Your name is all over the place.” The Wynkoop book had just been published. Sounded like he was sick of this, and I didn’t ask what he meant. Gordon is one of the four principle chiefs of the Cheyennes. He blessed the land this day, and delivered a moving talk on what it was like to be a Cheyenne chief at the symposium the next day. (photo © Louis Kraft 2011)

Racism dominated the 19th century and American expansion. It’s cliché now, but many Americans (during the conquest of land from sea to shining sea and right on through a good portion of the 20th century) view and viewed people of different races, colors, and cultures as less than human. Reason: The foreign cultures hadn’t developed at the pace or in the same manner as white cultures and thus were inferior. Unfortunately that view still lives, and I for one have faced it and have been accused of being a traitor to my race.

What bullshit!!!

The Cheyennes created an extraordinary culture. They had everything in place, and it was based upon strong religious and moral beliefs and laws. Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway isn’t going to be this type of book, so I’ll only be able to hint at the above. That said, by the late 1820s when Cheyennes no longer existed as faceless people, the manuscript becomes people based. People actions (Indian, white, and mixed-blood) will dominate the flow of the manuscript.

High-back Wolf is first to walk out of the mists of obscurity

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George Catlin painted High-back Wolf about 1832. The little I know about High-backed Wolf has grabbed my interest, and as he is, at the moment, the first major Cheyenne in the Sand Creek book I want to make him as prominent as possible.

Simply put, High-back Wolf (and he had numerous names including Né-hee-ó-ee-wóo-tis, Wolf on the Hill, and High-backed Wolf) stepped out of the dark mist of obscurity and became the first Cheyenne chief to register big time with whites. Until the 1820s the handful of Cheyenne-white contact had no one present that could translate words. This changed when he not only met with whites, but impressed them. More important, translators matched his actions with his name. Not many years later artist George Catlin painted portraits of him and his wife. Sadly High-back Wolf exited the big picture soon after Catlin captured his image for all time. Enter a second High-backed Wolf, but he, too, died early. Was he related to the first High-back Wolf? His brother? I don’t know, but I will find out.

High-back Wolf had a wife, and someone actually took the time to learn it. George Catlin also painted her in 1832. At the moment I don’t know the ages of High-back Wolf or She Who Bathes Her Knees in 1832 but they don’t look old. I wonder if I’ll be able to learn anything about her other than she was his wife. Fingers are crossed.

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George Catlin painted She Who Bathes Her Knees portrait in 1832.

Something else has caught my interest. One reference to High-back Wolf questioned if he sired Black Kettle. Whoa! I don’t know, but at the moment I doubt it. Reason: We’re cutting it too close on what I consider the range of Black Kettle’s birth years. Need to dig in my Grinnell notes, for I certainly searched for Black Kettle when researching Wynkoop Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek. However, High-back Wolf’s name doesn’t ring a bell, although I believe that I had seen a father for Make-tava-tah (as Wynkoop called Black Kettle) listed but didn’t use it in the Wynkoop book. If not, hopefully my upcoming visit to the Braun History Library of the Southwest Museum (Autry National Center) will provide an answer. The archive houses a wealth of information that I have not yet seen. High-back Wolf has become a priority. Need to check, but think I’ve got somewhere between 9 and 11 days of appointments set.

Good times are coming for I’ll be back in my element doing research. There is nothing better than mining primary documentation and then trying to figure out what happened and who did what. Francis Drake, John Ward (an Englishman who became a Tunisian pirate), High-back Wolf, Kit Carson, Black Kettle, Tall Bull, Geronimo, Ned Wynkoop, George Bent, Charles Gatewood, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, lk. I’ve listed people whose lives have reached across over five centuries. And these lives are linked, at least in my brain.

My hope is that I can learn enough about High-back Wolf and write enough about him to justify using the magnificent Catlin portrait of him in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. Time will tell.

The Discovery

I have 175 pages in this medical malpractice novel and progress on The Discovery has been decent. But sometimes I’m ripping out my hair and banging my head against a wall. I’ve partnered on the novel. This includes edit, fix, rewrite (read totally rewrite), fix some more, edit more, research and fix (that’s right, it’s a period piece and the 101 freeway in LA didn’t exist in 1952, and on and on and or with technical errors), write-write-write, and get the book published. It will happen.

These are harsh words and they aren’t meant to be, for
Dr. Robert Goodman has done a masterful job of bringing
a unique form of medical malpractice to life. He’s not a trained writer
and so he falls into a swamp 
of pitfalls that exist to trap writers.

You should see my markups on my drafts and the verbal
and written abuse I sling at my words.

Luckily my initial training in writing had been writing dialogue, and there is so much you can do with dialogue to move a plot forward. Let me say this in another way. Telling is not good in fiction or nonfiction. Writers must constantly strive to move their plots forward in an active manner. Dialogue, if used properly, it is a great way to move a plot forward (it is also a great way to develop and show character).

For me writing began a lifetime ago on that flatland that surrounds the Texas college town of Lubbock. I spent a summer working there in 1976. After work (let’s say 11:00 PM or thereabouts) I, other actors, and sometimes waitresses, waiters, and college theater groupies went out to restaurants, dance clubs, and clubs with entertainment. Lubbock thrived. One night a country singer told his audience: “Lubbock is the only place on earth where you can be up to your ass in mud and still get sand in your eye.” A true statement. Later that evening an enraged boyfriend stepped onto the stage and physically threatened the singer as his eyes had lingered on his girlfriend once too often. Luckily nothing happened. … Have you ever performed on stage? Do you know what the lights do to your eyes? You can’t see anything other than perhaps the first row or two, and then only if it is an intimate venue.

Lubbock, Texas, turned me into a writer

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Texas offered leading roles in class productions. It also offered an introduction to life that I hadn’t realized existed. Texas proved to be a good learning experience over the years. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

It goes something like this (and this is the short version).

Hell hath no fury like a woman [fill in the blank(s)], and this was certainly true during that 1976 summer I spent in Texas. She was a petite blonde actress in the Theater Department of Texas Tech in Lubbock and she had her eyes on me (I have no images of this lady). Parties at the Hayloft Dinner Theater and elsewhere and I was a fish waiting to be hooked. One problem, this lady wasn’t for me. Racial prejudice that made the racial prejudice I had seen in Texas and Oklahoma in 1970 look like child’s play, a major drug bust that I viewed, in-college theater war, other nasty events, and of course the lady ignored made TV soap operas of the day seem lightweight.

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The play was Eat Your Heart Out, and it was the 2nd play of my visit to Texas that summer. It dealt with an actor struggling to survive in LA. Talk about type casting. Certainly sex entered the picture and the director did everything he could to remove my clothes, and that included swinging imaginary swords. The actress in this scene is Robin LaValley. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

Nevertheless I had become a marked man. Bottom line: I was lucky to get out of Texas with my scalp in place. After returning home to LA I wrote a screenplay about what I had seen. My then theatrical agency had a literary branch and I submitted the script. Agent Ed Menerth called and said, “This is terrible, but let’s talk.” We did and for the next seven years he represented my screenplays. Race became one of the key themes throughout the dozen or more scripts I wrote including a Persian woman surviving in Los Angeles at the time of the fall of the Shah of Iran, the Englishman turned Barbary pirate John Ward in Tunis, a German U-boat commander’s love for a Jewish woman during WWII, and so on). Menerth reviewed and marked the copy up and I rewrote and rewrote until the scripts became sellable. Bob Sabaroff, one of the key players in the Michael Parks’ Then Came Bronson TV series of 1969-70, also liked the scripts and he, too, reviewed and marked up and I again and again rewrote. It was a great training ground and I learned. This led to selling magazine articles, talks, books, and writing for the software industry. Hell I even sold biographical sketches to an encyclopedia.

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lk in Eat Your Heart Out. I actually played this character twice (the second in LA in 1977). I liked playing Charley. The director who came from LA (as did the leading four actors in each play) focused on the sexual image and pushed it as far as he could. Looking back I have no problem with his view of the play. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

Over the years I have traveled a long way from the unforgettable racism that I had witnessed up close and center in Texas twice and elsewhere including SoCal. It had been seared into my very being. I realized that, even though I had seen racism from the white POV while in school and had backed off from it without making a stand, that now this was not and could never again be acceptable in my life. Some of this you have perhaps seen in earlier blogs, and for this I apologize. However, it is important to me. I have time and again been called a racist as some of the women in my life have not been white. Yes, believe it or not, some whites don’t like this and have let me know. Again, forgive me for repeating myself, but this hurts for these accusations have come from people I’ve considered friends and from people I love or have loved. This accusation is asinine and makes me ill. Enough said about racism for this blog.

Sorry about the lengthy sidetrack, but for me the timing hit the mark.

Introducing Robert Goodman, MD

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Bob Goodman at home. Bob has a great house, and he is in a room that is a handful of steps below the entry to his house. This room opens to his swimming pool and has a very livable bar. Bob is sitting at a table that we use when we talk business. When I pulled out my camera he asked: “What are you doing?” “I’m going to take a picture of you.” He agreed, while making it clear he wanted me to shoot a good portrait of him at his office. I agreed, and this will happen soon. … I can’t say enough good things about Bob, other than say I wish you also knew him. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

Bob has played a major part in my life for some 25 years as my heart specialist, internist, and GP. Actually if it weren’t for him over a decade ago I’d be long dancing with angels. We’ve enjoyed knowing each other over the years, and a few years back I provided him with editorial help on his writing (various projects).

One, a medical malpractice novel had an exceptional story line. In November 2013 Bob asked me to partner with him. I have. Bob’s subject matter is extraordinary, and because of this we have agreed not to share it until pre-publication publicity begins. My apologies, but this is just how it is. That said, I will be able to talk about manuscript progression and I will.

All I can say at this point in time is that the story is character driven and although The Discovery is fictional the facts are based upon reality. If Bob and I complete our work properly we will deliver a story that captures our readers’ interest and will not let go until the last page.

A tall order but we’re working hard to make this happen.

Greg Lalire and Captured

I’ve hinted that Greg Lalire and I are friends. We are. Over what seems like a lifetime he has done everything possible to get my words in print, and has done everything to publicize a writer named lk. I’m forever grateful. But this section isn’t based upon Greg’s kindness to me, it’s based upon me knowing him, a special person even though our relationship is mostly long distance.

capturedFront_wsFive Star Publishing releases Greg’s novel, Captured: From the Frontier Diary of Infant Danny Duly, in July 2014. The June 2014 Wild West magazine features a full-page ad next to the table of contents. A perfect placement and appealing layout by the Weider History Group design staff. To scan the ad would have required mangling the magazine or pulling it apart and I didn’t want to do that. Captured features historical characters Chief Red Cloud, Col. Henry Carrington, and Capt. William Fetterman. The ad’s blurb (I assume from the dust jacket flap) states:

“Libbie Duly, pregnant and with her husband confined to the local insane asylum, leaves Chicago in 1866 for booming Virginia City, Montana Territory. On the Oregon Trail she gives birth to the remarkable Danny Duly, who already began narrating this emigrant tale from the womb. Danny has the rare ability to see with his mind’s eye and record events he hopes to later put down on paper. Along the dangerous Bozeman Trail, Libbie and son fall into the hands of Sioux warrior Wolf Who Don’t Dance, and the emigrant story becomes a captivating captivity narrative.”

Captured will be published on July 16, 2014. It is currently available for pre-order on amazon.com with a price guarantee.

Am looking forward to reading it Greg, and so is my good pal Glen Williams (to whom I shared your Captured publicity).


Weider History Group is a class company, and Eric W. has done an extraordinary job of obtaining and retaining class editorial and design staff. This is an understatement. Eric, you and everyone you designate to make hiring decisions know what you are doing. Your staff from A to Z with “Lalire” being first in the list is extraordinary. My hope is that your entire selection of historical publications expand and grow in ways that guarantee their continued existence throughout my, Greg’s, and your lifetimes. You and your entire staff produce product that needs to live forever.

I’m honored to play a small role in Weider History Group’s product line.

— Louis Kraft

Classy lady Patrice Wymore Flynn dies + a Sand Creek “thank you”

Other than a Sand Creek “thank you,” this blog isn’t as originally drafted. Everything else found its way to the cutting room floor (but hopefully some of it will appear in a future blog).

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Patrice Wymore and Errol Flynn met when they worked on Rocky Mountain, which was shot on location in New Mexico. This color image is a publicity photo that had nothing to do with the plot of the film. (lk collection)

The changes weren’t planned, but good friend and Flynn expert David DeWitt contacted me early Sunday morning, March 23. The previous afternoon (March 22) Patrice Wymore Flynn, a classy lady, died at her home outside of Port Antonio, the capital of Portland Parish, one of the 14 parishes of the Caribbean country of Jamaica.

I tend to remain quiet around death as I don’t deal with it well.

I have twice spoken from the heart about people that played huge roles in my life. Although a wreck inside I had found what it took to channel the inward anger and pain into joyful capsules of how I perceived their lives. No matter how distraught I had been behind closed doors I had the capability to push a button and for a flash in time share the essence of my love for them. The day or two or five allotted to prepare physically drained me. At the same time it allowed me to search within myself and walk with my father and then my sister in ways I had never done during their lifetimes.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Flynn once and I have good memories of that evening (see below).

A Sand Creek thank you + lk ramble

In January last I advertised that I needed information about mixed blood Cheyenne Charley Bent on this blog and on the Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) Facebook page. The response wasn’t great, but then I had made clear what information I already had in-house as I didn’t want anyone searching for something that I already had. Of course, as I stated in the last blog in February, Charley sporadically drifted in and out of the spotlight, and as he died way-too-young at 19 the pickings are slim.

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Upon my request Dee Cordry sent me his portrait for the blog. Dee kindly shared important information about Charley Bent. He has been researching and writing a biography the mixed-blood Cheyenne Edmund Guerrier, a person who played an important role in Cheyenne-white relations during the 1860s and for many years afterwards. (photo © Dee Cordry)

Dee Cordry saw the request for information on Charley that I had posted on the OIW FB page and responded with information (along with bonus information) that I didn’t know. Actually I had no idea it even existed and would have never searched for it. Everything Dee supplied me is first class and will appear in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway.

Dee’s contributions are already in the manuscript. Thanks Dee! I didn’t know Dee until he took the time to contact me. Regardless if you know or don’t know Dee, you need to know one thing. He is working on a biography of the mixed-blood Cheyenne Edmund Guerrier. For some reason, Mr. Guerrier walked between the races without much to do about his actions. I’m not sure why, for he certainly lived an exciting life (and from what little I know about him he led a good life). Perhaps he has for the most part been ignored because he had mixed blood and didn’t publicize his contributions to the Cheyennes and the whites. I know one thing; Ned Wynkoop thought the world of him and employed him. I’m thrilled that Dee is writing about Mr. Guerrier, for we need to know more about people who dared to move between two worlds during a time of extreme prejudice.

Edmund Guerrier played a key role during the 1860s and long afterward. I don’t know what Dee has research wise, but if you know of information that could benefit him in his effort, I hope you’ll consider contacting him. When Dee’s book is published, I’ll be first in line to buy a copy for Guerrier is a man worth knowing.

Another person, actually a good friend who constantly strives to help my writing projects, Glen Williams also contributed to my Charley Bent research. And like Dee, he also sent additional Sand Creek information that proved of great value to me. Thank you my friend. Glen not only finds information, he questions what I write and offers suggestions that always improve the work.

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Glen Williams and lk at Mission San Xavier del Bac (west of Tucson, Arizona) on February 12, 2012. This was one of Glen’s and my road trips. Unlike Dee, Glen has been a friend I’ve known for years. We met back in the dark ages when we both worked at Infonet (now British Telecom Infonet), and we hit it off. We became friends, and it didn’t hurt that Glen has Cheyenne blood and has a lot of interest in the Indian wars. As the years have passed our friendship has grown. He’s there for me at all times; health, research, writing, older brother, and everything else that matters to me. Glen’s input to my George Bent question and the Sand Creek manuscript has been massive, and for this alone I’ll forever be grateful. (art © Louis Kraft 2012)

Others contacted me and I’m grateful for your time and what you shared. Thank you.

I will in the future again raise a question about a person or two that I hope to learn more about for Sand Creek and Tragic End of a Lifeway. Nothing else is forthcoming until I decide whom I need more information about.


When I write about someone I don’t reject or ignore information that might show a dark side. Actually I want to see this, for this is what brings the person to life. No one is all good or all bad (although there are exceptions on the bad side). I have known people closely who thought that everything they did was good. If ever I write about them they may be shocked, or if they are no longer with us they might turn over in their graves for some of their actions register well below the godly bar of excellence.

I don’t like thieves (I actually caught one at Tujunga House once), and rapists and cold-blooded murderers deserve the harshest punishment possible.

Terrible things happen in war, and it is a combustion of many things from fright to fear to hate (often religious or racial) to simply survival. Certainly there is a bloodlust that grabs hold but this can be attached to survival. … It’s him or me. Rape isn’t acceptable in life, and it isn’t acceptable in war. Many of us living in the U.S. are horrified over how people are treated while held captive by a foreign enemy, and this includes their executions (from my POV this has at times been little more than murder). Different cultures are just as horrified by what happens to their people captured by the U.S. It’s a two-way street of horror. At times innocent people (children, women, and men) that are often non-combatants suffer inhuman indignities to their lives and bodies.

Ungodly things happen in daily life and in war. Carrying these thoughts to the Sand Creek manuscript, how do I show what happened in a readable and page-turning manner that is true to what happened while getting my editors to accept the prose? What happened during the lead-up to the attack at Sand Creek, the attack at Sand Creek, and the aftermath is compelling, and at no time should it put you to sleep. For this to happen, the people must become real flesh and blood.

If you know me and my writing, you know that I’m a firm believer that action and not words define people. It is what they do and not what they say that defines them.

Patrice Wymore Flynn dies

Patrice Wymore Flynn died at her home in Jamaica on March 22, 2014, never recovering from a fall in 2013. That’s it. I don’t write obituaries. …

I do want to say a few things. First, life is precious and it is fleeting. Our lives change all the time. People enter it and people exit it. Some, good friends, remain constant regardless if we saw them yesterday or two years ago. It is always like last week no matter how much time has passed. Some partings hurt worse than hell and it takes forever to get beyond what once was never to be again. Sometimes this loss never fades away but is there forever on a daily basis. What can one do? I’ve been told, more than once, to let it go that it will naturally heal itself or it won’t. That’s a harsh verdict.

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Publicity photo of Errol Flynn and Patrice Wymore from the 1950 film Rocky Mountain (lk collection)

When Errol Flynn died, he and Pat had been long separated but not divorced. Flynn … By the way you shouldn’t quote this paragraph. It is hastily written. If there are errors or omissions they aren’t intentional. Again nothing should be quoted as fact (even though Nora’s and Pat’s comments appeared as newspaper copy; that’s right, I don’t trust the press.) other than Deidre Flynn’s quote about her father. … Flynn prepared a second will, but it wasn’t signed or filed properly. I believe the first will was dated1954 and it dictated the division of property. Flynn’s girlfriend (Beverly Addland) wasn’t mentioned in the 1954 will (but how could she be; he hadn’t met her yet), and Deidre and Rory (Flynn’s daughters by second wife Nora Eddington, who remained his friend until the end of his life) received $10,000.00 each and Sean (his son by Lili Damita) received $5,000.00. Pat received the bulk of the estate that was estimated between $20,000.00 to well over $100,000.00 (but less than $1,000,000.00).

EastJamaicaMap_lk_2014_wsThis included extensive property holdings in Jamaica, including a 2,000-acre cattle ranch and coconut plantation near the city of Port Antonio (purchased during their marriage; if true, was it community property?), the Titchfield Hotel in Port Antonio), and Navy Island (just off the coast of Port Antonio; it is no longer a Flynn property). And we can’t forget Flynn’s beloved Zaca (which has been fully restored and I believe sails throughout the Mediterranean Sea during summer months). The press quoted Nora the week after Errol’s death as saying: “He said he was leaving everything to be divided equally among his four children and that the property in Jamaica was to be left to Deidre and Rory.” (Errol had a third daughter with Pat, Arnella Roma Flynn, born Christmas day 1953.) If true, Nora’s statement underlines what might be considered corruptness and a total disregard for a person’s final wishes within the U.S. court system (but then again, it may not). After Errol Flynn’s death lawyers used legalese and a technicality (albeit a major one) to screw Deidre and Rory and reject Errol’s final will. And what about Beverly? That same October 1959 the press quoted Pat as saying: “I intend to see that the will is executed according to Errol’s wishes.” And why not? He had left her, and now his official will left the estate to her. Apparently the 1954 will held up. I’m certain that this wasn’t Mr. Flynn’s intention. He loved his children and at the time of his death he loved Beverly. Deidre has said on camera: “Life at home with my father was like anybody else’s life at home. … He was very down to earth and he was very much a parent. … He was right there, and—and nobody ever writes about that.” Believe me, from everything that I have seen, Errol Flynn was a good father and he loved his kids.

It is not my job to judge. Anyone. My sister, my ex-wife, my daughter, or anyone I write about.

No judging but I am going to talk about Pat

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DVD cover for Robert Kennedy and His Times.

I don’t know anything personally about Errol’s four children even though I worked with Deidre for three or four months back in the early 1980s on a miniseries called Robert Kennedy and His Times, which had an exceptional cast including Brad Davis (RFK), Veronica Cartwright (Ethel Kennedy), G.D. Spradlin (Lyndon Johnson), Cliff de Young (JFK), and on and on. When we did night shooting on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Ca., her younger sister, Rory, who was then a photographer on I think a TV show (can’t remember the title) visited the set once or twice and I met her. At this time another production company was shooting the travesty supposedly based upon Flynn’s great autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, and they had approached Deidre to be a technical adviser. She apparently had seen the script and was outraged. Even though she had a tee-shirt the production company gave her she turned them down. Deidre never knew I had an interest in her father as I felt she needed her privacy and I had no intention of invading it.

Back to Pat. I’d like to repeat a portion of what Gareth Davis wrote about her in an article that The Gleaner, a Jamaican publication, published on March 24th:

Pat “took up residence in Jamaica following the death of her husband [Flynn] and was an active community member. She was inspirational in paving the way for the Boston Jerk Festival* to return to the community of Boston [Jamaica], which is renowned internationally for it authentic jerked pork. …

* lk comment: I believe the writer is talking about the Portland Jerk Festival, which takes place in the parish of Portland, Jamaica, where Pat spent most of her life. Last year the event happened on July 7, 2013. See the event’s Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/originsofjerk.

“Paul ‘Bigga’ Young, chairman of the festival committee, in bemoaning the loss of Flynn, described her as a warm and friendly person who, despite her age [Pat was 87 at the time of her death], was full of energy and fire.

“‘She was someone that could easily be approached for just about anything,’* commented Young. ‘What I particularly liked about her is [was?] that she doesn’t [sic? "didn't"?] beat around the bush. …’”

*lk comment: Other than appearing on the terrific 2005 documentary, The Adventures of Errol Flynn, and sharing some of her time with Flynn, I think she for the most part cut off most writers and other people that wanted to know about her life with Errol.

patriceWymoreFlynn_recent_b&w_border_wsYes, after the Jamaican property became hers, Mrs. Errol Flynn chose to remain in the country Errol fell in love with in 1946 when he, his crew, and his 118 foot schooner, Zaca, survived a Caribbean hurricane and limped into Kingston harbor, Jamaica. Flynn met Pat and fell in love with her while they filmed Rocky Mountain in New Mexico in 1950. Why Warners didn’t spend the money to shoot this film in color is beyond me, for the red rock locations are glorious. Flynn found himself drawn to her, wooed her, and won her hand in marriage (they married in Nice, France, on October 23, 1950).

In June 2006 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Olivia de Havilland. At the time of the announcement I was recovering from sinus cancer surgery in Arcadia, Ca., and had no computer access. People came out of the woodwork demanding that I get them invitations. One fellow actually sounded like a woman scorned. When I finally saw email piled upon email tearing into me for not replying I was floored. When I replied that I wouldn’t ask OdeH for them as I had no intention of asking for myself and wouldn’t share her address as I had promised her I wouldn’t the attacks (and one in particular) became lethal. I may forgive but I’ll never forget. I doubt that this story in full will ever see print (and it is long).

The punch line: Olivia invited me to her shindig.

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lk & Patrice Wymore Flynn at OdeH’s event in Beverly Hills, Ca., on the evening of June 15, 2006. She sipped wine and nibbled at the buffet. I watched her for a minute or so. When I realized that she was alone I joined her. I’d have to dig out my notes of the evening to provide details of where our conversation headed. We didn’t discuss Errol Flynn. I had heard that she usually refused to open up to her life and time with Mr. Flynn and had no intention of ending our time together quickly. Actually I had hoped to open the door to eventually visiting her in Jamaica. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

The Academy knows how to throw an event/party. The food was scrumptious and the booze flowed. I really had little interest in the guests, other than Olivia who made her appearance after everyone mingled and ate and enjoyed each other’s company. …

Pat held a glass of wine as she tasted food. I had already eaten, as had my then girlfriend, who mingled and shot photos. I watched Pat. At this moment in time she was alone, as was I.

I’m shy (those of you who know me probably don’t believe this, but ’tis true). I walked up to Pat and began talking. Chit-chat about the event. We got along. As Mr. Young stated in The Gleaner, Pat was open and friendly. The conversation was easy and I enjoyed myself. Actually, I teased her for I didn’t let on that I knew anything about Errol Flynn or that I knew who she was. After some 10 or 15 minutes Pat said: “You don’t know who I am.”

I smiled. “Yes I do, Mrs. Flynn.”

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lk (left), Lincoln Hurst, and Patrice Wymore Flynn at OdeH’s event at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Ca., on June 15, 2006. I had known Lincoln long distance for years. He had been preparing a book on Flynn that he supposedly had completed years back but now supposedly polished the manuscript. Unfortunately he died almost two and a half years later on November 11, 2008, and had never delivered an acceptable manuscript to his publisher. At this late date it doesn’t appear as if his manuscript will ever see print. Why? Some people talk the talk without walking the walk. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

She liked that I knew who she was and the conversation expanded. Lincoln Hurst, a theological professor from the University of California, Davis, joined us. He had become a friend of Deidre’s and had visited Jamaica with her in the hope of spending time with Pat. From what I’ve heard Pat kept him at a distance and didn’t allow him to visit her on her property. True? I don’t know. The conversation with Pat continued with Lincoln making us a threesome, and it remained easy.

Olivia appeared and I moved off. Later, inside the room where OdeH’s invitees spent time with her I again had the pleasure to chat and joke with Pat Wymore Flynn. She had become an unanticipated pleasure, if only for a short amount of time. Pat easily became the highlight of the evening for me.

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Patrice Wymore Flynn, Deidre Flynn (center), and lk in the room with OdeH while she spent time with her guests. There’s a story here regarding me getting into the room (but it’s for another place, probably Errol & Olivia). Pat was charming and fun to be around. Deidre was as I remembered her when we worked together in the 1980s; curt and standoffish, but that’s her (at least around me) and I’m good with her being her. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

I had hoped that our short time together might lead to a visit to Jamaica (trust me; I tried). It didn’t and I never saw her again. A shame, and you can forget Mr. Flynn and what I had hoped to learn, for I had met a classy lady who oozed charm and fun. I would have been satisfied to just hang out with her and enjoy her company. Alas, it never happened and now, never will.

Life is precious. It doesn’t matter if we know someone for a few hours or a lifetime. They can be here today and gone tomorrow.

— Louis Kraft

Errol Flynn, Sand Creek, lk background + Pailin & Louis Kraft marry

Ladies and gents this blog has been a long time coming. My apologies. As often, I am going to focus on subjects that are important to me. Hopefully the text moves forward at a good clip and doesn’t put you to sleep. And as always, I’ve arranged this blog to my liking; meaning that I’ve saved the most important—and all the sections are important to me—for last.

If you want to see an image enlarged click on it. To return to the blog click the left arrow (on Macs; not sure about PCs).

The pirate Francis Drake, the soldier George Armstrong Custer, and guess who?

The pirate Francis Drake and the soldier George Armstrong Custer entered my life near the beginning. By the 5th grade I had discovered the English pirate the Spaniards called “El Draque,” the dragon.

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El Draque times 2

Drake’s derring-do in his private war against the Spanish empire terrorized not only coastal Spain but all of King Philip II’s cities in the New World. But, unlike pirates before and after him, he wasn’t a blood-thirsty murderer. Instead of butchering captives during a time of extreme religious prejudice he never harbored a bloodlust and acted with compassion. At times he even wined and dined prisoners on plates of crystal while musicians performed. Drake’s genius was twofold: He boldly plotted strikes against Spain’s empire that were implausible. and he could improvise as needed. While still in elementary school I saw Errol Flynn’s The Sea Hawk (1940) for the first time, and even though a youngster I realized that Flynn played a fictitious Drake (BTW the term “privateer” wouldn’t come into existence until a century after Drake’s initial voyages to the Caribbean). Soon after seeing Flynn’s Captain Geoffrey Thorpe in The Sea Hawk I saw him play George Armstrong Custer in They Died With Their Boots On (1941), which introduced me to the Civil War hero who would eventually become the superstar of the Indian wars on the American Plains.

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The quintessential Custer times 2

Like Drake, Custer was a warrior who also improvised. And also like Drake he wasn’t a butcher, and certainly not of Cheyennes, Arapahos, or Sioux. Unlike many Civil War heroes his fame didn’t vanish, perhaps because of his writing for he didn’t engage American Indians in combat often. He came alive when negotiating with Indian leaders. Flynn’s portrayal of Custer led me to read Custer’s My Life on the Plains, which initiated a quest that is alive to this day.

Two Errol Flynn films, both of which were fiction based upon fact that had been disguised. At the moment I don’t know why Drake’s name was dropped. Perhaps it was because Warner Bros. owned the rights to Rafael Sabatini’s great novel, The Sea Hawk, which dealt with an Englishman sold into slavery but who became a Barbary pirate, or because this film was created around Flynn’s screen persona—which I buy into. Regardless, they only retained the title, or in Custer’s case the production changed real historic personages and events into fiction to prevent lawsuit. After seeing these two films (and over the years many times), my future had been ordained even though I wouldn’t realize this until decades later. These two Flynn films have influenced my entire life. Swords, acting, race relations, and eventually my writing. Whew. What can I say, other than I’ve enjoyed many years that mean something to me.

Catching up with Errol Flynn & Olivia de Havilland

Much of late has dealt with Sand Creek, hints of a medical malpractice novel (a positive report will soon follow), and the ongoing spectacle of my life (yawn). I’m certain that many of you feel that I’ve deserted Mr. Flynn and Ms de Havilland. If you think this, you don’t know lk.

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You are looking at the magazine cover for American Classic Screen (January-February 1979),  a now long dead publication. Pretty cool artwork of Mr. Flynn & Ms. de Havilland from their classic film Captain Blood (1935). Of all the periodicals I’ve written for, the Weider History Group, which publishes MHQ (Military History Quarterly), American History, and Wild West, among many other class magazines, is the only company I give a hoot about. Eric Weider’s publications are first class. Period! The best writers write for the Weider History Group, and he hires the best editors, designers, and so on to ensure that his magazines are cutting edge and the best (by far) on the market. Eric and I have never met. You might call us long-distance friends even though we probably live within 25 miles of each other. Will we meet? I would hope so. In reality, probably not. One of his editors, Greg Lalire (Wild West) is a good friend. A few years back I had pitched Eric (who I’m linked with on FB) on publishing a film history magazine. He had the kindness to personally respond why this wasn’t possible (and believe me, his reason hit the mark dead center). Mr. Weider’s organization is the only company I’ll consider working for in the future. Will I someday? Don’t hold your breath.

I never desert my major writing projects. EF & OdeH are a major portion of my past, present, and future writing life. They’ll be front and center until I die. All I can say about my writing projects is “patience.” I have enough information to get my book on EF and OdeH published but this isn’t good enough. My book on Errol & Olivia is going to be different. For this to happen has and will continue to take time. My good-good friend Tom McNulty, author of the best Flynn bio, Errol Flynn: The Life and Career, is helping me with research I’ve not seen. He will eventually be one of my key reviewers of the manuscript. With luck Tom and his beautiful wife Jan will someday be Pailin and my guests. Good-good friend Robert Florczak, who with pretty wife Annette, lives minutes from Tujunga House. Robert is working on an extraordinary book on Flynn. Our relative closeness and friendship allows us to have fun while also sharing and learning from each other’s knowledge and interpretations. There is a third person who is also a wonderland of knowledge and great understanding of Mr. Flynn, good friend David DeWitt. Unfortunately David lives next to the other ocean that touches the U.S. in South Carolina.

deWitt_floczak_mcNulty_feb2014For the record Errol & Olivia research is ongoing, as is the quest to understand what the facts provide. Sometimes this is difficult for at times facts can be misleading. That said, when something pops out of nowhere but is invaluable to the manuscript it gets inserted immediately. I have learned from the past that a golden nugget can be forgotten (for outlines don’t leave room for treasures discovered during the quest for knowledge as often one didn’t know they existed until found).

I’ve already talked about how some of Errol & Olivia will be handled in earlier blogs, and without going into detail here you should know that the goal is to dig behind the realities of Errol’s and Livvie’s eight films. Of the eight films seven have a rich history that slowly developed from historical fact, fiction based upon historical fact, and in one case a major Broadway play. I’ve seen hints that the eighth film also saw birth from another historical figure, but alas, to date I haven’t been able to track this person down and confirm that he did indeed do what has been implied.

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This is the cover for the February 2008 issue of American History. At the time, it was the magazine’s best selling issue (I have no idea if this is still true). This issue included my cover story: “Custer: The Truth Behind the Silver Screen Myth.” Although about Custer, the leading player in the story was Errol Flynn (it was the third of four articles that have been published about Flynn’s portrayal of Custer by lk). In my humble opinion, this is the best article I have had published to date. Certainly it is important to me (for multiple reasons).

In the near future I must ramp up my search for this shadowy figure. … Warners had a knack for jettisoning a good portion of initial research. And as Flynn’s career soared, some of this (along with what I said above) is directly related to his film persona. EF’s onscreen presence had taken the film-adoring public by storm in December 1935, and Warners realized this immediately. After the massive success of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), a film that is still thought of his greatest role (although I disagree with this totally), almost every film that came after until the aftermath of the farce of a rape trial and even greater farce of Flynn avoiding serving his adopted country during WWII, his roles and films were constructed to give the public what it wanted and expected when the lights dimmed in the cinema houses. A notable exception at the end of this timeframe was Flynn’s Uncertain Glory (1944)*, which gave him a dark side (although still heroic and charming) and one of his best performances.

* Robert Florczak, already mentioned above, likes lists. I’m not too big on them although I recently agreed to create several lists for the August 2014 issue of Wild West magazine. Robert has coaxed me into a list on Elvis Presley songs and wants three more (a task I haven’t completed yet as I take lists seriously). Of course he asked me to list my top 10 Flynn films. Although tough, this list has always been in place regardless if sometimes the 9th and 10th films sometimes are replaced. Uncertain Glory is always on my list.

In contrast to Flynn’s meteoric rise to super stardom, Olivia’s rise to stardom followed a different path than his.

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lk with Olivia de Havilland in her garden in Paris, France, on July 3, 2009. This lady is so vibrant and alive, so funny and yet political and serious. All I can say is that I’ve been lucky that she has allowed me to enter her life, if only briefly, over the years. (photo © Louis Kraft 2009)

And like EF (who knew his value to Warner Bros., and who took an active part in forming the roles he played) she also had a firm grasp of what she wanted in her career. If you talk with her, you’ll easily realize how much she craved good roles, but for her—as her box office appeal couldn’t match Mr. Flynn’s—she didn’t have the ear of Jack Warner, nor the courage to confront Jack when unhappy. Where Flynn’s massive popularity guaranteed that Warner and executive producer Hal Wallis had to listen to him, Olivia’s main thrust to garner better roles (and this included not playing EF’s lady in waiting—although years after EF’s death she realized how great the films they did together were) was to reject a role and go on suspension or have massive fits). That said, she did have guts. When Jack Warner refused to allow her to try out for Gone With The Wind, she went behind his back to land the role of Melanie (for which she won her first Oscar nomination). Playing a leading role and being recognized for her performance didn’t win her kudos with Jack W.; instead she was punished. By the time Olivia’s seven year contract ended and she said goodbye, she was told that it hadn’t as she still owed Warner’s time for when she was on suspension (that is time without pay). What followed took 100 times more guts than it took to sneak behind Warner’s back and lobby for the part of Melanie.

And Sand Creek also creeps forward …

Regarding the ongoing struggle to understand the events that led up to the tragedy at Sand Creek, the battle, and the aftermath, my key person is John Monnett, a good friend and a great writer and Indian wars historian.

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I took this photo of John Monnett at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, Denver Tech Center, Greenwood Village, Co., after we had both spoken at the Order of the Indian Wars Denver Symposium at the National Guard Base in Centennial on 20apr2013. As I was in Colorado for 11 days we were able to spend time together (thanks to our mutual friend Layton Hooper, who functioned as my personal driver in snow-blanketed Colorado).

John has always helped me, and has opened his home to Pailin and myself as he aids my quest to understand the people and events that resulted in the tragic event on November 29, 1864. This year we’ll visit him and Colorado (fingers are crossed, and if not then in 2015 if John’s invite remains open), track what I still need to see (including some John Chivington in Boulder), and lk will again take a close look at a land that I’ve always loved but have shied away from due to temperatures that send shivers up my spine. My guess is that Pailin will fall in love with Colorado.

BTW John has recently asked me not to turn my back on nonfiction (something that is possible if I no longer have access to Indian wars or golden age of cinema research). His request was heartfelt and hit the mark. Back in the Dark Ages I thought I’d write novels, but that changed to nonfiction (a decision I’ve never questioned or shied from). I love nonfiction writing, I love the challenge to make it page-turning, and I love the search for the reality of what happened. If I walk away, a good part of me will die. That said, I must hustle enough money to stay the course (and continue to enjoy 70+ degree weather right here in the USA, and preferably in Los Angeles).

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I created this dark image from a photo I took in 1999 to represent the Sand Creek village (this photo wasn’t taken at Sand Creek, so what you see here is fiction as related to 1864). That said, the attack on the Cheyenne-Arapaho villages at Sand Creek is a dark time in history, a time that should never be forgotten. I’ve used this image in other social media and a great friend of mine, Eric Niderost (a prolific historian) objected. Think others might have also objected. Not to worry for this image will never see the light of day with lk words that see print (a true statement at the moment, and hopefully always). That said, at times, I must keep dark images in my head as I move forward. For only then can I (hopefully) create text that is light and moves. What good is a book, or any writing, if it puts people to sleep? The goal is to grab people’s interest, their soul, their guts, and keep them reading. (photo & art © Louis Kraft 1999 & 2013)

Regardless of the progress on Sand Creek, the research is ongoing, and my mind constantly swirls as I try to figure out how to mix and match people (major, minor, and bit players) as they enter the story, advance the story, and drift off to perhaps return or not). The key is the flow. It has to be smooth and yet natural, and it cannot bounce all over the place in time. I’m a firm believer that action is character. We are what we do and not what we say. Anyone can tell a good tale, but if he doesn’t live his tale it isn’t anything but fantasy, fiction, or lies. When a person says one thing but does the opposite, it is the doing that is his history. Just read all the slop that is stuffed down our throats on a daily basis. Publicity, regardless if a press agent leaks it or I spout it is what it is. And that is nothing unless the publicist’s client did what was released or I did what I said I would. If not, and 100 years (more or less) from today it finds its way into a book it is an error only to be perpetrated again and again by lazy historians who don’t do their research but instead create (or repeat history that never happened) as they pull from a handful of secondary sources while blindly printing what they have read without knowing it was indeed based upon fact.

For example and regarding Ned Wynkoop: How many times have you read that Wynkoop attended Silas Soule’s funeral in Denver in 1865?

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This image of Ned Wynkoop has been published four times, the last being in summer 2013. I’m not a great artist. If you talk with real artists, they’ll tell you my attempts suck. Still I continue. Why? Sometimes I get lucky and I earn a few bucks that in turn puts food on the table. I need say no more. Actually I do, for my writing is little better than my art. Talk to real writers and historians and they’ll enlighten you. Why? ‘Tis simple. I do what I want, and I learn as I go. More important, I care about my subjects … and this is what drives me. (Wynkoop art © Louis Kraft 2007)

Fact: Wynkoop didn’t attend Soule’s funeral in Denver, but was at Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory. I’m certain that this error will continue to be repeated. Or how about this quote about George Bent: “George Bent remembered as a child in the 1830s seeing Indian herds grazing for fifty miles along the river [the Arkansas] near Bent’s Fort.” This quote is on page 87 of Elliott West’s award-winning Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado (University Press of Kansas, 1998). The note cites page 37 in George E. Hyde’s Life of George Bent: Written From His Letters (OU Press, 1968). So far, so good.

Dust jacket for the Wynkoop book.

However, the sentence referenced in Hyde’s work states: “When I was a boy I saw the Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches camped on the Arkansas near my father’s fort, and their pony herds were grazing along the river for fifty miles.” Still so far, so good. But—there’s always that damned “but”—BUT George B. was born on July 7, 1843. How many “so-called” historians will repeat this error ad nauseam as undisputed fact?

Writer/historians make errors and sometimes they aren’t caught until unfortunately in print.* It happens. Although my publishers have said they’d fix errors to date they haven’t. I have corrected my errors in magazine and book form when dealing with the same subject in subsequent books and will continue to do so whenever possible.

* Other errors can enter the text when in copyediting. For example, on page 182 (chapter 12, “Hancock’s War”) in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011), while accompanying Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock’s 1867 expedition in force to meet or engage the Cheyennes (and other tribes) reporter Henry Stanley wrote the following about Wynkoop: “The Colonel is an Indian agent par excellence, of whom a slight description will not suffice to convey any just idea. He is a Plains man, and the best handler of Indians that has been on the Arkansas. The Indians have every confidence in his integrity, and respect him for the ‘heap fight’ that he is known to be capable of making.” In the copyedit the editor changed this quote from representing Wynkoop to George Armstrong Custer. When I complained loudly, she said, “Didn’t Custer put up a ‘heap fight.’” (the quote is a paraphrase). “No!!! We’re talking about Wynkoop and not Custer!” I’m not picking on this lady or copyeditors. Errors are made, and they aren’t on purpose. This copyeditor and all of my copyeditors have been absolutely first class (except one; no comments) and I have been damned lucky to have had them work on my words.

An lk attempt to improve research

The last blog dealt with Charley Bent and my quest to learn more about him for Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. …

The attempt to gain unknown information has been less than successful.* That said, I did learn key information about Charley that I didn’t know. I do intend to again attempt presenting another person on the lk Blog and OIW FB page in the hope that it will generate response. Most likely George Shoup (but not guaranteed at the moment), a lieutenant in the First Colorado Cavalry who would become colonel and commanding officer of the Third Colorado Cavalry. I’m good with his military record, but I’m hoping that people can fill me in with his personal life. I want to know the man. Fingers are crossed. This will happen in the not-too-distant future. … and if not Shoup next, someone else I want to know more about. Perhaps Dog Men leaders Bull Bear and Tall Bull.

* Less than successful is not the best way to describe my attempt to learn more about Charley, for the simple reason that he is shrouded in mystery and only surfaces here and there during his all-too-brief life.

Who I am

The subtitle of the lk website/blog is “Follow the winding trail of a writer as he walks a solitary road …” I chose those words carefully as they have a lot of meaning for me. I’m not looking for sympathy. Actually I’ve had a great life, it’s just been lonely at times. My choice.

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lk as Ned Wynkoop in 2012, when I represented him when he was inducted into the Santa Fe Trail Hall of Fame. In this image I’m leaning against the recently reconstructed building that Wynkoop rented while U.S. Indian agent at Fort Larned, Ks. I don’t know how well I’d do in a gunfight. That said, if confronted by a swordsman, I’d walk away untouched with blood on my blade. (photo by friend George Elmore; image © Louis Kraft 2012)

I chose the path I’d follow, and I’ve refused to compromise. That said, I’ve had no problem with changing my course whenever it was good for me. Again, I made the decisions and have flat out refused to back off from my goals. This has cost me. I can’t give you, or won’t give you, what ruined an early marriage, but I have had two long term relationships that I had hoped would be forever. They weren’t. This can’t be placed on the two lady’s shoulders for it is a two way street. It didn’t matter for two outside forces did everything possible to doom those relationships.The first lady didn’t try but the second did, only to give up. The outside forces gave no mercy and did everything possible to destroy these relationships.

After the last relationship had ended in 2011 I decided that nothing and no one would again interfere. This is my fucking life and no one else’s.

The year 2011 had two endings to one relationship. Looking back both are hysterical. And I’m dying to tell the stories. The words are going to jump off the page when I tell those stories. But alas, you’ll have to wait for the Memoir, and then only if I have the guts to tell the truth. Yeah, lk wants to keep on walking this earth in one piece. Read between the lines.

I’m good with the lonely trail, and let me tell you I’m perfectly fine when I’m all alone. I’m at peace with the world and with my brain totally alive.

The good die young 

They say that the good die young. My brother, my sister, my mother, Dale Schuler (my dad’s partner, best friend, and a father and good friend to me) died young.

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This is my father, Louis J. Kraft Sr., at my former Thousand Oaks, California, home on August 17, 1991. The house was a half block walk into the Santa Monica Mountains. If you click on the image to enlarge it you’ll partially see the pool in his sunglasses. When young, and after my parents purchased their first and only California home, they ensured I had swimming lessons and had a pool created for me. Throughout the years swimming has been a major portion of my life (and is by far my favorite physical activity). From my mother’s death forward we were forever good in each other’s presence. However, beginning before my mother’s early death, he had become the key player in my life (even though I didn’t know it) and this dated back to my college years. (photo © Louis J. Kraft, Jr. 1991)

There have been others. …

For the first 33 years of my life my father and I hated each other while loving each other. I should have been a man, as my father wanted, but I refused to walk that road. We were at constant odds. He knocked me out once. A year or two later, a fat woman ran me and my motorcycle over while running. She knocked me cold and left me hanging from a wire fence. My father was right there for me.

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The TD6 is a powerful machine and doesn’t take prisoners.

Later yet, while working for my father’s construction company I kicked down the framework for a swimming pool that I had just set when he was digging the hole too quickly with an International Harvester TD6 tractor and making it difficult to drive in the stakes accurately. But the next day it was as if it never happened. That was our life. I couldn’t be what he wanted and I had every intention of stuffing down his throat that I’d do what I damned well pleased. We didn’t connect until his wife/my mother went into the hospital for the last time on December 26, 1979. She died 10 days later. During those 10 days we spent every waking minute together and those 10 days gave us a relationship that would last for the last 19 years of his life.

Oh, we still fought, but the next day it was always as if nothing had happened. This man gave me my life, for he instilled in me the courage to do as my life called and to hell with everything else. This has been with me while he lived, it was certainly present when he died, and it is with me ’til this day.

 A day I’ll never forget

February 14, 1999, was one long day of hell.

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Christmas 1988 at the lk Encino, Ca., home. Kneeling from left: lk, Louis Sr.; standing from left: Linda Kraft (my sister), Robin Fried (my brother’s longtime girlfriend), and brother Lee Kraft. Good Times, and although my father and I didn’t know it at the time, my brother Lee had a little over a year to live. By this time my father was long retired and had nothing to do with his former company, BKS Excavating. (photo © Louis Kraft 1988)

I had been taking care of my father for years, and during this time I had seen our relationship blossom. Oh we continued to argue and fight, but we had become close-knit buddies. I spent between three, four, and sometimes five days/evenings (after writing for Infonet in El Segundo beginning at 6:00 AM) with him every week. We ate together (either before or after I did whatever tasks he needed completed; I hated the grocery shopping for that was usually three or four stores and easily cost two+ hours).

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Marissa Kraft and her grandfather at Tujunga House on Father’s Day 1995. Good times for both Marissa and her grandfather as she stayed with him before school and after school until I could pick her up. During summers she spent the entire day with him. (photo Louis Kraft Jr. 1995)

But they were good times as we relaxed and ate (most often food he cooked, but sometimes takeout) and enjoyed each other’s company. As the days and years passed he became weaker and weaker. His time walking the earth neared an end. About two weeks before his death, when he became too weak to move about, he entered a convalescent home, and here his health declined quickly. I saw him daily and our talks continued. At this time he told me: “If I had known that I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” A day before his death he said to me: “I love you” as I left. This was the first time he had ever said this to me.

The above words were the last words my father said to me, for the next day (a Sunday and Valentine’s Day) when my Japanese lady (Cindy Tengan) and I arrived to see him he was no longer in his room.

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Cindy Tengan, a product manager at Infonet (now British Telecom Infonet) in El Segundo, Ca., on Cinco de Mayo 1995. We had met in 1994 when I still wrote for Infonet. Although she had made no attempt to befriend my daughter, she was a good person. My father liked her, and I’m lucky to have known her.

Instead he was half on and half off a bed in a room with other people on beds. Worse, he had pulled a cord that fed him air (the first time he had one) from his nose and it dangled from his bed. I went to the desk and asked for a nurse. After she got him back on the bed with the air in place I demanded to see someone in authority. “Keep my father alive!” The cold answer was “Show us proof you can demand this.” Cindy and I raced to my father’s house and tore it apart. We couldn’t find his living trust. Did he give me a copy? I didn’t think so. We raced to my house and tore it apart. No trust. During this time I had placed 10-15 calls to my sister’s home and cell phones and left messages with no return calls.

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This image was taken at my sister’s house in Long Beach, Ca. (April 1995). Although our relationship ended, Cindy Tengan was always there for me, … and without her I would have died 11 years ago. (photo © Louis Kraft 1995)

Cindy and I sped back to the convalescent home. My father wasn’t in the room. “Where is he?” “He’s been moved to the Northridge Hospital” (this is where my brother had been helicoptered after dying on a bank below the 101 freeway in March 1990). My daughter and her mother arrived at the home and in two cars we drove to the hospital. They took us to a room (memories of my brother Lee, for in 1990 the first thing out of my mouth after being taken to a room with my father was, “Is my brother alive?”) I asked the fatal question: “Is my father alive?” “Yes.” “Keep him alive.” “Do you have authority?” “Yes.” I didn’t have the trust that gave me authority, but they didn’t ask to see proof.

We sat in the room and waited for updates. About an hour passed; we were told that my father had died. After my daughter and I spent time with my father/her grandfather for the last time Cindy and I returned to my house. At the midnight hour, and after over 30 phone calls and messages to my sister before she returned the call (as it turned out, she had taken the trust without telling me). I had told her two days before, on Friday, that our father probably wouldn’t live through the weekend. She said: “I didn’t believe you.”

A June 2013 day

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Nam Maradei and Pailin Subanna at Tujunga House on June 15, 2013. This image, by lk, doesn’t do Nam justice as she is knock-out gorgeous (due to me kneeling and shooting up at her). Pailin is looking at me and her eyes captured my soul. (photo © Louis Kraft 2013).

I”m not going to repeat here what has been previously published on this blog other than restating that on June 15, 2013, a lady agreed to attend a dinner party at Tujunga House. On that day she walked into my world and touched me as no other person has ever done before.

I haven’t just written about culture and race, I have lived it. I love people the world over—past and present. This has been the theme in my writing, over and over again, along with that key word, “peace.” The writing focus has been on the American Indian wars. To repeat myself, this came about simply: Errol Flynn’s portrayal as George Armstrong Custer in They Died With Their Boots On and George Armstrong Custer’s My Life on the Plains (1874) introduced me to the 1860s Indian wars. Digging brought me to race relations, which has been important to me my entire adult life. And I have walked the life I talk, and because of this have been accused of being prejudiced against white women. This accusation is laughable. A pretty woman is a pretty woman and I don’t give a bleep what her race is.

When Pailin Subanna appeared at my door on that June 15 day holding orchards I sucked in air and damned myself for not having a camera in my hand. A coworker of hers (Nam) invited and then brought her to a dinner party at Tujunga House. As it was to be a dinner party for five, two couples and me, she had insisted upon bringing a guest for me. Neither she nor I, nor the lady (Pailin) could have guessed where this chance afternoon and evening would lead. Not in a 1000 years.

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This lady named Pailin was for me, and I asked her out (a first for me since 2011). On June 20, 2013, I picked her up and we drove to Santa Monica, Ca., and walked along the cliffs above the beach. We later descended the stairs to the beach, walked along the Pacific, enjoyed the pier, and each other at a Thai restaurant in the Santa Monica open mall. She was fragile but full of life. She later told me she had been told that she needed to open her heart. Although unsaid, so did I. This sunny June day was perhaps one of the most important days in my life, for it directly led to my future, a future of two people who dared to open their hearts. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

Pailin was quiet and yet composed and firm while dealing with things that perhaps should not have been said but were (not by me). I liked her beauty, but more I liked her poise and strength of character. Before she left that night I knew I wanted to see her again; I wanted her to enter my life.

Pailin had been hurt, and much worse than me. And she has also walked a lonely road. She was frail, vulnerable, and yet alive as no one I’ve ever encountered. She opened her heart and this led to us becoming friends, best friends, and falling in love.

We wanted to marry, and I thought it would be in May 2014. Pailin wanted February 14. I told her about my father’s death on that day in 1999 while adding that I was good with Valentine’s Day, as it could be a special day in my father’s life and ours. We looked into February 14, and lo and behold it would become an important day in my life for the second time in 2014, for on this oh-so important day in my life Pailin became my wife.

THE Day 2014

I hadn’t slept in two nights (and neither had Pailin). Some health reasons, but also our nervousness over the coming day (and there are things here I cannot say—not now and perhaps never for if I do it will unleash a maelstrom of evil; don’t ask for this is something that I can’t talk about).

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We struggled to maneuver through LA traffic. Luckily there was a parking spot on La Brea north of Wilshire and I took it, which probably saved another 10 minutes of drive time as we didn’t need to look for parking once we looped around the Albertson Chapel. We had time after Pailin dressed and before the ceremony, and while friends snapped photos I chatted away in Pailin’s ear. (Photo by Robert Florzcak; image © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

The day arrived and we were up; a glorious sunny day and already warm. Although tired, we were happy. Nervous but happy and longing for our new lives together. She cooked soup for breakfast. “Alloy mark!” “Delicious!” I’m a good cook, but when compared to her I’m not. Pailin’s soups are to die for. If I don’t have my soup to start the day … GRRRR!!!

We still had a lot to do to prepare for the day, and we crammed. We were due at the chapel at 12:30 and although we hoped to leave at 11:45 we didn’t leave until 12:10 PM. We had made the drive to Wilshire Blvd. on the Miracle Mile in 20 minutes, and I had later made the trip in 30 minutes. On this day it took 50 minutes. I don’t get nervous, but on this drive I was a wreck. I totally forgot about taking the 170 freeway to the 101. Surface streets, including me making wrong choices on the streets added time to the trek. The Vette flew on the 101 freeway when we reached it, but from there on it was bumper-to-bumper no-move traffic. Highland Ave. to Franklin to La Brea to Wilshire Blvd. in LA should have been a cup of tea. Fat chance. Try 25 minutes for a few miles (and often taking two lights to get through an intersection). During the drive, Sabrina, Pailin’s niece, called a number of times asking where we were. It’s too bad that Pailin wasn’t driving, for I would have said, “We’ve called it off.” Yep, I do have a sick sense of humor (for this certainly wasn’t what I wanted).

When we finally arrived at the Albertson Chapel 20 minutes late, almost everyone was there and wondering if indeed we had called it off.

No way! That said, I was having trouble walking. Surrounded by friends and knowing that my future was less than an hour away, I relaxed and began to enjoy this precious time. We were allowed 20 guests. Most were Pailin’s, and most I knew and liked (unfortunately some couldn’t come) … Sabrina (Pailin’s niece), Montanee, and Kobie are three ladies I’ve enjoyed knowing since meeting them. I invited seven people and they were all able to come.

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This image is based upon a photo taken with Pete Senoff’s camera at Lum Ka Naad in Northridge, California, on 25jul13. From left to right: lk, Pailin, Nina & Pete Senoff. I had reunited with Pete, who went to high school with me, in 2012, and shortly after met his bride Nina, who immediately became my friend. On this day, Pailin and Nina met for the first time and became instant friends (Pete & I were amazed at how well they hit it off).

Pete Senoff, who as editor of the Grover Cleveland High School newspaper, made my final year in high school a pure joy by keeping my image and words in print, which in turn allowed me to win office as Boys’ League President. Pete and I had reconnected a couple of years back, just prior to his marriage to Nina, and, along with Pailin, has made us a close foursome. Marjorie Chan, a film and TV costumer I had the pleasure to work with in the early 1980s (TV show Tucker’s Witch and TV movie Johnny Belinda with Richard Thomas). Thirty+ years, many caring talks and time together, and we’re still good friends (no matter how long the gaps between us seeing each other).

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The other four I met in 2008 (I think) at an Errol Flynn event. Robert and Annette Florczak and Greg and Nam Maradei. Greg is a Flynn aficionado and Robert (an artist and musician) is also writing a book about Flynn (a book that will be “must read” when published). Their wives are terrific and also good friends. Annette is perhaps one of my most caring and supportive friends. She is always there for me, asking about my welfare and offering right-on suggestions when I need them. Nam is a totally alive person and is a joy to know. Like Nina, her humor is vibrant and spontaneous.

I think everyone mingled and got along, but I don’t know for I was too high and focused on the fragile woman that had entered and changed my life.

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This is my favorite image from ps & lk wedding, and it is the only image that has been published elsewhere. (photo by Annette Florczak)

Everything moved at lightening speed. The Reverend Fernando Rossi Howard officiated, and although he had trouble pronouncing Pailin’s name, and suffered through me correcting him and other lk ad-libs*, the ceremony and wording couldn’t have been better. What was best about the ceremony was that Pailin and I didn’t know what would be said before hand, even though the three of us had discussed it with examples that we brought to our initial meeting, examples Pailin and I liked or didn’t like.

“Ad-libs” are when actors don’t say their lines as printed in film or play scripts, which are supposed to be holy. From my POV as both actor and writer, this is little more than BS for the simple reason that oftentimes ad-libs are better than the scripted words. … Back in 2009 while rehearsing Cheyenne Blood, a play I had written, as Ned Wynkoop I said lines that weren’t in the script. The director, my great friend Tom Eubanks, stopped the rehearsal and said that I didn’t say the correct words. “I ad-libbed” I stated. “Say the correct lines.” “I just did!” “No you didn’t!” “Yes, I did. Write what I just said in the script and we’re ready to continue.” He didn’t, and those words were lost to eternity. lk is one writer who doesn’t buy into the theory that the written word is holier than hell (or however that statement goes).

Both Pailin and I were totally attentive to Fernando’s words and in tune with each other, especially during our vows which concluded with placing the rings on our fingers.

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This was our 1940s-style kiss; don’t want to give too much away. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

When we reached the point where Fernando asked if I took Pailin to be my wife … “I said, “Kub-pom.” This garnered me a nice laugh from the Thai people present; I suppose as they were surprised that I used their word for “yes.” I hadn’t expected their reaction and waited until the laughter ended before saying, “Yes, I do.” In stark contrast to my tightness at our late arrival at the chapel I was totally loose and enjoying every minute of the ceremony. Pailin took the ceremony a little more seriously than I did. Where I allowed my emotions drive how I said words, she was quieter than I. At no point do I mean that I took our marriage lightly. This was a very happy day for me, and once entering the chapel the tension of being late disappeared quickly as I was among the seven good friends I invited.

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Just after the wedding ended and we’ve stepped downstairs. This is not a full group shot (don’t think any were taken; certainly I don’t have any images). From left: Annette Florczak, Robert Florczak, Nina Senoff, Pete Senoff, Praphuntri (Kobie) Poopan, Nam Maradei, lk, Greg Maradei, Pailin, Marjorie Chan, and Mam Siwan. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Add that I am good friends with a number of Pailin’s friends even though I haven’t seen them that often; Montanee Sothtitham, Praphuntri (Kobie) Poopan, and Pailin’s niece Pakgirapa (Sabrina) Subanna for certain. Others I met for the first time, including Caterine Jensin, Jackie Vinai, Annie Aunroun and Jenny Atchara (whom I actually met briefly at the Thai Temple on December 31, 2013) were open and I felt good when in their company. Like my friends, Pailin’s friends are close to her.

Pete, Robert, and Annette shot pictures for me, and along with those taken by the chapel, I have a good selection to pull from (and believe me, their images although not shot with expensive cameras, often are much better than the official images … many of which are useless).

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A done deal, and 1000 times more important than signing a book contract. lk is one lucky pirate/frontiersman. (Photo by Robert Florzcak; image © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

If you’ve followed the blogs since I met Pailin, you are very aware of what type of person she is and know why I fell head over heels for her. On February 14 she was as always; that is full of life and enjoying every minute of it. I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding. It was a special day for me for now I am linked with a special person for all time, a special person that took me a lifetime to find.

We had a small reception at Tujunga House but we spent the time with our guests and perhaps only one image was taken.

February 14, 2014, was step 2 in our lives together (step 1 was June 15, 2013, when we met). Hopefully we’ll complete step 3, which has already begun, by year’s end. Doable? Don’t know. We’ll find out.

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On February 20 Pailin and lk met with a lawyer to discuss our future. Afterwards we shopped in Thai Town, and then returned to the Albertson Chapel in Los Angeles to see Rev. Fernando Howard. I hadn’t mentioned it, but he is an Apache. His marrying us was alive and had grabbed both of us (I had to struggle to prevent tears from flowing). Fernando is alive, bright, and a good person. I like him. During all of our meetings (and including February 20th there have been four) the talk has also included the Apaches and especially Geronimo. Geronimo, the Apaches, and Charles Gatewood have reentered my life, and although in the past I tried to parry all attempts to get me to return to the Apache wars, I no longer do. The key player in this recent reconsideration by me has been Lt. Col. Paul Fardink (U.S. Army, retired), who has become a good friend. I wanted to give Fernando a copy of Gatewood & Geronimo that both Pailin and I had signed. He was thrilled. Am certain that Pailin and I will see him in the future. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Oh the writing continues. It will continue until the day I die, but my life has changed for all time. I’ve found that special person to walk through the world with me. Our lives have been challenges, but now joined it has become one challenge. It is a challenge that both of us are capable of dealing with and we’ll do this together. Our life is one we both want and will work at together to create.

Los Angeles is our home (it is certainly key for my Flynn and de Havilland research). We hope that this will remain our home for all time as we love it in LA. However, if this isn’t possible we’ll look to relocate in a few states in the USA (all are key to Indian wars research, and alas, several have too much snow for this ol’ boy’s liking). That said, they are definitely on our radar. Other choices exist, but aren’t for this blog.

Bottom line: I’m the luckiest fellow in the world.

— Louis Kraft

Charley Bent, Sand Creek, and other Louis Kraft musings

As promised, details of my quest to learn more about Charley Bent appears in this blog. Musings? Hell, you know me. I like to meander. Usually the blogs are long, just look at the last one if you don’t believe me. This one will be short. I promise. So here goes. …. (I know, I know–please Kraft, spare us the meanderings!). Sorry. ‘Taint in the blood.

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To date you have been fed an overload on Errol Flynn & Olivia de Havilland; Mr. G. & Mr. G.; Ned Wynkoop, Cheyennes, and Sand Creek (face up to it, the Sand Creek story and the key players are going to dominate a good portion of these blogs until the book is published (as will E&O and the lk saga past and present until these books are also published).

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Various symbols that represent the medical world.

What you haven’t been bombarded with is The Discovery (the first in a series of novels that have entered or reentered my life). Don’t hold your breath, for even though this respite will be short, this story has begun to take control of my life. This can’t be, and I’ve made a point of allotting time to both it and Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway on each day. To date progress has been slow on The Discovery, slower than hoped for but decent. That said, this week the characters have begun to pop off the pages. An upcoming meeting will soon determine everything in this novel’s future. This meeting, when it happens, is all important. BTW, even though partnering on a novel hasn’t been easy for me, it is a win-win for me (on many levels). If I do what I should be capable of doing, prepare properly, present everything that I’ll deliver, this will be the next published book with lk’s name on the cover.

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Warm temperatures will dictate the future. BTW, this beachfront is not located in the US of A.

My friends, not to worry, for Errol & Olivia is a major book for me (as are the 2nd book on Flynn and a nonfiction book on Kit Carson), and Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is a must for me (I can’t begin to tell you how important this book is to me). Hours, days, weeks, and months tick by. Time. It is the most valuable thing I have in this world (other than my lady and my daughter). I have taken a long hard look at the books I have written and those I want to complete, and let me tell you that I had better live for many more years. Of course I have every intention of enjoying every minute that I have with my work, Pailin (and hopefully Marissa). I don’t give a hoot where we live. LA—and I love LA—may someday be in my rearview mirror. The USA and the world beckon; that is those locations with sunshine, blue skies, warm temperatures, and reduced violence (I know that I’m asking for a lot). Hell, I’m a writer and can live anywhere my lady and I choose (even Colorado).

Back to Charley and Sand Creek

Progress isn’t as fast as I’d like on Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. Blame this on anything you want, for anything you name is the culprit (except for writer’s block; I never have writer’s block).

In a nutshell, the following is what I have on Charley Bent:

  • George Bent’s letters to George Hyde and George Bird Grinnell
    - Some of which I’ve found in Colorado, Los Angeles, and Yale (I deal with the university long distance)

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    This colorized portrait of Charley Bent is copyrighted. I’ve posted it in the past and hesitated posting it again as it will be included in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. That said, it isn’t available to share or repost or use. I posted it here only as it is the only image that I am aware of that shows Charley in young manhood. Pardon the following while trusting what follows. I hang out with my lawyer, we party together and we are the best of friends. If this colorized image is stolen, we will sue you. (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

  • Two good friends (Gary Leonard and John Monnett) have supplied me with the magnificent digitized assembly of George B.’s letters that were compiled by Lincoln B. Faller, although the word usage seems to have been cleaned up from photocopies of George’s letters that I have in his own hand (his English wasn’t the best)
  • I have viewed the George Bird Grinnell collection at the Braun Library, Southwest Museum, Autry Museum of the American West (and will do so again, to ensure that I haven’t missed anything)
  • The three major government documents dealing with the attack at Sand Creek
    - House of Representatives 38th Congress, Second Session (“Massacre of Cheyenne Indians”)
    - Report of the Secretary of War, 39th Cong., 2d Sess. Ex. Doc. No 26
    - “The Chivington Massacre” (included in Carroll, ed., The Sand Creek Massacre, which also includes the two government documents listed directly above, of which I have printouts. That said, to date I haven’t searched on Charley Bent.)
  • The War of the Rebellion (Note that my previous research related to the Wynkoop story; that focus has changed and expanded and I know for a fact that I haven’t seen everything. That said, I had never searched on Charley’s name, but will soon.)
  • Halaas and Masich’s Halfbreed (Da Capo Press, 2004)
  • Hyde’s Life of George Bent (University of Oklahoma Press, 1968)
  • Berthrong, Grinnell, and Hoig’s books dealing with the Cheyennes
  • Father Peter Powell’s books dealing with the Cheyennes and the Cheyenne wars
  • Gary Roberts’ “Sand Creek: Tragedy and Symbol” graduate dissertation (University of Oklahoma,1984)
  • Greg Michno’s Battle at Sand Creek (Upton and Sons, 2004; BTW, I designed this book)

For what it’s worth, my library is extensive. Also note that I’m not asking you to look at the Wynkoop book (its bibliography is 10 pages, and a good portion of it deals with the Cheyenne wars of the 1860s).

Still, after all of the above, I don’t know much about Charley Bent. Half white and half Cheyenne, he chose his mother’s people. Why?

I know approximately when he died (November 1967; the 10th or could it have been the 20th?), and it wasn’t from a wound if we can believe brother George. Or is there a George B. quote that claimed Charley did die from fever after being wounded (I haven’t seen this letter yet but will hopefully have it soon), and if so why did George change his story later in life? The Pawnee bullet incident seems to be based upon a story published in an Oklahoma newspaper roughly a month shy of 43 years after Charley’s end (and it called him a chief of the Dog Soldiers). Details? To date piss poor. … It appears that Charley was one tough hombre, not someone to cross or face in battle. True? Honestly, at this moment in time I don’t know. In the early 1860s he turned his back on his father’s (William Bent’s) world and pretty much lived and fought with the Cheyennes. It appears as if his anger and hatred toward his father was strong, strong enough that he might have considered murdering his him.

Again why?

For your information, the Sand Creek manuscript wraps up with the end of the 1860s, so everything related to Charley is in the manuscript’s scope. Billy Markland recently supplied me with a tad of information on Charley that happened in early 1867 (Executive Document, House of Representatives, 2nd Sess. 41st Congress, 1869-70). I’m certain that there is more in Charley’s short life that I am not aware of and have no clue where it is located.

As I had mentioned on a previous blog and on the OIW Facebook page I plan on sending a book to the person who supplies me with what I consider the most important information about Charley that I don’t know (if a second or even a third person also submits good information that I have no prior knowledge of, they too will receive the second and third books (listed below).

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Having difficulties viewing this image? Click on it to expand it.

That’s right, I’m placing three books into this mix. I’m not saying they are great books (or pamphlets), but they are related to the Indian wars and have been in my library.

Why the generosity?

Pure and simple, I haven’t been the most social person and my research money isn’t what it used to be. I need to increase how I come by valuable information. And it would be nice to get to know people that have similar interests. Also, I am in desperate need of room, and I hate to say it, but I’m the world’s worst salesman. I don’t think I’m capable of selling a Sacajawea $1.00 coin for .50 cents. Anyway I have the books and it will be my pleasure to send them to you.

They are:

  • Crimsoned Prairie: The Indian Wars on The Great Plains by S. L. A. Marshall (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1972; this is a book club edition)*
  • Custer’s Battle of the Washita and a History of the Plains Indian Tribes by Jess C. Epple (Exposition Press, New York, 1970)*
  • The Honor of Arms: A Biography of Myles W. Keogh by Charles L. Convis (Westernlore Press, Tucson, Arizona, 1990)*

* lk note: The above books come with no recommendations. They have been read by me and in two cases by others.

Oh, and this is important. Everything stated above is to go through an email address (writerkraft@gmail.com). I will not deal with a round robin open debate on the OIW Facebook page or on the lk website. Use the email address.

One final comment: I plan on requesting George Shoup and John Chivington’s military records soon (there are other documents I need on Chivington and hopefully I can also obtain them). If I acquire the desired documents and have the time to study them, one of these two gentlemen will most likely be my next subject of inquiry. The above listed books, if I still have them, will not be listed in the next information quest.

— Louis Kraft

Who says they don’t raise cowgirls in Thailand & other stories of Sand Creek

This blog is going to meander, for in the lk world there are things that are important—mainly staying alive, eating, and moving forward with my writing world and cherishing my lady, my love, my life. And, of course, some things that don’t matter, but they do.

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ps & lk at the opening of the Lily Pad Massage and Spa in Sherman Oaks, California. Two of Pailin’s friends officially opened their business on November 9, 2013, and we participated in the event, which was special. I know that some of you have seen this image elsewhere, but it has a special place on the blog (photo © Pailin Subanna & Louis Kraft 2013)

Reaching for the Moon
The positive to all this is that I’m writing again daily. Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway and The Discovery (more to come on this malpractice novel in a future blog) lead the way. Errol & Olivia lags behind, but this is a major book for me and it will see good progress in 2014. I can’t tell you how many people have complained about my slow output—face-to-face and in letters and emails. Some have been good friends; even lovers. They haven’t understood, and will never understand, my quest. Never! I research and write at my own pace, and my books and articles take a lot of time to create.

I never short-change my subjects for a quick buck. Sand Creek, Errol Flynn, Kit Carson—like good wine, their time will come when I’m ready. It has taken me a lifetime to know who I am and what I do. Meaning that there have been decades of false starts, learning, and failure. But that’s what life’s all about—reaching for the moon time and again until one can actually grab it. I’m not specifically referring to writing here, but my life, which includes my writing.

An explanation of “the Dark Side”
For those of you that haven’t been aware of it, at the beginning of 2013 I made a decision that if I didn’t reconnect with the technical world, and believe me when I say I had no intentions of taking a 50 percent pay cut, that this world would cease to exist in 2014. The year 2014 is about to arrive.

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This image of lk dates to 18nov1997 (Infonet Services Corporation; now British Telecom Infonet). This was my third straight job. I landed my first, Jardine Emett & Chandler, when I convinced a vice president I could learn how to use a computer within two weeks (I had never touched a computer before in my life). The first raise was 25 percent, and the following year I brought desktop publishing into the company and had my own crew, who I trained. That year’s raise was only 8 percent, and I told the VP that it wasn’t good enough. He disagreed, and within a month I was a publishing supervisor at a how to succeed in business publishing house that delivered a 200-page book every month. At the beginning of my second year I received my first review and it was good. One problem: the company had decided to eliminate the PCs and bring in Macs, and they offered me an $8,000.00/year pay cut. The editor-in-chief asked what I thought, and I said, “I quit. How much time do I have?” “We haven’t even bought the Macs yet.” “Not to worry,” I said, “I’ll be gone within 30 days,” and I was, beginning at Infonet (I landed the job on my freelance writing and publishing expertise). My first question to my new boss was, “Can I have some technical writing classes?” “Absolutely not; I hired you as a technical writer.” … I looked at my co-writers and editor. They sat on their butts and waited for emails. Not the way to work and I began spending hours and hours w/my engineers. I requested and got the software on my computer and was off to the races. By 1997, I was the last technical writer in Research & Development. I created an online help system that documented how R&D did their jobs and a glossy newsletter that highlighted the department. I was editor-in-chief, main writer, reporter, art director, photographer, artist, and I delivered the publication, which was distributed throughout the company, on schedule. But the writing was on the wall. Eight months after this picture was taken I became a senior technical writer in the aerospace industry.

In lk blogs and elsewhere I have referred to the technical world as “the Dark Side.” I’m certain that some of you have known what I’ve been talking about (and those of you that have, I hope I haven’t offended you). A while back I chose this name as it was vague, but more importantly popped off the page for me. Very soon the Dark Side will cease to exist in my life. But know this, I had a great run in the technical world. It made me a better writer and a better researcher, as I constantly worked closely with talented people from the world over—and if you know me, really know me, my life has always been dominated by culture and people. Always. I had chosen the Dark Side as it expressed (for me) brutal hours and deadlines that at times seemed to be without end. Often, more often than desired, my deliveries were mandatory for software product deliveries. If I failed to deliver, the software would not ship. That, dear friends, is a heavy weight to carry, and it always held the threat of elimination for me if I didn’t succeed. I’ve used the term “the Dark Side” as opposed to “Slave Labor” as I’ve always been paid very well and although Slave Labor might be considered a more accurate term, it just doesn’t sound right. (I’ve worked in a cotton field and I’ve dug ditches, and they weren’t slave labor either). Most often I have called all my own shots, and worked closely with upper management, project & program management, engineers, and quality assurance engineers (and when fortunate, with other writers). All the above said, these have been memorable times for me—good times.

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lk as Ned Wynkoop in “Cheyenne Blood” in 2009. Yep, the subject matter was volatile, important in Wynkoop’s day but even more important in our day. We all have lives and we all call the shots, but sometimes we need to reach beyond and deal with our world. We all do this differently, but it is something that we must do for if we don’t, no one will. (photo by Dean Zatkowsky, 2009)

This has been a hard decision for me to make, but one that I’m totally in tune with it. ‘Course when I quit acting cold turkey in the mid-1980s, all my actor friends said I’d be back. I said, “Never.” Ned Wynkoop taught me to never say “Never.” Since quitting acting, I have since played Wynkoop in one-man shows in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and California, and the full-length play “Cheyenne Blood” had a five-week run in California in 2009. Never say “Never.” I have not turned my back on acting (and believe it or not, technical writing may again return if I see an offer I can’t refuse, … and don’t count out Kraft writing a baseball biography either).

Why?
A good friend named Vee visited from the Boston area earlier this month, and she asked why make this announcement public? … The simple answer is that I’m sick of getting praised for work that I no longer perform on LinkedIn, while my freelance creativity, although listed on the site is almost totally ignored. I’m an expert user of Photoshop, and I’ve been freelance writing for pay since the early 1980s (nonfiction, fiction, articles, speeches, and plays).

A little more background
Ladies and gents there are things about me that you don’t know (actually there’s so much you don’t know that when the Memoir is published, you still won’t know everything). This is a good lead-in to how I work, which may not be as writers/historians are supposed to work.

lk has no training as a writer, historian, artist, or as a technical writer (I do have a lot of training as an actor). Everything is self-taught. This is not an excuse, for the bottom line is the work. If decent, it will survive; if crap, it will most likely vanish into oblivion.
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lk as Charley, an actor who struggles to survive in “Eat Your Heart Out” at the Hayloft Dinner Theatre in Lubbock, Texas (summer 1976). This was the second play that summer. I also played the lead in a generation-gap comedy, “What Did We Do Wrong.” There were three other actors cast out of Los Angeles in the first play. All claimed to be writers (but I don’t know, for I never read anything they wrote). … That summer of ’76 was the second time I was lucky to get out of Texas with my hide in one piece. I wrote a screenplay about what could have happened & submitted it to an agent. He called me and said, “This is awful, … but let’s talk.” We did; I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote until the script was polished. Between 1976 and 1982 this agent and I came close but never optioned or sold any scripts (the closest were Rory Calhoun via the agent and Richard Thomas via me—but neither had enough clout). By the time I quit acting I had begun selling articles, which marked the end of screenwriting. No money; no interest by lk. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

A million years ago, before I decided to earn money as a freelance writer, I had begun consciously thinking about everything I read: Was it good and why, or was it bad and why. Ever since, everything I read has been judged. Not because I want to pan or praise, but because I want to know what I consider good or bad writing. And believe me, I learn from both.

That said, when I read a good book I’m thrilled and when I read a piece of crap I’m also thrilled. Good books provide suggestions on how to do a better job with my writing, … and ditto bad books. Good books show and aren’t loaded with telling. And just as important, good books aren’t loaded with errors and, even worse, fabrications that are slanted and created to sell an author’s preconception of the story’s angle at the cost of the truth. This training is ongoing and will be so until I die.

I don’t review books for the simple reason that most of what I read deals with what I write about in one way or another. Simply put it is a conflict of interest, for most-often I have already been intimate with the books offered to me to review. I may have reviewed the manuscript and offered suggestions during the creation of it or the authors are good friends and we had shared many long conversations on their subject while their work was in progress. Friends, good friends, and advanced knowledge of the books are key here. When I have told the requesting editors my reasons for rejecting a review request, they totally agree.

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lk at Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, on July 4, 2004. It is important for one reason, for it shows lk tracking something that is important to him. This trip was threefold: It was my first visit to Olivia de Havilland’s home in Paris (which is important to Errol & Olivia); it provided lk and daughter Marissa with gold time together; and Marissa got to track Monet and Van Gogh in France (I had not been a big fan of Van Gogh’s art before this trip, but let me tell you his creativity overwhelmed me—he was a magnificent artist). In my humble opinion we must always track what is important to us. (photo © Marissa & Louis Kraft 2004)

How I work
This image (left) deals with lk tracking that which is important in my life.

You need to know how I work, for I don’t think it is conventional.

I usually take forever researching my books (and the research is never complete, for it continues long after a book is published). Chuck Rankin, my friend and editor at OU Press inserted a clause in the Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek contract that forbid me from writing another book about Wynkoop and I refused to sign the document until it was removed. When we began to work on the Sand Creek contract, we both studied the previous contract and he asked why the above clause had been removed from the Wynkoop contract as he had forgotten and feared I might write a competing nonfiction work on Wynkoop. I told him that I wanted an open door in case I wanted to return to him in any format, including nonfiction.

Although I outline, it is never locked in stone. If information is discovered that changes what I thought a person did, it changes how this person is presented in the manuscript. When there are conflicting stories of an event, I don’t pick the one that suits me, I decide upon the one that appears to be the closest to the truth (oftentimes it is a combination of facts from different viewpoints and observations) with the balance detailed in the notes. Also, I don’t write from beginning to end. I may write something for chapter 14 and then something for chapter 2. Although I constantly study what I’ve written and attempt to improve the prose whenever I reread it (and change it as I’ve found something else that was missing or needed (or I corrected something), I don’t begin polishing until I have a rough first draft. At that point I begin rewriting and looking for holes in the storyline. What is missing? What isn’t complete? What is overwritten? What is questionable? Is something wrong? Is the English bad (and I’m a firm believer in breaking known rules when they can propel the text)?

And this is important …
I strive to show and not tell. Action is character, and to understand who a person was I must know what he or she did—as much as possible, I must show what he or she did (and not tell what he or she did). Oftentimes this results in fights that I must win with copyeditors. In Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, Ned and his wife Louise were staying at La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the Civil War.

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La Fonda as it appeared in 1927.

She was in the room alone and rats entered. She leaped onto a chair, Ned entered, and the rats disappeared. He wanted to know why she was on the chair. She told him, but he didn’t believe her. “Sit down and be quiet,” she said (a paraphrase). He did, and the rats returned. They both leaped onto their chairs, and Ned yanked out his Colt and began blasting away. This brought the manager, who gave them another room. … The copyeditor insisted upon removing this as it had nothing to do with what Wynkoop did. “No! You’re wrong, for it shows what he did at a moment in time, it shows his character, and it stays.” (another paraphrase, as I didn’t go back to look at the documentation).

Other stories of Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway
As much as possible I strive to show. As I already said, action is character. What I say about me isn’t who I am (it is at best, how I want you to perceive me).

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lk at work, … and more. This image was taken on 13dec13, and it shows key pieces of the lk life. First and foremost, it shows me at work moving about what I call my computer room (it could be called a library as there are three book cases and lots of cabinet storage). I spend a lot of time in this room but I’m not glued to the computers. Often I’m up and roaming the room and house, for this is how I work. And I do talk to myself; I have great conversations and they do influence what I write. There’s also something I wanted to share w/this image—actually two things. I chose this image for it shows red below my eyes (about the 5th or 6th day in the continuous cycle of attacks that I’ve had since mid-November. Shots, cream ($259.00 for 30g), nine days of medications, has each time ended the problem which always begins with me looking like I just lost a title bout with Muhammad Ali in his prime. After a treatment I look normal for a day or two, only to again be attacked. The red under the eyes that you see is not from lack of sleep as I’m been sleeping like a baby for the first time since the early 2000s. In 2003 a neurologist told me I’d not walk again. F-him, for I’m still walking. Doctors couldn’t fix this nerve problem, but cockiness aside, I think I have (perhaps in another blog). Originally I considered using another image as it showed my wandering the house and talking to myself. Certainly it showed the redness better, but I liked the cockiness in this image. lk likes to be cocky. (photo © Louis Kraft 2013))

My view is biased, as most likely I’m trying to paint a picture of how I want you to view me. However, when I show you (in words) what has happened, and it is a truthful “showing” (and not slanted or “rosy colored” to make me look good) you will have a better idea of what kind of person I am. Ditto everyone I write about. Everything I can find that can provide a glimpse into their lives is important to me. Unfortunately when you deal with the Indian wars, many of the major players and almost all of oh-so-important fringe players have way-too-little primary source material on them. And I’m talking about Anglo-Americans, Cheyennes, Arapahos, and mixed bloods that are key to the Sand Creek story.

I am a firm believer that what people do defines who they are. I will never tell you that this is a good person or that person is bad. If I’m capable of providing hopefully accurate portrayals of their actions, you will be able to make your own decisions about them. Although I won’t say this in the manuscript, I don’t think John Chivington was a bad person. I know for a fact, that he did everything he could to help Louise Wynkoop receive a widow’s pension after Ned died. He didn’t have to do this, for Ned snubbed him for the rest of his life after the Sand Creek fight. John lived in a harsh land at a harsh time. And just like Wynkoop, his life changed as the world he lived in changed, and like Wynkoop, Chivington made decisions that he thought best for him. At no time did he consider himself a villain (and Wynkoop never considered himself a villain). In Chivington’s case I need to dig and consider and dig some more. As much as possible I need to get into his soul, and regardless of how I view what happened at Sand Creek in November 1864, if I do my job properly you will be able to make your own decisions on what happened. Perhaps your view won’t change, but maybe it will. Things happened at Sand Creek, and there are many reasons why. But this isn’t new, many things happen in war and will always happen in war, and different cultures react differently to what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable. I’ve never been in war, but I’ve certainly studied it (and this includes viewing films), and I do believe that when confronted with the enemy and life or death that people are on the edge. … That they are totally alive, frightened, bent upon surviving, and that there might be a bloodlust. Horrible things happened to people on both sides during the lead-up to Sand Creek, the attack at Sand Creek, and after Sand Creek.

Back to Sand Creek
For those of you that have begun to worry about my return to writing (including my good pal editor Greg Lalire at Wild West) let me say here and now that lk has returned, hopefully ne’er to disappear again. There are more projects than you may be aware of, but at this date The DiscoveryErrol & Olivia, and Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway will be the next three printed books (not in this order), with perhaps two other novels slipping into the mix. I know, just mentioning fiction is heresy; “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” But alas, ’tis so. Not to worry, for the second book on Errol Flynn, along with a book on Kit Carson, will dominate my following round of nonfiction.

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Colorized woodcut of Southern Cheyenne chiefs Bull Bear (a Dog Man), left, and Black Kettle. Part of the LK Collection, this image was originally published in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, OU Press, 2011. (colorizaton © Louis Kraft 2013)

I have returned to Sand Creek with a vengeance, but, as I said above, I don’t write from beginning to end. I write about what I have and know (or think I know, for it might change at any given moment). The Sand Creek manuscript is in progress with me trying:

  • To get a handle on the beginning of the Cheyenne people and their emergence as a powerful force on the central and southern plains. In my humble opinion, this is key for the book working to my satisfaction.
  • To discover (if possible) the essence of the leading and in some cases the major supporting players.
  • To dig deeper into a handful of white captives that I hope to write more about than I have in the past.
  • To experiment with pushing my prose farther than in the past (using the sample chapter in the book proposal, which passed with flying colors as a template). In the past I have often had to fight to retain some of my word structure. Doable? You bet! Will there be a struggle? Don’t know, hopefully not.

As a writer I’ve always tried to challenge myself. How do I tell a story, and how do I fight for that story when I hear something like: “We don’t do it this way at the press, Mr. Kraft.”? Over the years I’ve threatened to sue, have offered to return advances, and often I’ve won my battles while losing some. There are stories to tell, exciting stories, but that’s what memoirs are for—passion and fireworks, in other words page turners to the extreme.*

* lk note: It’s a shame that most memoirs are little more than gloss-overs of peoples’ lives. What stories they could have told if they had dared to tell the truth.

Invitation to open conversations on key players in the Sand Creek story
On a blog months back I stated that I intended to open discussions on key players in the Sand Creek manuscript, and would give books to people that contributed to the conversations in ways that are helpful to me. No one commented. Was no one interested? Perhaps, but I’d like to believe that you’re all just shy. Those days of open conversations are a comin’, and it is my hope that one or two or more of you will join me in email round-robin conversations (writerkraft@gmail.com). I want to breathe life into the Sand Creek players (just like I’m doing with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland), and to do this I need to learn everything I can about these players, which will hopefully allow me to do a better job of bringing them to life. Doable? I don’t know. Worth trying? Bet on it!

Here’s a head’s up: Charley Bent, John Chivington, and Tall Bull are just three of the people I need to know more about. I want to know more about the nasty things that happened—actions, lies and truths. I’m telling this story from all angles, and believe me I’m not going into the story with preconceived notions of villains and heroes. I’m interested in people, and I truly believe that we all have ups and downs and that is what makes all of us interesting. If anyone in the manuscript is a villain, it will only be because their actions make you think they are a villain. Honestly, I don’t like what happened at Sand Creek, but I believe that most-likely everyone did what they thought was best (from their point of view) leading up to the attack, during the attack, and afterwards. Once I can get to named people in the story, it will be a story about people. A story of people and their motivations, fears, and actions—a story of people attempting to survive during a time of extreme change.

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Charley Bent will play as large a part as I can document in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. His short life needs to be shared, for he walked to his own drum (as we all should). This colorized image is based upon original art in the LK Collection (colorization © Louis Kraft 2013)

First up will be Charley Bent, and the plan is for this blog to appear in January 2014. This man, who died way-too-young, chose his lifeway and was true to it until his death. In the blog I’ll give you a short summary of what I know about him, so you know what I have in-house. If any of you can share information about Charley’s life that I am not aware of or point me to it, this is what I want. Beginning with Mr. Bent, and continuing with what will hopefully be a number of discussions on key people, I will list three book titles, and the person who I think has provided me with information that is key to better my understanding of this person (Bent or whomever) will receive the book of their choice. I don’t think much of awards (most are based upon popularity and name value) and I usually totally disagree with most awards in which I know the results—be them books or film acting and writing. That said, If two people provide key information, I will have no problem awarding two winners (and if there is a worthy third contribution of information for a key player, that person will also receive a book).

Who says they don’t raise cowgirls in Thailand?
I have no clue what your life has been like, but mine has been hell. I have been cheated, lied to, and robbed. I should be long dead (and trust me few would mourn). This is not whining and I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I am perhaps the luckiest fellow you know, and it has taken me a lifetime to reach my current situation. And I’m chuckling here, for over the years I’ve been called many unsavory things by people who should have loved me. Should have, but didn’t. Some of these people have done everything possible to keep me in purgatory, a burning inferno from which there has never been an escape.

Until now.

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lk w/sister Linda Kraft-Morgon on 15jan2006 (a day I’ll never forget). Linda couldn’t visit Tujunga House on Christmas 2005 as she had no immune system and I had a cold. We reset for the first available date to get together. Unfortunately before that time arrived, she called and told me that her life would soon end. We celebrated Christmas on that wonderful January 15th at her home in Lake Arrowhead, Ca. I then wrote for SeeBeyond and my manager (Sudeshna Ghosh, who is still a good friend) allowed me to come into work early, drive to Lake Arrowhead, spend time with Linda, return to work, and work into the night. This was one of the kindest acts that anyone has ever done for me. Sudeshna downplayed this, but it remains at the top of key points in my life. Over the next six weeks I saw Linda four/five days a week. Great times for me, but not only for my precious time w/Linda, but also for my time w/her husband Greg Morgon—for during that time we cemented our relationship as “bros” (brothers). Time and distance has not severed our feelings for each other, for we will forever be “bros.” (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

My mother, my brother, my father, and even my sister (whom I’ve only now been able to hold and cherish in peace) are long gone. My mother, father, and brother were always there for me, but until I reached my future that is now current, I have walked a very lonely trail. False loves and close relationships that have never been. I’ve always been blessed with long-distanced friends as well as a few good friends that are local (whenever I see my long-distance or local friends, it is always as if the last time I saw them was yesterday). This is a wonderful feeling.

I’m alive, but in times past I could have died and days or weeks could have passed before anyone discovered I no longer walked the land. My life has been solitary. No longer, for times have changed and my friends close or far would now question my silence.

And it gets better than the above, much better. Please pardon this wordy introduction to this section (it was almost cut, but I decided that it helped the story).

Back in June I invited four good friends to a dinner party at Tujunga House. One of these friends, Naphis Sukumarabandhu, felt sorry for me as I hadn’t gone out with a lady since a relationship ended in 2011. She asked if she could bring a friend to the gathering. I agreed, and when she asked her friend this lady decided to come.

That dinner party turned out to be the luckiest day of my life. …

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This photo is of ps in the front yard at Tujunga House on 17nov13. (photo © Pailin Subanna & Louis Kraft 2013)

The fifth guest was Pailin Subanna, and I knew I wanted to see her again before she left that evening. Recently a good friend told me that I finally had a muse in my life, and they were right. But there’s more—much more. I actually have someone who accepts me for me and loves me for who I am. it has taken me a lifetime to find this special person.

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ps in the front yard of Tujunga House on 24oct13 (photo © Pailin Subanna & Louis Kraft 2013)

She was hurt, damaged, and so was I. We took our time and became friends, then good friends. She has given me a life, and our relationship has blossomed.  … Who says they don’t raise cowgirls in Thailand?

Physical problems aside, I have regained my life and future. Sand Creek, Flynn/de Havilland, Carson, and other writing is back on track (and Gatewood and Geronimo have reentered my life).

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A collage of the beginning of the redesign of Tujunga House. Unfortunately lk got a little too artsy-fartsy here and size limitations prevented text in the image being readable on smaller computer monitors. #1) View from computer room into living room. #2) View from living room into computer room. #3) The lk Memoir/Sand Creek research/Chavez History Library delivery room, … the piles are now three times the height of what you see in the image. #4) Pailin working in the master bedroom; you see a Cheyenne parfleche, rock art, and a 3×5′ lk painting of a Santa Barbara, Ca., sunrise in the mid-1970s. #5) A second image of Pailin working in the master bedroom; the bookcase contains lk-published work and Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland publications. Above Pailin’s head is a print of Cheyenne chief Gordon Yellowman’s art of the Sand Creek attack that I hope to use in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. (collage photos © Louis Kraft & Pailin Subanna 2013)

For roughly 2 1/2 months you couldn’t walk in Tujunga House as it had been a minefield of disaster as Pailin and I worked to make the house livable and ours, and yes, she now lives at Tujunga House. As the holidays approached I had to relocate the still incomplete Memoir and Sand Creek research. These 2 1/2 months have played hell on my writing output, but they have been heaven with Pailin. … Good friend Vee (mentioned above) from that frozen land on the East Coast (we met during our college years) and Saul (a theatre major w/me at CSUN who became a film editor) visited on December 12th. The house had to be presentable as we didn’t want anyone falling over piles of books or research or goodies that had not yet gone to Vietnam Vets (I’m their best supplier), and Pailin & I made it. What a great day and evening w/Vee & Saul.

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ps & lk on 26dec13 when two good friends, Pete & Nina S., visited for dinner. ps & lk had celebrated Christmas on the 25th. It was just us, quiet and peaceful. On the 26th it was also peaceful, but with the added pleasure of two friends present. Good talk, joking, and friendship, … not to mention the lk-traditional turkey and Thai cuisine to die for. (image © Pailin Subanna & Louis Kraft 2013)

Days later, on 26dec13, two great SoCal friends, Nina and Pete Senoff, visited. Turkey & dressing + Thai food (spicy and mellow that Pailin and Nina created)—heaven. I’m talking about both ps & my time w/Nina & Pete and the dinner we shared. The meal? Alloy mark (delicious). … Enough said.

… And now (although there is still much to sort and decide its fate; stock-piled in the lk writing/research/Santa Fe archive room), the rest of the house is clean and the redesign is almost as we want it.

And, … AND for any of you who may be curious, Pailin will become my wife in 2014.

A new beginning for Pailin and lk has arrived. The future is totally unknown, but she and I have the world before us. Best of all we’ll have each other, and that’s what counts.

— Louis Kraft

Lt. Charles Gatewood & the Medal of Honor (MOH)

Ladies & Gents, this has been an ongoing project since Charles Gatewood’s death in the 1890s. He ended the last Apache war in 1886, while at risk of being killed by Apaches, Mexicans, and Americans. He did it without any bullets being fired, and yet he was at risk of being killed every step of the way.

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Although promised, there have to date been no images of the September Gatewood/Geronimo talk in Tucson, Az., forthcoming. Fingers are always crossed. That said, this image is based upon a screen capture from the DVD of the talk that I just received from Mike Koury, who runs the Order of the Indian Wars. (art © louis Kraft 2013)

A number of efforts for Gatewood receiving the MOH have been ongoing for years, but most have been little more than wordplay, which I’ve avoided. A few years back I teamed up w/a retired lieutenant colonel of the US Army to bring Gatewood winning the award to a realistic future, and that time has arrived. Paul is upfront and center with many of the key generals in the US Army, and they listen to what he says. Paul’s lead will finally lead to Gatewood receiving a long-overdue recognition for pulling off what I consider the most impressive event of the Indian wars.

My good friend, Paul F. (sorry about the vagueness here) has been working on an article on Gatewood, and brought me into his world. He wrote and I advised and offered comments. He came up with a first class article and kindly added an interview of me to his text (fully half of his final article; an honor).

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Magazine cover for the Winter 2014 issue of On Point, The Journal of Army History.

The article was accepted as a feature for On Point: The Journal of Army History (Winter 2014). Paul kept me in the loop and I was able to continue adding my comments, which Paul incorporated. He even allowed me an opportunity to rewrite, and when the final PDF of the article arrived from the publisher, I was able to add my corrections to this last proof and they were accepted. Ladies and gents, I’m looking at Paul’s article now—an article that is reprinting my best Gatewood map (from Lt. Charles Gatewood & His Apache Wars Memoir, 2005). Paul even shared half of the salary, even though I was little more than an interviewee granted editorial consideration. On Point took the interview answers and turned them into paragraphs—over half of the 8 pages of the article.

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Map originally by lk in the On Point Winter 2014 Gatewood article by Lt. Col. Paul Fardink, retired, first printed in Lt. Charles Gatewood & His Apache Wars Memoir (2005).

And better yet, Paul is leading the way into what I expect to be Charles Gatewood winning the first U.S. military Medal of Honor without amy bullets flying, a truly magnificent accomplishment!

That above statement said, Paul’s efforts are the kickoff to what is Charles Gatewood’s first quest for the MOH that actually has a chance of becoming reality. Today, I saw my copy of On Point: The Journal of Army History (a terrifically designed glossy publication) and final DVDs of my talk in Tucson, Arizona, in which I detailed Gatewood’s finding Geronimo in Mexico during the summer of 1886 on September 26, 2013, at an Order of the Indian Wars event (which I immediately sent to Paul for his next scheduled step in this oh-so-important  process).

* My apologies, for “Who says they don’t raise cowgirls in Thailand and other stories of Sand Creek” is still my next scheduled blog. … Gatewood updates happened today, and I needed to make them public on the blog (and not elsewhere), and I didn’t want to drag my heels for anything on Gatewood and Geronimo is first class news (at least in my life)..

— Louis Kraft

Errol Flynn, swords, Ned Wynkoop, & of course Kraft opinion

Errol Flynn … long time gone? It might seem so, but trust me, dear friends, ‘taint so. ‘Taint so! He’s just been sleeping in Kraft’s head for the last three months. Actually he needs to sleep a little more before I return to him (and Ms. de Havilland) on a regular basis. My writing editors must also feel that Kraft has slowly sunk to Davy Jones’s locker, ne’er to return. Deadlines? What are they? In the past I made them, regardless if they were easy or if it took me months on end (back when I was a writer for the Dark Side) with three to four hours sleep per night day after day with no end in sight until the work delivered on deadline. The Wynkoop book fit this description to a tee. Beginning in December 2010, and this included a major car wreck on the 134 freeway at high speed that totally destroyed a Corvette two days before Christmas (the front end, engine and everything else under the hood, the left side, the rear, and the car frame cracked in half), I missed only one day of work for the Dark Side as there were deadlines to be met. Thank you? Hell, you’ve got to be kidding! Recovery? It took me a year (a year of multiple deadlines for both the Dark Side and the freelance side), but the recovery would never be complete.

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This is a self portrait that I created earlier this year to represent my trials and tribulations when I moved my internet and phone to AT&T U-verse. A major mistake: The phone would disconnect after 10 to 15 minutes and fully 30 to 50 percent of the time I had no internet. I can’t tell you how many technicians visited or how many phone calls I made (on one the calls to AT&T the phone and went dead and they made no attempt call back). … The answer was always: “It’s your computers.” “How come everything worked with my former provider and wi-fi works everywhere except in my house?” My words never sank in until the umpteenth technician again confirmed that all the wires and equipment worked perfectly. “So what’s the problem and how can you fix it?” “It can never be fixed for you are too far from our hub and it will worsen whenever another customer signs up and is closer to the hub.” After three months, that was my out w/o a financial penalty. …. Why this picture now? Because I’m being pulled in many directions, am not well, and daily find myself clawing just to stay with my nose and mouth above water. I’m a survivor and all will be well, but for my whining section of this blog this image seemed appropriate. (image © Louis Kraft 2013)

Sand Creek, Wynkoop, Geronimo? Kraft has learned how to become slow (it took years and years to get me to this point in my life). Hey, give me a break. Doesn’t good wine take years of aging? So does my writing. … I’m just a normal guy, and I have every intention of enjoying the flowers. Greg Lalire at Wild West and Chuck Rankin at OU Press understand this, and you should too. Aged writing is always better than speed-demon prose stolen from published and oft-times error-riddled tomes.

That’s right, many writers are lazy SOBs that do no real research. They survive by stealing from secondary books, and they make no effort to confirm the accuracy of what they are grabbing, and worse, oftentimes they make it sound as if the information is theirs (that’s right: they give no credit to the secondary writer they ripped off). … A sad state of affairs.

Kraft, what are you writing about today? Oh yes, Mr. Flynn swinging a blade.

Swords & Flynn
Swords and Errol Flynn go together. … Flynn was a graceful, athletic, sensitive (bet on it), and intelligent man who easily fit into anything that caught his interest. I don’t think “multi-tasking,” as we now know the term, existed in the 1930s and 1940s, but let me tell you that, term or no term, Mr. Flynn was adept at it. He made his life his.

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lk art of EF as Lord Essex in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939 release), a slow film because of Maxwell Anderson’s prose from his play Elizabeth the Queen (1930), which the writers, producer, and director made no effort to abandon or alter. Bottom line: a shame, for it could have been a much better film. (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

Many of his critics haven’t acted and haven’t swung a sword, yet they spout out their expertise on what they have little knowledge. Mostly they’ve read books and reviews and repeat what they’ve read with little regard for accuracy of their (or their predecessors’) words. All they care about is that they’ve found mostly negative information that supports their premise, a premise they intend to build their expertise upon. A strong and not pretty indictment. Unfortunately ’tis all too true. I could name way-too-many books that pretend to be factual but in reality are little more than reprinted frauds, and worse they often invent quotes and create notes that have been pulled from the na-na land that we might call their brain.

Enter Ned Wynkoop
Ned Wynkoop? Those of you who read Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek know the connection between Wynkoop with Flynn.

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Wynkoop seeing a battle line of Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors in September 1864. Not a good moment for him. This Image first sees print in Wild West magazine (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

I bring up Wynkoop here only as I want to use one example that relates to the above section, an example that I didn’t find, but one that Greg Lalire, editor at Wild West magazine and my friend for many-many years, supplied to me. Greg sent me the following quote from a book he is currently reading in an email (22nov13):

“I’ve been reading a book called The Heart of Everything That Is about Red Cloud but it covers a lot of ground in the Old West. I know Wynkoop didn’t like Indians at first, but what do you think of this paragraph from the book?

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lk art of Bull Bear that will hopefully see print for the first time in August 2014. Bull Bear was an important player in Wynkoop’s life, and an even more important player in the Sand Creek story. (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

“‘Fort Lyon’s new commander, Major Edward Wynkoop, was a friend of Chivington’s, and far less disposed than his predecessor toward differentiating between antagonistic and friendly tribes. He looked for any excuse to declare Black Kettle and White Antelope hostiles, and when he found none he simply refused their people food; returned their old muskets, bows, arrows, and knives; and ordered them off the premises. They were, he said, free to hunt in a limited territory bordering a stream called Sand Creek that fed into the Smoky Hill river about thirty-five miles northwest of the fort. The Cheyenne sensed a trap, but they were reassured that as long as Black Kettle flew the white flag of truce above his lodge next to an old American flag the Head Man had once received as a gift, no harm would come to them. Two days after the Indians departed, on November 28, Chivington arrived and Fort Lyon with two field cannons and 700 men of the Third Colorado Volunteer Cavalry….’ Nothing more is said of Wynkoop after that….”

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Wynkoop w/interpreter Dick Curtis on the Pawnee Fork in Kansas in April 1867. Art by Theodore R. Davis and originally published in Harper’s Weekly. (Louis Kraft Collection)

Of course I had to reply to Greg, but only partially as I could write pages and pages about the above quote: “The words from The Heart of Everything That Is gave me a good laugh for many reasons. I’m not going to waste my time with a lengthy explanation, but will say a few things. Wynkoop didn’t order the Indians to move farther away from Fort Lyon (he was already removed from command)—Maj. Scott Anthony ordered them away. And I don’t think Anthony told them where to go or where to hunt (at least I haven’t seen anything that states this). Wynkoop did not ask for the Indians’ weapons; Anthony did (but only for weapons they had taken from whites—no bows and arrows or knives), and Wynkoop certainly didn’t give the Indians their weapons back for he never had them. Wynkoop, after returning from meeting with the Indians on the Smoky Hill and they went to Denver (for the meeting at Camp Weld), was very favorable toward these Cheyennes and Arapahos—although he was still careful around them. … The entire paragraph is a joke. By reading it, I wouldn’t trust much else that is in this book unless there is solid proof of primary documentation.”

My next contracted book is Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, and the manuscript deals with this very subject in 130,000-word detail. Based upon one paragraph, The Heart of Everything That Is is so error-riddled that it is unquotable and won’t even make the Sand Creek bibliography. Before returning to Mr. Flynn, I want to close this section w/Greg L’s immediate reply to my email (which was longer than quoted): “Hey, I cringed when I read that about Wynkoop and I obviously know Wynkoop only slightly while he is your best friend. (Well, sort of, I guess). The authors of the book write with a certain flair, but they brush over many things (and I wonder how accurately they brush sometimes). I wonder how much time they have actually spent on Wild West material.”

In regard to Greg’s last sentence and the paragraph he sent me, nothing those writers wrote is valid for in that one short paragraph everything they wrote was wrong.

Swords & Mr. Flynn … continued
Graceful, when describing Flynn, is an understatement. Put Flynn on a horse, and it looked as if he and the horse were one. Place a sword in Flynn’s hand and it looked as if he had been wielding a blade all his life.

Why?

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Errol Flynn holds two sabres as he stands in front of his pool at Mulholland Farm and introduces a dueling demonstration (spring or summer 1945). His seated audience included Gary and Mrs. Rocky Cooper, among others. They were special guests for also on this day Flynn threw a big party to introduce his second wife, Nora Eddington, to the world. (photo: Robert Florczak collection)

Flynn was a great athlete who easily performed physical activities, but there was more. Ladies and gents, Flynn worked at his physical craft. Believe me, riding a horse and swinging a rapier takes practice and more practice. You don’t mount a horse and ride like you are one with the animal if you don’t put in the hours (and I don’t give a damn how good an athlete you are). Ditto the sword. You don’t duel competition or on film/stage without hours upon hours of practice and look good.

Flynn was lazy and didn’t work at his craft! Certainly this statement (or something like it) has been presented to us again and again in tomes written by writers that are less than expert at what they write about. Actually these writers, for the most part, have been little more than hacks that have created a premise and then have attempted to prove it (at times exchanging incomplete and inaccurate research for fiction to create quotes and notes that are as wild as some of the worse prose you’ve ever read in piss-poor fiction. This is nothing new to historical biography (maybe I’ll deal with this in a Wynkoop or Sand Creek blog). Trust me, Errol Flynn put in the time to master the sword for his screen performances.

Although not part of this blog, Flynn’s acting was good (and for the most part, he learned on the job), so good that it holds up well today. The reasons will be made clear in Errol & Olivia. Not to worry, for I’ll touch upon Flynn’s acting (as well as Olivia de Havilland’s acting) in future blogs. I can’t give you the bulk of the book, but I’ll be able to give you a taste—hopefully just enough to excite your curiosity.

Errol Flynn made 9 swashbuckling films, and yes he is known as a swashbuckler. Still, most people don’t realize that he worked in many genres of film: War (7), westerns (8), comedy (4), drama (I didn’t count), … there were adventures, film noir, mysteries. Well, you get the picture, he was capable of performing in different types of films. Of Flynn’s 9 swashbucklers, 4 are classics and are right at the top of anyone’s list of best 10 swashbucklers (2 are on my best 10 films of all time list).

Oh, by the way, there are two other film leading men that were good with a sword: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Stewart Granger.

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They join Flynn on the short list of being much better than the rest of the screen swordsmen, which includes Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Tyrone Power, Cornell Wilde (who, I admit I haven’t seen swing a blade in decades, and you don’t want to know the reason) … all the way to so-called swashbuckling films of the last two decades (most of which survive off of filming doubles, using special effects, and making way too much of the action long shots). As the saying goes, if you can’t see the actor’s face, it isn’t the actor.

Three special mentions need to be made here: 1) Basil Rathbone, who was good with a blade in his hand and whom always looked good (albeit stiff: read, mechanical) trying to kill the hero on film—always,  2) Gene Kelly in the 1948 version of The Three Musketeers, and 3) The actors from three films created by director Richard Fleischer in the 1970s: The Three Musketeers (1973), The Four Musketeers (1974), and Crossed Swords (1977 or 1978) w/Oliver Reed (released in Great Britain as The Prince and the Pauper, and later on DVD w/this title).

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I never met Olivia Reed, but I did spend good time with Ernie Borgnine in Oklahoma City in April 2012, just months before his untimely death. Ernie was nothing like his screen persona; he was a kind, open, and giving person. Here Reed threatens Borgnine, who is the pauper’s father in Crossed Swords. Nothing but kudos from lk for this film.

Reed was in all three of Fleischer’s films (as was Charlton Heston), and he is by far the best actor swinging a blade in what are really farcical duels—the movements are so large and bold that a first-year fencing student in college could have easily won any of these filmed duels. That said, Reed, who unfortunately died young, looked good on film with the sword.

Conversely, Richard Chamberlain, an actor who has given us many good performances in a variety of roles, including three miniseries: Centennial (1978-1979), Shogun (1980)  and The Thorn Birds (1983) wasn’t very good with a sword in his hand. Chamberlain played one of the leading musketeers in both of Fleischer’s films. After the hit Dr. Kildare TV series in the 1960s he worked on his craft and became a very good actor.

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I’ve picked on Mr. Chamberlain, as he was just human, and not a good swashbuckler. That said, he is a surprisingly good actor. Here he is in an image of him as Cyrano during the key duel of the play. … I’m a firm believer in ad-libbing, that is playing the scene even though it isn’t progressing as written. … Playing the scene! Ladies and gents, this was something that Errol Flynn was very good at, but, alas, something that Chamberlain wasn’t capable of doing (at least not when I saw him act). Acting is doing; it is also living, and when an actor can’t do this on film or on stage, he/she hasn’t prepared properly. He/she doesn’t know his/her character. On that night decades ago, Mr. Chamberlain wasn’t Cyrano. All he was, was an actor, an actor that hadn’t prepared properly to portray a character. He was lost, and it was a sad sight to see.

Case in point. I saw him play Cyrano de Bergerac on stage at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles (8th row center). During “the” duel his blade broke and an actor had to walk to him and hand him another blade (no improvising and avoiding being killed until he had another weapon—the action just stopped, and it wasn’t very good to start with). Worse, the entire duel was boring and anti-climatic. In other words, totally disappointing (especially so since Cyrano was supposed to be the world’s greatest duelist).

I had hoped to discuss in detail some of Flynn’s duels. Unfortunately during the drafting of this blog I changed my mind (blame it on taking too long to complete the blog, which in turn made me realize that I need to keep this information for E&O). My apologies.

I will say this, the dueling in Captain Blood (1935) was a combination of exciting shots/angles filmed on sand and rocks on the California coast. Some of this exhilarating, and some of it farcical. The farcical is not Flynn’s (or Basil Rathbone’s) fault, for they performed as choreographed. They slipped over wet and slimy rocks and kept their balance on the sand—some of this is very good, including Flynn’s death thrust to Rathbone.

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Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone dueling to the death on the beach in Captain Blood (based upon the first part of Rafael Sabatini’s great novel, Captain Blood: His Odyssey, 1922, and romantic illustrations by Howard Pyle and others in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (lk collection)

That said, it is idiocy to swing blades that are thrusting weapons as if they are cutting weapons. Beyond that, Flynn’s swinging a thrusting blade like a saber but so high that all someone with a knife would have to do is duck, step in, and gut him. Again, not Flynn’s fault (but the dueling master’s). … BTW, the saber work on the ships is good.

The above said, Captain Blood is a great film for many reasons (not in this blog’s scope), as is The Adventures of Robin Hood (great for totally different reasons; again not in this blog’s scope). Sorry.

I’m going to say less about the dueling in Robin Hood, actually only two comments.

  1. No one, absolutely no one, can swing a broadsword as they were used in the film.
  2. If you can swallow the total misuse of the weapons and enjoy the dramatics of the sword fighting, the minor duel Flynn has with Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette) and the major duel he has with Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) are magnificent.

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Both films and the duels will be dealt with in detail in Errol & Olivia.

BTW, the Oliver Reed-Mark Lester (as the prince and the pauper) film Crossed Swords is much closer to Mark Twain’s novel than the Errol Flynn-Mauch twins 1937 film (The Prince and the Pauper), and in my opinion, a much more satisfying film. That said, Flynn’s sword fight with Alan Hale at the end of the film was a huge improvement in his technique and form over the beach duel in Captain Blood. He now looked like he was a duelist and one to be avoided at the risk of loss of life. Graceful, deadly, but with a cocky panache that Hale’s evil captain of the guard would too-quickly learn, Flynn’s Miles Hendon marked his arrival as a swashbuckler and a suitor to share the Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., armor as “the swordsman.”

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EF duels in jest and with deadly intent if need be with Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette) in The Adventures of Robin Hood. This duel is really well done and the actors (and the stuntmen) performed admirably. (lk collection)

Flynn’s Robin Hood would confirm this. Although Flynn would rub shoulders with Fairbanks up to and after his own death, with the arrival of The Adventures of Robin Hood in ’38 there really was no comparison. Fairbanks bounced around on film, and he constantly swung the blade, but I would rate him with B-actors in the “talkie” swashbucklers of the late 1940s and early 1950s. What linked Flynn and Fairbanks père was their “swashbuckling” success at the box office.

(Douglas Fairbanks fils, has already been mentioned positively above with Flynn and Stewart Granger. lk: I just got tired of using “Sr.” and “Jr.”)

An in-left field baseball comparison
The following is a way-out comparison, so bear with me. The best baseball pitcher I’ve ever seen was Sandy Koufax of Los Angeles Dodgers’ fame in the 1960s (he also pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but one never knew where his pitches were going back then). No other pitchers have compared to him—none. He was lights out in LA on a team that couldn’t hit the baseball. Meaning he could throw a 1 or 2 hitter with 1 walk and lose the game 1-0.

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The white-haired Duke is batting in an old-timers game at Dodger Stadium in 1980. The Dodgers kindly allowed me to use this image in an 1985 Article, “The Duke of Flatbush” for Sports Parade. This signed image is from the magazine cover (I cropped out the magazine’s name, which was in a separate box above the image). In 1985 I pitched Snider to do a book about his life, but like most of my life I was a day late and a dollar short for the Duke had already signed a contract with writer Bill Gilbert (The Duke of Flatbush was published in 1988). I have a lot of the Duke’s autographs, for in the mid- to late-1980s it looked like my writing career would focus on baseball. The above artwork is by the BB artist Dick Perez (who allowed me to use his great art of the Duke from the classic 1984 Donruss BB card set—not pictured here—in my “The Duke of Flatbush” article. I think my failure to land the Duke set me on track to write about race relations on the western frontier (no regrets, for people are our world—yesterday, today, and tomorrow).

If Sandy had had the Brooklyn team of Duke Snider (see above image), Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, and Pee Wee Reese hitting for him in his prime (and if his career was longer), he would have easily won 30 games in multiple seasons.

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This BB art card was from the 2nd edition of Diamond Classics (1983); Koufax was one of only a handful of players to make the set from his era. … Certainly Clayton Kershaw will be featured in a future blog (as will Koufax, Snider, and Bill Buckner).

The Sandy Koufax comparison to the rest of baseball pitchers (past and present, with possibly the exception of the Dodgers’ current gem, Clayton Kershaw) is what Errol Flynn’s swashbuckler was to the world of film—past and present (and there was/is no Clayton Kershaw in the Flynn equation). The only two swordsmen who are/were rivals in skill to him on film were Doug Fairbanks, Jr., and Stewart Granger, with a distant fourth perhaps being Oliver Reed. Basil Rathbone was very good with a sword, and perhaps would have done well in fencing competition, but alas, on film—and regardless of his skill with a blade—he was stiff, controlled, and worse, so concerned if his dueling stance and form was correct that one could never believe he’d win a duel. Perhaps, as Rathbone egotistically claimed, he could “kill Mr. Flynn whenever he wanted” (lk: This is a paraphrase.), but this is not quite true. Yes, most likely Rathbone might have defeated Flynn in fencing competition where points are scored (but let me tell you, in competition it isn’t always the duelist who strikes first who gets the point; it is the duelist who strikes legally who gets the point. Of course, in a real duel this fencer would be dead before he scored his legal point. My “point” here is this, I’ll take Messrs. Flynn and Fairbanks, Jr., and maybe Oliver Reed (not sure about Granger) over Rathbone in a duel to the death any day. Let me repeat that, any day.

— Louis Kraft