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Although the Sand Creek contract has been signed and I am about to begin work on the manuscript, Gatewood, Geronimo, and Mexico have dominated and still dominate my life. But they share it and play second fiddle to the lady in my life. My kon-souy, who is my toon-hua. (To save you time trying to look up what these words mean, here’s the translation: My pretty lady, who is my honey/my love.)
Pailin Subanna joined me when I stepped back into my past and walked once again with Mr. G. & Mr. G., who have played such a large role in my Indian wars writing life. To be exact, two books and three articles when on September 26 I spoke about “Gatewood’s Assignment: Geronimo” to a large assembly of members of the Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) in Tucson, Arizona. It was the 10th time I spoke about these important people in my life; one of four talks that kicked off a three-day event that tracked Geronimo in the U.S. If it was my swan song as a speaker, I’m good with it. Unfortunately I have no photos of the talk (Daniel A. Martinez, host & historian-in-residence, at The Discovery Channel, took numerous photos and he’ll share some of them in the future). During the 26th Mike Koury allowed me to introduce Pailin to the full house. It was her first Indian wars event.
The Arizona trip was the first that Pailin and I shared. Our relationship was really in good shape before the trip. The time we would spend together cemented our future. No small words. …
The talk was taped. When I see it, sometime later this year, I hope I’ll be able to figure out how to convert it and post it on the website. To date, this is something I have not been able to do with OIW DVDs. I plan to push and question until I learn how to prepare this talk for showing on the internet as soon as the talk arrives, probably in November.
Pailin and I didn’t join the tour. But instead of driving straight home, as had been the original plan, we took a small side trip. In other words, we took the long way home.
Before sharing a little of the trip, a small update is in order:
The Ned Wynkoop/horse painting is finally making decent progress (it needs to be submitted with photos/art for an article of him meeting Black Kettle on the Smoky Hill in Kansas for the first time in September 1864).
- The Geronimo article is almost complete. The photos and art are in place except for a new piece on Geronimo that I began the other day (I’m sharing about 20 percent of the art here). This is a work in progress, which I think will require several more days to complete.
- There is also a Wynkoop/U.S. government article that is almost ready for submission.
The above sums up my present magazine-writing life. It also announces two swan songs for most likely the next three years and perhaps my entire future.
Swan songs? Alas, yes.
LIfe goes on, and as it moves into the future it changes. What matters and is now important has replaced what once had been but no longer is, perhaps never to return.
Swan song no. 1: The above articles may be the last articles I ever write. Certainly for the next three years, or whenever Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway manuscript is delivered (it is due on October 1, 2016). Optimistically I will beat the deadline. Then it will be a matter of what books are in the pipeline and how close they are to completion. During the writing of Sand Creek, progress will continue on Errol & Olivia and with luck Navajo Blood will also be close to publication. If yes to both, they will take precedent over any magazine articles. I have already alerted Chuck Rankin (editor-in-chief at OU Press) what my next Indian wars book will be. As soon as I have enough primary source material to create a story idea and If Chuck buys in, when Sand Creek enters the production chain, the next nonfiction Indian wars book proposal will begin. When Errol & Olivia goes to press (and I expect this to be close to the Sand Creek publication date), I will begin work on the 2nd Errol Flynn book (which, egotistically, will be the best book I write). As these books are my no. 1 priorities, you can see why my magazine writing may have come to an end.
Swan song no. 2: The ending of talks, as mentioned above, is not a threat. That said, it is directly related to my current financial situation. All talks in the future will be for my full salary and with all expenses. My biggest supporters over the years have been the U.S. government and the state of Kansas. But with the continued downturn of finances of federal and state governments (all of which can be directly associated with a fake war and the drastic monetary consequences that followed and have pounded many of us—certainly me; every time I think of the cash gone and the potential dollars that have vanished, I get palpitations).
The LA Times (see below caption), a dark side without end, & pleasure
We punish war criminals the world over, but U.S. war criminals (unless they are in the lower echelons of the military; read captains, lieutenants, and your basic soldiers) largely go unpunished.
Add that the robber barons that suck the blood and life out of our once glorious country also go mostly unpunished, … seldom is a megastar of the business world sacrificed and then only to put forth the false belief that the U.S. judicial system is fair.
If the U.S. ever loses a world war, heads will roll; if the U.S. experiences a second civil war, heads will roll. Not events I want to see, but I do want to see criminals punished.
This dark prose by me is not fed by anger. Not at all. Just the opposite, I love giving talks. They have always been a big thrill in my life. Always, as juices slice through me and turn me on whenever talking. Talks are pure pleasure—a one-shot at doing something. Dodging bullets may be a thrill if you survive; for me surviving a talk is a thrill. … I hate resumes and aren’t real good at keeping them up to date. Just now I wanted to know how many talks I’ve given on Mr. G. and Mr. G. over the years. The most recent freelance resume I could find was created in 2008, almost 5 1/2 years ago. I believe that the Tucson talk was the 10th I’ve delivered that dealt with G&G. If the Tucson Gatewood/Geronimo talk was my last, it was a good talk to end on. … And I’ll be forever grateful to my good friend Mike Koury for bringing me to Arizona and welcoming my lady to his OIW event.
A journey to the heartland
Just so you know, I am totally misusing the word “heartland.” Hopefully the following sections aren’t vague and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Those of you who have followed my blogs know how I met Nuch (her nickname); other than this instance, I’m calling her by her name, Pailin, in this blog as she had requested that I use her first name when I introduced her to the OIW. When I asked Pailin if she’d like to go to Tucson, she surprised me and said yes, but wanted to see a little of Arizona. I called Mike K., and he immediately welcomed her. Instead of driving home on the night of the 26th as planned, and although not in the budget we planned a couple of days that interested Pailin.
The best part of the trip was that we were together.
You’ve got to realize that we’ve moved slowly getting to know each other, became friends, then best friends, and now are moving into our future. She knows more about me than any of you. Perhaps all of you put together (oh yes, there is much that isn’t public). We are at one with each other and it doesn’t matter what we are doing, where we are, or if we are silent or talking.
Over the course of the six-day trip, we traveled 2488 miles (and that included a day in Tucson when the Vette only traveled a few miles to go out to dinner and one day in Las Vegas, Nevada, when the car didn’t move), so basically we did all the driving in four days. Good times.
Some of the land we rode through or passed over is desolate (an understatement), making me wonder if anyone that attempted to cross some of this land 150-200 years ago, did any of these bold adventurers survive their journey?
Guidon Books (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Shelly and Gordon Dudley own and run Guidon Books in Scottsdale, Arizona. I had met them sometime after Shelly’s mom, Ruth Kantor Cohen passed away.
lk w/Shelly Dudley (image at right) at Guidon Books on September 27. … Of course the best way for a bookseller to win a writer’s heart is to stock his books. Guidon Books has always done this. Shelly still stocks all of my nonfiction work, and I signed them for her. My books have always been over-priced, which I hate. That said, Custer and the Cheyenne continues to gather kudos, the two Gatewood-Geronimo/Apache books have become classics, and in a recent review historian/novelist Thomas McNulty called the Wynkoop book a masterpiece (humbling me). Prices for pristine first editions of G&G are now over $100.00 and the Gatewood Memoir is creeping to three figures. (photo © Pailin Subanna and Louis Kraft 2013)
Ruth and Aaron, who outlived his wife by almost 10 years, played key roles in my Indian wars writing life. Without a spirited conversation with them (I think in 1995), wherein I learned of the Charles Gatewood Collection at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, there would have been no Gatewood/ Geronimo/Apache books. Custer and the Cheyenne (Upton and Sons, Publishers) opened the nonfiction book world to me, but it was Gatewood & Geronimo that gave me name recognition. Ruth’s life unfortunately ended too early and she never saw the publication of G&G. Aaron did, and our long-distance friendship blossomed. I can’t tell you how many happy hours I spent with him in his shop. He was open, friendly, and boy did he have stories to tell. Perhaps he liked that I didn’t play by the rules (BTW, I am a firm believer that once you know the rules, you can break them) and had no fear to stand for what I wanted. If I didn’t see eye to eye with a publisher or they with me, they would soon be in my rear-view mirror. Adios amigo! A year or so before Aaron moved on, Bruce Dinges, who plays a key role in Arizona’s history, said to me: “Aaron Cohen loves you, he just loves you. Why?” I didn’t have an answer. Thinking about this over the years, I think it was because Aaron was a rebel and so am I. We were kindred spirits. If I had lived in the Phoenix area or he in LA, we would have been close buddies. … Shelly, Gordon, their sons, and a young lady with red hair (another grandchild?) began helping Aaron at Guidon Books.
Pailin and I made a detour on our journey northward to visit Shelly (unfortunately Gordon was elsewhere) at Guidon Books, which had moved several blocks a few years back. “Great” is an understatement, for the new store floored me. Guidon Books had been my favorite book store back in the day, and believe me it still is. If you are into the Indian wars, Indians, gunfighters, the American West, or the Civil War, do yourself a favor and visit Guidon Books (7109 E. 2nd Street, Scottsdale, Az.).
Shelly gave Pailin and myself a tour of Guidon Books. This trip wasn’t a “buying” trip as the money was tight, but if it had been I could have easily spent the rest of the day looking at books. In years past, I had crossed paths with Shelly and Gordon often, but with me moving away from the Apache wars, cutting back on trips to Arizona, and ending my attendance at WHA conventions, this was the first time I’ve had to hang out with Shelly in way too many years. It was just like old times. Whenever you see a good friend, time slips away and it is just like last week. Didn’t want to leave.
Montezuma Castle National Historic Site (Arizona)
Driving northward toward I-40 I had a brainstorm about visiting the Sinagua Pueblo ruins, which is a stone’s throw east of I-17. A short side trip and Pailin was all for the visit. This land is peaceful, quiet, and I always enjoy walking the small grounds.
She did too. I told her, that if she wanted in the future I’d take her to ancient ruins (Anasazi and others) that she could step onto and into. An experience that always thrills me. If I live long enough, there is a novel, a modern-day novel, that will deal with the Anasazi, ritual, cannibalism, and the human experience (working title: Muse Eternal). The backside of my life has arrived and with it my most creative time and the happiest days of my life. I know—finally—who I am, where I’m going, and the lady who is going to be with me during every step of the journey. A good feeling.
Over the years, Williams has been a resting stop for me on countless trips into the West; trips to the Navajo Rez, Denver, Co., Fort Larned, Ks., Santa Fe and Albuquerque, N. Mex., and elsewhere. As often as possible I’ve stayed with friend and great novelist Gary McCarthy and his pretty wife Jane.
Always good times, as we catch up and discuss projects, eat good food, and enjoy wine as we talk long into the night. The following morning is always easy as we enjoy each others’ company. Gary and Jane weren’t available during this trip, which, as it turned out, was good as we—especially Pailin—needed rest. Before an early night to bed Pailin wanted to explore Williams. We snapped some fun photos, and before returning to our lodging I introduced—really introduced—Pailin to chile verde. I’m a wimp when it comes to Indian (India) and Korean hot sauces, but, believe it or not, Thai hot sauces are fine if I avoid the chile peppers and stick to the juice. Chile verde is to die for, but it was a mite too hot for my lady that night. Guess I’m not a wimp after all.
South Rim of the Grand Canyon (Arizona)
Up early on the 28th and on the road. A short drive got us into the canyon, and on this day entry was free. I should say a few words about Pailin here. She is an adventurer in the mold of the English pirate Francis Drake and the American frontiersman Kit Carson (this is a major compliment by me for these are two of the mere handful of men I respect throughout history, and she can easily walk, ride, or sail with them and be right at home).
Let’s take the previous caption a little farther (but while I do, I want to share a special Pailin as she returned to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon). … My misplaced boldness has far too often placed me in flashes of time and place that pushed beyond where I wanted to go. Next to my lady, I’m a child in play-actors’ clothing. She is the bold one, the one with no fear. She is truly an explorer in the full meaning of the word. The trail she has blazed makes mine pale in comparison. That she has entered my life is unbelievable. I couldn’t have a better soulmate.
Like I said, our time was short as we had miles to travel and a short time to cover them. We made the best of our time, and I saw a piece of Grand Canyon that I had no idea existed 25 years previously (if indeed it existed back then).
Las Vegas (Nevada) and a return to …
We arrived hours late to Excalibur near the south end of Las Vegas Blvd., and I feared us getting stuck in a smoke-filled room. My conversations with the hotel moved from lies (“You can call this number to ensure a non-smoking room.”) to a long-long talk that perturbed me (I was told, and it took 10-15 minutes, that it would be first come/first serve on the non-smoking rooms even though our room was confirmed and paid for). Black mark no. 1 for the Excalibur. A safe wasn’t in the room, the hard-connection didn’t work for the internet, and the TV didn’t work. Actually no big deal (we easily dealt with no safe, could live with no internet for two nights, and during the entire trip I watched a total of perhaps 5 minutes of TV and Pailin saw zero TV). We enjoyed good food, but not at Excalibur. Oh, we did have a non-smoking room (and the room was fine). … No matter for we didn’t drive to Nevada to see Las Vegas.
The next morning (29sept2013) we would realize that an important reservation was also built upon several phone calls of lies. That said (and I will pound a little below), the thrill was real (but not nearly close to what we expected).
Who cares, … for we were together and doing something we both love—experiencing an event and land we’d never seen before.
A truck/bus picked us up at the Excalibur rotunda the next morning. A short drive to Henderson, Nevada, check in, and we boarded our Maverick Airlines helicopter with the pilot (Greg) and five other people. Ladies and gents if you have never taken off in a helicopter, it is a cool experience. Pardon the short diversion (which is mostly stolen from Facebook):
It’s a great feeling to be flying so low to the land (between 1500 and 1800 feet). Although we were in the air for about 90 minutes total, the two flights were way too short. I could have spent the day up floating/zooming across the land (average speed was 150 mph). Actually, I would have liked to have been lower to the ground during the flights, but that wasn’t to be.
We flew over the Hoover Dam, traversed Lake Mead (supposedly the largest man-made lake in the U.S.), reached where the Colorado River flowed from the Grand Canyon into Lake Mead, but then unexpectedly reached the west side of the canyon where the Skywalk was located (which, when you consider how long the canyon is, we saw way too little of it from the air).
With a little over three hours on the west side of the canyon (two major locations that short drives connect with the airport) on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, we had enough time to explore at our own pace. The Skywalk was a must see for us. It was nice, but not as dramatic as I thought it would be. It did have a protective railing (see photo), but this was the only railing we saw on the Rez. The land is rugged; the stone is slick and at times slippery. Add winds that can gust at times and it is a wonder that more visitors haven’t tumbled to eternity. Adiós amigos. Vaya con Dios.
Pailin explores the world around her with a positive enthusiasm that is unending. So full of life! Unbelievable—this is my lady. I’m in heaven with her. … The Arizona trip was the first of what will be many trips we’ll take together.