Author, radio personality and artist Bob Boze Bell has come out with another book that brings the Old West to life through his storytelling and artistic abilities. Bell will talk about “True West Moments, Where Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction” and show some of the illustrations he’s drawn for the book.
Ted Simons: Arizona author, artist, and historian Bob Boze bell is out with another unique look at the people and places of the southwest. It's an illustrated compendium of stories and curiosities, titled "true west moments: where truth is stranger than fiction." here now to talk about his new book is oddly enough, Bob Boze bell. Good to see you again.
Bob Boze Bell: Good to be here.
Ted Simons: Why did you write this book?
Bob Boze Bell: This book has been coming for a long time. Because I grew up here, I grew up in Kingman, and I noticed early on that our history is really kind of weird. But I got kind of upset when the history-minded people started sucking all of the strange out of our history. I thought somebody has to put the strange back into Arizona history, and so I took that on as my duty.
Ted Simons: I think historians, to make history come alive, you have to point out certain things and have fun with them. You have done that in this book.
Bob Boze Bell: Thank you. It has been a labor of love. These true west moments have run in The Arizona Republic now for about four years, so I have done like 250 of them. And I thought, you know what, I need to put these together in a book and tell the story so that people can enjoy it.
Ted Simons: Did these come out of the western cable channel stuff that you were doing for them or perhaps still doing for them as far as the bumpers and interstitials
Bob Boze Bell: Yes I did bumpers on the western channel for about 10 years. I was doing True West Moments at the same time and of course I do True West Magazines. So they all kind of tied together,
Ted Simons: Very Good. These stories are not exclusive to Arizona?
Bob Boze Bell: No. It's a little bit Arizona centric because this is where I'm from.
Ted Simons: Let's start with named by enemies kind of a lost in translation sort of thing. What are we looking at here
Bob Boze Bell: Well what were looking at is that the Apaches. Apaches is not an Apache word. What happened, the Spanish were coming through looking for the seven cities of gold. Out at ZUNE, while there, a bunch of renegades stole their horses. Who are these guys? What sounded like to them was Apache, which was enemies later they said what are you talking about? Apache is not even an Apache word. When the Spanish asked the Navajos who built all of the ancient Pueblos, they said ancient enemies, and they when the Pima were asked who their neighbors were, they said as a joke, the bean eaters, which came out as PAPAGO. Pimas were asked by the ANGLOS coming in, what is that over there, Pima, which means I don't know. Over there. Pima. And they Pima, which is essentially the I don't know people. The real idiots in this, of course, are us, the clueless.
Ted Simons: No one went the second step, let me ask you a different way. It stayed the way it was.
Bob Boze Bell: That's why the PAPAGO changed their name in 1996. I'm butchering that, because I know they made that name up so guys like me could not get it right.
Ted Simons: Calling us bean eaters. Speaking of language, cowboy lingo.
Bob Boze Bell: I love it that cowboys are so creative. Mangle the language in a very creative way. Somebody isn't just lazy, they're always sitting on the south side of their pants. Something isn't loud, it is as noisy as a foghorn in a funeral parlor. Okay. Nobody is really blind, they're blind as a rattler in August. If somebody doesn't have courage, they're all gurgle and no guts. Pal is more than brave, he got sand. If you want to know how much, he will fight a rattler and give you the first bite. Isn't that great?
Ted Simons: That's fantastic. It reminds me of blazing saddles. Frontier, a new world as far as linguistics is concerned.
Bob Boze Bell: Not in the book but I'm working on this now. Remember when people used softer oaths when they would do, you know, well DAG NABIT
Ted Simons: Sure.
Bob Boze Bell: And that's because men mostly didn't want to swear around women and children. And, of course, women and children swear like sailors. So, when does that end? Darned it if I know.
Ted Simons: There you go. Didn't mean to jump in there. Blazing polls, blazing politicians. This was amazing in New Mexico.
Bob Boze Bell: It is heartening to realize that our politics are so ridiculous and volatile, but in the old west in 1871 political season in MESEA of New Mexico, which was one time part of our state, remember that, state was split down the middle, north was in New Mexico and south was here. MESEA, and they had the smart idea that the republicans would March around the plaza one way, banging drums and talking about their platform, and the democrats would go the other way. Every time they came around and they were all drinking to get smarter, and every time they would come around, they would swear at each other and finally on the third pass, someone beamed a republican right between the eyes with an ax handle. Everybody pulled out guns, and they covered it up. They don't know how many, but upward of 500 shots were fired, and over 15 people died and maybe 50 we don't even know because people drug their dead away.
Ted Simons: 15
Bob Boze Bell: Isn't that amazing.
Ted Simons: 1871, this isn't all that long ago.
Bob Boze Bell: It's heartening to me, we're not that bad yet.
Ted Simons: Not yet. Not yet. Old pine top is next
Bob Boze Bell: I love this story. We have this idea, a Saloon keeper, had a bad hair cut. Soldiers would come in and drink beer and call him old pine top. After the war ended, people started to build cabins around there. When it came time to name the town, even though it is the largest ponderosa pine in the area, they named it pine top after the bartender, and not the pine.
That was a fantastic story. Because you know pine tops a little prestige, classy. And now you find out that the town was basically built around a saloon. Cold-hearted roommates, what is this all about?
Bob Boze Bell: 1880s, Earps and DOC Holliday came to Prescott. The legend says Holliday ended up rooming and his roommate was john jay gosper, I was doing research on this. That name sounds familiar. I should know who that is. Finally I realized it was the acting governor of Arizona. You have DOC Holliday, cold-blooded killer and gambler and dentist, by the way, rooming with the governor of Arizona, and how could doc holiday have sunk so low as to room with a politician. That's terrible.
Ted Simons: Have to have standards, for goodness sakes. Nazi western, explain, please.
Bob Boze Bell: In 1936, a movie company came here, which in German, I believe, the emperor of California, allegedly told the story of John Sutter, a German Swiss trader discovered gold in California and was allegedly going to tell his story. Filmed in the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and the movie came out and took shots at American capitalism and made a subtle not so subtle that the Germans deserved California for the motherland, okay. Herman Gobles, he pronounced the film wonderful. And Hitler had it in his library as one of his favorite films.
Ted Simons: That is amazing.
Bob Boze Bell: Filmed in Arizona.
Ted Simons: Germany wanted California, HA?
Bob Boze Bell: Well, that wasn't all they wanted, but the films made the claim that they deserved it.
Ted Simons: Deadlines missed. What is this all about?
Bob Boze Bell: You will love this one. Okay. Basically it is about how industrialists are always aping up the population claims and journalists are always trying to set them straight. That's what happened. 1859, and silver capitalist, Sylvestre Mowrie, back east, how much immigration was here and how wonderful it was. Newspaper editor, first newspaper in Arizona, took him to task and challenged him to a duel. They met and had burnside rifles, which is an odd thing, 40 paces and Sylvestre cross was showing off and shooting the pears off of a prickly pear cactus, shutting the fruit off of it shooting the fruit off of it. He missed, no blood flowed, but here is the real reason for the get together. They had a keg of whiskey and everybody lined up. If you want to know about politics in Arizona, follow the booze.
Ted Simons: And keep the rifle shots away from the keg of whiskey. Don't make any extra holes there.
Bob Boze Bell: Yes.
Ted Simons: I found this one interesting. AY Chihuahua. Everyone has grown up with that as a saying. What are they, about dogs or talk about what is this about?
Bob Boze Bell: I always thought it was just this exclamation that somebody made famous in Tucson. AY Chihuahua, and I was in Mexico studying the Apache wars and we were near Creole Mexico, and our driver was taking us back to the hotel. All of the sudden a drunk driver pulled out and came towards us. I was sitting in the front. I instinctively said AY Chihuahua. I don't know why and the driver said AY Chihuahua he just said it like that. I said why did you say that? Oh, it is an old saying around here. What it really means is yikes, how many Apaches are there without sandals, because at the time, all of the Hispanics in northern Mexico wore sandals, but Apache wore calf hide deer skin the full saying is still in use 100 years later after the Apache wars.
Ted Simons: So, basically AY Chihuahua, when we say it north of the border, someone like myself, a shortened version of a longer saying that is still being used.
Bob Boze Bell: Yes.
Ted Simons: Linguistics are amazing.
Bob Boze Bell: It is.
Ted Simons: He who yawns. This is Geronimo.
Bob Boze Bell: Yes, Goyathaly his given name, and usually the Apache custom at that time, they were named for a significant thing that a person did. That is where you get rain in the face, cut nose, that's where you get but his name, he who yawns because he was yawning all of the time. I thought it was ironic he grew up and fighting his enemies in Mexico, Mexican soldiers yelled out that this guy fought like san hermano and so the ANGLOS of course chopped that off and made it G with the strong G and he became Geronimo. Not bad for a guy who yawned.
Ted Simons: We just named everything.
Bob Boze Bell: We named everything wrong. That is the main thing.
Ted Simons: Just throwing things out there.
Bob Boze Bell: The things we didn't name wrong, idiots changed it to something else anyway.
Ted Simons: Last one show low versus a straight flush.
Bob Boze Bell: As the story goes, two ranchers up on the rim, coolly and Marian Clark, they decided that the valley wasn't big enough for them. So they played a card game to find out who would have to leave. On July 4th, 1876, they sat down and played seven-up, a popular cowboy game at the time. And while dealing the cards, Clark said, Mr. Coolly, if you can show low, you win. And he turned over the first card and it was a duce of clubs and replied show low it is. Now the people that live there are thankful that he didn't call for a straight flush.
Ted Simons: All right.
Bob Boze Bell:Yes All right.
Ted Simons: Told that one before. These are fantastic. I heard the show low before, I had not heard the -- most of these I have not heard before. Did you when you draw the drawings, do the illustrations, do you look historically or making it in your head no pictures of old pine top
Bob Boze Bell: I haven't found one but that doesn't mean there aren't. I'm always looking at old photos to try to get that right. The worse thing you can do is look in movies. Movies are so wrong. When you are looking at something from the 1950s, western, you are really looking at styles in the 1950s, reflective of that.
Ted Simons: Right.
Bob Boze Bell: I am always looking at old photos and go that's interesting, spring bottom pants. They have, you know, cuff links attached to the sleeve of their jackets. The little details like that that I am obsessed with and that is what I try to capture.
Ted Simons Before you go. We have like 30 seconds. Did you ever think you would be doing this right now with your life?
Bob Boze Bell: Well, I always knew that I wanted attention. [laughter] I think I have accomplished that. And I've always loved the west. Just love the west. I love our state. And I just want to tell some history with a bark on.
Ted Simons: All right. Well, you obviously love what you do. Congratulations on yet another very interesting and successful book. Good to see you again.
Bob Boze Bell: Thank you.
Ted Simons Thursday on "Arizona Horizon," a new report on the nation's top job creating areas. Time for southern exposure, monthly look at news south of the Gila. 5:30 and 10:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.
Bob Boze Bell : Author, Radio Personality and Artist