Black Canyon City AZ

Is the West leaving Arizona ?

                                            "There wasn't anything here I'd read about, I wanted to do something about it. People come here looking for the old west. They don't find it." This is a quote from Frank James Outcalt from an interview in the Arizona Republic. We can relate to this by just looking around us today. But would you believe this quote was printed in the Arizona Republic in August 1970. Frank had just formed a western reenactment group in Scottsdale, AZ. Entertaining small parties at first but getting more well known and doing larger groups of people, and finally becoming "Guns For Hire Inc." in 1968. " Guns For Hire Inc." did a good business for over 30 years. Performing western skits for local resorts, adding t.v. commercials, and movies along the way.
                                           The most popular place to see Guns For Hire shows was at Pinnacle Peak Patio on weekends. This was years before Rawhide western town was built on north Scottsdale road. Guns For Hire was the first group to perform on Rawhide's main street before they formed their own reenactors group. The original crew of Guns For Hire, was Frank James Outlaw, Bill Krol, as  <Paco>, Ken McConnell, Randy Hill, and well known stuntman Spanky Spangler.
                                           Many more would come onboard over the years. Myself included, Bob Roloff, < now the Arizona Duuude>, in 1969. I have many good memories of those times, working with Frank, Bill, Ken, Spanky,  then Skip Dillon, &  Don Burger. Also working with Walt Ryerson who would go on to become the first "Old Prospecter", at Pinnacle Peak Patio. His son Kevin would go on to become a spiritual guide for the Holywood actress Shirley McLane. Those were good times leaving me with good memories. 
                                          So my hats off to everyone of you out there reenacting the history of the old west. To anyone that promotes that Spirit of the old west, Thank You. Tourists still come here from all over the world, looking for the American old west, and some will find it because of you. As I traveled around Arizona this last year for the Wild West Gazette I met many reenactment groups and people from all walks of life, promoting the old west. So my answer to, Is the old west leaving Arizona? , is No, there are more western reenactors groups now than ever. Not much on t v except the Westerns channel, but many on radio, 200 stations nation wide carry "The Chronicle of the Old West", by Sunny & Dakota Livesay. Magazines like True West by Bob Boz Bell, American Cowboy , Cowboys & Indians, just to mention my three favorites. Festivals like the annual Festival of the West, hosted by Mary Brown and her loyal volenteers, being held March 19-22, at Westworld in Scottsdale, AZ. So after this last year of looking for the old west, I can say its still out there, you just can't see it from the road.
                                         So thanks again to you all from the tourists that came looking for the American West, and then smile as someone snaps a picture to take back home as proof that they found it. There are far too many people and places I would like to list here. But there is a newcomer I would like to introduce that is honoring people who promote the old west. "The Spirit of the Old West Alive", was founded by LeeAnn Sharpe with the purpose of collecting oral histories. Her program honors people who have impacted our western experience. This program is currently being held at the Bison Western Museum in Scottsdale, AZ. the first and thied wedsnday of the month. The first three Honoree's were, Marshall Trimball, AZ. state historian, Bob Boz Bell, publisher f True West Mag., & Wyatt Earp.
                                        And finally I would like to say, enjoy life to the fullest you can. My old friend Frank James Outlaw has had a life long passion for racing stock cars. He still races, recently he showed me a trophy he won for 1st place at a north valley raceway. He won the race 20 days after his 67th birthday. Way to go Frank.    So remember keep "The Spirit of the Old West Alive".  
Black Canyon City AZ

Target Practice......... Shots Fired.......... No One Hit !

                         On a hot summer night back in "64", another Pinnacle Peak Patio customer was making his way up Alma School Road. His mind on one of those tasty Mesquite flavored T-Bone steaks. In his mind he could clearly see the steak sizzling and smell the smoke. He's close now , he could see the Steakhouse lights up ahead.
                          Suddenly bright lights flash past him, he hears loud voices, and loud music, as a car speeds past him. Then silence, only the soft western music on his radio. Then a loud BANG from his back seat with a bright flash of light. It would be determined later that a Cherry Bomb had been tossed into his car. At first he's frightened, then mad. Who the hell were these guys that would throw a Cherry Bomb into his car. So when he pulls into the parking lot at Pinnacle Peak Patio, he parks near the car that had passed him, and goes over to check it out.
                           Meanwhile the guys from the speeding car were inside leaning on the bar demanding the  bartender serve them some drinks. Well this might have been a part time bartender, but he was a full time cowboy and he wasn't intimidated by some drunken eastern dudes. He said "Boys its about time you leave before somebody gets hurt." As they filed out the door, one was heard to say, "lets get our guns".
                           Herman was cooking at the outside grill next to the patio.<Yes Herman Dickson the guy that fell into the mine shaft in 1961> Well Herman sees the customers on the covered patio dropping to the floor, and wonders what the hell is going on. The people were hiding behind the low patio walls. Then he sees this car pulled up by the arches in the parking lot, with rifles sticking out of the windows. So Herman ducks behind the big grill to keep out of the line of fire. But, no guns go off and the car just sped off back down the hill. Now the bartenders and some of the other cowboys grab their guns and take off after them.
                            Someone called the Sheriff's Dept. and the Sheriff was on his way. Well the drunken eastern dudes missed the first curve and rolled their car at Alma School and Happy Valley Road. So now the cowboys caught up with them and the fight was on. Even the customers went down to watch. The Sheriff had driven right past these people and came flying into the parking lot where Herman was waiting, and says "Where's all the action"? Herman says  "Hell you just came through it, can't you hear all that shootin"? Sheriff says " I thought I did", and gets on his radio and says he was shot at.  Well there were a lot of shots fired so a lot of people were shot at.
                           It just so happens that this was target practice night at the Sheriff's Dept shooting range on 7th st.  We can only imagine how the Sheriff's radio report was received at target practice. But I'll bet if I was in a helicopter overhead it looked like a string of Christmas tree lights snaking its way up to Pinnacle Peak. Lights a flashin, sirens screaming, and dust a flyin. 
                           Deputies picked up two of the guys walking down the road that night. The next day a detective picked up the third guy out in        the desert.  When the three guys went to court nothing happened. Their eastern family name and money had a powerful influence even way out here in the Wild West.
                           P.S.  It seems the good samaretin in this story is the guy that had a Cherry Bomb thrown into his car. It was later found out that while these guys were in the bar trying to get a drink, the Cherry Bomb victim had walked up to their car and seeing rifles laying inside had proceeded to unload them. No one was shot or hurt that night, but it could have ended differently. 
Black Canyon City AZ

Rescue and Recovery

                         The Sheriff had called for an ambulance and Herman was rushed to Doctors Hospital in Phoenix, located at 20th st. and Thomas. He would stay there for three weeks. When the ambulance pulled up at the Hospital's emergency room there were Police and news people everywhere. Herman was rushed in, his mother started to come in but Herman told her to get out he'd be okay. He didn't want her to see how really bloody and hurt he was. She might faint. Then Marv came in, and jokingly Herman says to him, "Why'd you push me down there?", Trying to lighten up the tension. But it was the wrong thing to say, Marv feels bad enough as it is, and worse yet the Police hear it and take Marv outside for questioning. Did he really push Herman in the mine shaft? But they were reassured by Herman that he was only joking when he said that. 
                 When Herman finally got out he was in a wheel chair. His right leg was in a big cast. So was his left arm, he would be in a wheel chair for three months, then on crutches.   When he returned to Paradise Valley High School that fall some of his classmates were surprised, they'd heard he died. Herman went on to graduate in 1963. He would return to Pinnacle Peak Patio in 1964, working as a cook. All this time Marv kept on working at Pinnacle Peak Patio as cook, maintenance, & sometimes night watchman.
                Business at the "Patio" just kept getting better, local celebrities and other famous people were discovering the delicious T-Bone steaks grilled over a Mesquite fire, giving them a distinctive woody flavor. There was much more to come, bigger and bigger groups were starting to come up to Pinnacle Peak. Conventions were starting to book events, and they wanted entertainment. They wanted to see real Cowboys, and gunfights.
                 In the next chapter I'll tell you about a real live gunfight at Pinnacle Peak Patio. Then I'll tell you about some guys that started playing the different characters out of the old west, and the first "Old Prospector". They all would go on to entertain people coming in from all over the world. I'll introduce you to the men from "Guns For Hire Inc.".    
Black Canyon City AZ

Rescue on Troon/Boulder Mountain, the Saga continues.............

                                 Herman fell back down the shaft, only this time he was tumbling and bouncing from one side of the jagged rocky shaft to the other. He hit the bottom hard, knocking the wind out of him, hitting his head once hard but somehow not being knocked out. So although he could hear them hollering down to him, he was unable to answer. He knows he's hurt, the pain in his left wrist draws his attention and what he see's alarms him. He can see two white cords sticking out and blood squirting everywhere. Tearing off his shirt Herman manages to tie a turnakit on his left arm. Having gotten his wind back he hollers back up to them. 
                          When the rope broke Bill jumped out of the truck and ran back to the mine shaft. While they are all hollering down into the darkness, they hear something behind them and to their horror, the truck is rolling back toward them. The nearest one manages to get in the truck and stop it, before it pushes all of them down the hole and follows them in. Luckily they have a couple more pieces of rope they can tie to the end and throw it back down the shaft. 
                           But now Herman can't use his left arm or his right leg. So he just wraps the rope around his right hand and hangs on tight. Bill puts the truck in gear and again slowly drives forward dragging Herman slowly back up the shaft. Herman hangs on, its got to work this time, he's been losing blood, he's thirsty and weak. He tries to push himself away from the rocky walls to avoid being dragged against  the jagged rocks.  But as he tries to push away from the wall he begins to spin one way or another. As he again nears the top he see's the rope being dragged through the same grove in the rocks. He can't let go and now his right hand is being dragged through this jagged grove. Skin and flesh are torn , but he hangs on until he feels many hands grabbing unto him. He would not go down the shaft a third time. He was out.
                      Now they raced back to Pinnacle Peak Patio, where the Sheriff has been waiting for them. There was no one there to tell him where the accident had happened. He had come all the way from Apache Junction.
Black Canyon City AZ

Pinnacle Peak Patio, 1961

                       By the spring of 1961, just two years at their new location, word had spread about the giant T-Bone cowboy steaks at Pinnacle Peak Patio, and if you wore a neck tie they would cut it off. Business had picked up so much that the bar was moved to the now enclosed porch area. A new large grill was added, plus a patio in front seating an additional 75 people. The lines of people waiting to be seated on Friday and Saturday night were growing longer.
                     In May that year when Paradise Valley High, let out for the summer, Marv and Herman started working days doing clean up work. There was a big pile of booze bottles out back that took three truck loads to haul away. Cactus trimmings, lots of boxes, it all had to go somewhere. That somewhere was an abandoned mine shaft everyone in the area was using as a landfill. It was located about three miles east of Pinnacle Peak Patio up on the side of Troon Mountain. Near what is today 116th st. and Jomax road. This unshored up mine shaft went down at a slight angle 65 feet. The drive up there would usually take them a good half an hour, driving in low gear, over this winding, rutted trail thru some dry washes and then up the side of old Troon, some locals called Boulder Montain.
                   They would carefully back their truck up to the edge until the tailgate hung over the rocky hole. Down this jagged rocky throat rained all kinds of trash. Booze bottles bounceing and exploding off the jagged rocky sides, then disappearing into the darkness below. Two loads of the Spanish Dagger Cactus, with long sharp points had just went down into this pit. Then more cardboard boxes sent down, gasoline was then poured onto this pile of rubble down in the darkness. Now......... wait awhile and let the fumes build up, then set fire to one last cardboard box, and kick it into the hole and run like hell. The firey roar that came out of this Dragon,s  throat was really something to see. Marv & Herman remember it well. Once it had set the serounding desert brush and grass on fire, keeping them busy stamping out the fire and stopping it from spreading.
                   Monday June 12th, 1961 was another hot day in the desert north of Scottsdale, Arizona. This day Marv and Herman will never forget. After another busy week end, more trash had to be hauled to the local landfill, i.e., the mine shaft on Troon Mountain. They ad dumped several loads on Friday and after the last load, set it all on fire. This fire could smolder for days. Now on Monday they had dumped a couple of loads, maybe one more to go. Again they carefully backed the pick-up to the edge of the hole, so the tail gate hung over the hole. Some smoke was still wafting up from the smoldering trash. They wanted to finish this job before it got too hot.This time of the year the temperature could normally go to 110 to 115 degrees in the shade, and there was no shade. Oh yah, its a Dry Heat all right.
                A heavy 55 gallon barrel of trash had to be dumped, so Marv climbed up onto the tailgate and got behind the barrel to push it back onto the tailgate. But it was heavy so Herman was going to climb up and help. They still are not sure how it happened, but the tailgate suddenly gave way as herman put his weight on it. Down Herman went , straight down the center of the shaft. Landing on the slope of the trash and tumbling on down to the bottom. He had sprung his ankle and wrenched his back but was otherwise okay.
               Now Marv turning around see's Herman is gone. Pannick stricken he begins hollering down into the mine shaft. Herman hollers back letting him know he's okay. Herman's lucky , if this had happened a week earlier before more trash was added, glass shards from broken bottles, and the Spanish Dagger Cactus with sharp spear points would have been waiting for him. As it is the fire is still smoldering , so its hot and smokey. In a way , Herman says the fire was a good thing, usually there are Rattle Snakes down in these  abandoned mine shafts. But because of the fire there are none in this one. Herman found some tin cans and put them up to set on  and put his feet on , because the fire is still burning below him. So you know its hot down there with smoke and not mch oxygen to breathe. The space at the bottom was only 10 or 12 foot square. When Herman looked up, the light at the top was about the size of a postage stamp.
                     Marv didn't want to leave his brother, ut Herman finally convinced him, Marv had to go for help. So Marv jumped in the truck and roared off down the trail, spilling the remaining cans and 55 gallon drum and its contents along the way. Down the road he sped, through the dry wash and over humps he normally drove in low gear.  But now the dust was flying , he came into the parking lot on two wheels and skidded to a stop in a cloud of dust. Running inside hollering for someone to help. Marv was so pannicked and out of breath he couldn't even talk when Bill Depew asked him what was wrong.
               After they had radioded the Sheriff's Dept. They gathered up what they could find of ropes or chains they could piece together to reach down the full 65 foot shaft. Then Marv along with Bill, Jim Capron , and a steak salesman that happened to be at the Patio, raced back to the abandoned mine. Herman said it seemed like he was gone 4 or 5 hours. But in reality Herman had now been down in the ot smokey mine shaft about an hour and a half. After tying these sections of rope and chains together then throwing one end down to Herman. They tried pulling him up by hand , but couldn't. So then they tied their end to the back of the truck. Bill got in and started moving it forward. Herman had tied his end around his waist and was hanging on tight as he could.
              Slowly the truck moved forward and slowly Herman began to rise up from the dark, hot, smokey pit. Slowly as he came up the shaft he could see the pening getting larger, where frightened faces and safety was waiting. As he got nearer the top he could also see where the rope was being pulled through a jagged notch in the rocks. And just as he got close, the rope broke.        
Black Canyon City AZ

"Spirit of the Old West Alive" <>Bison Museum, Nov. 19th 2008

  •                          We gathered again at the Bison Museum, in Scottsdale, Az. to Honor someone for keeping the "Spirit of the Old West Alive". Bob Boz Bel has been keeping the "Spirit" alive in many ways, books, paintings, cartoons, but manly thru his national publication of True West magazine. I think it is by far the best western magazine out there, having good accurate western stories along side graphics helping the reader to see the story .
                       I think it was best said by "Botlo" a WW2 fighter pilot from the South Pacific War. After listening to Bob Boz Bel as he sat on stage being interviewed by LeeAnn Sharpe, speaking freely of life's ups and downs."Botlo" said, "You must have a passion for something in life, and Bob Boz Bel has a passion for what he is doing with his life".  I say Bob Boz Bel is truly  keeping the "SPIRIT of the OLD WEST ALIVE".
Black Canyon City AZ

Helldorado Days, Tombstone Arizona <>

                             There are many great week end celebrations in the course of a year to visit in Tombstone, Arizona. My favorite is Helldorado Days, the third week end in October.It is the anniversary of the famous shoot out at the O K Corral between the Earp's, Doc Holiday, & the Clantons.  There are so many western re-enactors dressed in the 1880's style you really get the feel of that time period. Most are really, really good outfits, and I mean both men and women. But some are simply stunning. They are so good you can't help but stop and stare, and compliment them.
                           The O K Corral managed by Don Taylor is a must see.The forty five minute skit adds a good background story leading up to the famous shoot out. This is by far one of the best live western performances I've seen. It takes a lot of hard work to make it look good. This Doc Holiday is Good, Real Good!! Do yourself a favor and take in the performance at the "O K Corral".
                           The Helldorado Days Parade is always an enjoyable procession of floats, and people, some walking, some marching, some dancing, on foot and horseback. All passing by the Judges, presided over by Patrick Kelly.
                            The Arizona Duuude's week end stay at the Lorian Motel, was great thanks Gordon. Hungry stops at the Longhorn, O K Cafe, & Nellie Cashmans, were welcome pit stops along the way.
                            The Friday night gathering at the Rose Tree Museum, was especially enjoyable. Sophie Corrales, Helldorado Parade Marshal, was Honored, young Princesses were crowned, friendships renewed, wine was served, smiles were passed about. A good time was had by all. All presided over by Mayor Don Aiton.
                             I'm going back to Tombstone, to spend some more time along Allen street. Then I'll walk over and visit with Ben, I like his books and his take on life. 
Black Canyon City AZ

Somewhere Beyond Paradise.........................

                   Portal, Arizona. In many ways Portal is beyond Paradise. If you are looking for a place to spend some time with nature, and I mean inside a cocoon of dark nights, with bright stars overhead and beautiful quite sunny days. Then please find Portal.
                     Besides ranchers, this area is a haven for Birders, and nature lovers, ultra lite flyers at , a scenic airstrip complete with hangar, R V park, a lovely cafe nearby, with a game room where a Grand piano sits waiting. An excellent private movie theatre that seats 32 very comfortably.  A professional Rodeo arena is being built nearby in Rodeo, N.M. a few miles closeby is Rodeo . A large new trailer park especially for mobile homes pulling horse trailers. Each space having a side area big enough for a portable horse pen.
                     Then there is Sky Village, just north of Portal. A place that has some dark nights, I mean it has very little man made light pollution, making it attractive to Astronomers. Everyone here has a very professional observatory in their own back yard. Rick Beno gave us a tour of his and it is truly a great set up. Go to . Going back over to Portal, be sure to stop by the friendly library where you may just run into a couple of well known authors that have made their home here.
                     The Portal Peak Lodge, is the center of a very caring community. A call to 911 is referred Mitch or his wife Lonnie, owner's of the Lodge, who then dispatch the volenteer rescue, medical, fire, emergency personnel. Who, by the way recieve no taxpayer funds for this service. The state representative for this area really needs to step up and help these people who don't hesitate helping others.
                     The artwork of the map, Portal Peak Lodge, and Portal postcard, is the creation of Bob Waldmire. A truly unique person, put his name on Google and you'll see what I mean. I wish I would have met him back in the Route 66 hey day. Bob has traveled Route 66 from end to end many times and knows more people along it than anyone I've ever met. He is truly a part of "Our West",
                       So next time your headed toward south eastern Arizona, find Portal, it is close to Paradise. 
Black Canyon City AZ

I remember it like it was yesterday

                                Little Ben sat on the porch watching the train come into view. He had never seen  such a strange train as this was.  Funny looking different colored box cars. As it got closer he could make out strange animals in open sided cars, with bars on the sides. No, Ben had never seen a Circus train before, and he wanted a closer look. Like a shot he was off the porch and running down the lane from Grandpa's cabin. He didn't hear his dad hollering for him to come back.
                             Out of breath standing beside the Spring fed creek, Ben stood still as the Cowboy in the big white hat rode up on his beautiful horse. He could only nod his head up and down when the Cowboy pulled up, looked down and said, "Howdy little pardner would you like to go see the animals go get a drink of water?" Ben reached up to the hand that came down to him, and in one smooth move he was sitting in the saddle in front of the Cowboy  with the big white hat. These animals Ben had never seen before, Zebras, Giraffs, Lions, and Elephants. But he had seen an Elephant before.
                              When the Cowboy with the big white hat brought Ben back to where his Dad waited for him at the end of their lane, the Cowboy said as he handed him down, "Don't be hard on the boy mister, he just wanted to see the animals."  A few days later Ben's Dad asked him if he wanted to go see the Circus?  Well of course they got there plenty early, so they got a front row seat.  It was a great show, and Ben finally found out who the Cowboy in the big white hat was. Because at the end of the show, Tom Mix rode his horse Tony over in front of where Ben and his Dad sat, both did a bow, Tom pointed right at Ben tipped his hat and said, "This ones for you little pardner."
                        Ben told me this recently in Tombstone, Az. . Said he remembered it like it was yesterday. But, Ben is 81 now and he will never forget the day he sat on a horse named Tony with Tom Mix, on a warm spring day in 1937, near Watertown, Tennessee.