Found it hard to make progress on Nana’s raid with news of death of one of my favorite authors.
Not many writers can successfully combine profound insights and laugh-out-loud humor. For years now I’ve looked forward to his annual book (although I have to say his last two or three weren’t up to the standard of his previous work — not surprising considering his deteriorating mental condition).
Couple of interesting stories out of the Bootheel this past week – and there aren’t many weeks you can say that about NM’s southernmost tip. According to the March 1 Deming Headlight, Forest Service workers found the body of a 72-year-old Deming man near his pickup south of Lordsburg, five miles from the border. No indication of foul play, and apparently no clue what he was doing so far from home and so close to the line; in reporting him missing his wife said he was “disoriented” from his cancer meds.
That same day according to El Paso TV the Border Patrol captured another pickup, this one a heavy-duty Ford F350 that “breached” the border carrying 1,600 lbs of pot. (Good news for Colorado merchants who sold a reported 2.5 tons of legal marijuana last year; I’m sure they appreciate the feds protecting their market from cut-rate foreign imports.) The truck was boosted in Tucson, driven south and loaded up and then sent on a kamikaze run north through the Bootheel. The truck was apparently chased down by helicopter and the driver and passenger fled on foot before capture. A bold move that must have made the two mulas instant heroes of a new corrido in the Lordsburg lockup, but it’s hard to guess how they could have thought it would work out otherwise, given the concentration of local, state and fed’l LEOs around Deming and Lordsburg. It was a scheme Cheech and Chong would have rejected as impractical.
It’s been years since I’ve been down as far as Antelope Wells, which must certainly be the most isolated (legal) crossing anywhere along the 2,000 mile border, but the Bootheel has always been a dangerous place. The route through the Burro Mountains and down along the Peloncillos was a favorite Apache trail from the Mogollons to the Sierra Madre.
Updated Chapter 3 with a pic of scout Frank Bennett (courtesy The Huntington Library, San Marino, California). A tough, courageous and principled guy who came to a sordid end when he was pushing 50 — a dangerous age for any man, but particularly one who had led a vigorous and physically challenging life but found himself in middle age with little or nothing to show for it but his fading celebrity as a “famous Indian scout.” I found his suicide note (Chapter 7 ), like most, poignant but self-pitying; tactless at best to blame the woman you’ve just killed for your troubles. “Don’t you hate it when loves turns around and bites you like a damn rattlesnake?” one of Carl Hiaasen’s characters asks in Strip Tease, “It happens, by God. Happens every day.”
This weekend is “Camp Furlong Day” in Columbus, marking the 99th anniversary of Villa’s Raid. I won’t be able to make it this year, but thoroughly enjoyed my visit last year. Historical re-enactors, horsemen, history buffs, mariachi bands and great food. A genuine expression of cross-border good will. And the little museum at Pancho Villa SP has an engaging and informative exhibit on the raid, the Mexican Revolution and Pershing’s punitive expedition. Highly recommended.
Chapter 9 The Battle of Carrizo Canyon, together with accompanying the warpath guide and map is now available.
The state’s new agreement with the tribes excludes the Fort Sill Apache. “This is not singling out Fort Sill,” said Jessica Hernandez, the governor’s chief counsel and lead negotiator. (Alb Journal, Sunday, March 1) I believe she means that particular provision doesn’t mention the Fort Sill Apaches by name, it just happens to apply only to that particular tribe. So the tribe is once again going to the state Supreme Court to force Gov. Martinez to deal with them. There are now 26 Indian casinos in NM.
Feb 23, 1945
Ira Hayes was a Pima who had hardly ever been off the reservation in Arizona before he enlisted in the Marines. He never learned how to cope with his wartime memories or his fame as one of the iconic flag raisers. He drank himself to death at age 32.