Knocked Out

I’ve been away from this keyboard for a few weeks and it feels good to be back. I literally “knocked myself out” and spent some time in the hospital. The result was finding a brain tumor, which we will be treating as best we can.

Losing all memory of several days of life is a scary thing. I keep wondering what strange things I said or did during that time. So far, no one has told me I danced naked in the hospital halls or sang my favorite Johnny Cash songs at the top of my lungs.

Now that I’m home and feeling better, maybe I should stir up some excitement in the neighborhood – just to let everyone know I’m back.

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  


In a March 21, 2016 Wall Street Journal article about hiking the Appalachian Trail, I was entertained by the nicknames (or trail names) hikers used to identify themselves in trail log books.

Examples were Doc, Sunshine, Turtle, Moose, and Strider. This made me wonder just how these names came to be attached to a particular hiker. I found one example: A hiker slipped in a stream and got wet. He stood close to the campfire to dry out. His pants began to steam as the water evaporated. Thus he gained the trail name “Hot Pants.”

Published in: on March 27, 2016 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Women’s Firsts

airplane While visiting the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, I noted a great display of “firsts” by female aviators. These women overcame many challenges to fulfill their dreams of becoming pilots. Here are a few that stood out.

Bessie Coleman became the first African American, male or female, to receive a pilot’s license in 1921.She had to go to France to receive training.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart was the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic.

In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova of Russia was the first woman in space.

Twenty years later Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

The cute little bumble-bee plane at the top really few but had room for only one person.

Published in: on March 18, 2016 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Government Auditors and Indian Agents, 1870s

Indian Agents paid many expenses for their assigned Indians, particularly when they traveled to Washington City for treaty talks. And Agents were used to the government auditing of each bill submitted for reimbursement. Most agents accepted the irritating reviews and questions, even when they seemed ridiculous.

Agent William Dennison was questioned about $30 he had paid to hire a wagon and driver for five days. The government auditor said the amount spent seemed “enormous.” Dennison replied, “If six dollars per day is considered “enormous” for the hire of a pair of horses, with wagon and driver, no explanation I can make will be satisfactory.” His response made sense to a second auditor who reviewed the claim. He wrote “suspension removed” on the claim and sent it on to be paid.

An Agent named Pease was called to account for claims submitted without receipts to verify the expense. He had spent $12.75 on meals for a Crow delegation at a stage coach station in Montana. He said “there was neither ink nor paper at this locality.”  He also explained why he spent $28 on cab fares in St. Louis. He said he used cabs (horse drawn wagons called “hacks”) because “it was difficult and almost impossible to get the Indians to the hotel on account of the great crowd of people who surrounded the Indians when they walked on the street.” (The $28 included some medicine purchased for the Crows and Pease admitted he simply failed to get receipts as he was busy keeping track of the Indians.)

Another agent was told his claim of $1.50 per Indian for bathing and barbering services in Washington was “exorbitant.” He replied to the auditor, “Probably it is dearer cleaning Indians than white men.”

Information from Diplomats in Buckskin by Herman Viola

Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Ute Women in World War I

Ute Women Red Cross 1918 The Ute women in this 1918 photo are knitting socks for the Red Cross.
          After the United States entered World War I, Mrs. L.W. Curry met with the chiefs of the Uintah and Uncompahgre Ute reservations. She explained the work of the Red Cross. 
 SOX         The Indian Agent reminded the Utes that some of their own young men would serve in the war. Sixty-six Utes of military age had already signed up for the first draft in 1917.
          As a result of Mrs. Curry’s visit, 450 Utes joined the Red Cross and paid the $10 membership fee.
          The Utes held a fundraising event for the Red Cross. It included a horse race, demonstrations of Indian dances, and a sale of women’s fancy work. The event raised $435. 
          They also subscribed $50,000 to the Fourth Liberty Bond campaign which helped fund the war effort.

Story from Chipeta: Queen of the Utes. The book is available from Western Reflections Publishing

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection


HPIM10262014 is almost upon us. I lift my imaginary glass in a toast to a year of good reading and good writing. And what better way to spend the cold and snow of winter than with a good book.

Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Memorable Characters

In the late 1960s I was a college student with a temporary Christmas job in the hosiery department at Stewart’s Department Store. My workspace was a square of glass-topped counters with storage space in the center and just enough room for me to walk around to any of the counters. Mid-thigh stockings held up by garters or garter belts were still popular although mini-skirt wearers wanted the new pantyhose.

The few men who came to the hosiery counter typically handed over a piece of paper on which the wife had written the brand, size, and number of pairs of stockings she would like to receive for Christmas. The men usually wanted to make the purchase and get away before being seen by anyone they knew.

One day a dapper older gentleman walked past my counter, glanced at the stockings on display and stopped to rub a stocking between his fingers. I had never before seen a man do that. The brand of stockings that caught the gentleman’s attention was not familiar to most Indiana shoppers. It was a Southern brand not carried by other retailers in our area. I not sold a single pair.

“I haven’t seen this brand in a long time,” the gentleman said when I approached. “These are my wife’s favorite kind of stockings.” He confidently selected colors. “This shade of forest green will be perfect with my wife’s new suit and I’ll take two pair of this china blue. She wears this color often.” He finished out his purchase with three pair in different shades of tan.

I was in awe of a man who knew his wife’s wardrobe and stocking preferences so well. The memory of that encounter remains with me half a century later.

For an interesting history of stockings see:

Published in: on December 9, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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flag1-1Do you know what these four men have in common?

Jack C. Montgomery. A Cherokee from Oklahoma
Van Barfoot. A Choctaw from Mississippi
Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. A Winnebago from Wisconsin
Ernest Childers. A Creek from Oklahoma

Visit this LINK to find out.

Published in: on November 11, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment