Category Archives: 1990’s

Running from the law: The Great Cockfight Bust, or The Great C*ckfight Bust

El Palenque2

Hi readers.   Thanks for coming by for a read.  Those of you who have any morals and are offended by the alternative name for the male chicken will be soothed to see I’ve name this twice to avoid criticism.

Must have been 1996, 1997, I was living in Socorro, NM, and I got wind there was a major cock [c*ck] fight going to happen Saturday night.  They happened a few times a month in that area, and though official NM law allowed it as a local option at the time, murmurings in the State House rumored it was going to be prohibited soon.  They’d raided a couple of them in counties where the local option had people thinking it was legal.

Anyway, Saturday night I was at loose ends so I headed out to put hero roosters into my body of life experience.  The place was a mile beyond a gate and down a dirt road into the Rio Grande bosque.  The salt cedars opened up to a large cleared area of several acres with a large metal building toward the back.  Room to park 200 vehicles or more.

I got there early to look things over, still some daylight.  Maybe 20-30 cars and pickups in the lot, guys hanging around talking and smoking outside.  Moseyed into the barn, looked over the seating arrangements, looked a lot like an auction barn for livestock.  But with a cage blocked off in the center for the fighters and their handlers.

Nobody was in a hurry to go inside because it was hot in that barn.  I decided it would be hotter when the place filled up, so I staked a standing-up claim against the support for a tall sliding metal door at the back. 

When the place filled it was noisy, it was hot, and things were happening fast.  Bets, chickens, arms waving and yelling, every reason to be enamored of my place at the door.

But toward the shank of the evening a horn honked out in the parking lot and someone yelled, “Raid!  Cops!”  Sirens blaring, suddenly everyone inside stampeding for the doors.  I ran to the corner of the building and saw the parking lot was filled with flashing lightbars, half-dozen, maybe a dozen police cars.  Sheeze.  This is bullshit!  Guys running out toward their cars getting snagged by the cops.

So I ran like hell out into the bosque dodging salt cedars, rattlers, just put as much distance between myself and that barn as I could manage.  When I went knee deep in mud I knew I wasn’t going any further.  The Rio Grande was right in here somewhere close.

I tucked myself in next to a dead tree in a thicket of salt cedar and watched the lights through the trees, listened to the angry yells of men being arrested, watched the lights threading through the cedars chasing people trying to get away too late.  Waited, waited, felt ticks crawling all over me, found myself wondering about the rattlers, waited, more ticks, waited.

Gradually things calmed down, engines started, gradually the sirens stopped.  Things got really quiet.  But no way I was about to be fooled by that crap.  Full dark, I waited, listened.  Ticks by the hundreds crawling around on me.  Waited, caught myself dozing, jerked myself awake and waited some more.

Finally Old Sol began crawling in, me praying him up.  Still quiet except for the sounds of the morning birds and water rustling down the channel.  I carefully, carefully began working my way through the salt cedars toward the parking area.

I squatted and watched peeking out there as light filled the parking area.  There it was.  My old Mitzubishi Montero and a scattering of other vehicles.  Sitting there trying to lure me to jail.  I scratched and watched.

Finally a guy came creeping out of the bosque maybe 50 yards away, creeping toward a pickup the other side of the Montero.   Heeheehee.  Bait.  Now we’ll see where the law’s hiding.  Glad it ain’t me!

He seemed surprised.  Got into his truck, started it, no sign of the fuzz.  Spun around and vanished in a trail of dust back toward the pavement.

Hmmmm.  Hokay.  I stood up straight, Tried to act like I was just a normal guy coming out of those salt cedars.  Wandered over to the Montero and watched a dozen other guys coming out of the trees.  Cranked up the Mitzubishi and tooled home free as a bird.

The paper was full of it, the Socorro Chieftain, the Albuquerque Journal.  Printed the names of all those guys who got busted.

Served them right, too, going out there watching c*ckfights.

If people don’t have ethics and morals enough to stay away from places like that they need to be in jail.

Old Jules

Reincarnation – Life after the evidence locker

dodge powerwagonWhen I came across this picture on the web a while back I was fairly certain I recognized it.  I believed and still believe it’s the truck belonging to the man and wife wood cutter couple murdered in Catron County, New Mexico while I was working Fox Mountain.  An incident I described in loving detail in the Adams Diggings book.  They were found several months later, a bear having dug them up where they were folded yinyang style into a 4’x4’x4′ grave in an ancient ruin site.

Damn I love that truck.  Nothing sissie at all there.  A guy could drive that thing around just about anywhere he might wish to go.  It’s been pre-disastered so the odds of anything bad happening in it would be nil.

Kings, Stings, Forgotten Stinks, Sungs and Stungs

Thanks, Mr. President
For all the things you’ve done
The battles that you’ve won
The way you deal with U.S. Steel
And our problems by the ton
We thank you so much

Before they decompose in the grader ditch.

Honest! It just fell!

The ugly?

A touch of class

That gall bladder used to be right THERE.

Mexican Standoff in Chinese

Tanked in China

A sobering night for Ted Kennedy, but Mary Jo couldn’t swim. He bounced back, though not so high as previously expected. She didn’t.

Tanked in Martha’s Vineyard

The song has ended but the malady lingers on

Tanked elsewhere.

When Cuba still seemed nearby

The Last Roundup

Who ARE these guys?

Party animals

Hi! I’m king.

El Guapo meets Godzilla

Last one on’s a rotten egg

The Presidential War’s over!  This helicopter’s destination is Panama, Grenada, El Salvadore, Kuwait, Iraq, last stop in Afghanistan!  Show your tickets.

Old Jules

Protecting the Aristocracy From Mutants, Muslims, Mormons and Malcontents

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

During almost a decade when most of my salary was paid by FEMA I used to have to go to FEMA Regional Headquarters every quarter for meetings with people doing the same job I was doing in New Mexico, but from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and hmm if there’s another state in this FEMA Region I can’t recall it at the moment.  But you get the idea. 

Fairly dreadful meetings and nowhere near as interesting as the weeks spent in the training center at Emmitsburg, MD, or the various other meetings in places where there were Civil War battlegrounds to drift off and walk around on studying how those poor bastards delt with their differences of opinion.

But that’s another story for another time.

The Regional meetings for Emergency Management people and Flood Plain Management people were held on the top floor of an amazing bunker complex at FEMA Region 6 Headquarters outside Denton, Texas.  A venal, truly hidebound lot of bureaucrats we were, too.  Although the worst of us was nowhere near as anal, ugly, downright arrogant as the FEMA people.

And that was before 9/11 and FEMA becoming a part of Homeland Security.  I hate to think how it must be today.

But what I wanted to tell you about is that bunker complex.  Damnedest thing I’ve ever beheld this side of Carlsbad Caverns if it was set up for the US Congress, the 82nd Airborne Division and MD Anderson Hospital were all planned to be housed inside it.  For a long, long while.

Just the parts I was allowed to visit and mull over were several stories underground and probably several acres diameter.  Above ground under all the festooning of antenna, cable and concrete was a pillbox so the people underground could go up and peek out to shoot the occasional mutant, malcontent, or just enjoy the sight of all the devastation.

The first level entryway was a hallway with sprinklers to wash off the radioactivity lingering on anyone going inside, along with slots to allow shooting anyone who didn’t use soap or wash long enough.  And just beyond that was a huge freezer for dragging the carcasses into of people who either got shot or didn’t get clear of the radiation quickly enough to avoid the blind staggers.

Nearby was a huge, amazing, pristine, empty hospital complex with supplies, stacked along the walls, equipment, tables, clean shining stainless steel waiting for some doctors to show up to treat any patients that might show up.

Next floor down was the ‘Continuity of Government’ facility.  A place designated for the Governors of all the Region 6 States, their staffs, their families to wait out whatever difficulties led to them being there.  Hallways with State Flags for each of the member States hung in front of entranceways to avoid Louisiana confusing itself with New Mexico.

An entire floor was devoted to warehousing food, water, all manner of supplies the people living down there would be consuming.  Another floor devoted to Security and Military personnel, along with their equipment and ammunition.  That floor also contained the communications equipment so’s they could talk to anyone who still was alive outside and able to speak English.  Or to whomever else was left out there with radio equipment still working.

And those were just the floors I was allowed to visit.  The FEMA folk hinted there was a lot more, winked knowingly, but wouldn’t discuss what was there.

Soothing thought, I found it, knowing the government had arranged for a place for all those folks I considered more important than regular people to get in out of the rain and keep doing whatever needed doing for the people outside with their eyeballs running down their faces and their flesh sloughing off.

I surely hope they’re still maintaining those bunkers.  I’d hate to think the politicos aren’t being looked after if something happens.

Old Jules

Portales, New Mexico’s Multi-Phased Personality Test

I found out the other day there’s another occasional reader here shared classrooms and the seven-year drought with me in the 1950s.  Surprising, the people of that town and that vintage clicking to remember.

Every kid in Portales, New Mexico, believed Gene Brown and Bobby Thomas were lower trash than they, themselves were.  Including me.  I can’t recall now why they believed it, though both started smoking before they learned to masturbate, most likely.

But maybe the fact both kids were considered such lowlifes explained the reason I ran around with them a while, caught those freight trains to Clovis with them.  [Riding the Rap]. 

Bobby Thomas quit school, lied about his age and joined the army when we were 9th graders.  The next time I saw him he was a different person from the buzzard-necked, shunned youngster he’d been.  I’ve often thought quitting school, for him, must have been a cheap price to pay for an opportunity to be out from under the pall of scorn the town piled on him for being whatever they thought he was.

Gene Brown, on the other hand, was still vilified as one of the historical lowlifes 30 years later when I went back for a visit.  Never saw him, but I was surely impressed with how the sign the town stamped on his back stayed through the decades.  Likely he came by it honestly.  Certainly early.

On the other hand, a lot of the higher society folk who shunned those two managed to make lousy enough choices in life to earn their later reputations as lowlifes.   And some of the kicked around, not-quite lowlifes did impressive, though maybe meaningless things with their lives.

My old friend, Fred Stevens, who spent early years as a hotshot savings and loan president, went down with the ship in the mid-80s crash, was as solid a citizen as I’ve ever known.  But he assured me I’d have thought differently if I’d known him as an S&L president.

I’m sorry I didn’t get up to Seattle for a chance to reacquaint myself with the other banker from our kidship, but after he’d chosen to live under a bridge instead of running a financial institution.  [Could you choose to live on the street?]

But I think the one I’d like most to know before I die is the one walked around the corner from a class reunion at the Cal Boykin Hotel in the early 1990s.  Reunion for the grad classes 1960-1970.  Fred Stevens told me about it.  One of the attendees walked into a bank branch a block from the Cal Boykin Hotel and stuck it up.  Walked clean away with $1500 and a well-deserved place in local legend.

I hope he’s remembered.  Wish I’d thought of it and had the brass to do it.

Old Jules

Massacre Canyon – Long After the Dust Settled

Hi readers.  I might have once thought I knew what a massacre was, but time’s eroded my perspective.  During the mid-1990s I made the toughest backpacking trip of my life to spend 8-9 days in there to try for a better understanding of the subject.

Here’s the basic story of the events leading to it being named, “Massacre Canyon”:

http://www.livestockweekly.com/papers/97/07/03/3bowser.html

RETIRED GENERAL Michael Cody served in a somewhat more modern army than the men he and others honored recently at Massacre Canyon in New Mexico, but Cody’s army still traces its history to the men who helped open the West. A student of the era and the area, Cody has an affinity for and an understanding of the men who fought on both sides of the conflict more than a century ago.

Massacre In Las Animas Canyon
Led To End Of Apache Victorio

By David Bowser

HILLSBORO, N.M. — Indian legend maintains that rain at a funeral means the gods are weeping over the death of a great man.

Black clouds boil up over the Black Range Mountains as Michael Cody, a retired U.S. Army general, addresses a gathering along Animas Creek. Soldiers and spectators traveled to this clearing to dedicate a headstone honoring those who fought in Massacre Canyon more than a century ago. Three Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded in that clash Sept. 18, 1879, between the buffalo soldiers of the Ninth U.S. Cavalry and the Apache warriors of Victorio.

“The Battle of Las Animas Canyon did not begin on the 18th of September, 1879,” says Cody, who is working on several books concerning the era. “It had its beginning long before then.”

Until 1872, the Tchine, the Red Paint People of the Apache, made their home around Ojo Caliente in New Mexico.

Prior to 1872, there was a reservation at Ojo Caliente for the Tchine. By 1872, miners and ranchers had come, and the Apache were moved.

They were shifted from reservation to reservation until 1876, when Victorio and the rest of the Tchine left the reservation and went to Ojo Caliente. That winter, they surrendered and were taken to the Mescalero reservation near present-day Ruidoso. They stayed until August, 1878.

“Unable to stand it any longer, Victorio and his segundo, Nana, a 73 year-old man, took the entire Tchine nation, almost 600 people, and left the Mescalero reservation to go home to Ojo Caliente,” Cody says.

The Ninth United States Cavalry, the most decorated unit in the history of the United States Army, was responsible for the area. They were headquartered at Fort Bayard under Col. Edward Hatch.

“When Victorio left the reservation, he headed for Ojo Caliente,” Cody says. “When he got there, he found E Company of the Ninth United States Cavalry. It took Victorio about 10 minutes to turn E Company from cavalry to infantry. He killed about 11 people, eight troopers and three civilians, took 68 horses and mules, and headed out.”

Victorio moved south toward Silver City, New Mexico.

“He hit a couple of small ranchitos to get food, to get some ammunition,” Cody says. “Somewhere between Silver City and Kingston, he ran into a militia group made up of miners.”

Victorio’s band killed about 10 men, took another 50 horses and went down the Animas. Victorio had not lost a man.

Two of the 15 graves in this clearing are those of Navajo scouts who rode with the Ninth Cavalry.

“They were from the Sixth Cavalry, but detached to the Ninth,” Cody explains. “They picked up Victorio’s trail and the entire Ninth United States Cavalry went to the field.”

Second Lt. Robert Temple Emmet was on court martial duty in Santa Fe, N.M., when word came of the attack at Ojo Caliente. Emmet traveled 48 hours by stagecoach to Fort Bayard to rejoin his troops following Victorio down the Animas.

“There are several versions of what happened next,” Cody says. “The stories according to the Apache and in army records does not differ much.”

The First Battalion, commanded by Capt. Byron Dawson with Lt. Mathias Day and a Lt. H. Wright, came upon either an Indian woman down by the creek or a couple of Apache warriors who fired shots at the approaching soldiers.

Ignoring the Navajo scouts’ warnings not to follow, the cavalry chased the Indian woman — or the two warriors — across this clearing about a quarter mile and into what has become known as Massacre Canyon.

The canyon entrance is about 30 yards wide with spires of rock on either side. The trail makes an S-curve through the canyon with a rock outcropping that is about 16 yards wide and three yards deep.

“It’s flat as an arrow,” Cody says. “It’s a perfect place to put about 20 guys with rifles.”

The First Battalion, 25 men from Companies A and B of the Ninth Cavalry and perhaps 50 from Company E, remounted and came through the entrance in single file. With the 75 men well inside the canyon, Victorio opened fire.

Sixty-one Tchine lay along the ridgeline. There were 60 warriors and one woman, Nahdoste, the sister of Geronimo and Nana’s wife.

In the first volley of fire, 32 horses fell. The First Battalion was trapped.

The Second Battalion under the command of Capt. Charles Beyer with First Lt. William H. Hugo and Second Lt. Emmet heard the gunfire and came down the Animas.

As they approached Massacre Canyon, Victorio lifted his fire, let them get close, then opened up again. Victorio now had four companies of cavalry pinned down.

“All this started at 9 a.m. on 18 September 1879,” Cody says. “Victorio followed a classic method of warfare: kill the horses first, then kill the troopers at your leisure — a perfectly executed ambush.”

Late in the afternoon, Lt. Day with a small detachment attempted to break to the head of the canyon to climb up the steep slope and come back along the ridgeline to roll Victorio’s flank.

“As he got on the ridgeline,” Cody says, “the Apache held their fire until he was totally exposed, then opened fire on his flank. Day and his detachment were pinned down.”

Hugo and Emmet with a detachment outside the canyon attempted the same maneuver on Victorio’s other flank. They tried to come up a little canyon on the other side of the ridgeline, climb the massive slope and roll the Apache flank.

“The Apache let him in, then opened fire on his flank,” Cody says.

Now Hugo and Emmet were pinned down.

“By late in the afternoon, it was time to get out of there,” Cody says. “Troops on the valley floor were down to two or three rounds of ammunition per man. The order was given to withdraw. Lt. Day at the head of the canyon refused to obey. He had a man, one of his troopers, wounded on the ridgeline above him, and rather than obey the order, he climbed onto that ridgeline under fire to rescue his trooper. For this the commander of troops threatened him with court martial for refusal to obey his order to withdraw.”

Hugo and Emmet were also given the order to withdraw. They fired three volleys in an attempt to get the Apaches’ attention so the people on the valley floor could get out. It worked, but Emmet also refused to obey the order to withdraw.

“Five of his troopers, buffalo soldiers, were exposed on the ridgeline above him,” Cody says. “Rather than obey the order to withdraw, he climbed the ridgeline to get above those five, drawing fire, then laying down a base of fire so his men could escape. For this Lt. Robert Emmet was threatened with a court martial for refusal to obey an order.”

On the valley floor, Pvt. Freeland was wounded in the first volley. By late afternoon, he was in bad shape. He had taken a bullet through his thigh, breaking the bone.

First Sgt. John Denny, lying on the ridgeline about a quarter mile away, ran through the exposed rock-strewn area to pick up Pvt. Freeland, got him on his shoulders and ran back 400 yards, all under direct fire.

Day, Emmet and Denny were each awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions.

The field commander, Lt. Col. Nathan A.M. Dudley, who threatened both lieutenants with court martial for not withdrawing, was relieved by Major Albert P. Morrow.

Morrow and the Ninth Cavalry, working with the Tenth Cavalry, continued to chase Victorio.

“The 10th Cavalry blocked the water holes,” Cody says. “The Ninth followed the Apache. The Ninth kept the pressure on the Apache until October 1880 at Tres Cabrillos, when Col. Juaquin Terrazas of the Mexican cavalry got into the act.”

The Mexican government granted permission for the U.S. Army to follow Victorio into Mexico. Morrow’s scouts pinned Victorio down at Tres Cabrillos. Victorio had women, elders and children, and many wounded. They were out of food and ammunition. Morrow informed Col. Terrazas of his intention to surround Victorio and ask for his surrender.

At that, Terrazas withdrew the Mexican government’s permission for the U.S. Army to operate south of the border, insisting that Morrow return to the United States. The Ninth Cavalry wheeled and went back to U.S. soil.

Terrazas surrounded Victorio’s band and slaughtered them.

“It was an abject massacre,” Cody says. “He slaughtered them. He took about 100 women and younger children — not the real little ones — those they eviserated and smashed their skulls. The ones that were old enough, they kept for slaves.”

But Nana, now 75 years old, was out with Nahdoste and 14 warriors gathering provisions. Author Max Evans, whose book on Nana is to be published next year, claims that an Apache medicine woman, Lozen, was also with Nana. According to Evans, Lozen could sense approaching danger. If she had been with Victorio, Evans reasons, the band would have escaped.

“When they got back, they found this slaughter,” Cody says. “That was the beginning of the Nana vengence campaign.”

Every raid that Nana led from then on, he took no prisoners. Nana and his warriors burned and destroyed. Finally, they caught Col. Terrazas.

Nana and his band finally came in.

“When Nana did surrender, he was 76 years old,” Cody says. “They took him to the reservation in Oklahoma and he died there, but he died as an unrepentent hater of the Mexican people. It’s understandable. Honorable men fight for dishonorable causes, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are honorable. Nana was an extraordinary, historic figure.”

The services here were the result of seven years of work by Gene Ballinger, a historian and author; Cody and a number of others representing such groups as the Medal of Honor Society, The Buffalo Soldiers Society and other parties interested in preserving New Mexico history.

Twice during the services here on the F Cross Ranch of Jimmy Bason, rain splattered the soldiers and civilians gathered along the Animas.

That evening as most of the participants and spectators sat in their motel rooms in Truth or Consequences or at the S Bar X bar in Hillsboro, the clouds opened up in this rugged, arid land, washing the long-ago battlefield with a heavy mourning rain.

As you can see, it’s not easy to escape a lot of theatrical hand wringing and rhetorical horse manure carried along as baggage when it comes from some retired Army scud with the name Cody worn as a pair of crutches.  A dozen-or-two decades establishes fairly well what those soldiers died for in that canyon.

Even though there’s a USFS road [maintained by US taxpayer funding] leading in from the East, access to the site is denied by the owners of the giant ranch.  For you, me, and any Mescalero Apaches who’d like to see where their ancestors taught the US Army a few basics about ambush.

The only way in involves backpacking down from the Mimbres Divide.  Tough tough tough tough.

But worth every minute of it.  Every drop of sweat it takes to get there.

A person can still examine the pockmarks on the watermelon-sized rocks those soldiers were trying to squinch themselves down behind.  Can still pan spent, deformed rounds out of the canyon bottom.  See the inside of the mind of Victorio, where he placed his men, the landmark selected to commence firing when the troops passed it.

In those days guys like Cody and Gene Ballinger were already doing a lot of posturing and flag waving about the 12 unmarked graves on the plateau you can see in the picture toward the center.  Cody, Ballinger et al didn’t have to pack in.  The rancher to the East allowed them access by the Forest Road.

So during my eight days in there part of the way I passed the time was digging down a couple of feet below the surface various places in the canyon, plateau, and further up Animas Canyon, carefully gathering and placing rocks.  Creating enough other unmarked graves to make it difficult for them to go in and rob artifacts out of the actual graves.  Which I believed then and now, they were in the process of doing.

Old Jules

Giving the Devil His Due

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Before I leave Dennis Tolliver in the dust of history I’m going to share a couple of other anecdotes with you to round out your understanding of the sort of man was, might still be if he’s alive.

During the years I lived in Socorro I’d frequently stop in at Mel’s furniture store for coffee.  Often we’d stroll around the corner to Tolliver’s used car lot for the novelty.  Mel King

Mel and Dennis were close friends and both were trapped in self-images including a strong measure of outlaw-billybadass.  Nothing much was said about it, but it hovered in the background as scenery too solid not to be real.

One day we were huddled in the car lot office when a Navajo from the Alamo Rez came in with a small caliber pistol he offered as a down payment on a truck.  Dennis noted it was loaded with a round in the chamber, examined it and scowled.

Dennis:  This pissant thing?  What the hell do you think I’d want with it? 

He handed it back to the guy.

Navajo:  It’s a good pistol.

Dennis:  Good pistol my ASS.  Shoot me with this damned thing! 

He stood up and threw his arms out to make a better target.

Dennis:  Shoot me anywhere you want to with it!  If I have to go to the hospital I’ll give you the damned truck free!

The guy looked at the pistol, looked at Dennis, seemed to be considering it.  Then he just shook his head, stuffed the pistol under his belt and left.

Dennis:  Bastard was trying to set me up.  If I’d taken that pistol from him I’d have had cops all over this place.  A convicted felon in possession of a firearm!  If that bastard was real he’d have shot me and tried for the free truck.

I was more closely acquainted with a guy who’d grown up with Dennis, who enlisted in the army with him, served with him in Vietnam.  A man who had no use at all for Dennis Tolliver.  One day he explained his reason.

Several years before Dennis did his armed robbery trick in Grants the two of them found themselves in possession of some dynamite and blasting caps.  They were drunk, and went out on the Interstate blowing up traffic barrels, abandoned automobiles, whatever presented itself.

Eventually a police car came over the horizon behind them, lights and siren providing the drama.  Dennis floorboarded the truck, but the cop was on the tailgate in no time.

Dennis:  Light that stick of dynamite and throw it out on him.

The cap was taped around the dynamite stick with electrical tape.  The guy telling me the story said he lit it and tried to throw it out, but it slipped and rolled under the seat of the truck, him fumbling around under there for it.

Dennis, calmly:  You really need to get that out of here or that cop’s going to have us.

Finally the guy found it, tossed it out the window soon enough so’s it exploded outside the truck, blew out all the windows and the truck rolled into the ditch.  Dennis came out unscathed, but my bud got all his hair burned off, ended up in the hospital, then jail. 

Pissed him off royally, because he was charged and convicted for the whole mess, while Dennis walked.  Dennis even testified against him.

Worthless bastard!” was all he had to say about Dennis.

Old Jules