I Know Those People!

There’s an interactive map on Ancestry.com that can show how your family surname was distributed at three points in American history.

The map for McGehee is interesting to me because, apparently, at one point people in my ancestral line were pretty much the only McGehees in Indiana. I’m not giving anything away there because I already posted last May about my great great grandfather and his two brothers, all from Indiana, who served in the Civil War. In 1840 all three of them would have been in the same Indiana household.

Indiana wasn’t the only non-Confederate state with a recorded McGehee presence, but all of the other states were slave states. If there were any McGehees in Union blue besides my ancestor and his brothers, I’d be very surprised. After the war, my kinsmen had dispersed across the Sunbelt, including to California.

By 1920, of course, we had spread like the flu to all corners of the nation…

Truth Is Stranger than Fact

Many years ago, there used to be awards bestowed upon bloggers, in recognition of the quality of their blogging.

Believe it or not, I even managed to get nominated a time or two, under whatever moniker I went by at the time (“McG” is a relatively recent distillation; most of the time I’ve gone by “McGehee”, mainly because, as I was wont to observe, every seventh blogger was named Kevin).

One category in which I was never nominated was “Lifetime Achievement”, and I probably would have demurred anyway because back then — hell, even now — I don’t consider my oeuvre to have amounted to a lifetime’s worth.

If it were called the Life Achievement Award, well…

No, guess not.

Take the Long View

Wolves have packs and bees have hives
Soldiers have platoons, Indians tribes
Football players on the gridiron have teams
Everyone’s part of a group it seems
Teamwork is good, don’t get me wrong
Takes a passel o’ notes to make a song
And a lot o’ hands you’ll need for your roundup
But plenty o’ folks let their souls get ground up
Needin’ acceptance from others is human nature
Exchangin’ loyalty can enhance your stature
Just remember though when your work here is done
When you stand before God, you’ll stand alone.

De Augustibus

They call this part of summer “dog days”
I wouldn’t treat a dog this way
It gets hot, muggy and miserable
People get angry and irritable
Traffic is noisy, loud and slow
Like Christmas shoppin’ season, but more so
No one wants to get anythin’ done
At least I don’t, a majority of one
Storm clouds rise high in the sky
Then say, “hell with it”, give up and die
Dogs are smart though, they’ve got it made
Sprawled out, pantin’, in the shade

The Great Crash of 2017

Summertime in Georgia at Mustache World Headquarters
Is high time for mowin’
‘Cause the grass sure likes growin’
The field ain’t level nor flat and it’s peppered with holes
And there’s always a threat
Of thunder and wet
Tall trees tower over the edges of the open space
So when morning or evening shadows fall
It can seem like I’m hitting a wall
You’d think with so much rain I’d never have to worry about dust
But with every turn it’ll rise
Covering my hat, whiskers and eyes

Well, so between all the dust and the shadows and sun I wove
Up and down and across the field I drove
Turning a wild weed pasture into something closer to a golf course fairway
I’d turn my head when I had to go through the red clay haboob
And slow down a touch when over toward the trees I moved
There’s no regular grid on this patch, I go here, there and thataway

If you’ve never mowed grass
Here in Georgia, take a pass
If you’re squeamish about wildlife surprises
You need to let your senses do
‘Cause there’s a lot to pay attention to
But none are as important as your eyes is
More than once these last few years
I’ve often had to swerve and veer
As summer’s cycle goes through its flow and ebb
But when you’re shade and dust cloud blind
It’s hard not to accidentally find
Your face plastered with a giant spider web

It could have been a mighty crash
I could only use one hand to thrash
And fend off the critter with my spittin’, slappin’ and blowin’
It just goes to prove with real aplomb
How true is that ol’ rule of thumb
Keep your mind on what you’re doin’, and look where you’re goin’

Some parts of this narrative may be fiction. Sort of.

Memo to Self: Next time work out a rhyming scheme before you start writing the poem.

McG’s Synthesis

Unlike Jethro Gibbs, I do believe in coincidence. I also believe that not everything that looks like a coincidence is a coincidence. I suppose I adhere more closely to the Goldfinger Rule of Thumb.

Still, if the little hairs on the back of your neck are standing up, it’s prudent to be (at least mentally) prepared for the next step in the Goldfinger progression. Which kinda resembles Gibbs’ Rule #36.

21st Century Problems

A hundred years ago people lost treasured memories in a fire, which also tended to destroy their homes and furnishings, and even claim lives. Those things still happen, but much less often.

These days you’re much more likely to lose family photos and copies of correspondence in a hard drive crash or a cloud-sync failure. You still have your home and nobody dies.

Living in the 21st century isn’t perfect, but it beats the alternative.

Suits Me

I think it’s a known fact that I watch RFD-TV. My first exposure to that channel’s programming was some years back, before RFD was available on our local cable system, when its parent corporation put the channel’s programming temporarily on FamilyNet.

Tomorrow, as I just discovered from belatedly watching last Wednesday’s “Western Sports Weekly“, FamilyNet becomes the Cowboy Channel, dropping (most of) its heretofore predominantly nostalgic TV programming for rodeo and rodeo-oriented fare. RFD-TV has been sponsoring an annual rodeo called The American, the success of which has convinced the corporation there is sufficient demand for Western sports above and beyond what RFD, with its agribusiness and agrarian lifestyle focus, could offer.

I’ll watch, to see how well they pull it off. The first few days of primetime programming certainly brings plenty of rodeo events.

Update: Linkback to Dustbury: Not their first 24-hour rodeo

Just One More Friendly Reminder

If you call me and get my voicemail, leave a message. No exceptions; violators’ numbers may be summarily blocked.

If you call me and your number won’t display on my caller ID, you will get my voicemail, because I never answer calls from undisplayed numbers. What should you do? See above.

If you can’t call me without blocking caller ID, or if leaving a voicemail is against your religion, then don’t call me.

Holy Mortality!

Yes, it was campy, but I was in kindergarten. So to me, then and for many years after, Adam West was Batman.

I hadn’t yet discovered comic books, and the Dark Knight was still years away. The show could be called a takeoff on the Silver Age Batman, whose adventures took place within the bounds of the Comics Code Authority and came to be regarded in later years as fluffy and silly. Really though, there wasn’t all that much room for parody.

I just happened to be at the right age, completely innocent of The Batman’s origin story, to be enthralled by the show. It was only later, I think after the show’s original run, that I learned why Bruce Wayne had put on the costume. By then I had bought in to the characters so much that giving me a book containing some of the old comic-book adventures was a pretty good way to ensure that I stayed out from under foot for an afternoon.

Though I was momentarily confused that Commissioner Gordon in the comics looked more like Alan Napier than Neil Hamilton. And I wondered where Chief O’Hara and Aunt Harriet were. That was my first exposure to the differences in how characters were realized in different media, or even in different outings in the same media — after all, the origin story was definitely pre-Silver Age.

Still, in my head I still always heard Adam West’s voice when comic-book Batman spoke. As for later TV incarnations, Olan Soule? Who was he?

It wasn’t until after the Tim Burton series of movies that TV successfully replaced Adam West as the quintessential voice of Batman in my memory, when Kevin Conroy took on the role. Having the chance to play off the best Joker voice ever, whoever that guy was who had the same name as Luke Skywalker but couldn’t possibly be him, didn’t hurt.

Still, Adam West kept going, eventually voicing a Batman-like TV superhero on an episode of “Kim Possible,” in between his duties of voicing Quahog’s mayor on “Family Guy” (a guy who, according to West, was named Adam West and looked and sounded just like the actor of the same name, but wasn’t actually him).

Actors whose later opportunities end up limited because of one definitive role often complain, for a while, about the burden — but even Leonard Nimoy eventually admitted that, yes, he was Spock. If Adam West ever complained he was low-key about it, and like so many others he found a way to turn the limitation into a spotlight of his own that no one, not even Kevin Conroy, could steal.

The actors playing the arch-villains on “Batman” may have been more famous when the show was on, but Adam West was the star.

Watch Out When He Starts to Twist

The other day, a re-airing of 2017’s RodeoHouston Super Shootout appeared on one of the FoxSports channels. To my surprise they skipped the preliminary barrel racing round, in which last year’s NFR champion — who was 68 last December — failed to make the final four. World champion bull rider Sage Kimzey, who placed second in the prelims, chose a daunting bull for his final-four ride, but the perfectly understandable go-big-or-go-home move — why draw an easy bull that can’t give you a winning ride? — cost him a premature dismount.

One of the bareback bronc riders had an early dismount from a horse that seemed to have been taking lessons from the bulls; normally horses don’t spin in place like bulls do.

Recently it occurred to me I had acquired two coffee mugs depicting rodeo events. From the University of Wyoming I’d ordered a mug with the state’s bucking horse icon (seen at the second link above), which represents saddle-bronc riding. I also have a mug with the words “Cowboy Up!” where the cowboy on a bucking bronc is leaning sharply backwards as bareback bronc riders do, and isn’t holding a rope as saddle bronc riders do.

I’ve since added two more mugs, depicting bull riding and steer wrestling. I think team roping will be next.

My Three (?) Degrees of Wyatt Earp, Revisited

Here I wrote of my two degrees of separation from John Wayne, and added in an update that a young, not yet famous Duke had made the acquaintance of Wyatt Earp in the 1920s.
This morning I happened on the story of a modern-day Wyatt Earp, descended from one of the original’s brothers, who was starring, as of 2011, in a one-man play about the Wild West legend. Curious, I resorted to Google and Wikipedia, and found that the only Wyatt Earp brother known (according to Wikipedia, for what that’s worth) to have had sons was his older half-brother Newton, who died in Sacramento (my boyhood hometown, as noted in “Who Needs Bacon?”) in 1928.
Newton Earp is buried in the East Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery on Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento.
I grew up in a house from which I could look out my bedroom window and see the mausoleum at this cemetery.
I’m not sure how this affects my degrees of separation from Wyatt, since Newton died before either of my parents had ever heard of Sacramento. I certainly never saw the grave as I never went into the cemetery myself.
Now, it’s possible Virgil, James or Warren Earp might have had sons that Wikipedia neglected to mention, so that particular question remains unanswered. However Newton did name his two sons after brothers Wyatt and Virgil, which names might have been handed down to subsequent descendants.
I could email the guy and ask, but it doesn’t seem like a good reason to bother him.

Update: Holy carp. Newton’s son Virgil* is buried in the other cemetery I lived near in Sacramento, before we moved the other place near East Lawn. I don’t recall ever entering that cemetery either.

* (Link goes to a Youtube video of Virgil’s 1958 appearance on “The $64,000 Question.”)

‘Nother update: Just remembered something else. As many of you may already know, Sam Elliott — who played Sacramento Virgil’s uncle Virgil in Tombstone — was born in Sacramento.

This is getting spooky.

‘Nother other update: Wyatt Earp played cards at least once with Soapy Smith, who was born and raised somewhere not far at all from where I am sitting right now. Of course, Wyatt’s best friend Doc Holliday was born in slightly less nearby Griffin.

Though I lived in Alaska, I never got to either Nome (where Wyatt had a saloon) or Skagway (where Soapy ran a gang).

‘Nother other other update: According to Ancestry.com, Newton’s son Wyatt had a son named Frederick Wayne Earp, who lived in Sacramento for close to 50 years until his death in 1978 at the relatively young age of 59 — when I was 16. I have yet to find reference to any children, but they could still be living. Fred’s uncle Virgil doesn’t seem to have any sons recorded in Ancestry.

This is getting out of hand update: Tracked down the cemetery in Woodland, California, where the famous Wyatt Earp’s nephew Wyatt is buried. During my college years I had friends in Woodland who lived mere blocks from this cemetery. I visited them, but (again) never the cemetery.

Incidentally, while Ancestry has this Wyatt dying in Utah, as Find-a-Grave agrees, it also claims he died there in 1920 rather than the 1937 shown on his marker. Now, Ancestry also claims Wyatt II’s wife died in 1920, so I suspect there was a data input error at some point on Ancestry for Wyatt.

It boggles my mind how I grew up so surrounded by Earps and didn’t know it. I wasn’t even all that interested in the Earp legend back then, really. If I had, I suppose I would have wondered why all these Earps were to be found in Sacramento, of all places.

 Make it stop! update: Have just found that one of Virgil II’s homes (c. 1943) was one block over from where my father worked during the 1960s.

Sacramento wasn’t that small of a town, even back then!