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Check out the NOAA Photo Library's Historic C&GS Album for pictures of early surveying work and typical camplife during the 1930's.

banner - piffle and jottings from the dessicated west

George E. Marsh

grasshopperAt the Survey station near Rock Springs, Mont., (one house functions as home, store and post office) I was visited by Mr. Yates, a ranchman, who lives less than a mile distant and who asked me to dinner. I accepted pronto, you bet. That's Spanish for alacrity. He came out here twenty-one years ago from Little Falls, N.Y., where Crosbys and Sibleys still reside. And Mrs. Yates has an aunt named Marsh, which was more interesting, but as she was short on Mr. Marsh's antecedents, I could not determine any relationship.

He has 1,500 sheep, no mortgage, 70 tons of hay from two years ago and money in the bank, quite a phenomenon for these times.

While we attended to the pleasure of eating, a violent but short-lived windstorm came over the hill and filled the air with dust until you could not see across the year and the three of us rushed to close the windows. On looking toward the station where I was camped, I saw a truck and explained that I would have to leave at once, thinking that instructions from the office had arrived. Mr.Yates brought me back in his Ford and as we neared the truck, I saw that my tent was down. Inspection showed that some of the guy ropes had broken; the cot and its load of clothes were upside down, my ten-gallon milk can, that had been half full, was overturned and the water gone but nothing was wet in the slightest, and the li was off the carton in which I had the thirty-two eggs that Ari, the toad from Texas, had laid a few days previously, and the contents dispersed over the county.

Daily, the truck-driver, who came to move me on the morrow, helped to reestablish camp. A large piece of canvas was found in the ravine on the other side of the hill and there was nothing missing save Ari's potential youngsters and a piece of burlap in which the tent pins had been wrapped.

Grasshoppers? Hell, yes and then some. Everywhere in this dessicated country from Texas to Montana. And so thick in some sections. And lots of varieties. Sometimes when the truck is going at a good speed they will come into the cab en masse and their rough chitinous bodies will deliver stinging smacks on one's face and bring anathemas damning the whole tribe of orthoptera. The abundance of these varmits makes feeding my lizard pensioners an easy matter.

picture of a field devasted by grasshoppers
The remains of a cornfield after grasshoppers had completed the
destruction begun by drought. 90% of crops surviving the drought
were destroyed by grasshoppers in an 11,000 square mile area. In: "The Drought of 1931-1932 in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Washington," The American Red Cross, 1932.

When I was in South Dakota, a farmer said the hoppers had peeled the fence posts, they were just that bad. I thought it an exaggeration. I have since been told that it is as true as gospel. When food is scarce, they will strip off the outer layers in order to get down to the less weathered wood!

A man in Miles City told me that Jordan, Mont., is the most inland place in the whole country. I asked, "What do you mean by inland?" "Fartherest from a railroad. Jordan is 95 miles," he replied.

Later another informant said that Rock Springs, Wyo., claims the distinction and honor (if honor there be.) It is 125 miles off the r.r.

in the Rock Springs P.O. I saw a tiger cat sans ears and sans tail. The feline got them frozen and that was the end of them. There was also a large hound dog for whom the cat had only animosity and indoors completely dominated him. If he lay down, the cat made him get up, and if he were outdoors, he could only enter by stealth.

The dog in turn endeavored to tree the cat whenever it came outdoors.

Oh, yes, and this is good; the cat dearly loves to be the third party in a dog-fight and it will go running up or down the road in order to mix in the fracas. Wonder what the dogs think about it.

Down in Texas where scorpions are common, I saw none for it was winter. When at Ashland, Mont., one of the men brought me a ‘bug' that my friend, Mr. Weaver, said was a scorpion, not poisonous but a first-class pincher. It was very business-like in its appearance with a sleek, shiny, elongated body banded with yellow and black stripes, stout mouth parts an inch and a quarter long. Forthwith, I sent it to an entomologist and he reported that it was a Jerusalem cricket. At one of the stations, sometime later, I saw the dirt move just in front of the floor-cloth of the tent. Investigation revealed that it was a small one. For fear it might like to co-occupy the tent, I aided his rolling down over the bluff closeby.

Field mice are common and at one of my camps were abundant. I arrived late and left recent purchases of food on the ground where they were unloaded from the truck. The next morning when I had a chance to consolidate things, I found that the mice had dined on bread, rolls, butter and chewing gum. The next night on my return to the tent from the station, I found perhaps a dozen holding the fort. The pretty little brown and white fellows were unafraid. As I lay reading in bed, they made themselves at home and I could see them searching for the viands of the nite before. Actually they moved in with me. One of them made a new home for himself by chewing up some of the thick woolen cover of the canteen and arranging it behind one of the chuck boxes. It was all right with me, they were so free from fear.

But here is the high point. When I came to move and the boxes of canned stuff and uneatables were being loaded on the truck, out piled the mice; some even made their escape after the gear was stowed aboard.

Just a few nights back, I heard repeated rattling of cooking-ware that I put down behind a box, space is so limited in a small tent, and I finally aroused myself sufficiently to take the flashlight and see what made the noise. The intruder was a big-eared rat with a stubby tail. Mentally, if not actually, he thumbed his nose at me and suggested that I go back to sleep, which I did.

Without opening up the tent in the morning, I began to get breakfast; I pumped up the gasolene stove and was faintly aware of a shadow moving in the stove but paid no attention to it.

However when I struck a match to light the gas, Sir Rat crawled up thru the grid (grate) and made his getaway to the floor where he began playing ‘I spy' around a box in the corner. He had got in under the grid and it took the stimulus of a sudden light for him to discover that he could get out.

Station Johnson is on a sprawling, flat-topped hill 15 miles north of Glasgow, Mont., and the country roundabout has been abandoned by many of the ranchers; one sees many deserted houses in Wyoming and Montana– the depression has starved them out. This hill and all the others for miles around are strewn with water-worn, quartzite boulders of all sizes. Almost with exception, they bear indications of having been used by the Indians. As soon as I arrived, I saw this was an archeologists's paradise. I roamed and gathered, and roamed and gathered their discarded hammers and axes. Little and big ones are everywhere. Of course they are not perfect, not by a long way. Verily, it seems as if millions of Indians came here in bygone ages to make hammers and other tools out of the hard, quartzite boulders. I collected several hundred pounds of the best I could find and then realized that my mania for garnering would be the end of me. I culled and sorted until I now have only a reasonable number and weight.

On one of the outliers of the main hill I found some rocks arranged as a square about a slight depression. "A Redskin's grave" said the amateur archeologist. With his little geological pick and a pan-cake turner he dug. After delving for twelve inches and receiving no encouragement to continue, he returned to lugging-in hammers and axes.

In Miles City I made inquiry about rodeos. The nearest one on the Fourth was at Glendive, 86 miles northeast. The best one was at Belle Fourche, N.D., out much too far away. Further search for information lead me to a meet a Mr. Shulz, who was going to Glendive on business. I would be welcome to go with him. On the way I stopped at some roadside agate stands and purchased a few specimens. Montana is the world's famed source of moss agate.

A rodeo and Mickey Mouse are my fondest diversions. Having taken my camera, I was privileged to get in the corral where the stunts were pulled off. I'm a sure enough tenderfoot– I called it the arena. Can you imagine that? Only once, of course.

There was riding, mostly just attempts at it, of wild horses and wild steers, roping and tieing calves and steers, fancy rope-throwing, etc. and so much dust that one could not see the far end of the corral. Then there were chariot races around the track that circled the corral but I saw none of it as I was busy trying to snap some of the events. To get a good picture is difficult for everything happens so quickly. I had to be as close as possible and yet not too close for the animals race this way and that and the photographer looking down in the camera might get knocked down. Once or twice an excited animal came tearing down toward our end, where the pens are, and we had to climb in great haste upon the high rail fence. Down the side line one of the animals tore thru a woven wire fence wit hits rider; dust obscured the details but all held their breath for the moment, but no serious injury was done.

One rider was bucked off and came down so hard on the flat of his back that the program was held up; here again, no real harm was done. And are the horses wild? To put the saddle on them they are got into pens no larger then themselves and ten feet high. Oftentimes they made a desperate effort to climb out. No harm was done to the steers or the horses but it took some time, I daresay, for their emotions to quiet down.

I enjoyed it hugely and I hope that I got some pictures worth looking at. I bought the gas for the return trip and Schulz had to buy a new tire for a blow-out shortly after leaving Glendive added another one to the roadside collection.

Antelope are fairly common in this part of Montana. At one station a more than half grown one came within thirty feet of the tent and studied me and mine for five minutes. A group of twelve were seen an eighth of a mile away one day and lately sixteen, old and young, were off to the left of the road. As we neared, they came thru the barbed wire onto the road and the smaller made the other fence easily but the larger ones ran ahead of the car for half a mile before they could find a place to scramble thru. I'm told that they will hurdle a woven fence as easy as anything. What their complex is that prevents them from doing the same with a barbed wire fence, I would like to know.

One day in going to a station with Casey, he shot a sage hen that he presented to me and which I accepted after he had explained that I only need skin it and cut off the legs and pieces of the breast and therefore need not dress it in the usual way. They have a powerful and persistent disagreeable odor if cut into. So after being set down at my station, I mustered up my courage and obtained two thick pieces of breast meat and one leg. I put them in soda and salt water overnight and in the morning parboiled them so that they would be saved for my evening meal when I got to my next station, for I was going to move that day.

At this station there were some other members of the party, including Mrs. Mayrath, who invited me to dinner. As my contribution I gave her the three pieces. She was delighted and explained that she knew all about cooking sage hen. She was going to fry them. I suggested she stew them with vegetables, which she did. Well, I never ate such tough meat before. Fooey on such game birds.

Such marvelous sunsets as have greeted my eye and brought inspiration to my soul here in Wyo. & Mont. This is the place for the collector of SUNSETS.

My last day in El Paso. The morning was cramed full of errands to run and minor things to buy and two trips to town had to be made. In the p.m. I started out again to round up the items that had escaped my list in the morning– some writing paper, ink, shorts and shirt. With these in hand I started out to spend the rest of the day and evening in Mexico and to get a permit to take photos there.

With my purchase wrapped and wrapped together, I took the street car for Juares. Of course I got across the river all right but when the Mexican customs inspectors came aboard, I was distinctly out of luck. One fellow took the package and tore into it while I was explaining its contents; then he found the other package and tore into it. What he said I know not. Some kind-hearted passengers saw my plight and told me that I would have to go into the customs house at hand. To the officials I said that I wanted to leave it there until I got ready to go home. There was too much no-savvy English on their part and no savvy Spanish on my part for us to get anywhere. After a bit, a Mex who could understand my tongue came to my rescue and explained that I would have to take it back to the U.S., or else pay duty on it. And the duty could not be determined until next week for this was Saturday.

Now there are two bridges across the river, one for going street cars and autos and the other for returning vehicles, but hoofers can use either bridge either way. So I paid toll a second time and walked back with my bothersome bundle and camera. The only place where I could leave the ragged package was at the other bridge, a half mile away, where there is an office of the Border Patrol. Here I introduced myself as a friend of George Harris. I was most welcome and might leave my bundle as long as I wished for the place was open twenty-four hours a day.

Now to get the permit. I walked over, paying the 5 cents toll, ( 9 cents to date) but at the other end a Mex guard saw the camera and commanded me to go into the office at hand. Straight-way I said that I was going to see the chief of police and get a permit, for I had been told that was the thing to do. He negatived the idea pronto and said I should see the Commissioner over at the other bridge. Back I came, paying toll, and walked to the second bridge where another toll was collected (15 cents now) and was on the road to Mexico once more. I inquired for the Honorable Commissioner. "Gone away. Be back Monday morning; see him then." By that time I was going to be miles away from Juares. There was nothing to do but return to my own country again, tramp from bridge to bridge and park the camera with my bundle. By now it was getting too late to take pictures anyway.

For 3 cents more I again set foot in Mexico and my toll bill had grown to 21 cents. After roaming around a while, I found a professional guide, Joe. We went into a huddle and bargained. In exchange for seventy-five cents he would show me the Mission and Jail. He said he could have got me a permit without any delay. Illuminating if true. Probably true– just another racket where all concerned get a split. I'll try it next time.

Too many days have elapsed since my encounter with Joe to give you all of the entertaining high-lights but the contact was something like this:

"This is the Mission of St. Peter and St. Paul. It was built in 1549. See the statues of the Saints up in the front of the building. All those little holes in the mortar is where bullets hit during the revolutions we had down here. See, none of them hit Peter or Paul. That shows there's a merkle (miracle). Don't it?"

We went inside and climbed up in the balcony at the front end of the mission where we could get a good look at the ceiling and the construction. Dozens of black-shawled women were kneeling at prayers on the floor below. "All of these beams and wooden work is mahogany and they are all carved. Just think of the time it took to carve all of these beams 385 years ago. See how all the timber is held together with wooden pegs. There is no iron in the building. It can stand plenty years, can't it?"

Then we went up to the bell-tower. This is of interesting construction. It is circular and built at one corner of the mission. It is about six feet in diameter inside and in the center is a timber a foot in diameter. Mortises are cut in this, one above the other and displaced so as to spiral. Solid fan-shaped pieces of hard wood are let into the hollows and into holes in the wall. These are the steps, ponderous, staunch and much worn of course. As joe points out the various features he says "This can stand plenty years, can't it?" From the top a good view of the city is had and it is a more extensive place than one would expect from his acquaintance with the ‘show' part that he sees near the bridges.

Joe calls attention to the bell. He hits it to make a weak tone and speaks of its fine quality; and shows the little wear on the inside after all these years. Here again– "It can stand plenty years, can't it? It took 15 donkeys six months to haul it here from Mexico City. It was made in Spain. It took 14 years to build this tower." I don't remember if he said the tower can stand plenty years or not, but probably did.

"See that monument. That's Juarez who saved the city in 1810." And Joe said,"When the insurrectionists found they couldn't hit the enemy, they shot Juarez." Later I walked over the monument and found its white marble pedestal, that is high and ornate, very much the worse for time and lack of repair. Juarez, not being a saint, stopped many a bullet as the holes plainly show.

Next we went down into the church and up to the altar. This end of the mission is very ornate with much wood carving and decorating after the Catholic fashion. Here I saw a marble statue of St Rose and some other saints carved of wood and then painted. Joe pointed out that I could not tell them from marble, "You agree you can't tell them from marble"; but I could with one eye half opened. "This is the statue of the Immac. Concept, and is 384 years old. This statue of the Mother of Sorrows was made in Rome 400 years ago and was given to the church when it was built. This wood, pointing to some ornamental wood-work, was painted 180 years ago. These ambroideries are all made by the women of the church. They have to bring in all these flowers fresh every day." There were many large vases filled with beautiful blooms.

There must have been fifty women kneeling about; not a single man. In Mexico all the sins are commited by the females presumeably. One was confessing. She and the priest sat on benches opposite each other with their heads thrust thru the drapes of a black box that was dimly lighted. In leaving, I saw the grave of the first priest, Domingues.

Governments rise and fall quickly in Mexico. The loyalists of the party in power salute each other with "Vive (vee'-a) Villa, Vive Carrenza, or Vive whoever is the president for the moment. If one can't return the address in the same manner, he must lay low. A local boss was vive-ing everyone he met to determine their political faith and he came to a Chinaman. "He said "Vive----". The chink said "You vive first."

An Evening in Juarez. It happened on the last day in El Paso, the one that coast me 24 cents in 3 cent tolls. After dining late in a Mexican restaurant on native dishes that came to much less than I expected and made me wish I had ordered a more elaborate menu, I roamed thru back streets, watched street-vendors fry flat cakes in skillets of smoking fat over wee charcoal fires, ogled thru open doors of shops, saloons, and down passage-ways that lead to patios with plants and benches on which the leisure-loving folk were passing the time to the music of a guitar.

Turning a corner I plumped into a street lined on both sides with dingy whitewashed adobe dwellings. The doors were open, windows up, and leaning out over the sidewalk, with arms resting on ornate pillows, were the baiters for gold. As I strolled and noted the atmosphere, I heard the overtures, saw the seductive glances, and the beckoning nods. Ah, Senorita, it is too bad I have no time. The hell it is!

I came to the Market, the largest and most ornate building in town. Small booths filled the interior; they were separated by high partitions. The wares were all so tawdry. Many stalls had identically the same sort of rubbish; some were piled high with crude clay products painted bright, dark blues; others had straw baskets in array. Few people were about and no one was buying. I wondered to whom the junk appealed.

I went outside and passed along the stands that lined the sidewalk. Fruits and vegetables, beans mostly, were the usual commodity. You've never seen beans until you come to Mexico. Down here you may buy peanuts by the tiny cupful and get about a dozen pygmy ones for a Mexican sou. I only recall that I saw no vegetables new to me. They were our most common ones and looked so frightfully poor, runty in fact.

I became more interested in the fruits for there were many strange ones. No success came from my attempts to learn the names of any; there seemed to be a no savvie wherever I stopt. After making the rounds, I returned to a stand, whose owner's face was somewhat more kindly than the rest, and after a great deal of talking on his part, questions on my part, and no understanding too I came away with four exotic fruits, each wrapped in a cone rolled from a page of Collier's. I vaguely gathered that I had some guavas and mangoes. I had spent 20 cents and was in somewhat high spirits at sampling four Mexican fruits when I got to camp. I am too good a raccoon to eat them without washing and so had to wait.

In passing the custom's officer on the International Bridge, late that evening, he said "Got anything dutiable?" "No", I replied, "all I got is some fruit." "Let me see it." From one of my pockets I pulled out two of the small cornucopias and handed them over. On opening the tops, he said "You can't bring these in, its against the plant quarantine laws." "Very well, officer," meek as Moses, said I, but mad within.

Arriving at camp, I lost no time taking the other two cones out of my pocket, washing the fruit, and coming to the definite conclusion that the Mexican is welcome to them. The c.o. doubtless enjoyed his fruit thru his acquired taste for foreign flavors.

An interesting fellow is Quietus Dumbbunny. I pass on a story as told me by him, and as nearly as I can remember it. He said–

"From my esteemed friend, the renowned paleontologist, Dr. Chalmondly Chelmsford, of Kiboshian University, knowing that I was in these parts, came a letter asking me to send him one Tyranosaurus Rex. I was dumbfounded to think that the honored scientist should desire that I turn gangster and kidnap one of the inhabitants. No, that can't be, as I reflected. No, no; what he wants is information on the fellow. That's surely what he wants– he is so absent-minded. Maybe, I cogitated, a lost lost uncle that came West with the Gold Rushers. The great Doctor's request must not be ignored. I will send him information about his uncle.

Knowing that ‘Rex' is the same as ‘King' ( the doctor is so preoccupied at times. ) I looked in the directory for possible clues and much to my delight I found listed ‘Bill King, Ignatius King, and Allowishus King. I was hot already for I could see the family tie thru the given names. I called on Bill first. "Have you a relative named Tyranosaurus?" I asked. "Naw, never heard of him." That was that.

Ignatius too showed lamentable ignorance about the King clan. With weakening spirit I next dropt in on Allowishus, only to learn that he had been committed to the assylum the day before. However, things were not so bad as his wife told me that his eldest brother lived some hundred miles to the south in Gooferton and that he would undoubtedly be able to supply me with the information I sought. The Doctor's wish must be met. I would go to Gooferton, hitch hike my way if need be.

The next morning I started. Progress was slow. As I sat on the roadside waiting for a lift, cars passt but few saw me and very few stopt. When I did receive aid, it was for only a short ways as the drivers left the highway to reach their destinations. As the forenoon wore away, I had hardly made twenty miles. I sat some more. At length a farmer let me ride with him on his hayrack. He was a good, old fellow, and I enjoyed his talk that rambled over many subjects that concerned him. As we went along we saw a man digging in the face of a bluff some distance from the road. The farmer remarked– "That is the famous Professor Reginald Tweedledee; he comes here every summer to dig." "What does he dig for?" I asked. "Bones", said the farmer. Five minutes later he turned off the highway and I sat on the road-side once more. But no cars passt. With the lapsing of an hour, I strolled back to where the professor was at work, thinking to kill some time.

"Good Day," I said. He heeded me not and kept on digging.

"Ahem,"I vented, and he turned in my direction. "Good day, Professor Tweedledee" I uttered, somewhat confused.

"Good Day, young man," and he went on digging.

"Professor, I understand you come to this region every summer. I wonder if in your sojurnings here you have ever come across Tyranosaurus Rex; I am trying to locate him." I said.

"So am I," fired the learned one. That mixed me greatly.

"But, Professor, where do you expect to find him?" I ventured.

"Right here", he answered and continued picking away. I was no completely befuddled. His bruque manner upset my poise and I feared to speak. I sat again. After some minutes, with a reviving courage, I asked meekly- "But, Professor, do you expect to find him in a burrow?"

"A burrow? Burrow!" blurted he. "Your ignorance is profound, stupendous, abyssal, all-comprehensive!"

"It may be", I faintly admitted.

"No doubt about it," he replied.

"I'm sorry,"I gasped.

"You should be. Who are you?"

"I am Quietus Dumbbunny of the L.L.L.," I said.

"Legion of Lazy Louts. Sufficient. That accounts for everything," he retorted.

The exploration continued; I sat on, to better gather together my assaulted spirits, and to pave the way for an intelligent remark that would lead the professor into furnishing some information that I felt sure he possessed. But never before had I realized that I was a ‘null and void'. I had the feeling that I was thru but was not ready to admit it. I strove to think. My cerebrum seemed not to function. I sat in woe. Time passt. At length, ah, a glimmer, yes, a ray; no, a beam. Hurrary, I have it. There was my friend, the eminent Doctor Chalmondly Chelmsford; I would use his name. So promptly I asked– "Professor, do you know Doctor Chalmondly Chelmsford?"

"What!", he exploded,"know Chalmondly Chelmsford?, I should say not! That upstart and ignoramus? No! Just let me tell you, young man, what an arrogant, pusillaniumous counterfeit he is. He presents that he is a paleontologist like myself, but bah, bah and bah ad infinitum. Why last year he found a bone that he identified as a piece of the scarebelum from which he reconstructed the whole animal and named it erectopunyiferous tempestosaurus. Can you imagine it?" he squealed, "Now can you?" I couldn't tho he gave me no time to say so, and continued- "When his paper was issued, I recognized the picture of the bone as that of the oppidium of the Oligocene paralleleopipidon polyimbecilus that I discovered three years ago. And did I expose him? Well, I am telling you, I did. You bet I did!"

"And now, young man, ( I had clearly approached him form the right angle ) I am working on my masterpiece of exploration- the greatest event in the entire history of paleontology. I am going to unearth right here a complete skeleton of the most gigantic, prehistoric, antediluvian monster that the world ever saw. See, see! Sticking out here is the occipitus, and here is the amphiphlexus, and here the tibiaferum. You see, I have it; just a little digging and I'll have all the bones and then I'll assemble them and have the entire animal; it will stand 15 ft. high at the shoulder, 25 ft. high to the top of his head and have a longitudinal length of 75 ft, the largest, fiercest dinosaurian reptile that ever trod the terrestrial terra firma, and that lived 100,000,000 million years ago." And while he hesitated for breath, I weakly asked- "Professor Tweedledee, what do you call it?"

"Tyranosaurus Rex," he replied. And I fainted."

Mr. Q. Dumbbunny is one of the rock-pickers, of the hundred or more, that are gathering the field boulders in the region for miles around the FT. Peck dam now under construction twelve miles from Glasgow.

The Sweet Singer. It was way down the line in New Mexico that I heard it. I had just awakened and lay on my cot facing the wall of the tent. There came to me music like that of a microscopic canary singing a lullaby. It was oh, so sweet and oh, so faint. As I rolled my head to raise my ear the music faded and as I turned my head in the other direction it grew louder. Lifting my head even an inch, it was no more. I listened, wondered and marvelled– wondered what it could be and marvelled at its delicate beauty. Never before had I heard anything so faint and yet so clear, so tuneful, so mysterious. Entranced, I listened. What could it be? Noting the exact spot on my pillow (my folded-up sheep-lined coat), I gently arose and unfolded the coat. Alas, my (insect) songster was nowhere to be seen.

Every now and then I find articles as we drive along, wrenches, screwdrivers, et cetera. As Daily, truck driver, was taking Upplinger and me to our stations, I saw a white flour sack in the road. As I picked it up, I remarked that I had a package of corn flakes as that was what I felt within. Again seated in the truck, I brought forth a sure enough c.f. carton but it contained a recently prepared lunch of two nice egg sandwiches, one with pineapple jam and goodly chunk of chocolate cake! These we promptly ate with glee and gusto. A horse-man of some sort had doubtless lost it

The horned toads are making history. Aridious Desertarious, Ari, for short, laid 32 eggs as I have reported. The three ladies from Montana, all Mona, Mono, Moni are the mothers respectively. The youngsters were 3/4 inch long when born and lengthened to an inch the first day. They were lively and made great ado over eating their first ants, very small ones of course. It was quite impossible to get them to pose for their picture and the best I could do was to turn them all out in the lid of an oatmeal carton and them topsy turvy.

Wishing them well, I let them go in three different localities that I thot would best suit their natural requirements. It was not without some reluctance that I left them all behind but facilities and leisure time to play nursemaid to 58 baby lizards are too limited, interesting as it might be.

Mexa and Mexe are yet to be heard from; or perhaps they are Mex and Mox? And whether they are oviparous or viviparous is unknown.

I'm almost forgetting the bull fight in Juarez. The building known as the ‘bull-ring' is a dingy, circular, adobe affair, a small colosseum with an arena about 60 ft. in diameter enclosed by a board fence five feet high. On the other side of the fence is a narrow passage-way, three feet wide, and then a wall eight ft. high; beyond this is the first row of seats, the rest of them being arranged on a rather steep pitch.

Ah, the band! That alone is worth the price of admission. It was the drollest, most ludicrous and motley assortment of musicians to be seen anywhere. Each wore a hotch potch assemblage of pieces of clothing hat had belonged to the army, navy, police, bell hops, dudes, actors, or left overs from a rummage sale. Not an item fit. On the short men, the trousers dragged; on the tall they were not on speaking terms with the shoes. There the ground was color and gilt in array. No comic opera ever had half so fantastic and grotesque a makeup.

A seat on the sunny side cost 75 cents, on the shady side $1.00; if one used Mexican money his admission would cost only about two-thirds as much as the figures. The audience numbered around 60 or more than half were Americans.

The actors had on heavy, richly embroidered costumes; their hair was slickened back and done up in a bunch that looked for all the world like a horse's dock. In the eyes of the lowly natives they doubtless appeared to great advantage.

To relate a synopsis of the fight would take too much time. I'll just piffle along. The four "fierce" bulls form Sonora were the scrawniest imaginable. The poor bovines didn't want to fight and only by thrusting six or eight gaily adorned harpoons deep in their flesh could they be incited to do their part. Two of them scrambled over the fence into the runway; one was lead back to the areana but the other fell in such a way as to become wedged and had to be killed there, greatly to the disgust of the populace. The toreadors, those that give the slaying thrust, were knocked down several times, much to the glee of the Americans present, but without suffering any injury. After a particularly brilliant piece of work on the part of the toreador, he would turn to the audience to receives its plaudits, the bull standing as meek as a new born calf just behind him. The behavior of the bull at such times made me mad. I wanted blood, human blood, not that of a poor bovine. After the final thrust, generally one of many, the animal was hauled out by a couple of mules to a gallows in the rear of the building where it was dressed, quartered, and loaded int o a small, milk-wagon-like vehicle whose side bore the legend "Transporte de Carnes" (Carnes is meat in Spanish.) Thus you see how it is that a handful of people is sufficient to pay for a bull-fight every Sunday.

One other item from Juarez and then I'm thru sure enough. On the main thorofare one sees a shop whose advertisement reads "El Escriotorio Publicio. To decalse de escritos manifestaciones contrabilidades, etc." This is where you get your letter-writing done.

And on the monument to Juarez we read "Al C. Benito Juarez, Reformador y Liberatador Benemerito de las Americas. La Patria Reconocida, 1910."

The local broadcasting station had the sign– "Difusoria Estudio XEFV."

Pedro! Never can I forget Station Pedro some fifty miles south-west of Casper. In company with one of the observing parties, I arrived at the foot of the mountain in the late afternoon of a damp and cloudy day. After pitching camp, I fastened my equipment, about forty pounds, on the pack-board and we began the ascent to the station on the peak about 500 feet above. For an hour and a half we struggled thru the wet, over fallen trees, thru the thick undergrowth, over huge boulders and gained the top after scaling the last fifty feet on hands and knees. On the summit the wind was high. There was a cold rain and the low clouds prevented any observations being made. About midnight we came down; the ‘o' party returned to Casper and I turned in after a warm repast.

The next day was the same, low clouds and incessant rain. Around six o'clock the ‘o' party arrived and we climbed to the sation; this time without any packs, thru rain and fog. Our world was reduced to a few square yards about the stand. We put up the observation tent, fastening the guy ropes to such loose rocks as were meagerly present. As the evening grew older the rain stopt and the fog dispersed and toward midnight we got signals from the three other observing parties and we went to work. Under such circumstances one works fast and we finished before the others. It was bitter cold and as we waited we built a fire on a flat rock that we hauled in the tent and with whittleings from the stand. There came a time however when we dared not cut more off. We waited and shivered from the cold. After a while, owing to the wind's violence, it took the combined strength of the four of us to hold the tent in place, the guy-rocks no longer being able to stay the gale's assault. The danger of tent and all being blown off the peak increasing, we took the tent down, boxed the instruments, and sought camprative comfort rolled up in the tent in a depression on the lee side of the summit. There we waited for signals that would tell us our work was okay or that we would have to repeat it. We came off the mountain by the light of day.

The next night I was alone at the station; the weather was cloudy as before but with variations that were grand to experience. The mountain was fogboud all the p.m.; visibility during the ascent was limited to a few feet. Sunset was still an hour or two away when I gained the peak. The clouds were rolling over the mountain, one of a chain, at a great rate but not beyond. They disappeared on reaching the crest, the divide. All the country to the north was aglow with the afternoon sun and to the south there was nothing btu dense fog. The scene was thrilling, marvellous to behold. The onrushing clouds would fan out in long streamers and flow down into the valley and then disappear as if by magic. On the one side there was an unusual brilliance, on the other a wall of cloud. I couldn't get over it, such a rarity it was. With the setting of the sun, the clouds covered everything.

As it grew dark, I turned on the lights and in their beams one could see the lack of homogeneity of the fog as it rushed by; it came in bunches. That was interesting but it was becoming too chilly to take a keen interest in natural phenomena. Jutting out from the side of the peak and a few feet below the stand, was a rock about the size of a trunk, one side of which was undercut. To lessen the cold, I built a wall along the top of the rock, thereby reducing the force of the wind when I wedged myself in under the over-hanging faces. Here I waited, shivered and chilled. I had on all of my warm clothing, including my chamois suit that came to me as a present, a most valuable possession.

After ten o'clock the fog disappeared, the stars came out and we all went to work. The cold, damp and wind continued. Sometime in the early morning hours, greatly to my surprise I found one match in a pocket and with it I started a fire in the corner of my burrow, or rather crevice where I imitated a sardine. Now I had warmth and a lot of smoke from the old, dead pieces of trees that succumbed in trying to wrest a living from nothing but rock.

Shortly before sun-up, a weary, frozen soul dragged himself into his tent, loosened his load, made some soup in record time and rolled into bed. Damn! was I fatigued? And how! the next day I was a little sore and stiff but three days later! It pained me keenly to move; I could not sit up or stand up, it was just too much. I remained in bed all day although it was agony to do that.

My tent at Pedro was pitched close to a large, attractive log cabin. There was a spring at hand and a fenced garden plot. The setting appealed to me, the undulating plain to the front and the mountain to the back. I felt that the folks who had deserted it must have had an appreciation for the beautiful when they selected the site for their homesteading. The door was padlocked; looking thru the window I could see that the furnishings were comfortable. It had been vacant for at least two years. It was a place where the dream failed to come true.

On the road to Pedro, I past a large granite cross that bore the inscription "To the Glory of God and Sacred to the Memory of S.M. Waldon, born in Philadelphia 1861 and murdered here by his guide 7/23/1888."

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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