TRUE STORIES –TOLD INCORRECTLY – A DESERT TRADITION
A totally unrelated photo of Leslie Kirchner riding his pig reminds me of the legend of the Daggett Pig Drive.
There were too many pigs, and it would have been too expensive to have them hauled to market, yet the little girl’s family needed the money to live in a hotel in Long Beach or someplace like that. The decision was made to drive the hogs to the railroad depot in Daggett as an old-fashioned cattle drive to Abilene. Betty was excited.
There were hogs and pigs as far as the eye could see, being guided by drovers experienced not with driving pigs but with small cattle. One-eyed Ben, the old man, said, “Driving pigs is just like driving tiny cows, except they don’t have horns, which is good because pigs are angry.” The hogs snorted, grunted, and squealed as they hurried down the dusty road. The trick, however, was to keep them from running and losing all their weight.
Little Betty cried when her father told her pigs were classified into ‘lard’ or ‘bacon.’ That meant the dreams of her two favorite pigs, Willis and Tina, wouldn’t be getting a pig wedding and then having a pig family together. Their future looked dark. “Lard or bacon?” thought Betty.
“Cheer up, Betty,” her father told her. “Have a stick of gum.”
And she did, and she stopped crying and went to live in a hotel in or near Long Beach.
Fiction inspired by a true event as described in “Daggett, Life in a Mojave Frontier Town,” by Dix Van Dyke – Edited by Peter Wild.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner Photo Collection Howell, E. Bruce – 1974
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Shy desert tortoise curls up inside his shell on top of a groove left in desert sand by motorcycle on the Stoddard Valley off-road vehicle racing area of Barstow. Already legally protected as an endangered species, environmentalists and scientists say the threat is heightened along with other desert life by off-road vehicle activities.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Environmentalist group that recently toured the Mojave Desert to show evidence of damage done by indiscriminate use of off-road vehicle say they believe holes on this live desert tortoise shell were caused by bullets.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Tiny marker planted in Mojave Desert at Stoddard Valley, marks U.S. Bureau of Land Management boundary separating approved off-road vehicle race course from a restricted area. Heavy tire tracks on both sides of marker indicate that such markers are virtually ignored, except by desert visitors with guns, who have riddled them with bullets.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Stoddard Valley on Mojave Desert near Barstow, despite its vast openness is a continuous maze of off-road vehicle tire tracks. Federal plan for managing off-road vehicle use on desert has left it open for off-road vehicle races and closed other areas. But environmentalists and scientists say regulations for restricted areas are too vague and open to this kind of damage.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “These people seek to defend the vast Mojave Desert from a federal program that regulates off-road vehicles. They claim regulations are vague, unenforceable, and could open the desert to extensive off-road vehicle damage. From left are UC Riverside professors Bill Mayhew, zoology; Sylvia Broadbent, anthropology; and Richard E. Gutting, Jr., attorney for Environmental Defense Fund.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Judith Winder, staffer for Environmental Defense Fund, sketches petroglyph of longhorn sheep from rock in Inscription Canyon.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Hand of UC Riverside anthropology professor, Sylvia Broadbent, points out recent chisel mark at bottom of a chipped out section of volcanic rock which had an ancient Indian carving on it. Such damage to antiquities, which is widespread in the Mojave Desert is illegal. This damage was in Inscription Canyon near Barstow.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Richard E. Gutting, Jr., kneeling, attorney for Environmental Defense Fund, and UC Riverside anthropology professor Sylvia Broadbent, examine off-road vehicle dislocation of ‘desert pavement,’ a dark, rocky covering on desert floor which takes thousands of years to form but is important to the natural balance of desert life. Light swath was made by off-road vehicle race.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Off-road vehicle race course touring party gathers at scene of ancient Indian sleeping circle (foreground), a circular formation of larger rocks in midst of small ones, which anthropologists say were foundations for shelters built by prehistoric Indians. All such sites, they assert, should be protected.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Not just ordinary boulders, these, according to Dr. Sylvia Broadbent, UC Riverside anthropology professor, who said there is no question that the slightly concave rock in the upper half of photo was worn that way by ancient Indians grinding grain and marks on the surface of the rock in the lower photo were also made by the same Indians.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “Petroglyphs, ancient Indian rock art, abound on the walls of Inscription Canyon near Barstow. Archaeologists look upon them as valuable keys to unlocking the secrets of prehistoric peoples who inhabited the vast Mojave Desert, but complain they are being destroyed by desert visitors at an alarming rate.”
Photograph caption dated April 3, 1974 reads, “He calls the Mojave Desert ‘home.’ Desert lizard suns itself on dark, porous volcanic rock in Inscription Canyon. Same rocks are covered with ancient Indian petroglyphs, and rock art carvings, indicating the canyon may have been where Indians trapped and captured longhorn sheep and other desert game. The entire canyon is falling victim to vandals and souvenir hunters.”
‘Three-fingered’ Bob lay dying on the saloon floor in the mud and the blood and the beer. He was an old man for his time–34 years old to be exact. Quite old for a varmint and bank robber like him up here on the mesa.
They called him ‘Three-fingered’ Bob because, of course, his name was Bob. He liked that. He was playing cards one night and lost a bet. He lost his finger to a dull knife for a marker on his debt. Six days later he paid his debt and his finger was returned to him, but it was too late to reattach. Bob didn’t learn his lesson.
The next week he lost a finger on the other hand–another bet he couldn’t cover. He paid his gambling debt sooner this time, after only one day–but it was too late to sew the finger back on.
Within days it happened once more. Bob was now down to two fingers remaining on one hand and three on the other. Three fingers, on the one hand, wasn’t why they called him ‘Three-fingered’ Bob. He was called ‘Three-fingered’ Bob because he kept his three dried-up fingers in a little bag tied to his belt.
I never did find out what happened to ‘Three-fingered’ Bob, why he was dying, and why the mud and the blood and the beer were all over the floor. Because by the time I finished telling you his story he died and the coroner came and took his corpse away.
“What did kill ‘Three-fingered Bob?” you may ask. This, no one knows that I know of. In fact, we may never know as this is, . . . A Mystery of the Mojave ~
The verbena had issues and descended from the top in waves overwhelming the primrose lying in a poorly planned ambush. The white flowers were shocked and their little mouths made an ‘o’ shape as they petrified themselves in anticipation of the inevitable.
This red thing This arrhythmic thing This beating heart Pounding and pounding, pounding Torn from the chest and held high in infrangible grasp in wild eccentricity Uncontrolled Sacrifice unbalanced This beating heart erratically pulsing wave after wave of deep, red light & silver, dull gray, ungreen under these painted skies Pounding, pounding, and pounding in wild eccentricity This Chaotic Heart This arrhythmic thing This red thing