A Second Summer With Dad
(1929 - Age 14-15)
had been to Mesa High School for three days when we received word that Don's wife and little girl had been killed in an automobile accident. Don must have asked Mother to come up and take care of the children because we left for Kirtland right away. Mother told me it would be best if I went to high school in Kirtland, and that Grandma Foutz would like me to stay with her. It was fun staying with Grandmother.
Near the end of the school year, Dad wrote me a note asking me to come out to the ranch and spend the summer. At the time I got out there he was planting corn and alfalfa. He needed some things and asked me if I would take the pickup and go into Farmington to get them. I was to stay all night and come back the next day. I got back about 11:00 p.m. Dad worried and sent a Navajo over to the Chaco Wash to see if I had gotten stuck.
Vehicle stuck in Chaco Canyon quicksand during early 1920s..
The next morning, about five, "Rove, time to get up." I lay there but I knew what was coming. "Time to get up." I pretended to be asleep but I could see the cup of water when he started to pour it under the covers.... Dad had been showing me how the Navajo's wrestled and I had been practicing, so I thought I could avoid the water. I grabbed his hand and the next thing I knew he had me on the floor, pouring water in my face. I saw right quick why the Navajo's called him Little Bear. That was a real surprise.
We worked there about a week and then headed for Gallup. On the way we stopped at Billy Bisenty's. His Dad was quite ill so we stayed all night. Dad spent most of the time with Billy and his dad. In Gallup we spent two weeks grinding turquoise. I helped in grinding thin pieces for the San Domingos. We went to Crown Point to get rugs, jewelry and silver beads for trading. While there we got word that Billy's dad had passed away and that he wanted Dad to come. We got there about midnight and Dad talked a while with Billy before going to sleep. At daylight Dad woke me and we walked over to the grave. They had buried him the day before. The family was there and quite a few other Navajos. Dad sat me down beside him. Billy's oldest son talked quite a while in a low and breaking voice. I heard "Shush Yazz" two or three times and I knew he had said something about Dad. Then they led a beautiful race horse, saddled and bridled, up to the grave and shot him. I started to get up and run but Dad grabbed me and sat me down. I saw tears running down his cheeks. Billy's daughter (a beautiful and well educated young woman) sat down beside me. "Come and walk with me." She took me over to a cottonwood tree and we sat down. She explained to me that he would have the horse in the spirit world. He loved the horse so much. She told me why Dad was crying, that he loved the horse as much as Billy's dad, and Grandad had. Dad had raced the horse a lot and even took him to Old Mexico. "I'm glad you stayed all night on your way to Gallup. They had such a nice visit. Grandad told me all about it. I'm glad I got here in time to be with him. He also told me about your prairie dog dinner." She smiled and asked if I wanted something to eat, explaining that the family does not eat for two days after a family death. We walked to the pickup. Dad and Billy were standing there. She put her arm around me and said thank you for coming. Billy put his hand on my head and ruffled my hair. We left and went back to Crown Point. Dad was very quiet and didn't talk much. We picked up jewelry and rugs to trade at San Domingo. We stayed two days trading the rugs and thin turquoise for strings of silver beads and jaclos to trade back to the Navajos for more rugs in order to supply his outlet in Tucson.
Dad stopped just west of Grants and said, "I'm getting sleepy, how about driving." I got out and looked out over the volcanic rock beds and wondered aloud if anyone had ever found that gold. He said he doubted it. "I spent a lot of time and money and didn't find a thing." I drove as far as the service station next to the turquoise shop. As I stepped out I heard a loud bang. I turned around and a head came rolling out the door. A Negro fellow who worked at the station was fixing a truck tire and the rim blew off as he was airing it up. It took his head right off. I was sick all evening. The next morning we went to the restaurant. I liked to eat there because they had a big green parrot who, when people asked..."Polly want a cracker," would screech "Hell No!"
One day while we were grinding turquoise Dad told me he had to go downtown for a while, and to finish up what I could. I was polishing a nice bolo tie set and someone stepped in the door. I looked up and said, "Could I help you?" I looked again and realized it was Dad. He had shaved his mustache and was wearing a new suit. (It may have been the suit he later wore at his golden wedding anniversary). "How do you like it Rove?" I told him, "I would have passed you up on the street, not knowing you." "That is just what I wanted to hear. We are going to Flagstaff for the 4th of July fair, and take the jewelry to the Navajo camps at the fair in order to trade for rugs." Dad wanted to go and eat, and I asked him why he had to buy a new suit just to do that. When we got to the restaurant he said, "Let me go in first." He went in and the waitress and the manager didn't recognize him for a while and said, "What's the matter Joe, doesn't that new girl friend like to kiss that wet mustache?' They really had a lot of fun razzing him about it. When we got back to the shop I said, "Dad, what is going on?" His reply was that he had gotten tired of it and the grandkids didn't like to kiss him. I noticed a long scar on his lip and asked him how he got it. He said when he was younger a horse had thrown him and banged him up, so he grew a mustache. I was getting pretty annoyed by this time so Dad told me what he was up to....
I am piecing the first part of the story of Dad's running away from home from things Mother told me of Musher and how he trusted Dad and treated him like a son, giving him money and loaning him large sums with which to buy cattle from the Havasu Indians. Also from Lonce's report to Will Evans and his Beautiful Mountain Rebellion story...."He grew up with them, knew their language better than his own and as well as they knew it. There was not a secret, legend or custom that he did not know as well as they. His was a whole lifetime of trust, confidence and loyalty that he had in them and they in him."
Dad's story continues..."When I was just a boy we moved to Tuba City, Arizona. We lived with Grandmother for a while at Payson, Utah as Mother had died when my sister was born. Brigham Young sent a group to settle northern Arizona, Dad, one of his group, scouted ahead and made contact with the Indians, and became trusted among them. He returned to Payson and married Anna Marie Jensen. Instead of living right in Tuba City, they chose Tanner Crossing, a spot on the Little Colorado which had been named for Grandad. It was a lonely place for Mother Anna. She was a wonderful Mother to us, teaching us to read and write.
I got into a spat with my two younger sisters. Mother Anna took their side, your uncle Fred kicked my pants. I decided to run away from home. I had gone with Dad on several occasions to the camp of an old Indian called Musher, where we traded horses for cattle. We also bought pelts to take to Flagstaff. The Indian had taken a liking to me and told Dad he would like to keep me there, so that's where I headed.
Dad had gone to Flagstaff on a freight trip and returned home three days after I had run away. Mother Anna was worried sick. Dad told her he was sure he knew where I was and that I was all right. It was two weeks before he came to get me, and did I get a talking to. I apologized to Mother Anna and told her I was sorry for causing her so much worry. Over the years I stayed with Musher off and on. He treated and trusted me like a son. Musher was an Apache who had been stolen by the Navajos. He married a Navajo girl but they did not have any children. They did however, raise four children of her two brothers.
In 1903, the government forced all of us living in and around Tuba City to sell out as they were returning the land to the Indians for a large school. Seth, Uncle Fred, and others went to Joseph City, while Dad and Mother and the Foutz's went to Kirtland. Before we left Tuba City. I took $10,000 back to Musher to pay a debt used for buying cattle. Musher wanted to show me where he kept the money. We saddled horses and rode out. We rode for quite a while and I wondered why he kept the money so far from his home. Finally we came to a deep canyon. He stopped and told me to look around and see exactly where I was. "Notice the high walls all around the end of the canyon and that cave straight across. That is where I keep the money." It was almost dark and we spent the night without a fire. The next morning he seemed uneasy and asked me to go to the top and check to be sure we had not been followed. We then walked up one side toward a cave, or what was really a sand rock ledge. There were several flat sand rocks under the overhang. He asked me to move a certain one. I pulled on it and it slid over (he had drilled a hole into the rock) and my eyes popped out. There were silver dollars and silver beads and a buckskin pouch. He opened it and I saw that it contained quite a lot of paper money in it. Then he handed me $2,000 from the ten which I had given him, and he said, "The rest is yours. Come and get it when I die." He told me to move another rock. It was the same as the other with a hole about the same size. It too had beads and trinkets on top. I don't know what was underneath. He closed the hole with the rock and then with a clump of bush, he covered our tracks and made it appear as though nothing had been touched. We left the canyon and about halfway to his camp we split up. He went home and I went toward Tuba City. I did visit him several times before we went to Kirtland, Nothing was ever said around his four step-sons about the money.
...Back to Dad's story of the new suit and no mustache. The Indians come into Flagstaff from Cameron and Tuba City and other parts of the reservation. We will do some trading with them so we can see if they recognize me. If not, we will plan on going in for old Musher's money.
The fall that I had finished the Bruce Bernard trading post and that the Beautiful Mountain Rebellion had occurred, Musher's wife had come by horseback from Tuba to tell me Musher had died and that he had told her to come and tell me. I told here that I could make it in a month and a half. When I got there I got into an argument with the four boys about the money. They wanted it all and I told them that I would give half to Musher's wife, and she could do with it what she wanted. She said it was up to me since the Indian had left it all to me. The boys got an Indian agent to take their side. I told him, "Well, I guess it can stay there and rot." He wanted to know how I would settle with them. I said we would go to Flagstaff and have papers drawn up and then have the Sheriff come back with us to help split it. We went to Flagstaff but could come to no agreement about it. They still wanted it all. So the agent told dad, "You have orders not to set foot on any part of the reservation at Tuba City. You will wind up in jail if you do."
Once in Flagstaff, we got a room and then headed for the Indian camps. Dad was wanting to find out where the Tuba Indians were camped. As it was getting late we went back to the room. Next morning early we went down to eat breakfast and Dad handed me a quarter and told me to put it in the slot machine. I said no, that I would get some candy to eat along the way. "Put it in and see what happens." I did and quarters went in every direction. I thought I had broken the damn thing. We went to the Tuba Indian's camps and Dad spread out a blanket and got out his beads and jaclos, making signs that he wanted to trade for rugs. He was also talking a little broken Navajo and the Indians would laugh. He traded for about 15 rugs and saddle blankets, then he motioned that he had no more to trade. He handed me part of the rugs and we headed for the pickup. An old white-haired Navajo hollered, "Shush Yazz!" He had recognized Dad by his walk. Art and Dad walked a lot alike. The Navajos called Art "Wobble Butt." Dad got into the truck with a look of disappointment on his face.
We headed for Cameron to trade jewelry for rugs and spent the night as Dad was quite tired. While there Dad and I went out onto the bridge across the Little Colorado. He wanted to see if we could find the spot called Tanner Crossing where he and Mother Anna had lived. He had not been back for a long time and nothing looked familiar. He told me they had had a garden and raised corn and a nice garden. Mother Anna really had not liked it here since it was so far from any other place. This is where I lived when I ran away from home to stay with Musher.
Being in this place reminded Dad of another story of his life in this part of the country. Ralph Cameron owned the Bright Angle Trail. Dad and Joe Lee had helped build part of it. They would bring tourists from Flagstaff to go down into the Grand Canyon.
Teddy Roosevelt came with a group from the East. Leaving Flagstaff, the group kept after Joe Lee to get them some deer meat, so to quiet them, he shot a burro. That night they had steak and all said how good it was. Joe said it was a burro and Roosevelt laughed and said, "He is just kidding." When they got to the canyon rim Roosevelt wanted to ride Joe's horse instead of a mule. Joe told him the horse was real spirited, and Teddy answered, "If I can handle Rough Riders, I can sure handle that horse." At the bottom Roosevelt handed Joe the reins and there was a ten dollar bill stuck to the saddle horn. The next year J.D. Rockefeller came out and Joe Lee bent over backwards trying to provide for the visit. At the bottom Rockefeller wanted a cold drink of water. Joe brought the water and Rockefeller handed him a quarter. Joe fished in his pocket for all the change he had and put the quarter and the change in Rockefeller's pocket saying, "You might need this when you get out on top."
On our way to Tuba City, Dad stopped at a certain point and pointed to the right saying, "Those two green canyons show where your Mother lived. He bought it from John D. Lee. It's where my days of courting your mom began. It had a big spring and lots of fruit trees. Grandpa Foutz raised fine saddle horses which he sold to the government. Grandpa gave your mom a sick little colt whose mother had died. She was able to save it and bring it back to good health. It was from good racing stock. I would ride out to their place, then your mother and I would come into Tuba City for dances. It used to make me so mad that I couldn't keep up with her. It was quite a sight to see her riding side saddle, with her long black hair flying in the wind. She did race against men and won most of the time.
We got to the Tuba City Trading Post and didn't know the trader. We sold jewelry and bought rugs. A policeman met him at the door and wanted to know if Dad was back trying to get Musher's money. Dad said we were on our way to the Gap to see and old friend, Joe Lee. After we had gone about six miles toward the Gap, Dad stopped. We ate a lunch and the policeman came along. He had told Dad not to leave the road. He gave us a wave and went on. Dad pointed west and said, "It's over there where the canyons break off toward the Colorado River." He had been so upset he forgot to take me to see their home in Tuba City. I hope to go back this summer and take some pictures, if I can find it.
We got to the Gap Trading Post. Joe Lee was behind the counter. It took him 5 or 10 minutes to recognize Dad. When he did, they grabbed each other and acted like a couple of kids. Dad wanted to know what all of the cars and busses and tents were doing around the trading post. Joe said, "They are making a movie, The Covered Wagon. It's pretty wild, you will kick out of it Ralph. Dad later told him what we were in there for. Lee said, "I don't think you can find it, things have changed a lot and I have even tried to find it with the help of a Navajo. There is an old man at the Cameron trading post that might be able to help you on it, but if the policeman recognized you, so will everyone else. You are a damned fool to take that kid in with you."
The next morning I went out with the men to film and they asked me to have lunch with them I really got a kick out of the actors and watching them film. The Indians attacked the wagon train and one wagon train caught on fire and burned up. They had to pay the Indian $150 for it. We left The Gap in the morning to go to Gallup and home. Dad pulled off the road at a high spot and said, "I'm going to sketch a map from here. It might lead you to that box canyon if you ever get the notion to try and find it. I would suggest that you get the old man to help you find it. Later I found out the old man had returned East and they didn't know when he would be back.
Continuing on the way home, Dad pulled off the road to tell me an incident that had happened when he was just a young boy. My Dad (Seth) freighted from Flagstaff to Tuba City. I had never gone with him, although my older brothers had. He took me on my first trip. I had driven from Tanner Crossing to Tuba with him but not with heavy loads of two wagons and eight horse teams. He handed me the reins and told me to try it out on the way to Flagstaff. "The jerk line is for Babe and Sam, the lead team. You don't need to worry about them. They will take care of themselves." I'm glad I got some experience before we headed from Flagstaff with a heavy load. Dad turned the wagon with Babe and Sam over to me and said, "Handle the brakes and don't worry about them." He took the lead and we pulled off just about here for the night. We unharnessed and hobbled the horses for the night At daylight Dad sent me out one way while he went the other to look for the horses. I went farther than I realized and turned back into a grove of trees. There I saw a man hanging from a tree...still kicking. I broke and ran for camp. Dad had found the horses and had part of them already harnessed. I started telling him what I had seen. He said, "Shut up and get the rest of the harnesses on." He put Babe and Sam in the lead, and hooked the two wagons together. Down the road he put his hand on my knee and said, "I had to stop you from talking. I knew something was wrong. I was worried. Did you notice I had the rifle in my hand? There were two men back in the trees. I had to shut you up and get out of there. Was the hanging man Indian or white?" I don't know, white I think, because he had boots on." Later Dad stopped and we split the teams. He told me he would have done it at camp, but he was afraid to have me driving in the rear. "What do you suppose he had done?" Dad answered that he had probably stolen horses or cattle." That's a hanging offense in the West." At Tanner Crossing Uncle Fred went on to Tuba City with Dad. I took other trips with Dad and never could get over how he pampered those two lead horses. He always gave Babe a taste of sugar when he harnessed her. He never used the whip on those two. They always did their job.
Postscript....I (Ralph) did go back several years later and tried to talk the old man into going back in with me, but he said he was too old. Six years ago I did talk to Troy Washburn at The Gap Trading Post and he was interested as he had heard the story. He owned The Gap for 30 years, and knew the country. We were to have gone in May before it got too hot. I had bought two instruments that would detect silver and anything with radiation. Odell and I went to Phoenix to spend part of the winter. She got to feeling bad and we came home, then went up to Payson, Utah. She passed away the 30th of April, 1983. We put it off again and in the meantime Troy passed away so as far as I know the money is still there and I have $1800 worth of instruments.