The first 11 years of my life would fill many books but I am glad I took time out for adventures too as you shall see in this narrative. Now I can’t walk 10 feet without a walker, but once upon a time, long, long ago and a thousand miles away I walked the desert alone without carrying food, water, fire or good sense with me. Someone this evening mentioned the singularity of the petroglyphs found at the Painted Rock Monument and I thought I would carve out enough time to mention some of the natural history and people peculiarly adapted to see much of that area and whom I had occasionally rubbed shoulders with. We knew and appreciated what we found in that region. Its indelible imprint left its mark on us and I carried that mark with me around the world. This narrative should prove interesting to anyone with a sense of adventure, although I have deliberately left out many of the real adventures which would seem unbelievable to people under 60; there being no need to tax your incredulity.
In 1963-65, about 7 miles from painted rock I turned up 30 matates in a few hours one day. There must have been a substantial village there at one time. Considering the proximity to Painted Rock I surmise this was the peoples that lavished their artistic talents on that library of sand and rock that tells the history of that area.
I had plans to show the place to Ed Hunt one weekend when he showed me how he had found so many burial clay pots with the remains still in them. However, we got caught up in exploring a village with Aztec connections that he had known about. We (he) found a rubber ball made in the same fashion as the Aztecs in Mexico made theirs.
This village was along the gravel road leading from Citrus Valley to the Gillespie dam that my father had made. Ed was a Euromerican and had not been sure I would make pleasant company when we set out. That evening I helped him drag an ironwood tree over to start him a fire. He apologized first that he had brought not enough food for both of us. “Don’t worry about me,” I said.
After he had eaten he apologized again, this time because he only had blankets sufficient for himself, and then only because he had a night fire. I tried unsuccessfuly to keep from laughing, then I said, “Don’t worry about me.”
I moved about 15 yards away from the fire and laid down on the ground and went to sleep. His preparations for his breakfast woke me up. After he had eaten breakfast I gave him a hammered thin silver coin with Roman (he said) writing stamped on both sides, useless to me but obviously valuable to him.
He thought my ways peculiar and I know I found his ways frivolous, but after that night our respect for the other was mutual. He mentioned some other places in that area he knew about and I mentioned some singularities I knew about. It often amazes me that I had not known that village he shared with me, nor did he know of anything I mentioned.
Ed seemed to be truly amazed that I could know of anything in HIS country that he didn’t already know about. Just as I had not believed he could see a tomahawk I could not see, he insisted that I prove there was a natural water ketch. He was properly astounded when I led us straight there in his Jeep, well, as straight as his Jeep could go.
I had used it only twice in my youth while crossing the desert on foot so often.
When he saw it he said there would be no problem in getting the BLM to permit him and some other unidentified sportsmen from Gila Bend to brick it up with concrete so it would hold substantially more water.
And then, being so close, I guided him around a mountain
to look at another ketch he had not known about, three more miles towards Gillespie dam. This had been a Native American gathering place. Two boulders weighing tons had been drilled with holes incredibly smooth. As far as I can recollect, Ed and I never spoke again but he did wave anytime he saw me, and I waved back.
There were so many others I met. Chkatyd and I had made serious fun on the fortaleza years before the archaeologists rebuilt the place so well. This is about four miles from Gilla Bend. There were wild bees a plenty in those days. Chkatyd and I had shared a dig in soft dirt when he had taken me with him to dig out shards at yet another gathering place. He rebuilt two clay pots from the shards we found that time.
Elee Sam, Allonzo and Tutiputch Manual and I thought it was great fun to just run around loose on the desert and talk about it on full moon nights. Back in those days we could walk 20 miles without touching a fence or seeing a house out there.
On the other side of Gillespie, oh, about five-miles straight cross-country, there is a place with about as many or close to it as is found at Painted Rock, another petroglyphs site exists. They are more scattered out than the concentrated site found at the painted rock site. I took 4 of my oldest daughters to see them but I’m not sure how much attention they gave the excursion then.
After the state put in the paved road from painted rock to the freeway the Euromerican youth would go down after dark and travel on that highway just to hear the rattlesnakes pop. It would be covered with food for the buzzards the next morning. One day in that same area but straight across from painted rock to the fortaleza, Chkatyd and I captured 12 Gila Monsters by hand and kept them for pets for a couple of weeks before turning them loose again. Steve Holt of Gila Bend had us beat all hollow with his reptile captures in that region. He and I seemed to have a special bond of friendship and spent several days together.
Huge amounts of copper has been removed from the area right close to the Painted Rock monument. The Dendora ranch, right where it now meets the paved road to Painted Rock, had a honeycombed copper mine across the road from it. Several of those deep shafts were so deep that I found bats that had mummified and they turned the powder when I touched them. Chktyd took me down another shaft in that same mine that had run into an underground river. He said there were fish in there that had blind eyes. I didn’t see that myself but I sure wouldn’t doubt it as those (9) shafts were awfully deep an wide enough for U-Haul’s biggest truck to fit in sideways without touching either side. Strange to say, but I later met the owner of that mine when he was exploring the feasibility of strip mining it as is done at the Phelps-Dodge mine in Ajo Arizona. We talked for an hour or so and he sent me a large box of Chief kitchen utensils which factory he said he owned. I also came to know Bill and Helen who had been manager of Dendora Ranch. Bill had been a fantastic cowboy long before that job came open. He also showed me how to pan for gold, but I never found even a whisper of color in all those years.
Even though I had met seven mountain lions face to face and without weapons of any kind in that area and I live unscathed to tell about it I had not then or ever afterward met Lynn Cool. However, I believe I did meet two of his lion hounds out in the desert one time. I had no food for them but they sure appreciated the water I gave them before washing their poor feet. They laid down in the shade and slept for several hours. When they woke up they drank some more water then left without saying a word. That is ever the way I found it when meeting one-man dogs; when it is time to leave they simply get up and go. I am trying to mend my ways in the last decade, but that is very much the most comfortable way I know of to sever temporary alliances.
Just the first 11 years of my life would fill many books but I am glad I took time out for adventures too as you see in this narrative. Anyway, I believe I could take someone straight to that village where all those matates were found but not removed, by me anyway.. After all, I had been on foot when I was out there.