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Seventeen Dollars a Square Inch

April 20, 2011

The following is an excerpt from my book about Eric Sloane, who was my best friend. It’s called Seventeen Dollars a Square Inch. He wrote about fifty books in fifty years, could paint a major painting a day, and still have time to lunch with me. You can get the book from Collected Works Book Store in Santa Fe. (505-988-4226)

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The World Lost its Darling

April 4, 2011

I regret the demise of graceful penmanship and thoughtful word arrangements that were so prevalent in letters a hundred years ago. It seems we don’t have time for handwriting anymore, now that emails are so quick and convenient. Yet delicate feelings cannot be suitably conveyed unless they are either gently spoken, or handed by folded note. I’ll use Amelia Earhart to illustrate my point.

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My Prehistoric Friends

March 29, 2011

In the mid-fifties I had a good friend named Bill Fyke. He was known around South Texas for three things: he was a good guy, he was a delivery man for the Bruce Pie Company, and he collected stone arrowheads. I loved the guy for all three reasons. Bill’s route took him to all of the little towns and stopping places west of Austin and San Antonio. He visited every gas station and country store that sold anything edible.

And, of course, he always asked everyone standing nearby if they knew of any old Indian campsites in the area. Bill and I were really into collecting arrowheads. He even named his son Flint. Flint Fyke - it has a certain ring…

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Tea with Olga

March 1, 2011

From my memoir, The Thrill of the Chase.

To Taos

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Words that Linger

February 24, 2011

One of the many differences between highly successful men and most of the others is the way they put words together in a sentence, the way they can persuade and influence – and evoke. General Douglas MacArthur personified that talent at its extreme. He spoke slowly and deliberately as if each noun deserved its own pedestal. It was probably said that no one in his audience ever went to the bathroom while he was speaking. His final address to the cadets at West Point, where he had been both cadet and superintendant, amply illustrates the point. Try to picture him in your mind now, tall and straight, and commanding:

“The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps. I bid you farewell.”

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Buffalo Smoke

February 20, 2011

In the 1940s, when I was a very young teenager, my father and I liked to get up early to fish in Yellowstone Park. The gate didn’t open until 6:00 so the evening before we’d leave our car just inside the log fence that separated government land from the little village of West Yellowstone. Many times we found ourselves fishing at first light and it was not unusual for it to be cold enough for ice to form in the agate guide on the tip of my fly rod, making it difficult to retrieve the line.

One morning when it was still mostly dark I was walking along bank of the Madison River, leisurely fishing and enjoying myself when I suddenly caught a very strong, musky odor that I didn’t recognize. It puzzled me. When I looked around there were twelve large buffalo resting in the tall grass, chewing their cuds and looking at me with immense disinterest. They could not have been more than ten feet away. So much steam was on their bodies that it formed a cloud as it slowly rose to dissipate in the pine branches above. If the wind had not been just right I might have walked past those great beasts, being totally oblivious of that wonderful experience.

The buffalo is king of his realm and is probably the most magnificent of American animals. It is not known to offend except in self defense or to protect its young. Over the years I have remembered that incident on the Madison and thought how nice it would be if all animals, human especially, would just go on about their business in peace, as we did that morning, and leave others alone. There must be a moral in there somewhere.

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