Sunday, February 14, 2010

Arizona - February 14, 1912

I started making Valentine's for James in 1987, the year we were married, because I couldn't afford to buy one. I made him one every year until 1997. I was pregant that Valentine's day, and was too exhausted to even do that. This image is from the Valentine I made for him in 1994, right after I learned Arizona's nickname and anniversary. Wasn't I just too clever.

Here we are as svelte, tanned Arizonans in 1992. Note James' Arizona map t-shirt. Our little dog, Pablo, poses here with us. One of the first things we learned about desert living was to always wear a cap (and to always have water with you).

Like my first trip to Massachusetts, my first trip to Arizona was to move there. It was the summer of 1990 and the national news of the day was of a heat wave in the southwest - temperatures in Tucson and Phoenix were as high as 120 degrees for days. Whenever I told someone we were moving to Tucson the first thing they would say is "Oh, it's hot there." James and I lived there for four years. It is indeed hot in the summer. People there learn to live inside, or in the shade. Unlike the northeast, it really is cooler in the shade there. We would see people lined up at bus stops waiting in the shadow of a telephone pole. When we first got there I was a bit heartsick for green trees and grass, but after spending several years there I learned to appreciate the unique beauty of the desert. In the next month or so those who live there will enjoy the desert in its full glory with cactus blooms and bottle brushes.

We attended the University of Arizona where I earned my Master's degree in Library Science and James earned his Ph.D. Since this blog is about "celebrating" I will follow the "if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all" rule and refrain from discussion of our experiences the University. Tucson, though, I loved. It was a great place to live. The public transportation system took us to work and school. There were great places to hike for free and we had great friends, many of whom we met through the Unitarian Universalist church there. Of the places I have lived, Tucson was my favorite.

Other great places to visit in Arizona

Bisbee - an old copper mining town. Even in the 1990s the town was still small enough that within the town limits you only had to dial 5 digits to make a phone call. Be sure to take the Queen mine tour when you go.

Sedona -A magical, spiritual place. James and I went here for our fourth anniversary. Don't miss the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Grand Canyon - There is nothing like it. Ignore the tourist advice to see the sunset from the "best spot". It will be crowded, and all you will see is a bunch of camera flashes going off. Go anywhere else. You cannot be disappointed.

The north rim is harder to get to than the south rim, and therefore attracts many fewer visitors. It also has a statue of Brighty (of Marguite Henry's novel: Brighty of the Grand Canyon) If you can manage see the canyon from both sides it will definitely be worth your while.

Arizona Sonora Desert museum - We used to be members here.
I first learned about the book I married Wyatt Earp a few years ago when I was contracted to write an article about the University of Arizona press for a volume of the Dictionary of Literary Biography. I wrote the essay, but the project was killed and so my work was not published. Herewith, is the section from my article about the book -

Controversy Over I Married Wyatt Earp

The [University of Arizona] Press first published I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp in 1976. The best-selling book became a made-for-television movie in 1983 starring Marie Osmond and Bruce Boxleitner. Written by Glenn Boyer, the book was based on a variety of historical documents, but largely on two which were allegedly written by Josephine Earp, the third wife of the legendary Wyatt Earp. One of these is called the Cason Memoir, and Earp historians agree on its validity. It is now housed in the Special Collections room of the University of Arizona Library. The controversy surrounds the Clum manuscript, allegedly written by Josephine Earp with help from Tombstone, Arizona journalist, John Clum. Since the book was first published, Earp historians have questioned the validity of the Clum manuscript. No other researchers had seen such a document, and Boyer himself neither owned it, nor could tell where it was. Moreover, Boyer admitted that two other books he had written, An Illustrated Life of Doc Holliday published by the Reminder Press in 1966, and Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone Vendetta (Talie, 1993) were not based on the documents he claimed to have used.

When the book was scheduled for republication in the late 1990s, The Press conducted a review of the title. Newly appointed Director Christine Szuter conceded that there was a “problem with the book”.  She agreed that the cover would be redesigned; the author would be changed from Josephine Earp to Glen Boyer; and that a publisher’s note would be added regarding the sources in the book. Correspondence between the University of Arizona press and Boyer indicated that the Press published the book knowing that sources were suspect. Boyer also stated that the Press knew of the questionable integrity of his sources and in fact, encouraged him to “embellish”. Correspondence between Townsend and Boyer in 1973 did indicate that Townsend told Boyer to “…project yourself into Mrs. Earp’s shoes in the matter of expression...” Meanwhile the book was adopted as required reading in history classes. In 2000 the Press took I Married Wyatt Earp out of print after it had gone through a dozen printing and sold more than 36,000 copies.

My research on this book at the time indicated that Boyer said that the Clum manuscript was found in the U of A archives. I remember sending an e-mail the the Special Collections librarian, and I received an non-commital response. I do know from working in a library that materials in archives and special collections can sit in storage for a long time before someone is able to catalog them properly. I do not know what the truth is here, though.

This book demystified Earp, and although in Josie Earp's mind she was creating a positive portrait I was unimpressed. The reviews I read on all praise it, but perhaps they were written by people who already knew a lot more about Earp than I do. The book is well annotated, indicating that the author did quite a bit of additional research for this work, and I will admit to not having read the notes - I frankly just wanted to be done with the book. I think Boyer would have done better to take the manuscripts and write a biography, rather than attempting to keep the story in the first person. He clearly did a lot of research and I think could have probably done an elegant job of weaving the first person accounts with the other sources he found. Interestingly the gunfight at O.K. Corral is only a small part of the work, which is the intention. It was only a small part of Earp's life (less than one minute). The book tells the story of a man with wanderlust: a prospector, gambler, husband, and friend. Earp came to Tombstone from Dodge City, (a theme in the Cowboy poetry book I read for my Kansas post) and from there traveled around the west for many years. He prospected for gold in Alaska. For more about this book see the Amazon reviews
and the following sources:
Albanese, Richard. “Bogus Bride.” Tombstone History Archives,

Gabrielson, Ryan. “New Review may stop publication of controversial Earp memoir.” Arizona Daily Wildcat. December 3, 1999.

Gabrielson, Ryan. “U. Arizona Press may force Earp biographer to reveal source.” Arizona Daily Wildcat, December 7, 1999.

Sharlet, Jeff. “Author’s Methods Lead to Showdown Over Much-Admired Book on Old West.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 11, 1999.

Something I learned that Josie Earp and I have in common: a love of the desert after a rain. she said " spirits were lifted by my favorite desert odor-the pungent smell of wet creosote bushes. This is a pleasant spicy aroma that I never get enough of. To me it's the most typical desert fragrance. I love it." No justice can be done to this smell through words. One must experience it .

I tried watching Raising Arizona many years ago, and didn't even finish watching it because I thought the characters were too dumb to live, and the whole thing was nonsense. Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter play an ex-con and police officer husband and wife who discover that they are infertile, so they kidnap a baby, one of a set of quints born to furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona and his wife, Florence. I watched the entire movie this time and still hold that the characters were too dumb to live and the whole thing was nonsense, but I can now appreciate that that was what the Coen brothers were trying to do. It was just a goofy movie. They were not trying to send any kind of  message. I laughed quite a bit watching it this time around. I also caught some subtle Arizona humor that I would not have noticed the first time, as I have since lived in Arizona. I thought it was brilliant to name one of the character's Florence Arizona, which is also the name of a town with nine "correctional facilities". Florence is the county seat of the aptly named Pinal County. I actually applied for a job as a prison librarian there once. I believe they called me for an interview, but by that time I had already accepted a job in Texas and was getting ready to move.

Other Arizona movies:

Revenge of the Nerds - Filmed at the University of Arizona


Thelma and Louise

Pump of the Volume - A "must miss"!

Coming Soon!

Touching Home
This independent film based on the lives of Noah and Logan Miller is being released this spring. Part of this was filmed on location at the Colorado Rockies spring training in Tucson. After having read the book Either You're In Or You're In the Way about the Miller's amazing journey toward getting this movie made I am very much looking forward to seeing it.

Since today is both Arizona and Oregon's anniversary's we had an Arizona breakfast and an Oregon dinner. I made chocolate monkey bread from a recipe in my Southwestern Cooking Cookbook and huevos rancheros from a recipe I found in the local paper several years ago. I cheated a bit on the monkey bread and used frozen dinner rolls instead of making the bread from scratch. I learned this trick from another cookbook a few years ago. I rolled the frozen rolls in melted butter, and then in a mixture of sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. The balls then went into a bundt pan in two layers and sat overnight. In the morning I put them in the oven for 25 minutes at 350. The huevos rancheros I made by layering corn tortillas with refried beans, fried eggs, and shredded monterrey jack cheese and placing them under the broiler for a minute. I served them with avocados, salsa, and plain yogurt (a low-fat substitute for sour cream).

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