Tuesday, April 13, 2010


(Photo courtesy USPS)


The post office gets a lot of criticism. Always has, always will. There will be much more criticism when Saturday mail delivery is dropped. They can expect complaints to intensify.

But the United States Postal Service deserves a standing ovation for something that happened last month: Bill Mauldin has his own postage stamp.

My favorite cartoonist, Bill Mauldin died at age 81 in 2003. The end of his life had been rugged. Alzheimer's disease was inflicting its cruelties. Unable to care for himself, he became a resident of a California nursing home, his health and spirits in rapid decline.

He was not forgotten, though. Mauldin, and his work, meant so much to the millions of Americans who fought in World War II, and to those who had waited for them to come home. He was a kid cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper. Mauldin's drawings of his muddy, exhausted, whisker-stubbled infantrymen Willie and Joe were the voice of truth about what it was like on the front lines.

Mauldin was an enlisted man just like the other soldiers with the same gripes. He wrote about their laughs and heartaches for he was right there with them. He knew the World War II dogfaces and informed folks back home what was really going on, before or after encounters. The plodding infantry has never been shown in such clarity and integrity.

Bill Mauldin never held back. Newspaperman Bob Greene writes: "Sometimes, when his cartoons cut too close for comfort, his superior officers tried to tone him down. In one memorable incident, he enraged Gen. George S. Patton, and Patton informed Mauldin he wanted the pointed cartoons -- celebrating the fighting men, lampooning the high-ranking officers -- to stop. Now."

This word got around. From soldier to soldier they wondered how in the world Sgt. Bill Mauldin could stand up to Patton?

Greene relates in his commentary the end of the story: "Mauldin, it turned out, had an ardent fan: Five-star Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe . Ike put out the word: Mauldin draws what Mauldin wants. Mauldin won. Patton lost."

By the time Mauldin was 23 years old, he had won the Pulitzer Prize. (He later won a second Pulitzer.) He was featured on the cover of Time magazine. His book "Up Front" was the No. 1 best-seller in the United States . ("Up Front" is the treasure of my library.)

Bob Greene writes about Mauldin as few can. They worked together at the Chicago Sun-Times in the late 1960s and 1970s. He saw Mauldin had no officiousness or haughtiness than a copyboy. "That impish look on his face remained."

"What Mauldin would have loved most," Greene believes, is the "sight of the two guys who are keeping him company on that stamp." I'm off to buy a bunch of the Bill Mauldin 44¢ stamps.


Finding Common Ground

The age-old search to understand each other

Two days before Spring, March 19, 1840, there was a council between General Hugh McLeod and officials of the four year old Republic of Texas and a delegation of 12 Comanche chiefs from around the area, seeking a solution to their problems.

After the Republic of Texas was founded in 1836, Sam Houston tried to keep the Indian's treaties with the Spanish and Mexicans in working order. Trouble between the whites and Indians sprung up without rhyme or reason, here and there. Keeping treaties with one group meant nothing to others, including Caddos or Kiowas.

The Comanche made up some 12 tribes with over 30 roaming bands that operated independently. With no one chief in charge, the bands raided farms and captured whites as they pleased. The Texans could not fathom the how or why of the Indians continued breaking the treaties that demanded the return of captive hostages.

Had General Sam Houston been involved rather than McLeod there was the possibility of a peaceful solution. Sam Houston had lived with and respected the Indians. With all his faults Sam Houston was ahead of his times and a legend in his own time.

This San Antonio council meeting followed several bloody and failed attempts for the two groups to find any solution. Both lived in their own world and thought of the other side as demons and usurpers. This attitude prevailed despite the fact that the Indian people were the first Americans.

"At that time when we had these troubles it was to take my country away from me ... they wanted my country and I was in trouble defending it." -- Chitto Harjo. (A full blood Creek, who in 1906 recorded his memories. See Angie Debo's "A History of the Indians of the United States, 9th printing, page 22.)

Under a truce the Comanche leaders met with General Hugh McLeod in San Antonio, then Texas' largest city. The Spaniards founded San Antonio in 1718. The Indians wanted the Texan victors over the Mexicans, to recognize their well-laid out boundaries; to respect their sovereign land, possibly even treat each other as humans.

The Texans, in turn, wanted the Comanches to release white hostages they held. The discussions at the gathering, later known as the bloody Council House conflict, did not go well from the start.

With no unified Comanche front, of which the Texans knew nothing, the participants grew farther and father apart. They thought of Indians as vicious savages. The Comanches went expecting the kind of treaties they had with the Spanish which allowed peaceful trade in exchange for captives. They did not heed Buffalo Hump's warning that the whites could not be trusted.

The Indians brought with them one white captive, Miss Matilda Lockhart, age 16. She had been held 18 months and her release was a "terrible blunder," according to historian T. R. Fehrenbach. "Matilda had been so hideously abused during her captivity, and her appearance was to turn this day..."

Beyond Matilda's sexual humiliations, she had been tortured by the women. She told there were 15 additional white captives in the camp. "The Comanches were oblivious of this stunning effect on the Texans" (Fehrenbach).

Chief Muguara said he would return the prisoners in exchange for ammunition. That did not sit well with the Texas, who threatened to make Muguara a prisioner which only made the Indians angry.

Unfortunately, the council ended with the deaths of many Comanche leaders who wrongly believed that the flag of truce would protect them from harm. Texans also died in the melee that followed. McLeod, in his report the next day, noted 30 Comanche males, 3 women and 2 children were killed. They also took 27 women and 2 old men prisoner. Seven Texans died and 10 were wounded.

Confabs such as the 1840 exchange between the whites and the Indians were more the norm than the exception. The attempt to understand people who are different is faced in every generation, but every effort must be made to find mutual respect and ways to live together.

Real Gold is in the Heart

Gold is in men's hearts, not the mountains

Rummaging through my library this week I found a book I had not seen in nearly 60 years. It was about our favorite state, Arizona. Nothing like walking around in the wilderness. Either the Catalinas or the Superstition Mountains would be our ideal home. In Old Tucson (southwest of Tucson) we saw many a western movie in productions. And meeting Geronomo's son on the Pima reservation.

The Catalinas are between our home in the copper company town of San Manuel and the ever-exciting historical city of Tucson. These mountains are not known for ghost or lost gold mines, but the earliest visitors sure looked for it from time to time.

Every summer we held a young people's retreat in the highest point in the Catalinas, Mount Lemmon. The Catalinas were named by Italian Jesuit priest Eusebio Francisco Kino 1697.

The Superstitions are a range of mountains in Arizona located to the east of Phoenix. The Superstition Mountains have a desert climate, whereas the Catalinas are forests. It is in the Superstitions that the famous Lost Dutchman Mine was located.

According to newspaperman Oren Arnold the mine was first discovered by a young Mexican who was fleeing from Don Miguel Peralta, whose daughter he had been courting. In the 1840s Carlos (the fleeing lothario) saw the bonanza, "the most dazzling human eyes ever beheld."

Carlos loaded up bags of gold and headed back to Mexico to buy forgiveness from Señior Peralta and regain his love. Carlos died in a rainstorm-swollen river on his way home.

The next and better known character to take the venture into the Superstition Mountains, was Jacob Walz, known as Snow Beard, the Dutchman (Arnold said he was German) who claimed the mother lode. As time passed it became known as the Lost Dutchman Mine. Jacob Walz (or: Waltz, Wolz or even "Miller"?) shot the three Mexican youths who showed him the mine, and five other men, one his own nephew, to protect the secret of the mine.

In 1954, Oren Arnold, a Texan by birth, wrote a book "Ghost Gold," which demanded a re-read. One day in the 1870s, Walz set out from about where Roosevelt Dam is now located. He was headed for the Salt River but decided to take a short-cut through the Superstitions. Roaming Apaches shot arrows and nicked his arm. He fled farther into the mountains and came upon a camp of three Mexicans.

When they told them of their gold mine, "Eet ess La Mina Sombrera! Eet ees ours." In time Walz shot the three Mexican youths, and five other men, one his own nephew, to protect the secret of the mine. He had been in Arizona for ten years and this was the first time he discovered gold.

In the Preface to the book "Ghost Gold," Arnold wrote: "True? Of course these stories are true! ... Richest gold lies not in the mountains but in the heart of men. The fascination of lost gold is not in the finding or even the searching, but in the meditating, the day dreaming, the telling."

Arnold, when ask his motivation for writing, said: "Money! Exactly as Shakespeare was motivated." Arnold believed that "humor is the calisthenics of the mind. A wholesome sense of humor is every bit as important as a sense of morals."

Jacob Walz made trips to small towns to show off his gold. It made him the envy if every man who ever searched for gold. Often, for fun, he would give false clues to the location. No one ever found the mine before or after his death.

He revealed the whole story of the mine on his Phoenix deathbed in 1891 to Dick Holmes. He gave Holmes a map and said to find a palo verde tree, with only one one limb, pointing to Weaver's Needle. "Dick Holmes," Arnold writes, "spent 28 years trying to find the property. He died a disappointed man. His widow and sons have hopes of locating the bonanza some day."

"Ghost Gold" also includes advice on how best to go about making your own trip into the maze of canyons of the Superstitions, should you, too, "have an urge."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Free at last! Free of FACEBOOK!

How great is the good feeling to have found a way to flee the weird web site called FACEBOOK.

As you can see in the color photo of Jody and me, we are getting into our 2001 Olds and leaving F A C E B O O K !

It can be done if you search all over the place. They don't want to make it easy to quit them. Just like most sites that woo you on, do not want to lose you to their lists of victims.

The FACEBOOK people behind the scenes said they would leave it up for two weeks in the event I changed my mind. But as of this glorious day, Thursday, April 8, 2010, I will not be seen near the FACEBOOK web pages.

Once you get out, you feel so free. Who would want to go back? To all those I have left behind, sorry. It is just not my cup of tea, like Tea-Party folks, it is not for me. But I will not go on marches holding bad banners or signs against either FACEBOOK or TEA PARTYERS. To Each His/Her Own.

I know Tea Party and FACEBOOK have no connection. They are different entities.


(All the above has been approved by Owl Tree Publishers and The Tao Foundation.)