Readers of Scott Bridges's letter (HCN, 9/30/02: This land holds a story the church won't tell) may be interested in knowing that Ed Abbey most likely artistically pilfered and altered Bishop Love's carnotite-eating from a true red, white and blue American specimen of idiotic boosterism. In 1984, Edgemont, S.D., former Mayor Matt Brown was pictured in Life magazine with a lump of uranium-bearing rock held in his mouth like a cigar (the picture was reproduced in the January-February 2001 South Dakota Magazine).
Like so many of our Western economic bonanzas, Edgemont is a dying town, literally and humanly (especially relating to likely radioactive-related deaths) as well as figuratively. It would make a good HCN story, not that there's any shortage of such cautionary tales, too little listened to.
Abbey-philes may also be interested in knowing that Jack Burns Lives! too. (Jack Burns is a recurring character in several of Abbey's novels, and the main character in The Brave Cowboy.) Somewhere, I have a photograph from the Rapid City Journal about a year ago, taken in Utah, mentioning ... that name as the surviving owner of the pictured house hit by a rolling boulder or some such.
If Jack's anarching around, we may have hope for the West yet.
Spearfish, South Dakota
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