Heard around the West

 

WESTERN COLORADO

The Gladstone Kibosh, a lively newspaper published 114 years ago in the then-booming mining town of Silverton, Colo., was surely edited by a Western wag. Here’s an excerpt from 1891, reprinted in the modern weekly, the Silverton Standard, which itself celebrated its 130th year of publication this summer: "Advertise in the Kibosh. It pays. John Bilk advertised for his lost dog three weeks ago, and the dog returned of its own accord Wednesday." But that’s not all the Kibosh accomplished: "The Angel of Mercy Saloon advertised a free lunch and free beer to celebrate a new mirror, and inside of one hour after the Kibosh was on the street, Bill Sagria was drunk … Advertise in the Kibosh and get quick action."

CALIFORNIA

A display ad for organic T-shirts in Earth Island Journal recently caught our eye, mainly because the company’s name and the messages on its shirts conflict wildly. The company is called EnvironGentle, but the shirts proclaim: "I kill hunters for fun and sport," "The hole in the ozone is directly related to the hole in your head," and "Plants and animals disappear to make room for your fat ass." The gentle company with the in-your-face shirts is based in Encinitas, Calif.

COLORADO

Two thousand bicyclists from all over the country flock to Colorado each summer for the grueling Ride the Rockies tour. During this year’s spin — the 20th annual — some 600 riders stopped in front of a fence to see something unusual going on in a pasture. Unusual, that is, for urbanites: Cattleman Leo Cooper’s 12-year-old paint mare, Baby, was delivering a foal. Before the newborn was 20 minutes old and wobbling around, the road past Cooper’s field on the Uncompahgre Plateau was thronged with lycra-clad bicyclists, all thrilled at the sight. "Look at it," marveled Mike Schaller, an engineer from Michigan. "Stiff legs. It can barely stand up. Just how I was when I got off my bike on top of the mesa." The foal’s entry into the world provided a nice break for riders on the back road Delta-to-Montrose leg of the tour.

NEVADA

Usually, ring-bearers at a wedding are 3- or 4-year-old children, so serious and demure that everyone murmurs, "Isn’t that adorable?" We’re not sure what guests said at a recent wedding in Reno, when a golden retriever, decked out in a frilly white pack harness, trotted up the aisle. The dog, named Remington, was bearing rings for the groom, Galen Hubert, and bride, Katie Schumacher. Remington, who plopped down afterward next to the father of the groom, got a pat for a job well done.

WASHINGTON, D.C., AND INDIAN COUNTRY

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth is fed up and wants the public to know it. He has been hearing Elouise Cobell’s class action suit against the Interior Department over its mishandling of Indian trust accounts for nine frustrating years, along the way holding two Interior officials — Bruce Babbitt and Gale Norton — in contempt of court. He’s made no secret of his growing scorn for the federal agency, which he recently called a "pathetic outpost," reports The Associated Press: "Alas," he said in court, "our ‘modern’ Interior Department has time and again demonstrated that it is a dinosaur — the morally and culturally oblivious hand-me-down of a disgracefully racist and imperialist government that should have been buried a century ago … ." Judge Lamberth told Interior Department officials that he has so little faith in their ability to do things right that from now on, he wants them to enclose notices in all account correspondence, admitting that "information related to (Indian trust accounts) … from the Department of Interior may be unreliable."

COLORADO

From mushrooms to mountain films, Telluride in summer and fall hosts a festival almost every weekend. So it was a relief a few years back when a local man named Dennis Wrestler proposed a break in mid-July to celebrate absolutely nothing. Wouldn’t you know it, nothing became something anyway, with T-shirts blaring "nothing," a parade with a flatbed hauling nothing, and people visiting just because nothing was going on. "Nothing has become a draw of its own," reports the Telluride Watch. The paper also reports that the big hit of the Fourth of July parade was an entry called The Church of Celebritology. "We all know that celebrities are better than us," said one parishioner. "We strive to reach their level someday."

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.