Friday, February 26, 2016

Old Lincoln Days in Lincoln, New Mexico 8-20-13

This year's festivities have taken on a little different "look" as our friend, Bennie Long, at the Lincoln Monument site had moved on to another position.  Managing the Monument now is Gary Cozzens.  Steve and I found all the folks at the historic monument: Ira, Bill and several others including Larry Pope from Fort Stanton really pleasant and fun to be around.    They all did their absolute best in making us feel welcome.  I had contacted Gary a week or so prior to the event and let him know that Steve and I would be cooking a meal for them and they just needed to let us know which one they wanted.  They chose breakfast.And the controversy continues.  Did Pat Garret really kill Billy The Kid in Fort Sumner that night?  This was the question that was posed and discussed at great length around the campfire in Lincoln on the weekend of August 3-4, 2013. I believe the consensus was that Garret did kill someone that night.  He shot the person in the face and the body was buried shortly after, within an hour or two.  Positive identification was not possible.  Even much later there was nobody to do a DNA test because of floods in 1889 and 1904 washing away critical markers.  Brushy Bill Roberts who claimed to be the real Billy the Kid lived out his life in Hico, Texas and died there in 1950 wasn't even given a second thought by the campfire members.   What happened to the Kid?  No one really submitted an answer to that question, only questions like what happened to the girlfriend and the baby?  Did the Kid really go to England and die at a ripe old age?  There is a marker in a cemetery that says he is buried in England......Did Tunstall somehow arrange for this to happen prior to  getting killed himself?  Who knows?  Was Pat Garrett "in" on the cover up?  The campfire didn't reveal any great conclusions other than Pat Garret did not kill Billy the Kid that night.

My friend Steve Woods from Denton, Texas came back to Lincoln again this year to participate in the festivities surrounding the Lincoln County War.  We had participated two years ago and were unable to make it last year because I had a commitment in merry old England.  My wife, Linda, and I attended the 2012 Olympics. 
Gary Cozzens, Manager New Mexico State Monuments (Historic Sites)
I got my 1927 Model T chuck wagon loaded on my goose neck trailer in El Paso, Texas and headed up the mountain to Ruidoso, New Mexico.  I had a lunch date with an ole friend Dulley Gwinn at the Ranchers Grill in Ruidoso on Thursday.  Just after arriving the sky opened up and began to dump a bunch of rain, a sight I had not seen in quite some time.  I suspect it rained a couple of inches in about two hours.  Had a nice prime rib sandwich and visit and then proceeded to Lincoln a distance of only 37miles.  I was able to get on site, beside the monument office and get my teepee set up and the fly for our cooking area set up before Steve arrived at around 4 or 5 pm after about a 9-10 hour drive.  We completed our teepees and basic necessities for the next morning.  We had the stove set up with the coffee pot on the ready so we could have our cup of Joe the first thing upon arising in beautiful Lincoln. 
Then we took leave from Lincoln and backtracked down the road to Tinnie's, NM to the Silver Dollar Restaurant.  We were waited on by a very capable staff. In fact we met the chef outside before going in, and he recommended the Beef Stroganoff.   Sage Leeyer was our server, and we found she was the same horseback lady that I had taken pictures of at Fort Stanton a couple of weeks earlier.  We had a great time with her telling and receiving stories.  We did decide on the Beef Stroganoff and an excellent choice it turned out to be.  Since they have hand cut-fresh french fries--I had to have some of them as well.  We visited with many of the wait staff and the chefs in the back.  There are works of art on display in the dining areas, one of which was the beautiful actress of the 1880's, Lily Langtry and another, a 17th century clock and yet another which was a mirror frame dating back to the 18th century. 
Great stuff!  Quite a nice dining experience.  If you have never been to this particular place you are in for a treat.

Then it was back to Lincoln and our awaiting teepee quarters.  We were situated just a little ways down from the Tunstall Store and across from the Dolan House.  Looking up we were surrounded by tree covered mountains with the little valley opening up to the southwest....the direction we longingly looked for the hopeful rains that never came.

Katy Shannon
Hopper and Katy Shannon from Hatch, New Mexico had arrived and began setting up their blacksmith camp.  Hopper is a historic blacksmith who researches old smithing methods and also seeks out old photographs showing old implements and markings that he replicates.

I had asked him about a month ago to make me a meat fork about 18" long.  Fantastic!  His work is unequaled.  Katy is fantastic and they make a great team selling all of the various things he makes to offer to the public.  They have been to many mountain men rendezvous camps where all the people who attend eat, sleep, dress, etc in the period of 1845-1860.  Re-enactors if you will.  They are special friends!
Next morning (Friday),  as we were relaxing, having a cup of coffee, across the street a buck, doe and
two fawns were having their morning chomp of dew covered grass.  And then we were treated with the daily (we found out later) jackass bray...same time every morning that we were there...regular as clock work.  There was also a morning dove, obviously very young, because he/she had not learned the normal repertoire learned by doves during their early schooling.

Steve had brought some homemade sausage that we cooked up and had on a tortilla.  Yum, yum!  We had been looking forward to the early morning sounds and just sitting and having a cup of coffee before the town awakened.  It was as nice as we remembered it two years ago.  
Quentin Waterhouse, Tim & Lucy and Hopper
The festivities around town were just getting going on Friday with everyone setting up their stuff for the public, although there were a number of people milling around such as the young couple, Tim & Lucy who live in Southwest London who were camping nearby.  We asked them to join us for breakfast on Saturday.
1927 Ford Chuck Wagon at the Wortley Hotel

At the jail where Billy the Kid escaped

At John Tunstall's store
 Steve and I spent the early morning driving the truck around to the various historic sites and took pictures in front of the buildings before anyone was really stirring.  Quite an odd feeling......early in the morning in Lincoln.....there seems to be spirits of the days gone by that still hang around.  Stories abound about what happened here during the Lincoln County Wars.  There too are stories about what wasn't written that run freely from Lincoln residents if you catch them at the right time.

After getting back to the camp and opening up the "kitchen" I decided it was time to make up a batch of camp made Kahlua.  I even rounded up some antique bottles in which to save the "coffee sweetener". I got the recipe from Rex Wailes from Colorado when we were out at an Arizona gathering and then modified it to fit our surroundings.
6 cups of campfire coffee
1lb. light brown sugar
3 1/2 TBS vanilla extract
1/2 liter of Vodka (2.1 cups)
Whilst coffee is hot, mix in
brown sugar and let cool.
Mix in vanilla and vodka and
serve as a Black Russian or as
a sweetener for your coffee.

We were getting on down close to time for a little sustenance and we had french fries and roast beef.

Friday was a very hot day and every so often the clouds would roll in and threaten rain....but it never came.  There was a really bad cloud on Thursday night with a lot of thunder and lightening but the little valley where Lincoln is located managed to send the clouds to the mountains to the East of us.....and nothing in the way of moisture.  As for the weather, Saturday proved to be more of the same, with clouds, a lot of humidity and no rain.........just the way we liked it................NOT! It was hot for a couple of ole fat boys.

The migas for breakfast were scheduled for the monument staff at 7:30 and we had a lot of fun visiting with all the folks who showed up, among them Quentin Waterhouse, several deputy sheriffs, Gary, Bill, Ira, Gwendolyn and others from the staff and a federal judge, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (who were certainly dressed the part and were part of the troupe doing some of the gun fights down the street), Gary Hiel, Walt Lowe (chuck wagon cooks),

Walt's brother-in-law Rory McMinn, Jerry Baird and and old high school buddy, Hopper, Katy, and many others whose name we didn't get.   Fun was had by all....and I might add that a venue like this lends itself to allowing time for getting to know folks.  I was especially happy to get to visit in length with the boys from Roswell.  Have known them for quite a spell , but never did really get to KNOW them.  They are good hands and will look forward to meeting up with them again in the future.

The thing about migas is that they will keep for quite a while if you will just keep them near a fire.  I usually use an old metal oil pan with a pan liner in it as a double boiler.  It keeps things like migas and chile con queso nice and hot as long as you don't let all the water evaporate.

We started in on the hoe cakes (or Johnny cakes or corn dodgers or hush puppies) serving them up to whom ever came by the camp.  Along side the cakes were an abundance of hot dogs that were compliments of El Paso Honda ( there were left over buns and wieners from a deal I did with them at the dealership in El Paso.)  In fact the General Manager of El Paso Honda, Gerald Miller and friend along with Bubba Brown rode their motorcycles up to see us. It is so much fun giving food away, and people just don't understand that we don't charge for stuff like this. (my next door neighbor always accused me of not being a good businessman.....oh well).

As the day wears on and the hot weather just gets hotter--I think Steve and I consumed over two cases of water in  the two days. Gary and Walt threw in and cooked up some more sausage and we had smoked oysters, and fresh Gulf Coast Shrimp cocktails followed by fajitas, Elk T-bones, and potato salad.  We certainly don't go hungry at these events.

One of the stories going around that was related to Steve was that John Tunstall, back in the day, realized that Lincoln would be a well known historic ,and he had many of the things that were on the shelves in his store back in the !800's placed into storage and when "the Tunstall Store" was turned into a museum they would have the proper items to display.  The things you see in these pictures are a result of Tunstall's foresight.  So the story goes!

One of the days we and the Roswell boys  went to the historic Wortley Hotel for lunch.  It was nice to have someone else wait on us for a change.  I think we drank them out of ice tea while we were there.  The BBQ sandwiches really hit the spot.

The activity for Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon was for the Billy the Kid Pageant.  If you haven't seen it, put it on your schedule for next year.  Well worth seeing the play about the local hero.  The setting is large enough that the pageant enlists the use of  real horses, wagons, and buggies along with a lot of shootouts.  The characters used in the pageant are a much sought after acting role and some are handed down within local families.

Sunday is pretty much reserved for the parade at 11:00 am.  Rory McMinn from Lincoln with his '39 Chevrolet and Walt Lowe from Roswell with his '41Chevy truck (that will soon to be a chuck wagon) and my '27, represented three antique vehicles that were in the parade.  We took it upon ourselves to do a pre parade parade and drove up and down the street of Lincoln prior to the parade.  We wanted to make sure everyone knew there was going to be a parade. hehehe! I thing there were somewhere around 75 entries, mostly individual horse and rider entries but several antique vehicles, one a 1914 Oldsmobile as well as the Lincoln County Fire Department and our friends the County Sheriff deputies.

After the parade we tore down the camp, Roswell boys headed home, and we headed to Ruidoso for a hot shower and clean sheets.  Steve and I  reminisced  about the goings on of the week end and both agreed that this venue is a whole lot more fun than competition cooking.

See you on down the road!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Going North in a Norther

My wife, Linda and I were just in Santa Fe, New Mexico for Christmas (2015) and returned to a blizzard (by our estimations) in El Paso, Texas.  We traveled a little bit in rain mixed with snow and nearly freezing temperatures and after we got home the rain began to turn to snow and overnight we got a bit over 8" of snow.
This scenario got me to thinking about the drovers on the great cattle drives and how they were hell bent to get their "cow hunts" over within a timely fashion so that plenty of time would be had to get their beef to the Northern markets before winter.There were many things that played into the timing of the start of the drive and the cowboys knew of nearly all of the dangers lurking around each bend or over every hill.  The conditions were bad enough during thunderstorms and the inevitability of stampedes.
Too, were the problems of Indians wanting beef because the white man had destroyed their hunting grounds and depleted the buffalo herds.  Another danger was the possibility of a late Norther that could bring  snow and freezing temperatures. Or if they got started to late they ran into the possibility of an early winter storm.  It was these possibilities that got me to thinking what little comforts they actually had on a trail drive.

A good cook was paramount in the necessary comforts for the cowboys because a good meal was one of the very few comforts they had and many times this particular comfort was in short supply. The meals mostly consisting of beans and bread.  The main stay was coffee, and the cowboys sought this "shot of adrenaline" anytime there was a campfire when the chuck wagon stopped at noon or in the evening....and certainly all night for the those on night watch. And it goes without saying the cup of Arbuckles with breakfast was the way to start the day when it would be as much as two hours before daylight. So the comforts were few and far between when it cam to meals and even more so when the drovers tried to get that little bit of sleep at night. (As a side note, notice the water barrel on the side of the wagon in this approximate 1880+ photo. There was a lot of discussion in the ACWA sanctioning as to whether the water barrel was ever on the outside of the wagon.)

I got to thinking about how miserable a cowboy would be in a situation where he had to deal with thunderstorms and rain.  It becomes more difficult to imagine how completely miserable he must be with very little clothing to protect him from the elements and certainly not much of a way to get dry after getting soaked during a rainstorm.  Taking that thought a bit further, how did they actually deal with freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall.  Many of the cowboys only had a canvas sleeping bag with a few sugans to help ward off the cold.  The probability of having a tipi was pretty remote in most Southern camps and the only "roof" over his head at night was the thin layer of canvas bedroll.

Are you imagining this scenario of being freezing cold, wet, sleeping on the ground with nothing to warm you but a couple of blankets?  I began to imagine long years ago how utterly tough these cowboys were in dealing with the elements.
During the time our CALK chuck wagon was competing in cook off's and on some ranches in  places like Capitan, Lincoln, Clovis, Hobbs and Ruidoso, New Mexico and several places in Texas like Dryden our crew was sleeping in the cowboy tipis.  There were times we had to deal with the weather in rain, wind, snow and freezing temperatures as low as 18 F.  We complained like crazy but usually it was for a short while and we would have a change of dry clothes and a place where we could get warm within just a couple of days.  The boys on the trail drive were out there for 2-3 months depending on where their market.  Do you get the picture?
Tough Sum Bitches and I believe it gave them every right to celebrate and let their hair down at the end of a long cattle drive........don't you?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Riding for the Brand

It has been a little while since the ole Calk Wagon went out to cook in competition but decided "it was about time".  A while back I became acquainted with a young man on the internet when he answered a question I had about a Masonic membership card.  We visited back and forth messaging and he became interesed in what was going on with this chuck wagon thing.  It turned out that there was a local event I had scheduled here in El Paso that involved cooking breakfast at a Ford dealership.  I thought it would be a good chance to get acquainted with him and him with chuck wagon cooking.  I had my usual help: Skip Clark, John Cooper, and Joy Leos.  They are all seasoned veterans with cooking, and getting there at 5:30 am was not a problem.  Turned out that John had come down with a bug and was unable to attend so the timing was perfect for the new recruit to get acquainted with some chuck wagon cooking.

Erik Briseno is a self proclaimed City Boy .  He told me that he had never had the opportunity to get out and go camping and the like but was willing to learn.  I think he explained that he once tried to fish but didn't want to get out of the car so they drove as clsoe to water as they could and he "fished" out the window. Right now it is about learning his way around a chuck wagon.  That in itself is quite refreshing.  The fact he is a Masonic brother it doubly cool.
Erik, sweating "it" in San Antonio

The gig at the Ford dealership was breakfast for 150 and that went really well with four of us preparing migas, ham, biscuits and gravy.  Everything was cooked on propane because of the asphalt location.  Even after the event was over he was still interested.  Next came the Fort Sam Houston/Cowboys for Heroes event which was a four hour serving time meal in which we fed 500 people.  He got to see all aspects of preparing many different dishes and multiple cooking techniques.

Still not deterred, we entered a brisket cook off in which we competed valiantly but did not bring home the gold.  We did however vow to come back next year with a vengeance.

He would keep telling me that he really enjoyed learning this totally "new stuff".  He took the ribbing from all the old hands in San Antonio and managed to become a team member.  He was still lacking. He had no cowboy threads and no idea what to buy but was interested in looking the part.  He said that he had never been a person who would try to look like something they were not, BUT added that sense cooking on the wagon he felt he had become the real deal and was ready to get outfitted with some duds that would make him fit in better.  You know, boots, hat, pants, shirt, vest, wild rag, authentic glasses.  You know the drill.  We are well on our way to getting him into the fold and I must say that he is fitting nicely into mold.  Yep, riding for the brand is what he is all about.  He has proclaimed about his time around the camp that everything is heavy, a person can easily get burned, cut, scraped, sun burned, exhausted, and dehydrated, cussed, yelled at, and in all kinds of weather.....and yet is still interested in hanging out with the boys of the wagon.

Pretty cool lad and now part of our wagon crew.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cowboys For Heroes

About a year ago Arb Lenamon brought up to the board of directors of the American Chuck Wagon Association his involvement in a worthwhile project for wounded warriors.  He told us that we could greatly benefit from the experience by "giving back" to those soldiers who have so courageously served our country.  He went on to explain that the project had spanned nine years and that 2015 would be the tenth year.  The ACWA had been looking for something to get started with in relation to charitable work.  Arb informed us there had been about 20 wagons who served approximately 4,000 wounded, injured and ill soldiers and veterans in 2014.  The ACWA group voted unamiously to support Cowboys For Heroes at Fort Sam Houston located in San Antonio, Texas.

The difficulty with such a project is dealing with the federal regulations one must follow when organizing such an event at a military installation. Arb has dealt with personnel each year, but the personnel change every year and the new folks at the base have to be reeducated as to what we want to do.  He tells them that we just want to bring onto the base 20 or so chuck wagons and support vehicles along with about 150 cooks, food and equipment to feed about 4,000 to 5,000 of the soldiers and veterans.  They ask how much will it cost and the reply is: Nothing! Aubrey tells them we will get our on donations to cover the costs.  Most of the cost comes from our own pockets he tells them.We do have meat donated throught C4H and Greg Lyles and still others who who generously supported some of the various wagons.  I think you get the picture as to how the event has developed.  It is a private affair and is open to all branches of the military.
We had been contacted by Greg Liles about what meat we would like to serve and they tried their best to accommodate our wishes. I understand C4H purchased beef from the Houston Livestock Show and had it butchered to our wishes. Pioneer Flour donated flour, corn meal, bisquik mix, and brownie mix.

 This being the first time to be involved with the event I wasn't sure just how things actually worked. I spoke with several friends who had participated in the past and they gave me a heads up on sort of what to expect. I thought it would be a good idea to have two wagons together under one fly to serve as the host of the ACWA camp.  Marcus Reed agreed to bring his 1927 Model TT Ford chuck wagon to anchor one end of the fly and I was planning on using Arb's wagon at the other end. It wasn't until I began to put together, in my mind,  the things I would need to take to San Antonio from El Paso, that I realized all the stuff wouldn't fit in my pick I told Aubrey that I would just save him the trouble of bringing his wagon and I would bring my John Deere so that I could get everything there that we would need.

It wasn't until I put a pencil to it when it dawned on me that we would need a goodly number of folks to get all that food prepared to feed about 500+ people. Hummm that means I will have to disconnect the kitchen sink too.  At one time I counted seventeen people in our
Now let's see, we cooked: six briskets, 160 hot dogs, 165 chicken fired steaks, big pot of chili, 18 gallons of peaches and 36 boxes of cake mix for cobblers, 25 pounds of Greg Martin pintos, six pans of brownies, hundreds of benighs, 50 pounds of potatoes, 5 gallons of peppercorn gravy plus coffee. We managed to use about a half cord of wood and five propane cookers. It took two men plenty busy just to keep us with enough coals to keep all the Dutch ovens hot. And you need to understand that we were just one camp with two wagons. There were eighteen other camps with similar set ups preparing everything under the sun.
A little planning goes a long way
One of the nineteen serving lines

Erik and Eddie getting the sausage ready to serve

WC and some of the many warriors through the camp

Music was provided, free of charge, my Mike Carr and the Lone Star Statesmen from the Hondo, Texas area.  Mike runs the KCWM radio station in Hondo and when I approached him with doing the event he was "all in".
No question, they were going to do this for the men and women who have done so much for us. There wasn't much room for dancing but there was dancing going on.  When the mood strikes you just gotta move.
K R Wood singing Dave Crockett
Mike Carr and the Lone Star Statesmen providing the day long music

K R Wood, story teller and muscian was also on hand to provide a flavor of Texas to the attendees. Jerry Diaz, Charro extodinair was on hand to do amazing feats.  Mutton bustin was a favorite of the kids and grownups alike as well as the bull rides.  If you didn't get to help out you missed a wonderful time at Fort Sam Houston.  You might even consider putting it on your bucket list.  It was that good.

Kathy Christensen, a member of the ACWA board of directors was on hand to sell t-shirts and other items.
Ronnie Sexton, ACWA member, setting up the signs and flags for the host wagon.  Ronnie and wife Maribeth helped another board member, Lonnie Tegler and his wife prepare food in the Rocking T Chuck Wagon camp.  Brian Frankum and wife Susan also representing the ACWA was present with the Wishbone wagon.
Here you see board member Kathy Christensen selling tee shirts to benefit the "Helping Hand" award the ACWA established to help a needy military person.

If you will look closely this military gentleman has a Texas Longhorn shirt on.  Just saying!  Hook 'um Horns.  He is certainly enjoying himself on the bucking bull.
Kevin and his fellow Beignet makers.  They made hundreds of these delicious babies. 
Jim, WC, Eddie Sandoval, Erik Bresino, and Wendell Walker serving warriors and families!
Wendell, WC, Cheryl, and Joanne making a batch of gravy.

Sandoval tending the ovens. 

Joanne, WC and Marcus chopping brisket

Hero support group

"Sun Dancer" Eddie Sandoval preparing to give a Native American blessing

WW, Cheryl, Tammy, Erik serving up the grub

Fort Sam

We had a great time serving those who have and are serving us!