Here is Dad's comment on what his grandfather said to him as he was dying. Seventy-two years later, pretty well serves as eulogy for Dad, as well.
What follows here are some notes I'd made of data Dad had given more over the years. They are not his own writing, but most are from notes I kept, including some of a long meeting he had with his cousin Thelma, daughter of John and Frances Busby, and from a visit to the St. David cemetery where his grandparents are buried.
He talked of Tucson around 1940, and how much of its history is glossed over or bowlderized today. There was an entire cathouse district back then. And the town of Binghamton, a mormon settlement north of the Rillito, was actually a polygamous settlement. Everyone in Tucson knew it, and everyone followed the western rule of minding their own business.
At the point when Dad was first in Tucson, the place was very small. The present El Con shopping center was the El Conquistator Hotel, a resort far out in the open desert.
Tucson was so small that there was one person -- I think he worked for what is now the Motor Vehicle Division -- that would drive around and, if he spotted a juvenile driving recklessly, just verbally ground him for a week or whatever. There was no court proceeding and no record, but no one defied his orders.
My notes indicate Dad said he came to St. David around age eight, i.e.,1927.
Dad got arrested with one of the Merrill boys at one point. Another rancher's cattle kept coming onto the Merrill land, and he and the boy started catching them and riding them. The rancher got angry, filed charges of rustiling cattle, and they were taken to the sheriff's office. Merrill came over, and told the rancher that if any of his cattle got onto his land in the future, he wouldn't have to worry about people riding them -- he'd shoot them on sight.
On a trip to the St. David cemetary, Dad pointed out a headstone, and said that was of a boy he'd known. They boy "wasn't quite right in the head" and had somehow started a fire in an outhouse and then been trapped by it and died. My notes indicate the boy's name was Bruce Miller.
Food was often short. They lived on poached venison- couldn't afford to waste beef, that was their money supply. A game warden would come by but, because he knew they needed it to eat, would overlook things. He'd see a deer hanging outside and say "that's some nice beef," and they would offer to share a steak with him. At another point their main food supply was many cases of canned okra, which they had somehow gotten very cheap. They lived on it for some time. Dad HATED okra after that. If he saw a can in the house he would throw it out, fearing someone might try to serve it.
I know he'd been quite a horseman, once said he'd known how to ride so young that he couldn't remember a time when he couldn't do so. He did dislike the English saddle, describing it as a wallet on a piece of string, not a proper saddle at all. For him, the western saddle was the only saddle, the saddle of a man who worked on a horse rather than went riding for sport.
At one point he was bitten by a rattlesnake. He'd been putting up fence rails, the rattler was asleep or molting, and he stepped right on its head. It thrashed around, he jumped, and he said it seemed to nail him while he was still in the air. There was no medical help within range, and so his grandmother coated with wound with a poltice of baking soda. He said it foamed up, and they took this as a sign it was counteracting some of the venom. His leg swelled enormously, and for three days he was horribly ill. Dad shot rattlesnakes on sight, a custom I also follow. Dad did not think scorpion stings worth worrying about. He'd get them in construction work and just keep on going.
In his day, there was still one polygamous fellow living in town, an old fellow from the days before the LDS foreswore polygamy. He lived across from the Post Office, up the street from John Merrill. My notes seem to indicate his name was Spenser Groves, but the last letters are unclear. Dad said that to keep anyone from getting in trouble, everyone made sure to refer to the second wife as his housekeeper.
Mark Hardy had a missing thumb. He said that he'd reached into a pile of wood, a rattlesnake bit his thumb and, fearing for his life, he cut it off with an axe. He'd tried to enlist, or been drafted (Dad thought for the Spanish-American War, but more likely WWI) and been turned down because of the missing thumb.
Dad had very little memory of his father, Mark Hardy. He and his mother had broken up when Dad was very young. Around 1940, however, Earl found Mark -- I believe Mark was then in Tucson. He took Mark in to live with him, and Dad came over and they had some chances to talk. Dad noted that Mark smoked hand-rolled cigarettes that smelled like no tobacco he'd ever smelled. Much more like burning leaves, he said. Well....
While living with Earl, Mark died of a heart attack. He simply walked into the front yard and keeled over.
Dad was then in the military, and the Red Cross had publicized a loan program for servicemen with personal emergencies. He applied and they gave him a long run-around. Finally the company gambler and loanshark took pity and give him an interest-free loan to travel to the funeral. To the end of his days Dad (like many WWII and Korean War vets) had no use for the Red Cross. He would point out that the company loan shark had cared more about him than the Red Cross had, and invariably pointed out, when hearing of a disaster, that the Salvation Army was on the scene while the Red Cross was still planning and raising funds for it. (I've had limited exposure to the Red Cross, but it's been such as to suggest that Dad was entirely right. My money goes to the Salvation Army every time.).
Dad said that his brother Earl had a ruptured appendix. They packed him in ice and he survived. (An untreated appendix rupture usually leads to fatal peritonitis, but occasionally the body can wall off the infection.).
His brother Earl died, I believe, in 1940. He had been working on the Southern Pacific and took a head injury. I believe Dad said they still had steam locomotives, which had to be filled with water from a tower. You reached over from the locomotive and pulled a rope attached to a long spout, which would then pivot down and release the water. Earl reached for the rope, lost his footing, and fell from the locomotive, injuring his head. He died in the Southern Pacific Hospital, on Congress Street near the tracks; Dad seemed to suggest it was quite a time after the accident. Dad said that he died of a brain tumor, but the description sounds more like a slow intracranial bleed. Dad said that he was sitting in a house at the moment Earl died, and noticed that Earl's favorite rocking chair had begun to rock. There was no breeze or anything which was moving it. He figured Earl had just wanted to say goodbye.
Earl was married, I don't know the wife's name, but Dad said they were breaking up at the time of his death. He had a daughter, Earline or Earlene Hardy. Dad said the breakup was nasty, and something about perhaps the mother had poisoned the daughter's heart against Earl. He had no idea where they had gone.
He told me that Billy Bogard didn't look like the rest of the family, but his grandmother insisted he was her son. I found the 1920 census, where Billy is listed as an "Indian orphan." The older Busbys recollect that he was the son of a Mexican whose wife had died, and he was adopted into the family, apparently without legal proceedings (this was the frontier west, where adoption could be as simple as taking someone in and calling them your child.).
He was a cross-dresser, and got caught and arrested for stealing women's underwear off a clothesline.
Billie died in the Pacific in WWII. He was a medic and a man was wounded by a Japanese machinegun. Although he was told there was no hope of living through the rescue, he went on with it and was killed. Dad recollected that he'd gotten the Silver Star.
For some reason, his half-sister Dorothy does not feature in his dictated account -- perhaps she wasn't with them at this point in time. I knew her, and she was one of the sweetest, most genuinely good people I have ever met. She married Dick Briney, one of the most respected and really decent attorneys in Tucson, and they lived out on the east side of town. They had two children, Brian and Carol, who have moved away. Dad and Dick used to go fishing.
Dorothy died around 1978. At the funeral ... well, I think that was the only time I ever saw Dad lose control. She'd been the last of his siblings, and a very sweet person to him during some hard times, and he wept uncontrollably.
Dick Briney died in the 1980's, while I was back east. He, too, was a genuinely good person.
Uncle Doe had an enormous collection of mine stocks. He just couldn't resist buying stock in a mine, in an age when that was a popular scam. He had an entire trunk full of the stock certificates.
Bogards (grandparents and uncles) were prospectors. They often talked about prospecting in the Castle Dome Mtns. Dad didn't know just where these were, but we found them on the map, just NW of Yuma, so this would have related to period around 1900-1920.
Uncle Billie (Phillips).
Dad said he and Uncle Doe both died in Miami, AZ in the 1920's. Dad said where they got their money was a bit of mystery to him. They were always digging mines and blasting, but never seemed to develop a real mine, yet never seemed out of money. He thought maybe they sold successful claims to the copper company, preferring prospecting to mine operation.
Uncle John Busby
He told me some stories of Uncle John, saying that he could never write them down while Aunt Frances lived (she died last year, at age 90). He really loved her, and would not set down anything that would have upset her.
Dad did not care for Uncle John. He said John was brutal to his kids, beating and kicking them. He once flogged Jack (his oldest son) with a doubled-over strand of barbed wire. He got angry at his best roping horse and nearly killed it with a hammer. Dad had found a dog badly injured, I think he said its intestines were visible, after it was hit by a car. Dad sewed up its wounds, and it became his companion--they'd go hunting all over the hills. One day it bit John, and he ordered Billy to shoot it, which he did. I could hear the sadness in Dad's voice as he described the fate of this dog, dead now for half a century.
He also mentioned one situation where Uncle John put up a new section of barbed wire. Dad wondered where it had come from.... and then heard someone in town raving that someone had actually stolen a big section of barbed wire from him, taken it right off the posts, and who could imagine anyone who would do that?
On the side, he said, when Uncle John had a cow die, he'd put it on the railroad tracks, knowing that the RR company always compensated ranchers whose cattle were killed by a train.
His uncle, Jesse Hardy (brother of Mark)
Dad's father Mark told him that he had a brother, Jesse Hardy, but Dad knew nothing of him.
I found Jesse and his children in the 1920 census. After I returned to
Arizona in the 1990s, I found a newspaper article mentioning one of them,
L. W. Hardy, who had become the "Turquoise King," running the
Hardy Turquoise Company up near Florence Junction. I contacted him, and
Dad and I dropped by the company. By sheer good luck, L.W.'s younger brother
King Woolsey Hardy (named for the pioneer and Indian fighter King Woolsey,
a relative by marriage) dropped in, and I got a photo of the cousins, reunited
after fifty years.
(Dad had no recollection of meeting them before this, but King remembered Mark bringing Dad and Earl by their ranch when he was a tot.)
L.W. had weathered some tragedies of his own. He and his son had pioneered the process for hardening soft turquoise. Apparently, most turquoise is soft, and cannot be used in jewelry. They discovered a resin process to harden it, and the valueless stone became as valuable as any other. He didn't patent the process, but did something better, buying up options on mines that had hit only the soft stuff. He wound up with a world-wide operation. But his son got into drugs, and died of an overdose.
When we met them in 1993, L.W. had sold Hardy Turquoise and then taken it back after the new owners botched things, buying loads of worthless turquoise, sight unseen, from China. Last time I was past Florence Junction, the business was closed. Wanda wrote me in 1998 to say that King Woolsey Hardy had died.
Around 1990 I did some genealogy, and found that the family name was a criminal alias. You've got understand that, what with Dad's parents breaking up and abandoning him when he was a tot, he knew nothing of his family. He literally did not know his paternal grandparent's names. Nita, his first wife, had however found his grandfather's death certificate, which showed that "Charles Hardy" was also known as Nathaniel Hickman, and came from southern Illinois. I did some more digging, found his civil war papers, and discovered that Charles Hardy was indeed the grandfather's alias. He had fled the law in Colorado in 1872 and taken the alias. He married the widow of Phoenix's first JP, James Ansley Young, and later was elected first JP of Cave Creek, Arizona Territory. Click here to go my my main homepage which describes the Hardys and Youngs.
World War II
In 1940 or so Dad enlisted in the Army Air Force. A recruiting sergeant showed him the list of air bases, and promised to get him assigned to the one of his choice. He picked Hicham field in Hawaii. "I could see the beaches and hula-hula girls in my mind."
The sergeant (of course) was lying thru his teeth, but once you signed the enlistment papers you were out of luck. He spent some time being transferred around (I believe he mentioned Ohio and Alabama), always asking for the promised transfer. Then came December 7, 1941, and he was happy he wasn't on the flightline at Hickam, the main base near Pearl Harbor!
He was a mechanic, and mostly travelled in cargo planes. But the cargo pilots were mostly washed-out P-38 fighter pilots. The P-38 has a nose landing gear; you land it with the plane rocked back a little, then, after the wing wheels touch down, roll it forward to bring the nose wheel down. The cargo planes had tail wheels--you land it level, then roll the nose back to bring the tail down. Frequently they'd land, and he'd feel the pilot rotating the nose down.... meaning he was about to slam the wheel-less nose into the runway. They always caught themselves before this happened, but it scared the hell out of him.
Another time the airfield was socked in by clouds, and they were trying a night landing. They circled until they saw an opening where they could see lights on the ground (and thus not fly into it in the clouds), and the pilot stood the plane on one wing and dove for it.
Then there was the airfield (Alabama, I think) where the runway faced into a hill. The heavily-loaded plane took off and from the back all he could see was trees on the hill as the plane tried to climb. He started sweating when he heard the pilot saying "Come on baby, come on baby, you can make it!" He swore they cleared the trees by no more than twenty feet.
After the war's end, and to the end of his life, he refused to fly. He drove 4000 miles roundtrip to attend my son's baptism!
He always liked the P-38 fighter, good speed and good firepower, but said it was a pilot-killer. If the pilot had to bail out, he was apt to be hit by the big tail. He'd once had to clean up after a crash, and the engines were buried deep in the ground. The pilot did not get out. He mentioned one crash where had been a collision. The other aircraft's wings sliced through the P-38's tail booms and cut its tail completely off. He'd also seen one of the early jet fighters that seemed to be going down. It was trailing smoke and heading for the ocean. He said the pilots were under instructions that if the plane went down near a populated area, they were to try for the ocean. If the plane went down, without its nose pointed at the ocean, and the pilot go out, they said, the pilot had better start running when he hit the ground because they would be after him.
He related a few other stories of the time. At one point the officers on the base made the enlisted men dig them a swimming pool. The base commander showed up, admired it, and then told the officers they were all to chip in money to build a pool for the enlisted men. The enlisted men of course worshipped the commander. He was an aide of some type to the commander, and at one point was on a bus in a segregated town. He sat in the back, with the blacks. The driver stopped and said he couldn't sit there. He said he enjoyed it there and was not going to move. The driver threatened to call the police, and Dad said he could feel free, but he was not moving. (As a soldier, he came under military law, and knew the base commander wouldn't do anything to him.) Finally the driver gave up and got going. (Sorry, Rosa Parks, you had to learn someday that you weren't the first!)
Dad's favorite deer rifle was the 1903 Springfield, and he had no use for any centerfire cartridge but the .30-06. At age 16, when I saved up enough from my paper route, I got one for myself. Before then, and after, he'd taken me deer hunting in the desert and in his favorite place, the Kiabab National Forest in northern Arizona. Once in the desert, I was about 10 at the time, bullets started popping past us. Close--you could hear the zip as they approached, the crack as they passed, and the lower-pitched zip and they went on. I hit the deck and started trying to dig a hole for my head.. He stayed up, took a quick glance through his scope and fired once. The shooting stopped. He explained that other hunters had sighted a deer and were firing at it as it ran straight for us, so he had fired to turn it away. Later on I deduced ... if the deer's position were such that their shots at it went past us, then a shot from us would go past them. Dad had reacted to a dangerous situation in a rather practical way, even if that's not what any safety instructor would tell you to do!
During WWII, Dad married Juanita ("Nita"), later Juanita Fennessey in Texas, and had a daughter, Karen Ann, now Karen Ann Driscoll. Karen in turn had a son, Chip, and he had three children, Courtney, Kathleen and Joseph. (the total of Dad's great-grandkids to date). All Dad ever said of the marriage was a sad mention that he'd "burnt the bridges there, but good." Late in life though, he and Nita corresponded, and Nita corresponded with me. I tried to reach her after his death, with no success; I did reach Karen and she said that Nita had died in 1997.
When Dad got demobilized in 1945 or 46 he returned to Arizona. He thumbed rides (wasn't about to fly) and was picked up by a fellow who said they could make Arizona in a couple of days if they just drove round the clock. So he and the fellow alternated sleeping and driving and kept the car running continuously until they got here. He commented that was how it was just after the war. If a man was in uniform, he was by definition trustworthy -- you could pick him up as a hitchhiker and go to sleep while he drove your car. (He said this to my uncle Fergie, George Ferguson, who said he'd seen the same thing in the Coast Guard. When he enlisted before the war, in segregated Norfolk VA the shops had signs reading "Negroes and Sailors Not Allowed." When he demobilized after the war, he crossed the country without once being able to pay for his own meal. Wherever he went, restaurant owners would see the uniform and serve him for free, joking "sailor, your money's not good here," or else a civilian diner would proudly announce he was going to pick up the tab. He said he meant it literally -- in a cross-country trip, he had not been able to pay for a single meal. In four years, men in uniform had gone from being treated as scum to being treated as heroes.)
After WWII, Dad returned to Arizona (at some point he worked on a dude
ranch, I believe in New York. Here's a photo from that time.)
He met my mother, and married in 1950. We lived first in Phoenix, at 101 W. Chambers St., with a sidetrip to Yuma (where there was a big construction project at the Yuma testing grounds). Then we moved to Tucson, took a detour to Los Angeles in 1963 (he was working on the railroad then, and they'd transferred him). Then we returned to Tucson to stay. He worked as a tilesetter, on the railroad, and at Pima Mines. We kept a few beehives on the side. He opened a tile shop, Hardy Tile, in north Tucson, and supervised its building; we laid some of the block ourselves. Later on he retired, lived for time in Pinetop, AZ, and returned to Tucson.
The last part of his life was less strenuous than its beginning. He and Mom lived in a guesthouse on my sister's place, about two miles south of me, and enjoyed their grandchildren. At that point, he had four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildnren. Occasionally, he journeyed to St. David to see the area where he had been raised, and often he'd come up to my place for a Sunday barbeque. All in all, it was a peaceful and happy time.
Dad's eventful life ended early on December 12, 2001. He'd had trouble with emphysema for years, was on oxygen, and his lung capacity was down to 15%. He came down with pneumonia on December 11. He was given antibiotics, and seemed to rally, but it went into sepsis, and he became nonresponsive that afternoon. Early on the morning of December 12 he died after receiving last rites. The only words he spoke that night were to the priest -- with what must have been enormous effort he managed to get out "I'm sorry" during the sacrament of contrition, and "Amen" at the end of the last prayer.
Lord, did I love that old man. I guess we'll see him on the other side. If there is any water in the heavens, he's probably fishing.
Dad leaving site of Bogard cabin, ca. 1996.