Friday, December 31, 2010
Looking back on this year I started out this blog wanted to "reboot" it. Meaning that in a way I was starting over, not entirely from scratch, but since I was starting to video in HD I was going to be re-doing a lot of things over.
I started out showing a few movie locations and what is, for me, an important old west gravesite. That one I held off showing for some years, finally posted it, and at the time I said it was not up on Find A Grave. Then a few weeks later it mysteriously showed up on there. What a coincidence after all these years! LOL! Let's just say that I thought that might happen. Gravesites are not really my emphasis, but I have a few others like that. I am holding off from posting them until I can actually go to where the history took place.
One thing that was frustrating for me this year is I really did not do any summit hikes. I did a bunch of hikes to different places, but not any Sierra mountain climbs to the top. The big problem I had was I was sick a lot during the first six months of the year. Then the weather pattern was very strange in that it was cooler in So. California compared to the very hot and dry weather at my summer place. There were other issues as well, so looking back to what I posted in February about Mt. Starr was the last of my hikes to a Sierra summit. That I hope changes in the next year or so because going deep into the backcountry is the heart and soul of this blog.
The things I did for Mammoth, CA back in April and May I really enjoyed. Those I had wanted to do for some years. I actually did get back there this year for a few hours due to some relatives wanted to go there. You will eventually see that in a few months. There is more I could do there, but that is not really a high priority with me right now.
As the summer was coming this year I started putting up more of my hikes into the Black Star Canyon area. There was one of those hikes that I knew was not going to be too impressive, but you get to see Black Star Canyon from a different point. That was to setup the falls a few weeks later. There is a certain mystique about that place with people believing it is haunted. I sort of played on that with my videos on Black Star Canyon. Without all of that, it is the closest thing I have to an escape from the city even though the city is not that far away. Of course, I am constantly getting e-mailed over Black Star Canyon and the falls. How do I say this, I get some of the really strangest e-mails about this area. Which I kind of knew was going to happen. Someday I may do one more investigation over there for one more area, but I feel I have this one essentially covered. Oh yeah, DON'T CROSS OVER, UNDER, OR THROUGH THE BARBED WIRED FENCES. IT'S TRESPASSING. DON'T RUIN THIS EXPERIENCE FOR OTHERS.
While I did a bunch of Iverson Ranch, Corriganville, and the Alabama Hills movie locations my favorite was the one I did at Red Rock Canyon. That one Gary Cooper gunfight location took me years get up because I kept waiting for the best footage. Then after I got okay footage and was ready to present was the time I stopped making videos for a while. Then after I started doing videos in HD I had to go back to Red Rock Canyon on the way home and have not been back there since. So, I was really happy to finally get that one up.
Of course, I think my Halloween series this year was the best I have done and probably marks the end of that sort of thing with me. Those took me years to get around to doing. I have had some other ideas I could do and have been given a few suggestions. If I were ever to really travel much further away I think I would be more inspired to do more like that, but as it is I liked what I did with that. BTW, as an aside, I was going to put up a video of the Whaley House. I had covered that before showing what it looked like in the 1990's, but the place is a lot different now since it has different "ownership." I had always looked forward to doing a video of that place. Long story short, I totally lost respect for that place and just see it as a money making machine now. It totally lost its mystique with me, and I do not feel right putting anything up regarding it anymore. I was going to give a long writeup about why I do not like it anymore, but did not want that to distract with what I put up in October. Spend your money as you see fit, but I cannot recommend the place anymore.
That Gem Lake hike I put up in November was a really great autumn hike for me. It is always great looking down at areas I have driven on before. It answered some questions some friends and I have always had about the Edison Co. using a track up there. Although not perfect, I liked the video and music I had with that one. One of the odd things about that one was the distances made me feel like I was looking at toy train tracks, minatures of the town below, etc. There is an effect that people use in photoshop to create that, but I thought that the video and some of the pictures already had a little of that.
Of course, I pretty much dedicated this month to Bodie ghost town. This was really just an update of things I have done in the past. I tried to add a little more to it this time around, and there are tons of other old pictures and footage I could show, but I am satisfied with what I put up. So, in a way, I hope to have put that one to rest. However, if you watched the second video of that series then you will have seen I pointed out something in that town relating to my favorite ghost town. That has yet to come.
So, overall, it was a good year for the blog. I want to thank all of you that have tuned in from time to time to see what I have done. Thanks for all the e-mail, comments, and telling others too. Not everything I put up do I consider gold, some is filler, some are clankers, but I do think you will see something of interest from time to time.
Have a Happy and Safe New Year. Sometime this next week, I will talk about the direction I will be taking this blog in 2011.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
First, Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is good for a family movie. I enjoyed the books when I was kid, so I hope they film the rest of the books.
Second, I think the True Grit by the Coen brothers is worth seeing. I am not going to give it a full review here, but let me hit a few points. Some of what I am about to say are things I have mentioned before a few times.
When watching westerns you are watching the myth of the west in American history. Westerns are not the real history of the west. Yes, there are some historical nuggets here and there, but usually you are seeing some exaggerations and exceptions to the common way of life. As I have said before, if someone were to think westerns were real history he or she would come to the conclusion that all anyone did back then was try to kill each other. The violence on the frontier was quite rare. It did happen like all crime has happened in the history of humanity, but generally not in the way you see it in a typical western.
Why did the western develop in this way? This goes back to the days of the west where dime novel storytellers would hear some story on the frontier then exaggerate and warp it to create larger than life heroes and violent episodes. The public loved it and this continued into motion pictures.
Some of the reactions I see of recent westerns and the new True Grit movie is there is this idea that a movie should tell you how to live your life, how the community should live, or some statement about how the state should be run. For example, if a western has the bad guys get hanged at the end of the movie it means that we should approve of the death penalty. Another one, when you see a group of vigilantes take the law into their own hands that means you should too. Westerns are not really like that though. They appeal to the myth of the west where gunfighter gods could deal out justice. It might be nice if the world were really that way, but it is not and never was. It does appeal to one's sense of there being many injustices in the real world that needed to be made right, but what is nice in a western you get to see an injustice defeated once and for all in less than two hours.
I do see some simple moral virtues that can be emulated in western movies like courage. A western might use violence to show how the character shows courage. However, to suggest that a western is advocating violence is really going beyond the simple virtues.
My second point is that westerns are typically very simple stories. Someone has committed an injustice and it needs to be made right. Most movies are like this, but westerns especially so. A lot of westerns are just variations of the same story. In many ways they are predictable. There are certain things you expect to see in a western. It is just a matter of seeing or experiencing the trials of the main characters as they get to the final confrontation with the villain(s).
Now regarding the new True Grit, while I think it is worth seeing I cannot tell you right now whether I think it is a really great western. I will have to watch it again on dvd when that time comes. Certainly, the actors did a good job of playing their parts. It does have some good authenticity in that it really looked and felt like being in the old west. Of course, the cinematography and Texas scenery are very good. It did seemed to drag at points during the first hour, but I think the Coen brothers did what needed to be done with what they were working with. Whether this movie should have been remade (based on the book) I do not know.
The reason I mentioned the two points about the western myth and simplicity of story was because I have seen a lot of comments on this movie where people were expecting something completely different. The Coen brothers are well known for movies like No Country for Old Men where the stories are really different and the endings are complicated. One comment that rang with me is this movie it is an "outdated western." That's redundant right there, but it shows a lack of understanding of the two points I mentioned. At the end of the day, all the Coen brothers set out to do was make an authentic mythological western.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
The Bodie videos are linked together HERE as my "Christmas at Bodie" collection.
What I wanted to do today was put up a few different types of videos. Only the first one is new, although I have shown the area in video before, while the rest I am calling "flashback videos." The one on Mt. Whitney I have never shown before. Keep in mind this is the type of video I would have shown in 2007-08 that was okay for the time, but I really have a hard time watching these now since they are low quality. So, I totally understand if you want to skip them, especially if you saw them the first time. Also, keep in mind that the flashback ones are long too, but you get everything.
It's a Beautiful Morning Too (Twin Lakes Overlook): silence at its best!
Mt. Whitney Hike (Flashback Video): I never showed this one.
Mt. Conness Hike (Flashback Video)
Mt. Dana Hike (Flashback Video)
At some point I will do some of these hikes again I and will do them in HD. Until then I will keep these up.
Finally, this is not mine, but in light of what the day represents, I thought I would link to a video of a young boy reciting the passage in Luke 2: 1-20.
I was going to upload one more video, but did not have it edited before I got sick. It can wait. So, at this point I have uploaded every picture and video that will go up this year. I will have a sort of year in review like I usually do near the end of the month. Until then...Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 24, 2010
I hope you got your shopping done and are wrapping up the gifts because I am going to be wrapping this Bodie one up.
Yesterday, I showed the Ella Cain house. This shows you that Ella's place, to the left, was right in front of the church.
The last time I talked about the church, and also in the video, I mentioned how the 10 commandments were eventually stolen from it. Here is how it looked with them.
Finally, one of my dad's old pictures looking to the north of Bodie.
Bodie's Heroes (Youtube Version)
Bodie's Heroes (Vimeo Version)
The music for the three videos from Incompetech: Smoking Gun
Thursday, December 23, 2010
This is James Stuart Cain:
This was his nice place. He owned and invested a lot in Bodie. He was into everything from mining, lumbering, banking, etc. In fact, you can see in the Hell's Heroes movie his name is on the window of the bank as Cain & Sons.
One of Cain's sons was David V. Cain. David eventually married Ella Cody.
This is where they lived. Ella went away to school then eventually came back to be a teacher at Bodie. She went on to write The Story of Bodie and The Story of Mono County. I have seen her gravesite in Bridgeport and thought I had a picture of it, but cannot find it at this time. I will come back here with it in the future.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
While it was used as a school it was the highest elevated school in California at an elevation of 8,300 ft. The original school was burned down by a bitter student not too long after it first opened in the late 1870's. This building you see was originally a living quarters, but was adapted into the school. The school in Bodie started off with a small amount of students, but eventually had over 600 students enrolled during the boom town years of the late 1870's to early 1880's. The average attendence was just over 100 students a day though. The reason being many families had chores to be taken care of around home, or they had to work to support their familes as well.
When I was young I remember looking through these windows and seeing the math problems on the chalkboard. You may want to click the picture above to see it at a bigger size for this. There are a couple of basic math facts that are obviously wrong. I had always wondered if those were just put up intentionally like that. My dad always told me that as far as he remembered they were always like that.
The teacher's desk above. A little further back in the classroom below.
I thought I would throw in a picture my dad took in the 1950's of the school looking north.
Bodie's Heroes (Youtube Version)
Bodie's Heroes (Vimeo Version)
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
This is the final phase of my most recent, and hopefully, last series on Bodie. This is the jail:John Wayne was here in the early 1970's for a tv special. You can see him standing outside the jail.
This is the barred window he was looking in.
This would be the perspective John Wayne had above looking into the jail.
This is from the other side of the jail. You can see how I got here in the video.
This picture was taken in the museum and shows the key to the jail.
In the video I mentioned the only hanging that took place in Bodie by a vigilante group. There were only three vigilante uprisings in Bodie. If you want all the details then you need read the book listed below by Roger McGrath. I will just give a quick summary based on his book which is my favorite Bodie book.
The problem in this one was the jealosy of Thomas Treloar regarding his wife Joanna and Joseph DeRoche. Thomas and Joanna had been married for two years, but DeRoche had known Joanna for many years prior to her marriage. DeRoche also had a family that was living in Chicago while he was working in Bodie.
There had been some jealosy prior to the night of January 13, 1881. Thomas and Joanna had many verbal fights and on one occassion Thomas hit Joanna which caused him to be convicted of assault during the first year of their marriage. On this January night at the special event in the Miner's Hall he told her to stay away from DeRoche. Later that night Thomas saw them dancing together, but was warned not to stir up any trouble there. Thomas and DeRoche had some words and Thomas left.
At the end of the dance Thomas came back for his wife, but he and DeRoche left together. It was at this time that DeRoche shot him in the back of the head while walking down the street. Two witnesses saw what had happened. This is where things got a little strange because DeRoche claimed that he was being attacked at the time. Since the two eyewitnesses saw him kill Thomas no one was going to buy that story.
DeRoche was arrested and put in the Bodie jail. Like a lot old west violence, if you killed a bad man no one would really care, but the problem is DeRoche had killed a person that many in town had some sympathy for. Thomas had fallen down in a mine and was thought to have some brain damage. So, he was not really considered a threat.
The law enforcement in Bodie realized that vilgilante activity might happen so they took DeRoche out of the jail cell and transferred him to the deputy's own room in town. During the night DeRoche found a way to free himself of the shackles and escaped. When people of Bodie heard the story of this and the murder they were infuriated. Vigilance groups were formed and sent to find DeRoche.
It would take a few days for this to all play out, but DeRoche was found eight miles away hiding with a family. He was brought back to the jail. They started the legal proceedings, but later in the day the hundreds of citizens were ready to take justice into their own hands. They did not like the idea of the possibility of DeRoche getting off on this one. That night the vigilante group, Bodie 601, came to the jail and got DeRoche. The law enforcement did not even try to prevent it. They set up the hanging spot right where Thomas Treloar was murdered. DeRoche accepted his fate bravely, and he was hanged.
Bodie's Heroes (Youtube Version)
Bodie's Heroes (Vimeo Version)
McGrath Roger. Gunfighters, Highwaymen, & Vigilantes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984)
Sunday, December 19, 2010
The front of it. Some thieves stole the bell on top. The caretaker at Bodie heard the bell which woke him up. Eventually, the bell was found and restored to its rightful place. Bodie's Baddies (Youtube Version)
Bodie's Baddies (Vimeo Version)
Saturday, December 18, 2010
First, we know they were in front of the real bank. Lots of old pictures confirm that, and even with very little left of the bank we can still show they were there. Check my old Bodie Bank blog below for that. Here is all that is left of the bank. It is the old picture I posted before of the vault.
Looking at the movie pictures it becomes very difficult to make any connection with what they show in the movie with the remains of the vault.
My conclusion was they must have used a set elsewhere, or another place in Bodie for the interiors of the bank.
In 1913, a picture inside the bank was taken of Stuart Cain (left) and Ed Stinson. You will notice the huge desk they would do business with customers is almost the same. The puzzling thing is you see the main vault (that we have remains of) on the right side, but some other type of closet area is on the left. Keep in mind this is about 15 years before they filmed the movie.
In the movie, the bank area looks a little smaller than this. On the other hand, they do not show you everything in the bank. While I am still open to the idea they filmed elsewhere, I think there is a good possiblity they created a fascade of walls and vault inside the bank. That huge desk seems about right, but does not go over far enough in the movie. Is that "wall" draping down on the desk? That clock in the movie looks like it is holding down something. At the end of the day, do I care either way? Not really, but it is interesting to a point with me about what they may have done here. I thought I would close this one off by showing you some of what the museum has on the bank.
Old Blog on Bodie Bank
Bodie's Baddies (Youtube Version)
Bodie's Baddies (Vimeo Version)
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
What I did back then was put up a bunch of scenes of the movie, Hell's Heroes, which used Bodie at the beginning and the ending of the movie. Originally, I put up many scenes from the movie in the old channel since it was a rare movie at the time. Since then it has become a little easier to find. The movie is important since it shows what the town once was before the big fire that wiped out most of the town a few years after it was filmed. I have gone back and done some re-editing of some of those blog entries to make them more current with what I will have now.
This phase deals with the scenes filmed on Bodie's mainstreet. Keep in mind that am combining the real history with the reel history of cinema. While the "Bad Man of Bodie" is partly legend, this movie does fit in well with the real history of Bodie.
This first picture I am showing is an old one from two years ago, but I wanted to use it again for point of reference. We are on mainstreet looking to the west. If I were to turn around behind me to the right you would see the remains of the bank. However, from the point of view of the picture, if you turn to the left you would see where the U.S. Hotel would have been. This is a picture of the U.S. Hotel. It was wiped out in the big fire of June 23, 1932. You do see this structure in the movie.
In the 1920's, a chinese man by the name of Sam Leon owned the U.S. Hotel. When the hotel burned down he moved down across the street to start his new bar (or cafe). In the first picture above, it is part of the first structure you see on the right side of the street.
Sam Leon is the one of the left. The barbershop is on the right. Eventually, he moved his business to the DeChambeau Hotel. Here is one of my pictures from some years back.
Here is from my latest trip. You will notice that they have added on the barber shop pole sign.
Bodie's Hell's Heroes blog entries from 2008
Bodie's Baddies (Youtube Version)
Bodie's Baddies (Vimeo Version)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The gravemarker that is not too far from the morgue shows this:
I am not going to say too much about Rosa May because there is not THAT much known about her. She does have a Wikipedia article that lists a few of the common stories about her. It is said that she cared for the sick and ended up dying of pneumonia in the winter of 1912.
As I close up this short series on the cemetery at Bodie I wanted to mention one thing. I mentioned the morgue next to the cemetery and there was a morgue in the town proper. The one near the cemetery actually kept the remains during the winter months when it was too difficult to bury the dead due to the snow.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Lottie was born in Iowa in 1855. She lived on a farm in her early life. She was very beautiful and said to smile all the time. At an early age she married and had a daughter. Unfortunately, something happened in the marriage and she divorced her husband. At some point the daughter was left with either her former husband or her parents. Lottie took off to find work. Eventually she reached Bodie in 1882 at the age of 27. She headed to "Maiden Lane" which you see soon and worked there. While working there she also worked the dancing halls. Lottie loved to dance.
At some point she met Eli Johl. Eli worked as a butcher in town and partly owned the store. The two fell in love and married. Unfortunately, Lottie was never really accepted socially by the people in town because of her former work at "Maiden Lane". At some point she went to a costume ball in the Miner's Union Hall and was disguised in a beautiful white satin dress her husband had purchased for her. Since she was covered up no one knew who she was. When voted the prize winner she took off her mask and the people there were in shock. She could not win such a award due to her status. She ran off crying.
Later on she became sick. A doctor gave her some medicine, but it did not cure her. She died within 24 hours. It turns out she was accidentally given poison. The authorities said this was not done intentionally. This is her grave site.
One final thing I wanted to mention was that Lottie did paint. One of her paintings is in the museum in Bodie and can also be seen in the Soiled Dove book chapter listed below.
For references on Lottie check the following sources:
Sunday, December 12, 2010
In the following picture you can see a tall marker in the distance (middle right in picture). That is where we end up next. Originally, that was supposed to be the marker for William Bodey's remains in 1879. However, The stonecutter did not get paid. So, it was not used for Bodey.
When President James Garfield was killed the town decided to use this marker in his honor. This marker is very difficult to read even if you were there standing in front of it, but this is what it says: To the memory of James A. Garfield, President of the United States. Died Sept. 19, 1881.
This one is labeled, Pagdin. You will notice there is a big hole in the marker. It is unusually thick and hollow. There is some thought that this was actually used to store bottles of liquor during the prohibition era. There were some investigations and busts in Bodie during that time.
This is one of the more recent grave markers. I did not use this one in the video, but thought I would mention it here. Bob Bell was one of the last to work the mines and the Standard Mill. He worked in helping preserve the buildings and park in the 1960's and 1970's. He is important for helping share the history he knew with the park staff. Some of the Bell relatives are buried next to him: "Honest Old Lester" L. Bell, Louise Bell, and Lester Bell (the son Lester L. and Louise).