Posts Tagged ‘Wyoming’


Tornado, June 1959, Droid Shots, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming, May 2016, photo © 2016 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

In June 1959, a tornado roared over the south rim of the canyon directly before you. Its path was along Granite Creek to your left and through what used to be Granite Creek Campground. One person was killed. The twister ripped up timber and laid it out in the pattern you see now.

While tornadoes usually occur on the plains, several have visited the Big Horn Mountains. Blowing down mountain timber at 10,000 feet above sea level, these tornadoes are among the highest on record. The Forest Service salvaged part of the downed timber, but the steepness made it difficult to retrieve trees from upper slopes. A road at the bottom of the blowdown area enabled some clearing and reseeding. Most of the scar has revegetated naturally.



Along the ride from South Dakota into Wyoming and on to Cody, it was quiet, except for the wind. Tornadoes in Minnesota at 830 feet; tornadoes in Wyoming at 10,000 feet. And what about the spelling? Is it Bighorn or Big Horn? I discovered this notation in a post by Emilene Ostlind at the Wyoming State Historical Society:

Note: The U.S. Geological Survey uses “Bighorn” as a single word to refer to natural geographic structures–Bighorn Basin, Bighorn River, Bighorn Canyon, Bighorn Lake, Bighorn Mountains – and “Big Horn” as two words to refer to human establishments such as the towns and counties named Big Horn in Wyoming and Montana. The U.S.G.S. also lists “Big Horn” as a variant spelling for geographic features, and both spellings are used on maps and other published materials. Growing up in the town of Big Horn I learned to write my address or refer to my school with two words, and to describe the mountains with one word: the Bighorns.

The discovery and joy of road tripping.

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

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By Marylin Schultz

Marylin on Tricycle, Billy, Francine & Terry in Wagon, Johnny in Rear, No. Hollywood, California, 1944, vintage family photo, scan © 2012 by Marylin Schultz. All rights reserved.

When nations form alliances on every continent, it means the lines are drawn and the winds of war sweep across the world, affecting all people, even small children. Two little girls in two very different families find they have been placed in opposite alliances, and this is their story.

The year is 1941. Marylin Biggs was born in New Mexico. She is Caucasian and lives with her parents and older brother. Her mother is expecting a baby in January. On December 7th, America is drawn into the war which is now affecting the entire world. Her father, not wanting to leave his wife with such a young family, is given the choice to work for Lockheed, building war planes, which he accepts. In 1942, the Biggs family moves to California.

In California’s central valley the Nakata family lives on a farm composed of beautiful orchards and vineyards. The children are 3rd generation Japanese Americans.

Little Haruko enters Kindergarten in 1942. One day, out on the school playground, Haruko finds herself surrounded by 6th Grade girls.

“Hold out your hand,” one of them commands. The small child meekly obeys, not knowing what to expect. The girl who spoke, grabs one of Haruko’s hands and begins to twist and twist a tiny finger until it breaks. Although the pain is excruciating, she is afraid to tell any adult at school and runs home. She never returns to that school.

As it turns out, the Nakata family is also about to make a major move. The huge difference is that Haruko’s family does not have a choice. They are ordered off of their land and become internees in a Relocation Camp, far away.

Marylin Biggs with her Cousin, Wiley Oliver, Glendale, California, 1942, vintage family photo, scan © 2012 by Marylin Schultz. All rights reserved.

Marylin and her family settle down in North Hollywood, and her father drives to Burbank, the adjoining suburb of Los Angeles where he works at a Lockheed Aircraft Plant. The whole complex, including the large parking lot, is covered with a huge netting of camouflage. Russell Biggs rivets together the small, fast P-38 Fighter planes, which are designed to keep enemy planes from attacking the large, slower B-17’s, with their heavy cargo of bombs.

His younger brother, Ralph, was a tail gunner on these Bombers. On his last mission, Ralph’s plane was shot down, but he was able to escape, parachuting safely into neutral Switzerland, where he spent the remainder of the war. That country’s policy was to treat all military personnel humanely, but not to release them until the war’s end. Wiley Oliver, a cousin of Marylin’s, made the Army his career, retiring with the rank of Colonel, many years later.

Marylin also entered Kindergarten in 1942. She walked to school with her brother, Earl, who was in the 4th Grade. The children in the upper grades were given decks of cards that had the images of all the military airplanes on them. They were asked to become familiar with the appearances of the planes and to report any enemy planes that they might see. One day, on their way home from school, a small plane flew overhead and Earl shouted, “It’s a Messerschmitt; hit the dirt!” His little sister instantly obeyed, only to realize, at the sound of his laughter, that she had fallen for another of his practical jokes, and no danger was imminent!

Life in wartime held anxious moments for a small child. The wail of air raid sirens meant grownups hurrying to cover windows. There were billboards that asked drivers, “Is this trip necessary?” This due to the shortage of gasoline and tires. Some foods were rationed, meat, sugar and butter. Marylin “helped” by putting the small packet of orange liquid in the bowl of white margarine, which made it look a little more like the butter it replaced. The family had a large “Victory” vegetable garden.

But changes in the life of the Biggs family were insignificant compared to those for the Nakatas.

Haruko and Marylin met while both were students at U.C. Berkeley. They lived in a large old home that had been sanctioned as a “dormitory.” It housed 30 girls.

Marylin had never learned of the Relocation Camps before the two girls became friends. By 1942, Haruko’s family had lived in California for three generations. Their large farm was one of carefully tended orchards and vineyards that produced an abundance of fruit.

The Nakata family, along with thousands of other Japanese Americans, were notified of their impending relocation. Each family’s baggage could not exceed 100 pounds. First, the “internees” were held in a gathering place, like cattle in a stockyard. Santa Anita Racetrack in southern California was one of these. The wait, at least a month long, was followed by a train trip into the interior of the country.

Japanese American Internees at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Wyoming, 1943, photo scan © 2012 by Marylin Schultz. All rights reserved.

The Relocation Center, as it was officially named, consisted of rows of barracks, usually divided in half for two families. The whole camp was hastily built in only three months. Coming from a culture that embraces beauty, order, modesty and dignity, it was a shock to be given only one room for the entire family. Sheets were hung within each space for privacy. There was a coal burning stove for heat, but no furniture. The men gathered scraps of wood left by the carpenters, to make crude tables and chairs. Cooking was not allowed. The meals were prepared for them and eaten in barracks, or “mess halls.” They were unprepared for the bitterly cold winters. With quiet dignity they suffered the shame of living behind barbed wire with armed soldiers on watch.

With about 10,000 internees, the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, or “Jap Camp,” as it was called by local residents, instantly became the third largest city in Wyoming. It was located between the towns of Cody and Powell. A school was established for the children, as well as a medical facility. Supervised shopping trips were allowed, and some of the men were hired by local farmers as field workers. There was a shortage of local men, most of whom had been drafted into military service.

Incredibly, the younger Japanese men were asked to serve in the military, and many of them did. Some, though, were incensed by the irony of being imprisoned by their own nation and then asked to enlist. Those who chose to fight for their country did so, wishing to prove their loyalty. Most were in the same outfit, and it was the most highly decorated unit in World War II. Some of those who refused to enlist were actually sent to prison.

Most of the local residents were not prejudiced against these citizens. Boy and Girl Scout troops joined in activities. In fact, former Senators Alan Simpson and Daniel Inouye first met and became friends as young men involved in Boy Scouts, before Inouye enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943.

When the war was over, the Nakata family returned to California, to learn that someone else “owned” their farm. There was no explanation or compensation given. They simply had to begin again, which they did. It was not easy, but the family prospered once again, and the children all graduated from college and led productive, successful lives.


About Marylin: Marylin (aka oliverowl) is a freelance writer living in Wyoming. She has written essays for a weekly column in the Ventura Star Tribune and collaborated with her grandson on two picture books for children. She currently writes with the Cody Writers. Her previous pieces for red Ravine include the travel essay Rollin’ Easy, a Writing Practice, Kindness, and a memoir piece, Images From The Past.

In 2010, Marylin was published in the book, From the Heart — Writing in the Shadow of the Mountain, a collection of work from members of Write On Wyoming (WOW), a group of authors and aspiring writers living in northeastern Wyoming. Her contributions to From the Heart include two works of fiction, To Love Bertie Lou and The Appointment Book, and a collection of haiku, Seasons in Wyoming.

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By Marylin

Recently, my daughter, a friend and I were on our way to our Chiropractor, who lives and has his practice in a small town east of our homes in Cody, Wyoming. We arrange our appointments on the same morning, and enjoy our commute together. However, this particular morning was different. My daughter was the driver, and it was our first trip in her new car, “Crystal Blue,” a cute little car, so named because, as she drove it off the Dealer’s lot for the first time, the old tune “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was playing on the radio and Tracy took this as a sign to name her car, as it is a beautiful, bright blue with a sparkling undercoat that gives it a depth, like looking at fresh, unspoiled snow on the ground when the clouds have gone and the sun first shines on it.

There is nothing in between these two towns, threaded together by a two lane highway, taking infrequent travellers east and west across the high desert landscape. The land is mostly rough, sparse clumps of sage and some native grass, that in the fall of the year, is almost as brown as the rocky soil. There are a few small farms still in evidence, many already abandoned by the rugged homesteaders, who tired of waiting for the promise of success, touted by Buffalo Bill and his vision of an irrigated paradise. The only evidence of life we see that day is a herd of graceful antelope in the distance.

“I don’t understand why we’re not getting any heat,” Tracy commented. She had just returned from Billings the day before, having taken the car in for its first “check-up” (like a mother taking her new baby to the pediatrician after the first six weeks). She no sooner had spoken, when the car began shutting down…all the needles on all the gages dropping backwards, simultaneously! She pulled off the road onto the shoulder, got out of the car and opened the hood to a cloud of what was steam or smoke, hard to tell which. She came back to tell us that the cap was off of the radiator, but she found it, and stated that it would probably be best to let the car cool off before trying to start it.

Almost immediately, a van pulled off the road in front of us and a man got out and asked if he could help. Although he was headed east, as we were, he offered to drive us back to Cody. We were about 25 miles out of town, and I was amazed that this individual would take the time out of his work day to do such a kind deed! He did not act in a manner that suggested that this extra “jog” in his journey was even the slightest inconvenience to him, although we all knew that it must be.

He apologized that the interior of his vehicle was “kinda’ messy,” as he scrambled to move empty plastic juice bottles, spare gloves, maps, etc. from the seats. He was as cheerful as though he had planned a rescue of damsels in distress as part of his day’s routine. We kept thanking him profusely, and his only response could have come out of an old Western movie, as an “Aw’ shucks, ma’am, ‘twarn’t nuthin’. To quote the Bible, ‘The Lord loveth a cheerful giver’.”

Marylin did this 15-minute writing practice based on the post WRITING TOPIC – KINDNESS & POLITENESS

About writing, Marylin says: I guess I’m a “dabbler,” as far as writing goes. My first work was done for North Hollywood High’s weekly newspaper; reporting and editing; good training. I enjoy both non-fiction (mostly in essay form) and fiction; short stories, song lyrics, one billboard (it was a Prairie Public Radio contest). I’ve written some poems (still into rhyming) and even a play, as yet, not produced.

My Grandson, after graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute asked if we could collaborate on picture books for children. So far, we have completed two, and are looking for a publisher. While living in Simi Valley, from 1997-2000, I published five essays — all humorous, tongue-in-cheek — in a weekly column in the “Ventura Star Tribune.”

As an adult, I took a course in Journal Writing, in which we used Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones. Now, I am writing childhood memories. I decided to do this after realizing, in doing genealogy, that I longed to know how it felt to be living in a certain time and place, and wondered why my family moved from place to place. Simply listing dates and places does not satisfy anyone’s curiosity! 

I recently joined the Cody Writers, an informal group of women who enjoy writing and sharing what they write. We meet once a month. I introduced them to Goldberg’s “laws of Practice” at our last meeting. We all wrote like mad for ten minutes and then shared what we wrote. I know we’ll be doing it again!

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Remington's Studio. May 2007, photo © 2007 by Skywire. All rights reserved.

Remington’s Studio, Cody, Wyoming, May 2007, photo © 2007 by skywire. All rights reserved.

The photograph is of the 1890’s studio of the artist, sculptor, painter, and writer, Frederic Remington.  You can get a sense of how he liked to create while surrounding himself with found objects, paints, artifacts, and sculpture. Though based in New York, his studio was alive with the energy of the American West; the place and the people held great meaning to him.

Remington was also a writer. And along with producing more than 3,000 drawings and paintings, and 22 bronze sculptures – cast in editions, he wrote two novels – one of which was adapted to the stage – and over 100 magazine articles and stories.

Artist or writer? Many times, the two remain forever connected.

The writing topic this week:

  • Choose 1 object from Remington’s Studio
  • Start with a 15 minute writing practice on the object
  • Take an idea or paragraph from the practice, and write a short piece, 500 words or less

If you want something more complex, choose 3 of the objects and weave them into 1 practice. If you only get as far as the practice, that’s okay. You will have started. And the object you wrote about will have meaning to you, resting in your mind and body until you are ready to do something with it. Or maybe you never will. And it will simply have been an exercise in wild mind.


Below are some facts about Remington that I didn’t know before researching this Writing Topic. It’s good to open to a writer or artist as a person, with a living, breathing past. A person who is much more than the historical image or soundbite, projected in our minds.

  • Remington went to Yale, majored in art, and played football, but did not graduate.
  • Later in his career, he experimented with the perception of color. He lightened his palette and placed his colors as they would be affected by light.
  • He failed as a sheep rancher and then as a saloon owner in Kansas.
  • Remington made his first visit West to Montana in 1881; many more trips would follow to New Mexico, Arizona, and elsewhere, west of the Rockies.
  • In the mid-1880s, after discovering there was a market for his drawings, he turned to magazine illustration full time. His images were of American Indians, cowboys and the West that he believed to be rapidly disappearing, if it was not already gone.
  • By 1887, he was sufficiently famous that another Easterner who loved the West, Theodore Roosevelt, hired him to do the illustrations for his book, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. Roosevelt became a good friend.
  • In 1891 he illustrated an edition of Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.” He also did the illustrations for his own first novel, Pony Traces, in 1895.
  • In 1898, Remington traveled to Cuba for the Spanish-American War as a journalist and illustrator. It was not a good experience, and the artist never got over the horror he saw. In “With the Fifth Corps,” his essay about his wartime experiences, he wrote of the Cuban campaign: “One beautiful boy was brought in by two tough, stringy, hairy old soldiers, his head hanging down behind. His shirt was off, and a big red spot shone brilliant against his marblelike skin.”
  • In 1900, a year-and-a-half after he returned from Cuba, Remington produced his first two night paintings, The Wolves Sniffed Along the Trail, But Came No Nearer and Pretty Mother of the Night White Otter Is No Longer a Boy, as illustrations for his second novel, The Way of an Indian, a brave’s coming-of-age story.
  • In 1908 one of the most prominent writers on art of that time observed in his comments on Remington’s very successful exhibition at Knoedler’s Gallery in New York City that “the mark of the illustrator disappeared and that of the painter took its place.”
  • Frederic Remington was 48 years old when he died December 26, 1909 from complications following an appendectomy.

-from the following articles:

– Insight on the News,  May 27, 2003  by Stephen Goode
Frederic Remington and the American Civil War: A Ghost Story
Frederic Remington Biography from the  Buffalo Bill Historical Society in Cody, Wyoming

If you want to know more about Remington, visit the websites; they are loaded with information. The studio reproduction can be found at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. The Center is a combination of five different museums, including the Draper Museum of Natural History and the Plains Indian Museum.

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

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