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Good To Know

An Anti-Gun Post from 2012

I wrote this in 2012, and it's disturbing because we see the forces that elected Trump emerging.

 

A VIOLENT SOCIETY

Guns seem to be everywhere lately and though innocent people, people who don't carry guns, have been dying, no one wants to do anything about it.

But violence has a long history in this country and many believe that to have freedom we have to accept risk.  But does it have to be at the point of a gun?

They say there have been 700 anti-Muslim attacks since 9/11.  But we can look farther than that to see images of intolerance in this country.  The real problem seems to be people that are lunatics can get guns.  These are smart lunatics, too, for I'm told they can outwit the psychological evaluation questionnaire they are supposed to complete before getting a weapon.  Maybe they're just smarter than whoever evaluates the questionnaire.

Smart.  Like Mark David Chapman, who gunned down John Lennon by shooting him five times in the back.  In the back.  I don't know a more horrifying act that killing peaceful people, like the Sikh recently in Wisconsin.  But we understand, at least, the anti-Muslim sentiment and how a whacko can make a turban-esque mistake.  

Be different in America at your own risk, right?

No, shooting innocent people because you're mad at a few radicals is never an answer.  And yet it seems the chosen outlet in this country, one that no one is trying to do anything about.

What was Lennon's crime?  It's hard to imagine that this happened to him, even today.  World-class peacemaker who wanted everyone to live together, completely accepting each other.  But Chapman, whose name I wish I could forget, was a born-again Christian who took offense to Lennon's utopian sentiment in Imagine.  

Chapman was a Beatle fan until Lennon's innocent comment about Beatlemania being too big in 1966.  Many Christians took offense—at 13, I was one, and that allowed the emergence of the Monkees who recaptured that innocence that the Beatles outgrew.

I had to mature into John Lennon myself.  Many fans had to.  As I rediscovered him with Imagine, I learned that most of my favorite Beatle songs were Lennon songs.  One of my wedding songs was his, but I didn't know that when I picked it.

But it's interesting, now that I think about it.  It seems Lennon's "anti-Christian" comment was a defining moment in time in many ways.  It allowed John to reach out beyond the Beatles.  But it also made early Beatle music my favorite, and I never could figure out why my husband, who is older than me, preferred late Beatle music.  It's because he became a fan after that comment, when he wasn't before.

Chapman, on the other hand, turned away from the Beatles and never looked back.  He became Christian.  He allowed the song Imagine, and the man, eat away at his soul.  He wanted to make a name for himself and he thought Lennon was bad for the world.

Did he take a psychological evolaution to get a gun?  Doubtful.  How about Oswald or Ray or Sirhan?  Why was violence seemingly born in the 60s?  Because the hippie movement that blossomed also gave birth to its opposition.

Unless we realize we have a real problem in this country with racism and religious intolerance, this violence will continue.  Who will be next?  You?  Me?

I'd like to see guns completely purged from the U.S.  Barring that, the FBI profilers need to sit down and create a fool-proof questionnaire … problem is, can we really deny someone a gun because he answers questions wrong?

But then what can we do?  Just keep putting up with the freedom to be killed by a lunatic?  What terrible new event awaits us?

They like to say guns don't kill people.  People kill people.  But how will they kill if you take that gun away?  Bombs?  Maybe.  Knives?  Doubtful.  You won't kill too many in a theater with knives.  

Guns are easy.  Too easy.  Just ask Yoko Ono.

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Why Read about the Civil War?

CIVIL WAR & BLOODY PEACE: Following Orders is an 20-year project that took me around the country into dusty files and hard to read microfilm until I thought my eyes would fall out.  It took me through two degrees, earning me a master's in history in 2006.  If anyone had told me how much work one of these books would take, I would have run screaming in the other direction!

 

But I have to admit, exploring the 20-year army life of an ancestor, from 1862 to 1884, and beyond, was also a lot of fun.  It also enabled me, and I'm sure will enable readers, to see the country in a whole new way.  Already I've made my readers uncomfortable with a very real portrayal of Abraham Lincoln (see Mystic Fire -- my brother hates my writing now).  This discomfort is necessary, however, if we're ever going to be able to make sense of the way our country is.

 

I thought I would share the process of getting this book published. I queried about everyone three times as I went from 173,000 words down to 135,000 words. Traditonal publishers thought it was better suited for the university presses, who thought it was better suited for the traditional presses. In the meantime, I wasn't getting any younger. So with one final edit I self-published (2019) with the expected results. Readers feel it's unvalidated, so instead of acceptance they look at it with a more critical eye. And that's okay except … historical books do need validation. I did not want to go this route. I once singed a contract with Sunbury Press.  It seemed pro-active and not in the least intimidated by footnotes.  Those were the two key ingredients that enabled me to sign the contract.  They promised to get me an editor within six months after submitting it to them.

 

After six months, they still had no one for me. I started getting shade from them, and cancelled the contract. And then I got to thinking -- maybe I should put it out as two volumes. So I started the query process again. That didn't work. Meantime, I kept making the book shorter.

 

Problem is, people still see it as a personal story of a soldier, and that's not the way it's meant. Yes, I follow Henry's orders, but that's to give the book cohesiveness. Yes, I went every place he went, but that was to dig out primary information no one else has ever seen. And that enabled me to solve the mystery of the Little Bighorn. But without validation? Sigh. No one takes me seriously.

 

And that's a shame. Because they're missing a really interesting story. How the story of a soldier IS the story of a country.

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Home for the CAMD is Being Sought

I am asking around for an Amerind organization to take a donation of the entire CAMD. Why would I do that? Because of the negativity I keep hitting against me and this work in the archeaology field.  I've been a member now of the WAS for years and they've never once asked me to present my work. I've offered articles but they've always completely changed the article from what I've offered. Because of people like ***, once on my free newsletter subscription list, now won't tell me why he doesn't want me emailing him. I asked a simple request for a reference, and all he needed to say was no. Not one person I asked for a reference for the Michigan resource manual said yes. Okay, who's badmouthing me? Is it you, ***? Because of Archaeo Press, who thinks they can take an archaeologist's hard work and not pay them anything. Because of a Facebook copper page, where *** kicked me off because I wasn't making photos from museums free for everyone. She intimated that I should just make my entire work free, so now I hope I've found a way to do that.

 

And then there's ***, who is the wrong person to run the Oconto Copper Burial Museum. But I get it -- they can't find anyone else. I curated there for three years, and the only pay I got, for all that I did, was when I gave tours. And I had a tour guide who wanted most of those hours, until Oconto County Historical Society stopped paying even for tours. Then I was alone and there was no pay. In those three years, I opened up the museum with new paint, new shelves, new displays, lots of research, found lost copper hidden away, ripped out old plants and planted new flowers, ran our board meetings, developed a membership and newsletter, hosted open houses, gave presentations -- I lived for that place for two of those three years. In the third year, as an OCHS thanks, they pulled all funding, so I said I was done the end of that season.

 

But ***? Yes, a lifelong resident, former city council member, former business owner, he was on the board. He was supposed to help with the displays because that's the kind of thing he did in his business. But we could never agree on how much he should be paid. Yes, paid. He wanted money from the meager budget I got on the museum. I felt that he should be offering his services, and just get paid for supplies. That was the beginning of the end of that friendship. After that, he stood in my way wherever he could, belittled me and made for a very uncomfortable workplace, which didn't pay a cent as it was.

 

And now he's running the museum? When I gave tours, I was often asked what credentials I had. I would tell them about my master's in history and about the focus I developed in my undergraduate work on following an ancient trade network. That seemed to satisfy people. What does *** have to offer? Well, since he was voted off the city council and closed up his framing business, I suppose it was a matter of there's no one else and he needed something to do.

 

I left after three years because I needed a paying job and a little dignity back in my life. That was at the end of 2010 and it took until 2015 before I got one full time that offered the health insurance I needed. But I kept my interest in copper, spent a lot of time and money developing the CAMD, and now people want me to just give it to them - for free? So I decided, if I have to give all this work away, it'll go to the people whose ancestors created those copper artifacts. No one else.

 

I knew when I started doing this that I was in over my head. I didn't have any real archaeology in my background. Oh, I took a class from ***, but then I lost her support, too. Somehow. I developed an archaeology fiction novel that I wanted her to beta read for me, but she's since disappeared. But the more I collected the data, the more a trade network began to appear. It all felt so fascinating to me. But what was I going to do with it? Well, ultimately, publish the data, of course. But how?

 

Yes, what I was hoping to find all along was some support, some help, maybe a partner or two, an archaeologist or student of such who wanted to make the project was progressing properly. To that end, I put out a monthly newsletter, and received comments that way, which were helpful. But no one to say, hey, let me see what you have so far. I suppose that's understandable. Museums felt this was a good project, except for those who wanted nothing to do with it (only a handful, thankfully). One archaeologist in a public forum was asked if it was a good idea, and he said sure, if the right person was doing it. I was right there in the room. Of course, I made him an enemy of my work while I was still curating at Oconto. And for now good reason, I bore the brunt of his anger, though it was the town's decision to ignore his advice. And then he told the state archaeologist, who got down on me, but there was nothing I could do. The state doesn't support the museum, after all, and has no say.

 

And then there's the fellow I had to kick off my newsletter subscription because he professed he just wanted to "steal" photos for his work. Well, I say right in my newsletter that none of these photos are available for use. I didn't have permission for anything but this free newsletter. And yet he has published a huge color book of artifacts. Did he get permission for all of those? I hope so. For his sake. He's being touted now as the copper expert, while my data gets ignored. I should get a copy, but it's pricey (mine won't be) and I can't get over all the ugly comments he's made about me.

 

Self-publishing is always an option but I don't like to because there's no validity. Still, as things have progressed with my newsletter, I lost validity anyway because of my "guesses" in my newsletters -- hey, everyone guesses about the ancient past! I did have archaeologists as subscribers and I always published their responses to my material. There was never any serious challenge to what I wrote, which was basically all about what I was finding, and where. I put out 88 copper newsletters, and I think they were a lot of fun.

 

I waited a few weeks for some responses to some further queries of publisher, and now I'm querying national tribal organizations. I'll still publish the first manual, which is almost done. But I would prefer this research would go to somewhere that can treat it with the respect IT deserves (not me, but I'm used to not being treated with respect anyway).

 

Why would they want this? Here's a list of reasons I think might help them decide:

 

1. CAMD demonstrates a wide-ranging trade network.

2. Dispels misinformation about the ancient past.

3. Gives an accurate record of where artifacts are being kept, so that we can see what was actually found in any one location.

a) Caveat: they will need to sign an affidavit saying they will not go after anyone's collection, not any museum or any collector, and then I will give them the confidential data.

b) I will remain attached to the material so they can get my assistance with interpreting the materials, and correcting any errors, for as long as they need.

4. I will give them my credentials for creating this database.

5. I can continue to develop the books and give them 50/50 proceeds. (Splitting it insures that I have the incentive to continue developing the manuals as long as I'm able.)

6. Lack of a good Amerind home means it will end up at WHS for their online archives. But I'd rather it go to the descendents of the materials' creators.

7. I will give you one complete state's data in advance so you can see what it looks like.

8. It includes 68 folders of copper data, including spreadsheets, photos and resources (Photos are not free use; you'd have to contact the owners to publish.) The folder called "Resource Manuals," which has 23 folders of the various manuals I've planned to produce. The Sources Used folder contains  resources used. Data totals over 84,000 pieces. I have a lot of paper materials that I can ship, too, for a mailing fee.

9. I will retain, if agreed, two things: the ability to produce several resource manuals (not all; I'll never be able to finish) per #5 above; and the right to publish a book about my experiences as an outside in the archaeology world, which will include theories about these ancient peoples as compared to those today who think they know them. This last can be beta-read by someone in your organization for approval before publication.

 

Yes, the CAMD needs a proper home. It's outgrown the home I tried to give it, and if I had been able, I would have known long before that this time would come.

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A NEW Bonanza Project Announced

For those who can never get enough Bonanza, how about a nonfiction book, Virginia City & Bonanza: History Fact & Fiction? Sound appealing? As a lifelong Bonanza fan, the research on this project is fascinating. I'm curious is there's a market for this, before I get too far into it and work to get Bonanza Ventures' approval.

 

The Bonanza TV series, as we know, began to air in 1959, one hundred years after the big Bonanza silver strike on Sun Mountain at Washoe Diggings. Virginia City was then established and became known as one of the richest cities in the world. But their big bonanza days ended by 1880. The city's renaissance in 1959 owed everything to the new TV series, said Joe Curtis.

 

Curtis is former owner of the Mark Twain Bookstore and Museum, and the museum was started by his parents around the time Bonanza began to air. Curtis is retired now and is a historian for Virginia City, a stickler in getting details right. I first contacted the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce because I wanted to know if Bonanza had any role in opening up Virginia City to tourism. They forwarded my message to Curtis, who said "without a doubt, if it weren't for Bonanza, Virginia City would be a ghost town today."

 

We worked on an article about this renaissance, and there are some surprises. Hopefully we can find a magazine that will publish it. I've got queries out.

 

It's also part of the larger project. You see, Bonanza didn't just set itself in Virginia City. It had episodes taken from their history. This book will explore just how accurate those episodes were, and will expand on them by showing the real history of the territory. I see this as not only a great resource for history buffs and Bonanza fans, but an amazing look at this period in time and the process of mining in the 1800s, and how this was reflected in the TV series during its 14 year run.

 

For instance, you'll learn that the entire area called the Ponderosa was not settled in 1859. So the Cartwrights didn't kick anyone off their land -- well, except Washoe Indians. Perhaps this explains why Bonanza has usually had a soft spot for the natives portrayed on the show. You'll see the Ponderosa area colored in red on the authentic 1860 map. Joe Curtis confirmed that they didn't start building up this Ponderosa area at Incline Village until the 1930s. The Cartwrights' Ponderosa took over unsettled land. Carson City and Virginia City are east and north of the Ponderosa. And Genoa is down at its southeastern corner.

 

Joe sent me more maps, too, that will be used in the book. Do you know where the Comstock Lode was? I mean, precisely? Do you know where it was first found? I uncovered a mystery about Mark Twain, too, and how the Territorial Enterprise moved three times.

 

A lot of what I've used comes from materials I've picked up over the years from the many trips to Nevada, but there's nothing like the direct conversations that Joe Curtis and I have had. He's a real gem, helping me weed out fact from fiction. "Virginia City is a mining town, not a cowboy town," he noted. Yes, Virginia City did try to accommodate the cowboy fans; however, in this project I note more and more how the episodes related to mining history, such as in "She Walks in Beauty."

 

In disseminating the history of Virginia City, I learned how much the writers of Bonanza got right, which is pretty darned good at a time when VCRs weren't used and episodes were shot out of a gun a week at a time -- a lot more episodes than any series does today. When you buy a DVD of a single season, you're getting as many as 24 episodes.

 

In reading Dan DeQuille's "The Big Bonanza," there is one episode that Bonanza got exactly right. Can you guess which one? Hint, no, not "Enter Mark Twain." That was more to dramatize his time there, a composite of what did happen with Sam Clemens there.

 

The main focus in this book will be on getting Virginia City history right, but I will include information about the Bonanza conventions held here, times that the Cartwrights visited the area, and even more detail on the Ponderosa Ranch Theme Park; information in the article will also be included in the book.

 

I will also straighten out the Bonanza timeline. I used to think that episodes shot in 1959 were reflective of those that happened in 1859. Instead, I will be inserting episodes that can be dated into the actual historical timeline, which is an outlined breakdown of Virginia City history. For instance, Mark Twain didn't get to Virginia City until 1862.

 

What I won't do in the book, though, is dissect the lives of the four (or more) cast members of the TV series. I will go all the way through the DVD series to pull out those historical episodes that deal with Virginia City history. As I've only bought the series to Season 6, this gives me a great way to do what I've never done; study the series after Adam's character left. It's time I do that, and show how historically right Bonanza episodes really were, right to its finish line, which was before 1980 but not a lot before.

 

I think we'll all develop a greater appreciation for Bonanza, and for Virginia City - the little town that would never die. We'll understand that, even though the real geographic distances made no sense, why David Dortort gave Bonanza the best of both worlds.

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The New Normal (updated)

When I first wrote this, back in March, I noted that people were speculating on what life would be like the remainder of this year, and into next year. Well, here it is, October 2020 and Wisconsin is harder hit with the virus than anywhere else. Why? Because no one can come up with an agreement of how to wear masks and yet keep the economy moving. I wrote the gist of this back in March. I think it's still worth considering now and into the future, if we want life to return to normal - a NEW normal.


Here's what I suggest can be the new normal – now, and maybe for years to come.


Haven't you ever wondered how stores, especially the smaller ones, can survive when they open and no one comes in? What about restaurants? Staff sitting around with nothing to do. I worked at a tax office last winter and they had to let me go when it was determined they could only do takes by mail and email. Before that, we took care of a couple thousand people who were having their taxes done and wanted to meet in person, as is preferable for something like this. Once the preparer was finished, they would come in AT THEIR CONVENIENCE to sign and pay for the service. Bt once the tax season was extended to July, they went to a barebones staff and I was out of work.


CONVENIENCE seems to be the cornerstone of our retail industry, too. But that is what needs to change if we are to get business up and running again, and defeat the virus until a vaccine is produced and deemed effective for ALL of us. So many people are out of work and need jobs and there's no good reason for this, if we learn a new normal. Restaurants, clothing stores, department stores, even liquor stores, bars, state parks and gyms. All can set up a system based on one word.


APPOINTMENT.


I don't think this is a hard word to understand. You want a fancy dinner out, you make a reservation. Why not do that for every place you want to go? You want your hair cut, you make an appointment. Everything you want to purchase can be done either online or by appointment. All set up at least a day in advance. You carry your phone everywhere anyway, with texting, calendaring, that kind of thing. You can program phone numbers in of the places most often frequented, call, tell them when you'll be there, calendar it in.


Recently I went to the carpeting store. I didn't know they were open but took a chance and called. He said they were open and to come on in anytime. I was willing to make an appointment to go in and see carpeting styles. It's very hard to pick something like that out online. He didn't have anyone there and allowed me to take samples home. I could easily have made an appointment to do this.


Making an appointment for everything takes away the spontaneity, of course. Of course. That's exactly how we need to move forward from this virus. You want to work? You want to be of service, too?


And wearing masks has to be part of this, but if you're at work, and no one has an appointment, you can take it off for a breather.


Just how would this work? I suspect that the state would indicate how many customers you can safely have in your store determined by its square feet. I've seen that done throughout the year, having numbers of people limited in the store at one time. I saw very few people, though, actually keeping track. But once that's determined, you block out one hour shopping times for the max number you can have at any one time. The person calls for the time, or books online, and pays $10 for that appointment. If they buy something, that $10 is applied to what they purchase. This will eliminate loitering. You will get dedicated shoppers. If you wanted to, you could give them a gift certificate for that appointment amount, if you're out of their size, for instance. The reason for the appointment charge? In case you change your mind, of course. Don't make frivolous appointments. Sure, you can still mall walk. And if you see a store that's open but has an open appointment, you can ask if you can walk in. But don't expect that to be the norm.


If people have to book a day in advance, a small business has the option of being closed when no one is expected in. Have you ever worried that the store would be closed when you get there? Or that they reached their max and you'd have to wait in line? That happened to me at Trader Joe's once, and I didn't have the time to stand in line. With advance appointments, a small business could save money by being closed on days when no one is coming in. And you could pay your staff (if you like them) half pay for the day off.


A restaurant like Mod Pizza wouldn't be able to accommodate as many as a store like Target, but it seems to me an hour block is reasonable at both places. For Target you might have to reserve a week ahead of time. Or maybe stores that can accommodate 400 wouldn't need reservations. Perhaps grocery stores, too, can be an exception.


Except for fast food drive-throughs, ALL dine-in restaurants should have reservations only and allow a certain number per hour, the same way. This would spread out your patrons, so you're not overwhelmed – and you're also not open when no one is there. Bars have been the most difficult to deal with here in Wisconsin, but why can't they eliminate sitting at the bar and have tables spread out, like at restaurants? People at tables need to be those that come in together. You miss the dating scene? Flirt at the grocery store, or the library, but stay safe.


As long as the virus is out there, every patron MUST wear a mask. I still see people walking around in stores without them. Apparently there is no rule against letting them in or staff are afraid to challenge them. Here in Wisconsin, that's because the Republican congress sides with Trump, creating the mess we're in now. And now they're trying to recall Governor Evers? Honestly, the bad state of Wisconsin right now shows that the Republican Congress is the one that we should be recalling.


As of this writing, Wisconsin has been the worst state for COVID outbreaks since at least September 17th, according to MSN.com. This appeared in USA Today on October 7th:


In Wisconsin, which set a seven-day record for fatalities, indoor bars and restaurants were capped at 25% of capacity starting Thursday. The state is struggling with some of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country, and Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, ordered the limits despite repeated legal challenges from Republicans to such measures.


Honestly, I don't see a downside to the appointment idea. If the system works as well as I think it would, it could remain in place long after the virus is gone. It could take a little getting used to, of course, and it could remain in place, or disappear once we all feel safe.


What do you think? Do you see any downside to this, other than the lack of convenience and desire just to browse? I can't think of any. People will grumble at first, of course, since societal change can be difficult. But we'd get used to it, and it's a lot better than not going anywhere at all.

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David Dortort and Me

David Dortort and Me in 2009, the year Mystic Fire was published. I delivered him a copy that day. My brother was with me and said he liked how I could make him smile.

 

David Dortort, who created the Bonanza TV series, passed away Sunday, September 5, 2010 at his home.  He was 93. Dortort personally hand-picked the four actors for Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe, and had survived them all.  Pernell Roberts (Adam) died earlier that year. 

 

David lived for that show.  And though he created another one for television, High Chaparral, Bonanza was always his first love.  He kept it going after Roberts left the series in 1965 and was dismayed when NBC pulled the plug after Dan Blocker passed away during the 14th season.  NBC felt it was done. David never did.

 

He kept returning to his Bonanza Legacy but could not revive the magic that had been. 

 

The first TV movie was meant to be a series spin-off for Lorne Greene and the grandchildren of Hoss and Joe, but Lorne Greene died before it could be filmed.  In 1993 came the first of two more TV movies with grandchildren, this time included Adam's son, also with the hope that there'd be a TV spinoff series. 

 

That's when I got lucky. I started writing Bonanza fanfic in 1992, having found some free markets for them, and loved writing them so much I longed to find a way to get them published. That happened through timing and miscommunication. I got Dortort's attention because, also in 1992, I'd started an online Prodigy board for Bonanza fans, the first ever to do so. I found a TV bulletin board dedicated to old TV series and none yet to Bonanza. So I created one.

 

In 2001, he gave the rights to Beth Sullivan for a prequel called Ponderosa that aired on cable's Hallmark Channel, and featured the family at a younger stage, before the Comstock Lode setting of the original series opener.  But that prequel couldn't pick up a second season (to my dismay, as I'd just submitted two scripts for the series through a script agency where my daughter worked). 

 

Finally, at Incline Village, after the highly successful 2004 season, the highest attendance ever, the Ponderosa Ranch Theme Park closed its doors and sold to a private developer. 

 

David Dortort loved his fans. There's the story about how he allowed Adam Cartwright to unceremoniously leave the show because the fans wrote in protest to the storyline of Adam getting married to Laura.  At the time neither Dortort nor Roberts felt they'd be able to pull it off. "We have to watch the reaction of the audience very closely," Dortort said in an interview in 1963. "We get more than 30,000 fan letters a month and they will tell us if they like the idea. If the reaction is negative, then we'll just have to write it out of the series."

 

Dortort told me in 1996 that, in hindsight, he would have let the marriage happen. But at the time, "It's the most successful show that TV has ever seen, and I, for one, am going to make sure that nothing happens to it." Some fans believe Roberts' open-ended leaving would allow him to see the 'error of his ways' and return. 

 

When I first wrote to Dortort, back in early 1993, it was after learning about the new TV movie, Bonanza The Return. I saw photos of the cast, heard the storyline, and then wrote a script of my own that I wanted him to read. I also asked him to read a short story I'd written, because I wanted permission to write and sell a novel. And I told him about the Prodigy Bonanza Board. I then got a post from Tom Sarnoff, associate producer of this movie, telling me that David Dortort would be in touch with me shortly. Sarnoff stayed in touch on the Bonanza Board because, as I told Dortort, this was the biggest fan base on the internet. Well, I thought it was at the time. We had an incredibly active fan base, and one that became increasingly angry that the new movies would not feature Jamie or Candy. But Sarnoff asked for our feedback for the Bonanza Retrospect that was being filmed to air previous to this new movie.

 

I kept up my contact with Dortort, and gave him my idea for another TV movie, having Adam come back to the Ponderosa to die. I told Dortort I just knew Roberts would love a script like that, to finally get closure to that character. Dortort's responses were sporadic, so I also sent the script to Sarnoff, to NBC, to whatever agent I could find.

 

The 1993 movie did well in its time slot, as did the Retrospect, but they had another movie with these characters the following year that didn't do as well. In part, this was because they had to replace the actor who play Adam's son; in my mind, they didn't do a good job with that.

 

But I continued to write my novel, Felling of the Sons, and the scripts, and I went back to college. Finally, in 1996 I told Dortort I was coming to LA to visit my brother, in case he'd like to get together to talk about the script. He sent me his phone number and told me to call him when I got there.

 

It's now been decades but I can still remember my excitement at the time. I booked my flight the next day.

I guess I had charmed him in several ways. One, the script I wrote before even seeing the 1993 finished movie amazed him. I had those grandchildren's characters down perfectly. I told him how Adam leaving the show might have saved my life after my dad died two years later. And how I inadvertently married a Joe and had sons named Adam and Bennett. My daughter, though, wouldn't let us call her Hoss. And I told him I raised them "the Cartwright way."

 

When I finally got to his house in June 1996, after a few misadventures, I was amazed by the first question he asked me. "How do you know Pernell? Has he said he'll do your script?" I wanted to shrivel up and blow away. I just meant I created the script to be the kind of a thing that would appeal to him. After taking my stumbled response to this question he then asked what right I had to shop that script around. He wondered if I always did things the hard way.

"Well, I guess so, Mr. Dortort. But what's the easy way? No one's ever told me."

 

Oh, we had a long and very friendly conversation after that, even after I told him I thought Bonanza was two different series – with Adam, and without. I had to finally get off my Prodigy fan site because of the anger of Joe fans, and this anger is still out there.

 

But Dortort and I kept up our correspondence, tweaking the script I wrote, and trying to get Pernell involved. But I might have sounded arrogant, because Pernell never once responded to me. Finally it was written so that Adam was only mentioned in it, and then Dortort wanted me to scrap the script and write one for Dirk Blocker to play Hoss and Hoss's son. Well, I just couldn't. He was so good as Walter in the TV movies. Dortort felt bad that he didn't cast Dirk as Hoss's son in those movies and wanted to make it up to him.  (Oh, if only I'd tried!  But I was going for my BA in history at the time.)

 

Most of what Dortort and I talked about those two times I visited him I don't remember.  I didn't take notes, nor did I tape record anything.  There are snatches of things I know that I don't believe I got anywhere else. I did get permission to publish Felling of the Sons, and then, in 2005, got the contract for Mystic Fire after we talked on the phone about the Civil War; he appreciated how much I knew.

 

On my second visit to his house in 2001 I suggested that he host one of the Marathons being shown on Hallmark around the time of the airing of Ponderosa.  He only laughed and said, "Who'd want to see an old fart like me?" Of his five favorite episodes, there was one I didn't know, because it was a later episode. No surprise that Crucible was one of them. And yes, he did host a Bonanza marathon for Hallmark. He had just been teasing me.

 

We had some great phone conversations about Ponderosa during its airing, too:  How first Sullivan wanted to use a Japanese actor for Hop Sing.  "There were no Japanese in the U.S. at that time!"  And Lake Tahoe was represented by a "little mud puddle" because they were filming over in Australia, until he could convince her to use stock footage.  But it was obvious in his voice that he was thrilled to have the Cartwrights on the air again.

 

When it wasn't picked up for a second season, his energy began to wane. 

 

Dortort had convinced NBC executives to film his series in color by showing them Lake Tahoe: "Would you film that lake in black and white?"  They decided to use it to sell the new color TV sets.  This is one reason Bonanza holds up so well today.  It doesn't appear 'old.'  But in one of the obits I found online about David I noticed that they quoted him as being proud that a lot of color TV sets sold to watch Bonanza – perhaps his reflection of being the number one show on the air for a number of years.

 

It had reached #2 in its third season, and was number one for three continuous years, never falling below the #3 slot until its 12th season. See more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonanza.

 

Dortort once negotiated with some A-list screenwriters to write the script for a big screen movie version of Bonanza, but when I met with him at his home in 2001, he said "80% of it is crap!"  I asked to see it, but he couldn't.  There's a Hollywood rule against it.  I could imagine the nightmares it would be in trying to cast those four roles, too.

 

I bugged Dortort a lot to write his autobiography. We would have been fascinated by his first-hand look at filming the series. I told him to tape record it and I'd type it for him. Sadly, it never happened. First his eyesight went, and then his hearing. My last visit to him was in 2009, and it was so gratifying to see the smile on his face when we talked. As I left, he said, loud and clear, "Thanks for visiting, darling."

 

My life, as part of the Bonanza world, is one that I will always cherish, for having this man let me in for those visits, providing a bright spot in an often dark and grueling world.

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US Political Parties 1788 to 1856

ELECTION OF 

 

1788: Washington was a Federalist, John Adams was as well, with Clinton as anti-Federalist.

Washington won election and Adams got the second most votes to get VP. Jefferson worries that the Federalist are becoming monarchists, no better than the Brits they broke away from.

 

1792:  Washington wins again, and takes great offense to being told he's trying to be king. Says he never wanted this honor in the first place. Clinton now called himself a Democratic-Republican. This is the start of the Democratic party, as it was formed out of meetings from working class people.

 

1796: John Adams, Federalist, won. Thomas Jefferson wins VP with second most votes. This is the only election where they were from opposing parties. Jefferson represented Democratic-Republicans. Thomas Pickney and Aaron Burr were the next two vote getters. Pickney was Federalist and Burr Anti-Federalist.

 

1800: Thomas Jefferson wins. He has a running mate for VP, Aaron Burr. He's against John Adams, Federalist, who he had served as VP under. The vote was close enough that Jefferson worries about a tie. Remember, it took a good month before all votes were tallied. He is referred to as "the Negro president," because it was felt the 3/5ths clause in the constitution gave the South an advantage in the electoral college, by adding in their number of slaves to the total population count.

 

1804: Thomas Jefferson wins, with running mate George Clinton, against Federalist Charles Pinckney, running mate Rufus King. Bit of a landslide here. Charles was Thomas's brother.

 

1808: James Madison, Democratic-Republican with George Clinton as VP beats Charles Pinckney, Federalist.

 

1812: The first wartime election. Madison gets us into war against Brits in 1812, and he is up against Dewitt Clinton, also a Democratic-Republican but against the War. The Federalists throw in with Clinton and he picks a Federalist VP, Jerod Ingersoll. Madison's VP is Elbridge Gerry. Dewitt was George's nephew. Madison wins by the closest margin ever, supposedly, although in 1800 it was a tie for a while.

 

1816:  James Monroe, Democratic-Republican, wins against Rufus King, Federalist. It seems the Federalists have been falling out of favor since Adams. Their VPs are not of consequence.

 

1820: James Monroe, Democratic-Republican, ran unopposed in what they called the Era of Good Feelings. Wow, 200 years ago and look where we are now. Era of Bad Feelings. He was the last president from the Revolutionary Generation. It appears that one vote was cast for John Q. Adams, secretary of state at the time.

 

1824:  This was a weird year. I'm going to copy what Wikipedia had in its entirety:

 

The 1824 United States presidential election was the tenth U.S. presidential election. It was held from Tuesday, October 26 to Wednesday, December 1, 1824. Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay and William Crawford were the primary contenders for the presidency. The result of the election was inconclusive, as no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote. In the election for vice president, John C. Calhoun was elected with a comfortable majority of the vote. Because none of the candidates for president garnered an electoral vote majority, the U.S. House of Representatives, under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment, held a contingent election. On February 9, 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected as president.

 

The Democratic-Republican Party had won six consecutive presidential elections and by 1824 was the only national political party. However, as the election approached, the presence of multiple viable candidates resulted in there being multiple nominations by the contending factions, signaling the splintering of the party and an end to the Era of Good Feelings.

 

Adams won New England, Jackson and Adams split the mid-Atlantic states, Jackson and Clay split the Western states, and Jackson and Crawford split the Southern states. Jackson finished with a plurality of the electoral and popular vote, while the other three candidates each finished with a significant share of the votes. Clay, who had finished fourth, was eliminated, but influential within the contingent election, threw his support behind Adams, who shared many of his positions on the major issues. With Clay's backing, Adams won the contingent election on the first ballot.

 

This is one of two presidential elections (along with the 1800 election) that have been decided in the House. It is also one of five in which the winner did not achieve at least a plurality of the national popular vote.

 

What this appears to be is that, though Jackson had the most votes and the most states and the most electoral votes, it wasn't enough to win, and then Clay threw in with Adams, which swung the election to him. The other really odd thing is that both Adams and Jackson appear to have selected John C. Calhoun as their VP!

 

The winner, decided by the House, was John Q. Adams.

 

1828: Now we see two distinct parties again; Democrats, who get behind Jackson, and the National Republicans (I kid you not) supporting John Q. Adams. Adams had picked up some Federalist notions and it would be worth exploring the split in the parties here.

 

But Jackson beat out the incumbent by quite a margin and not surprising, since he actually did have more votes before. But in 1824, there was a four-way presidential candidate race, which kept any one of them from getting enough. Realize that there were no political conventions at this time, either.

 

Still in popular vote, it was pretty close.

 

After this, the Congressional nominating caucus disintegrated.

 

1832: Jackson, Democrat, beat Henry Clay, National Republican. Martin Van Buren was Jackson's VP. Here was the first using of nominating conventions. There was something called an Anti-Masonic Party that also held a convention. As an early third party, they nominated William Wirt, former attorney general. There was also a candidate for something called the Nullifier Party.

 

After this loss, the National Republicans joined with the Anti-Masonic party, whose candidate had received over 100,000 votes, to form the Whig Party.

 

FROM Britannica.com

Anti-Masonic Movement, in the history of the United States, popular movement based on public indignation at and suspicion of the secret fraternal order known as the Masons, or Freemasons. Opponents of this society seized upon the uproar to create the Anti-Masonic Party. It was the first American third party, the first political party to hold a national nominating convention, and the first to offer the electorate a platform of party principles. The movement was ignited in 1826 by the mysterious disappearance of William Morgan, a bricklayer in western New York who supposedly had broken his vow of secrecy as a Freemason by preparing a book revealing the organization's secrets. When no trace of Morgan could be discovered, rumours of his murder at the hands of Masons swept through New York and then into New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. As Anti-Masonic candidates proved successful in state and local elections, politicians saw the issue's vote-catching possibilities. Anti-Masonic newspapers flourished in the heated political atmosphere. In September 1831, the Anti-Masonic Party held a national convention in Baltimore, Md., nominated William Wirt for president, and announced a party platform condemning Masonry for its secrecy, exclusivity, and undemocratic character.

 

1836: Good thinking, Whigs, running several candidates against Martin Van Buren. 

 

Here's how Wikipedia explains it:

The 1835 Democratic National Convention chose a ticket of Van Buren, President Andrew Jackson's handpicked successor, and Congressman Richard Mentor Johnson. The Whig Party, which had only recently emerged and were primarily united by opposition to Jackson, were not yet sufficiently organized to agree on a single candidate. Hoping to compel a contingent election in the House of Representatives by denying the Democrats an electoral majority, the Whigs ran multiple candidates.

 

The most memorable is William Henry Harrison. And his showing got him the nod in 1840. But this defeat became crucial in helping the Whigs to stabilize, and before the next election every other faction (third party) had been absorbed by either Democrats or Whigs.

 

As we can see, the Democrats have been pretty solid since Jefferson, with the Republicans struggling for their voice.

 

1840: This time Harrison, Whig, defeated Van Buren, partly due to the crash of 1837, a real sweep of the electoral college. John Tyler was Harrison's running mate, and here we remember the first slogan from a candidacy – Tippecanoe and Tyler too. They held their first national convention in 1839. Oddly, Van Buren ran without a VP. By this time white male suffrage was universal.

 

Harrison lived only one month into his presidency. Tyler, the Vice President, was actually a Democrat, didn't support the Whig platform and eventually was expelled from the Whig party. Tyler was from Virginia.

 

From Wikipedia:

Tyler was initially a Democrat, but he opposed Andrew Jackson during the Nullification Crisis, seeing Jackson's actions as infringing on states' rights, and he criticized Jackson's expansion of executive power during the Bank War. This led Tyler to ally with the Whig Party. Tyler signed into law some of the Whig-controlled Congress's bills, but he was a strict constructionist and vetoed the party's bills to create a national bank and raise the tariff rates. He believed that the president should set policy rather than Congress, and he sought to bypass the Whig establishment, most notably senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. Most of Tyler's Cabinet resigned soon into his term, and the Whigs dubbed him His Accidency and expelled him from the party. Tyler was the first president to see his veto of legislation overridden by Congress. Tyler was a firm believer in manifest destiny and saw its annexation as providing an economic advantage to the United States, so he worked diligently to make it happen.

 

1844: Tyler initially sought election to a full term as president, but he failed to gain the support of either Whigs or Democrats and withdrew in support of Democrat James K. Polk, who favored the annexation of Texas. Polk won the election, Tyler signed a bill to annex Texas three days before leaving office, and Polk completed the process.

Democrat Polk defeated Henry Clay, neither having a memorable running mate. The election was close, no one getting 50%. They fought over two controversial issues: slavery and the annexation of Texas. James Birney of the anti-slavery Liberty party got 2.3% of the vote.

 

1848: The Democrat this time was Lewis Cass from Michigan, a man who's appeared often in my histories of Wisconsin. He was beaten by Zachary Taylor of the Whigs, but not by a lot. Martin Van Buren ran as a third-party Free-Soil candidate and achieved 10% of the vote.

 

It's interesting to see Van Buren, former Democrat, unable to get nominated again after being defeated in 1840 so he forms third parties. Teddy Roosevelt would try this, as well. Martin Van Buren deserves a closer look for his persistence, and our general lack of knowledge about him.

 

Zachary Taylor was a general in the Mexican American war. Interesting choice, as his politics weren't clear and the Whigs had opposed that war. Millard Fillmore was his vice president, known for his moderate views on slavery. Polk for some reason had promised not to seek re-election. But the Whigs were desperate for someone who could win (this was repeated with Eisenhower).

 

"The Democrats had a record of prosperity and had acquired the Mexican cession and parts of Oregon country. It appeared almost certain that they would win unless the Whigs picked Taylor."

 

Van Buren's Free-Soil party opposed the extension of slavery into the territories. Obviously Jefferson's Northwest Ordinance had an expiration date, making this an issue again. 

 

How did the 3/5ths slave clause effect the electoral college? I'll look for that answer for the 2nd edition of "From Lincoln to Trump."

 

Taylor died during his term, making Fillmore president.

 

This is the first election that saw the first Tuesday in November become the statutory election day.

 

1852: Fillmore tended to side more with the South, so he didn't receive the nomination. Franklin Pierce, Democrat, beat Winfield Scott, another general as the Whig candidate, and their last. The Free-Soil Party ran John Hale.

The Whigs had become badly divided and Scott's anti-slavery reputation damaged those voters in the southern sector. The Whigs collapsed due to bitter divisions over slavery.

 

1856:  Because of the on-going war in Kansas, Democrat Pierce was defeated at the nominating convention by James Buchanan. Buchanan's running mate was John Breckinridge.  The newly formed Republican Party nominated John C. Fremont.

 

Millard Fillmore ran as the American Party candidate, although not willingly. They were also known as the "Know Nothing" Party. As third party, he got 21.5% of the vote. Buchanan beat Fremont 45% to 33%, so it can be assumed Van Buren took some of those votes from Fremont. The Know Nothings openly competed with Republicans to defeat the Democrats.

 

For information on the formation of the Republican Party and what happened to the Know Nothings, see "From Lincoln to Trump."

 

Buchanan warned that the Republicans were extremists whose positions would lead to civil war. They had virtually no backing in the South.

 

This political party information continues in "From Lincoln to Trump." But in 1860 it becomes Democrats V. Republicans, with occasional third parties thrown in, all the way to the present.

 

Under Trump we're seeing the Republicans fractionalize again, with The Lincoln Party forming to oppose Trump and his nascent racism supporters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AN UPDATE FROM ANDY KLYDE, BONANZA VENTURES

New York City, September 12, 2020 (Happy Anniversary, BONANZA!)


LATEST NEWS FROM BONANZA VENTURES

It's been a bit of a while since I last communicated, but with this alternate universe in which we all find ourselves, there's been much to process.

 

For those old enough to recall, 1968 undoubtedly was a watershed year, but I think 2020 will really be one for the history books, and there's still almost four months to go . . .

 

Highlights of 2019 were the releases -- after a long hiatus -- of BONANZA: The Official Ninth Season and BONANZA: The Official Tenth Season on DVD in North America (and releases of those seasons shortly thereafter in other territories) and the gala 60th Anniversary Celebration at Ponderosa II in Mesa, Arizona -- Lorne Greene's former home, built from plans adapted from the original architectural blueprints designed by Earl Hedrick for the set constructed at Paramount Studios in 1959. Hosted by Louise and Tom Swann (who also hosted wonderful friendship conventions in 2013, 2015, and 2017), the events were well attended by joyous fans from around the globe who had a rare opportunity to not only visit "the Ponderosa," but enjoy the "Cartwright hospitality" extended by the Swanns, who carefully and lovingly restored the magnificent ranch house to its 1963 grandeur.

 

Tom and Louise Swann sold Ponderosa II and moved to a smaller home not long after the 60th Anniversary party (their "swan song," if you will). The new owners of Ponderosa II have since graciously allowed a video tour of the interior and exterior of the house, but so far there are no plans to hold fan gatherings on the premises. The Ponderosa Ranch House constructed at Incline Village (also from Earl Hedrick's plans) has been carefully dismantled, stored and awaiting reassembly by the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, an organization dedicated to preserving and honoring Lake Tahoe's history.

 

I have sad news to relate. Wendy Dortort Czarnecki, creator-producer David Dortort's daughter, succumbed to complications from diabetes earlier this summer.* Over the years, she's attended fan gatherings of both BONANZA and THE HIGH CHAPARRAL. She shared her father's passion for writing and great literature (although her preferred genre was science fiction rather than the Old West). She and her late husband, Matt Czarnecki (who passed away only 14 months before Wendy), owned Bright Star Setters, recognized as one of the preeminent breeders of Irish Setters in the world. They raised many champion dogs in their kennels over the years.

 

2020 so far has also seen the loss of several BONANZA alumni -- Brooklyn-born John Saxon (real name: Carmine Orrico) was featured in three episodes; I'd hoped to have him record an audio commentary last year, but illness prevented that. Marj Dusay (born Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Mahoney in Hays, Kansas) had a special BONANZA connection. Besides appearing in Season 10's "A Ride in the Sun," her daughter, Debra Marj Dusay, is married to Dan Blocker's eldest son, David Douglas Blocker. Multiple award-winning writer, producer, director and former child actor Gene Reynolds (born Eugene Reynolds Blumenthal in Cleveland, Ohio) is best known for co-developing (with Larry Gelbart) the iconic television series, M*A*S*H, but he was also BONANZA's first casting director. He told me he literally had to drag Barry Sullivan out of a party to convince him to report to the studio the following morning and replace Dan Duryea, who had changed his mind about accepting the lead guest-starring spot in the pivotal episode, "Death on Sun Mountain."

 

And days before 2020 began, we lost writer Dorothy "D.C." Fontana. Best known for her contributions to STAR TREK, and one of the first women to achieve great success in a traditionally male-dominated profession, she was also a prolific writer of episodes of television Westerns. (She used the initials "D.C." instead of her first name, finding that potential employers refused to believe a woman could write a Western.) She wrote the fan-favorite, "The Stalker," and with story editor John Hawkins, created the character of "Jamie," played by Mitch Vogel. I'd hoped she, too, would record an audio commentary. Invited to the 60th Anniversary at Ponderosa II, she had to decline because of teaching commitments at the American Film Institute.

 

But there is good news . . . BONANZA: The Official Eleventh Season will be available for sale throughout N. America starting the last Tuesday in October, 2020. (Released by CBS Home Entertainment and distributed by Paramount, the set is just in time to commemorate the anniversary of Michael Landon's birth . . . )

 

In addition to classic episodes (e.g., "The Stalker," "Dead Wrong," "A Darker Shadow," "Caution: Easter Bunny Crossing," "The Law and Billy Burgess," "It's a Small World," "A Matter of Circumstance") all complete and full-length, newly restored and remastered from original 35mm film elements for superior picture and sound (so they look and sound like they were filmed yesterday), there will be numerous terrific bonus features fans have come to expect from CBS Paramount and yours truly.

 

-- brand new audio commentaries accompanying select episodes
-- a rare Chevrolet commercial featuring Lorne Greene, unseen in decades
-- several "trailers" ("Here are some exciting scenes from our next BONANZA") unseen since their network broadcast 50 years ago
-- tons of rare publicity photos, behind-the-scenes shots and location photos, plus a special collection of never-before-published images from Barb Lay Kieffer, and a special layout featuring "dapper" Dan Blocker.

 

Every episode is closed-captioned and comes with an alternate Latin American Spanish soundtrack. And each episode retains its original music score by Academy Award ® - winning composer Harry Sukman, father of our beloved Susan Sukman McCray.

 

Available now for pre-ordering at Amazon! Tell all your friends and neighbors!

 

I thank you for being a BONANZA booster and supporter through these rough times. Better days are ahead! Meanwhile, stay healthy, stay safe, practice social distancing (watch BONANZA on DVD when you're staying home 🤠), and wear a mask!

Best BONANZA wishes,

ANDY KLYDE

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My Copper Research "Biblio"

In all the contacts I've been making in the past month, I would hear requests for the project, and my background so I created the following.

 

I've been doing this for a decade, after curating at a copper burial site for three years. I've now got over 83,000 artifacts in the database, though short of the 100,000 I was hoping for. But I have decided I better get to work on the copper resource manuals because getting those all out there will take another decade! Maybe by then I'll hit 100,000.  I'm sure they're out there, it's just a matter of finding where they're accessioned and getting those museums to want to give me the data.

 

Right now I'm waiting for a response from Cleveland; both Knoxville and Ann Arbor have turned me down flat. Not sure why. I have a confidential column for information that I don't share with the public, such as site location and donor, and some private collectors don't want to be known, either. Some say it's because of NAGPRA that they won't share. But I don't share burial information. I need to know what was made and where it was found, not if it was buried with someone. That information I keep private.

 

I've got over 600 museums and private collectors contacted, and I'd say over 50% of museums had nothing. And I've been all over the country. Recently I drove four hours for a photo of two points. But there's just no other way for me to do it - at least until I get a contract on the first resource manual and can put out a national release asking to be contacted. I can't expect overworked curators to always provide the information to me, after all. But anyone who does gets value in return.

 

What I've learned so far - The Great Lakes copper toolers have the oldest industry in the Americas, and if we can call them a cultural group, they are older in dating than anywhere in Mexico or South America. Those early ones in South America began tooling in copper later, and may well have picked it up from those farther north, but they do have their own source of copper, so these industries could have happened independent - although there are a number of artifacts similar.

 

In South America, they began smelting their copper by around 1500 BCE (I'm not good on dates; check the link on my site here), but smelting never happened in the US because, for the main reason, Lake Superior copper is too pure to smelt. Mexico has the Olmecs, considered the oldest culture in the Americas, but they were relatively rather late, even compared to copper tooling in South America. Mexico's copper tooling industry didn't start until around 500 CE, or shortly before the collapse of Teotihuacan. (I'm writing an archeology novel connecting the two.) From Mexico to South America, gold was as valuable as copper, or vice versa, as they tended to blend the two metals to create tumbaga artifacts.

 

In the USA we've got three main copper tooler cultures - the Archaic Old Copper, as it's called because the focus is on tools of copper for hunting, creating boats and clothes, and fishing. Middle Woodland Hopewell, which got into ornamentation and designs in copper in a BIG way, and they really spread out - talk about a trade network! And Late Woodland Mississippians, who are identifiable in their artifacts because access to copper must have become scarce. Their objects were thin, still ornate, but they often covered other materials like stone or wood with copper.

 

The trade network is why I'm doing this. You can find more at my website, and I have three articles at Academia.edu. I put out 88 newsletters to subscribers over the last decade, but now want to focus on the resource manuals which will disseminate what kinds of trade networks they might have had based on where copper artifacts originated and where they were found. Where they originated simply means we track copper tooling sites, what was found where in the highest numbers, and travel out from there. If Montana had an I-B point, for instance, we find where I-B points were most found and follow the waterways.

 

Have I just told you everything you need to know? Doubtful. Watch for my new newsletter, coming soon!

 

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Updating Copper Records (the exhaustion of)

I'm getting pretty tired – for sure my hands are – of all the entering of copper artifact data, nearly 80,000 so far, but also with the way I'm being treated, or have been treated, the last ten or so years.

 

When I used to run the Oconto Copper Burial Site, I was often asked by visitors what kind of background I had for doing the tours and the updates that the museum needed, and I would tell them about my master's in history and my background in exploring the trade network between Mexico and the southwestern U.S. during my undergraduate work. They seemed pretty satisfied with that answer.

 

And I've given a number of copper presentations over the years, not always to great results or response, but one continues to bother me. It was the one where Tom Pleger said it's a great idea to have someone create master database of copper artifacts – but it needs to be the right someone.

 

That I didn't immediately stand and say, well, what's wrong with me, Mr. Pleger? Do you know someone else who's willing to do it? Because I've been waiting for someone to throw in with me, but no one has. I would gladly give this research to whoever could do a better job. But instead, you and others seem to have a lot more fun treating me like I'm no better than any amateur collector who finds the artifacts in the ground, destroys their context, and sells them to the highest bidder.

 

What's your real problem, Mr. Pleger?

 

Yeah, I know, he's dead now. I can't ask and I don't need to. I knew what his problem was, and it was petty. When I first started running the museum he and I appeared on the radio together to talk about copper and he thanked me for being there and doing the research to help make the copper tooling industry more accessible. He made copper his dissertation and I went to one of his presentations. It was the same presentation he gave years later when he made that 'infamous' remark. He had the nerve to denigrate me when he was no longer doing anything in the copper field.

 

But the real thorn in his paw was that I wouldn't listen to him when he told me that I had to remove the burial display for kids I had developed in the museum. He had the audacity to say that I was encouraging kids to dig for artifacts in graves. He wouldn't listen when I told him what I was actually doing with that display. Then he went running to John Broihahn, state archaeologist and told him and Broihahn called with the same line, that I had to shut it down. Well, the Oconto museum committee did not want to shut it down, and to this day, a decade after I left, as far as I know, it's still there. And Broihahn still refuses to talk to me.

 

What about public excavation opportunities? Don't they encourage the public to dig wherever they want? I was at one recently and while they gave digging sensitivity instructions, how do we know people were listening? How do we know people weren't there to get some instruction on how to go off wherever they want and dig alone? We don't. I didn't know that either. But I had kids as an audience, and it was the only way for them to understand what the museum was all about.

 

I'm not saying inviting the public to help excavate is wrong. But having a burial display in a museum where we show kids what excavation is all about is not wrong, either.

 

So yeah, I'm tried of being trounced on by archaeologists. I know I'm not trained to learn every tiny little detail about a site. But I have learned copper. I can identify a piece of copper better than anyone I know. I compile date and can provide details on what's going on in any county in the US. I can show you how the axe evolved into the money celt used in Mexico. I can help track where artifacts were traded. And I can put resource manuals together and make some guesses about what's going on, using this knowledge. I might be right. But people will always recognize by my dialog that my guesses are those of an amateur. And they will always be advised to look at the bibliography at the end of every resource manual, because most everything I share will be from professionals. I don't make up the datings, but I do apply the datings from one artifact in one location to that same type in another location. Because that's what typing is for. Readers of my manuals will be encouraged to contact every museum and talk to people there, and not take my word for anything.

 

If they do, well, I can't help that, either. Neither can anyone else.

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