Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Tom Mix, Scottsdale, and my Birthday Cake


We left the chilly precincts of Saddlebrook mid-morning and headed north on friendly Hwy 79 toward Scottsdale and the home of my cousin Bill and his wife Val. . 

Not far along we made a quick stop to pay respects to  radio and movie cowboy,Tom Mix, whose monument is in a little highway pulloff.

 We'll let Wikipedia take up the story here. "On the afternoon of October 12, 1940, Mix was driving his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton near Florence, Arizona, (between Tucson and Phoenix) on Arizona State Route 79. Mix had been visiting Pima County Sheriff Ed Nichols in Tucson [4] and had visited the Oracle Junction Inn, a popular gambling and drinking establishment, where he had called his agent. Heading toward Phoenix, he came upon construction barriers at a bridge washed away by a flash flood. He was unable to stop in time. The car swerved twice then rolled into a gully, pinning his body underneath.[4] He had placed a large aluminum suitcase containing a large sum of money, traveler's checks and jewels on the package shelf behind him. It flew forward and struck Mix's head, shattering his skull and breaking his neck. The 60-year-old actor was killed almost instantly. Eyewitnesses said Mix had been traveling at 80 mph.[4] A small stone memorial marks the site of his death on State Route 79, and the nearby gully is named "Tom Mix Wash". The plaque on the marker bears the inscription: "In memory of Tom Mix whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterization and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the old West in the minds of living men."   

I knew Mix (or the actor playing him)  along with his faithful mount, Tony the Wonder Horse, best from the fifteen minute after-school radio serial that featured his adventures.  The program started in the 30's and went on into the 40's when I would have been listening. Instant Ralston cereal was the sponsor and you had to have boxtops from that fowl smelling and fowl tasting brown stuff to order some of the special premiums he hawked on the program.

 Mix made and lost several fortunes as he worked his way through five wives and over two hundred silent westerns in the 1920's. He also made some sound films in the 1930's that I saw in the 40's on Saturday afternoons at the old Pearl Theatre on Lincoln Ave. in Milwaukee. In any case here's  to Roy. Gene, Hopalong, and Tom.   Thanks for the memories of the romantic old west that only existed in the movies and the imagination of novelists.  

Less than two hours later we were comfortably settled in at cousin Bill's place in Scottsdale.  Not much to tell other than lots of family talk, plenteous Scotch, and a trip to a marvelous restaurant.  The next morning we looked out of their kitchen window and saw a colorful  balloon wafting in the cool mountain air.  Val said that she had never seen one so close and on their side of the mountain.

 Later we drove down into the valley for a visit to the  Scottsdale Celebration of Fine Art. 

This is an annual event that features aisle upon aisle of booth in a series of connected tents.  For a very nominal admission fee you can stroll around and look at the art and talk to the artists who are actually working right there in front of you.

 It's a lovely way to spend some time.   

That evening Val cooked a scrumpious meal for my 75th Birthday Party.  There was roast duck in a tangy orange sauce, lots of Pinot Noir,  and to top it off a cake that a potentate would kill for.  

I blew out the symbolic candle in finer fashion than than a  wolf working on a house of straw.


And here we are all primed to dig in.

We even left some for you.  Grab a fork!

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and we head for Phoenix.

No comments: