Photo Credit | By JOE NICKELL of the Missoulian
Timothy Gordon | My Writings
Author | Timothy Gordon
It was early in the morning and my coffee was cold, as I drove the long drive away from my appraisal at the State Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I had been down there several weeks and was just now unwinding from it all.
Appraising the most treasured possessions of an entire state is mind blowing. The museum director had requested that I select out the most valuable pieces for appraisal. Being in a bit of a trance, I rolled open the deep, cool museum drawers filled with Sacred Indian artifacts. There were the long “lost” possessions of the famous Indian Chief Washakie …. his painted elk robe detailing a dozen heroic and brutal battle kills; his pipe tomahawk, cool to the touch and covered with brass tack work and his sacred medicine bundle, housed in a buffalo testicle bag.
From another drawer, I carefully withdrew the electrically charged treasures of Buffalo Bill Cody… pulling out his guns, his hat, his thigh high leather boots. I placed them delicately into a charcoal gray archival storage box, which I placed alongside his soft, deer-hide fringed shirt. The poem by e.e. cummings came to mind as I examined them,
who used to ride a water-smooth silver
and break one two three four five pigeons just like that
he was a handsome man
and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
The odd phenomenon of beholding the private effects of the legendary is the discovery of their simplicity. The materials and the holes, the sweat and blood stains, and the smallness are not what you would have thought…which all might be so disillusioning. Instead, the humanity and frailty delineated his greatness. Buffalo Bill had become myth and he did so from a humble, human platform – almost transforming him into something more than human.
Contained within this drawer was the outlaw gun, which had been pried from the dead hands of one of the Wild Bunch Gang. The black rubber grips of the Colt pistol were worn down by having once rubbed against a holster, as the owner rode fast from his pursuers. Rare, old photos show him posed with lovers; one was a whore and one a school teacher.
*Underneath was a court ledger of a heroic woman who became America’s first female judge and an old frayed noose that had meted out her justice. Esther Morris, who in an isolated and unprotected frontier, stood her ground and sentenced men to their deaths. Wyoming had been the cradle of feminism, not Boston or New York.
As I carefully scrutinized all of these things, I was accompanied constantly by a group of fine young women curators. All were wonderful, bright and dedicated. I had figured out, just after my arrival, that I was their sad little “field trip”, a vehicle to allow them to escape their desks. To their credit, they patiently sat with me for days on end as I examined treasure beyond belief. They kept me on track by correcting my catalog numbers, opening locked cases and pointing me gently away from my ignorance. Each of them had wonderful wry senses of humor, and I had to guard myself from a tendency toward informality. Whenever that happened, the library science degrees within their group would arise to slap me back into shape.
By the end of three weeks, we had become friends – to the extent that I even knew what odd, little candies they liked. That last afternoon, I said my goodbyes and left them with a large bag of taffy and chocolates. Now I was heading back home.
My early morning departure displayed a stunning view of the Wyoming landscape through my car window. The crisp sunlit scenery was a litany of the Wyoming Badlands – strange, beautiful, lonely and bizarre.
Northwestern Wyoming was vast and prehistoric.
Odd, eroded mounds of sandstone poked up from fields of sagebrush and alkali. Now and then, an oil derrick broke the visual monotony, its head pumping up and down like a small, steel jackass riveted to the prairie floor.
Wyoming’s terrain is salient to most life and for stretches of fifty miles or more, there are no houses or roadside gas stations, only the occasional pronghorn antelope, which would bound the barbed wire fences at the sight of my car …or a dead cow, “tits up in a ditch”, as they say down there.
Neither my cell phone nor the radio carried a signal for the last 50 miles. I was all alone with my thoughts, floating, flying as my car drifted along at 82 on cruise control.
I thought of my family back home in Montana. After 12 years, my wife had become dissatisfied at both my frequent absences and my homecomings. I hadn’t called much in the last week – until last night. She sounded so far away. It wasn’t all her fault…Mr. Hot and Cold was on his way home. I gave it some time, pondering what might be lost and then pulled my thoughts from that pain.
As I climbed a long hill and swept over the top, I could see a small bar with two gas pumps up ahead. About then I hit a cell and my phone rang. It startled me as I fumbled around the cab for the phone. Its sound jarred the cold air.
“Hello”, I said, my breathe raspy and crisp against the metal phone…
There was silence… and then a low soft spoken man’s voice asked “Is this Timothy Gordon”?
I responded, “Yes” and he began… “Mr. Gordon, my name is Charley Sanders and I want to discuss with you the possibility of having you appraise my collection of antiques here on my ranch in Colorado.” He went on, “This has been in my family since 1876 when my grandfather started it. Recently, I sold my controlling interest to investors and so now I need to get all of the collections appraised. We have a lot of history here”, he laughed. “The antiques must have values assigned so that I can make some important decisions. I need your help and you come highly recommended. Are you available?”
I thought for a moment and replied,
“Yes, I believe that I might be …depending on the time frame.”
“I would conform to your schedule,” he said.
“There are many buildings full of things…so it might take some time.” He began to describe the antiques and the place.
I learned of the fabulous large collections of antiques which rested in dormancy on the ranch, many dating back to 1876, to the time of his grandfather’s day as first a lawyer and then senator near Aspen, Colorado. “We have over a hundred buildings filled.”
“Heck, yes,” I thought to myself…I would love to root through your ranch, as I fantasized of his grandfather and the likes of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Poker Alice and Calamity Jane.
I ran my calendar though my head and responded, “I am tied up until after Labor Day, if that will work with your schedule?”
‘I’ll make it work”, Charley declared in a determined voice.
The man had no questions about my credentials or the fee.
It was the trust which the West had been built upon, just a handshake or the word “Yes” and it was agreed upon.
As I coasted down the long hill, I pulled up to the gas pumps outside of the bar. I only had 1/8th of a tank left. Out front of the bar sat a group of pickup trucks, their diesel engines clattered noisily in the clear air. They say that stops and starts are hard on diesel engines and so in Wyoming, the oil men and ranchers let them run 24 hours a day. I think that it’s a macho thing, more than mechanical fact. I opened my rental car door to the sound of muffled voices and loud music leaking through the plywood walls of the building.
Reaching back, I pulled out my credit card to slide into the gas pump. “Damn it”, I said, as I looked up and saw that it had 1980’s gas pumps…the pre-credit card era kind. It was a pay inside operation.
As I headed toward the bar, I became painfully aware that I was dressed in museum work clothes –new jeans, a permanent-press blue Brooks Brothers shirt with peppermint stripes and black dress shoes.
As I stepped up the high single step and through the door, my eyes adjusted into the darkness of the room and I moved toward the bar. There were ten or twelve people at the bar, revelers – shouting and laughing over the hum of a blaring juke box. It was 9:00 in the morning and yet they all looked midnight- drunk. The scenery – sullen, withdrawn and blunt. If they are out there too long, their lower lips seem to freeze into tightness – a contraction, something that must be caused by their loneliness and the freezing wind. Some of them loosen up with booze and some get meaner.
As I approached, the crowd turned their heads toward me. At first they appeared not to notice and were quiet, and then I heard chuckles and comments as I leaned against the counter. They were “wildcat” oil workers who had gotten off the night shift at 8:00 and local women who had waited up for them. I may as well have been wearing a tuxedo, as the oil men sat in mud- caked Carhartt overalls.
The bartender came over and stared at me with a surly look. She was tiny and looked to be about sixteen, only she had her grandmother’s face. “I need $35 worth of gas”, I said as I handed over a fifty. She grabbed it without a word and turned to the till. A bar woman screeched randomly at the back of the room.
Someone to my left snickered and then I heard someone mutter the “f” word.
It got really quiet, despite the never-ending country song on the juke. No one said anything, but they had all turned and were smirking or glowering at me. Any second I would hear the first taunt.
I looked up at the clock, “Son-of-a-bitch”, I declared loudly. “It’s late … give me a f—— bottle of Bud for the road, will you?”
I think that the word is stupid and crude. It is usually invoked when someone without a brain needs what they think is an ultimate. However, this time I was channeling the language of the locals, and it worked for me.
Everyone laughed loud and cheered. I was okay, as I walked out with the beer, pumped the gas and headed for Montana with a light morning beer buzz.
It is the story of the New West…investors come from the East to the Last Best frontier to play rancher. They buy up the biggest chunk of property that they can find and immediately subvert it from its natural state into a bastardized version of their idea of The West. It is usually in some over-hyped valley by a trout river or a ski area, a place where other rich people have told them they should move to, or where the latest “cool” movie star has decided to buy a place.
My client, Charley…Charley’s problem was that his grandfather’s ranch sat right smack dab at the base of Aspen, Colorado. When the skiers left for the summer, bikers with their money came through a few hundred thousand strong.
This investor and his English partners had cooked up a “sweet” deal for Charley, buying his place at a big price tag, but with a small percentage and a slow payoff.
Poor Charley was sitting right in the center of all of their dreams of glory.
For his birthright, he could stay in his house. They would rent his antiques from him as props for outfitting their resort and he would get a yearly salary for his birthright, all 25,000 acres right outside of Aspen.
It sounded like a sweet deal to a starving rancher trying to pay the bills, broken by decades of toil and nothing happening…and then the reality of it hit. The plans were something else. There was to be a 4000 unit KOA by the old homestead, a golf course surrounding the little family cemetery, and a shopping mall for bored trophy wives right behind the historic ranch house.
To make it more awful, there were trappings of their outsider’s idea of The West…silly-ass, longhorn cattle mewed as chuck wagon cookouts – operated by fat guys in cowboy hats too large for their heads – which were created for the buses running to and from the KOA.
A fake ghost town was to be filled up with all of Charley’s antiques – just like Knott’s Berry Farm. His family treasures would be stuffed, buffed and gawked at by the visiting New York attorney’s and their wives.
Late that night as I returned home, I could see that my own house was overgrown and dark, cast into a shadow like some weird court of Sleeping Beauty. Viewing it now after the distance, I could see that I’d have to get to work on it. It had to change, while I still had this clarity. I collapsed on the sofa in my office, trying not to wake anyone….
When I awoke, my Jack Russell, Nugget, was sleeping at my feet and looked up at me with his tail wagging. I ruffled his head and gave him a hug. His breath smelled like cat rocha.
There was a stack of catalogs, bills and letters on the desk next to me. I climbed the stairs to wake my wife. When I entered the room, she was half covered, and I slipped into her sleeping arms as the morning sun filtered onto her through the curtains. For a minute she pretended to sleep, and then she brought her arm up and kissed me.
After a few days of rest and calling old friends, my enthusiasm returned. I began compiling my Wyoming research.
My young typist, Breanna, had come in to begin the process of building the Wyoming appraisal report books, which would contain it all. Breanna owns her own typing business, so she puts all of the thousands of notes of treasure into sense and order. Six month before, she had a baby girl, Maddie, and today she brought the baby along with her. A shaft of morning light illuminated Maddie’s play pen as she spent the morning learning to smile against the mirror of my unshaven face.
I worked on many sporadic projects over the coming weeks, on this one and others, following them through the beautiful Montana summer…..and then it became autumn and it was time for Charley and Colorado.
The flight from Missoula to Boulder would have been beautiful, if I did not have to travel to Salt Lake first for a connection to Denver, as the Missoula airport was too small for large airlines. The 1000 miles to the ranch turned out to be a five-hour journey. Finally, I arrived in Boulder around dinner time.
Charley’s place was a 65-mile drive from the airport. I had no plans to meet with him until the following morning and so I grabbed a rental car and started toward Aspen, where my motel was located. I had plenty of time to kill and drove slowly along the way of the small highway of the nearby Indian Reservation. Each of the small Reservation towns along the way held maybe 100 – 200 people each and all looked pretty much the same. The houses were poverty-worn and bordered by dead cars and weeds…The structures were old and stood by leaning raw board shacks. You could feel the hopelessness sweating out of the dry air.
Each town was the same – an empty cafe, the Last Picture Show Theater with a broken projector, a dark hardware store with faded cardboard signs in the windows, knapweed covered parking lots and the bars dressed up with single strands of blinking signs. In the dark, a cow dog ran and barked after a black lab.
The second one reminded me of my childhood living in a poor neighborhood on Missoula’s North Side. The feeling caught up with me and so I sped off toward Aspen, leaving it all behind me – perhaps for a daylight visit sometime.
Tomorrow would be different. I was excited to get to the ranch to meet Charley and his wife Jesse, excited to see the famous ski town with its fantastic historic districts, old buildings and museums.
Back in Montana I had a group of friends who had grown up here in the 70’s. They had escaped to Montana to play for a summer or two, and instead had stayed to raise families. Star, Pigger, Greg and George had filled me with their crazy stories of Aspen for fifteen years – the characters and the movie stars, the money and the drugs. I heard it all so much that it now seemed almost as if I had lived there myself.
In the morning light, I followed Charley’s detailed directions to the ranch. He had asked that I meet him early, so the bright sun was just rising over the mountains as I drove the dirt road out to his place. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, I just knew that from our recent telephone conversations, that I really liked this guy.
Herefords lined the pastures and red-winged blackbirds flitted from cow pie to cow pie looking for insects. As I drew near, I could see the large ranch house which dated from the 1880’s. It was a huge gothic structure sitting next to a large barn. It reminded me of Rock Hudson’s house in the movie Giant. Next to it were pastures filled with galvanized steel watering troughs and a corral with a pair of small fuzzy donkeys staring at me through the lodge pole rails.
I pulled into the gravel drive and as I got to the house, a tall lanky man in his early 60’s, with pepper gray hair, walked toward me wearing a Lee cowboy jacket waving in his hand.
I smiled and we shook hands. He had piercing eyes under bushy eyebrows, “Thanks for making the long trip out, Tim. Have you had breakfast? I have a long day planned for you.”
I grinned back at him, “I had some coffee, which is all I need…”
“Okay then, I have the airplane fueled and I want to show you around the ranch, so that you can get a better idea of what we are involved with here. It will be much quicker for me to fly you, as there are buildings and collections spread over a five-mile area.”
“Let me grab my jacket then, and we’ll get started!” I said.
We drove his truck out to the small pasture air field. Parked at the hay-covered runway was a blue and white vintage Piper Cub. My heart raced when I saw it. I flashed back to an image of myself as a six-year old boy, wearing a small blue blazer at a funeral in a church in Helena, Montana. My favorite uncle Dennis had just been killed in this exact kind of airplane. He was the Secretary to the Governor of Montana and had been on assignment with Governor Nutter when the plane had failed mysteriously and gone down. He was only 38 years old with the world ahead of him. The airplane’s engine had stalled and they fell out of the sky, twirling like a giant maple leaf, finally colliding with the high mountains of Montana. I had been terrified of flying in small airplanes ever since. I didn’t say a word, swallowed my old fear and hopped into the cabin.
The plane was airborne instantly and soon we were gliding over the panorama of this amazing place. The ranch was filled with fine blue forests, rocky gray cliffs, mountain lakes and large sections of cattle ranges. Flowing below I could see the deep grasses blowing in the breeze like the waves of an ocean.
”That is buffalo grass down there”, Charley said. “This is one of the last stands of it in America. It once carpeted the entire West and now it’s all gone, all but here.”
We flew me over an old homestead, where the maternal side of the Sanders family, homesteaded. “This is the home of my grandmother, Christina Jensen’s family. They had the dairy cattle, enough to provide all of the milk to the 10,000 people of the mining towns around here.” They made a small fortune and bought up miles and miles of mining ground.
Looking down I saw a small stream and nearby sat a tiny log cabin overshadowed by a giant stone house. An immense barn and large spring house sat behind the home, along with ten or twelve other small buildings. There was a gnarled apple orchard to one side and as we got closer, pigeons exploded from the barn.
“The place is all still furnished and crammed with the original antiques that the family used at the time. As my family became more prosperous and we moved into larger homes, the old possessions were left locked behind and no one has taken them out since. The Jensen family did very well. My grandmother Jensen married Grandpa Sanders in 1883 and when her parents died out in 1892, all of their possessions stayed in that place. Only three people have had the keys to them in 110 years. Since Grandpa Sanders died, we have been hard working ranchers, trying to make a living and we never had time to go through all of this old junk. They are absolute time capsules.”
I looked down in wonderment and disbelief, pondering my happiness and the prospect of going through these treasures. My job can be the ultimate time machine. It is an amazing time travel experience to crack the lock on a door which has been shut for 110 years. It is as if you are being pulled back into time, the atmosphere of the possessions and the room creates the era,
it does not matter what year it is outside, as inside the year might be 1880 or 1890 or 1900.
“I guess the Sanders didn’t move around much, and as we acquired new things, they had no need to dispose of the old. They just shut the door on it all and built a bigger place to live. That has gone on for 100 years or more and it is all still down here. Those barns are filled with the possessions of the old Jensen clan. There are wagons, saddles and trunks, even Jensen items brought to America by ship in the 1880’s are stored in the house.”
We circled, “Look to your right and you can see a small graveyard…that family is all buried in that place. The brothers, from Denmark, came out West in the 1890’s to work the ranch and they are also buried there. When my grandmother’s family died out, this all became part of the main Sanders Ranch.”
Now we were flying north by the river. As we approached a low basin, I could see a cluster of about twenty buildings sitting at river’s edge. “That is an old mining camp called Ruby. It was started around 1878 for miners. The gold played out and by 1885 it had become a Chinese camp filled with Chinese workers. My grandfather bought everything around here in the 1890’s when they left. Some of the Chinese ones are amazing. That one down there is a saloon with an opium den under the floor. I haven’t been in them for years, but I know you will find them pretty darned interesting, Tim”.
To the left was a canyon, with a winding road wedged between a stream and rocky bluffs. “That is the old stage road down there. There were several robberies by outlaws in that canyon. There is loads of history down there.”
After some time, we headed back toward the ranch house. About a mile east of the airstrip, Charley dove the airplane over an immense stone building.
“Those are the Courtyard Barns. There is nothing else like them this side of Europe. The stone barns were a scene from a castle in ancient Wales, not Colorado. The barns have walled rooms and warrens of stalls surrounding an inner square, as if they were walls surrounding a village. The horses were taken out to a central exercise field, which sat at the interior of the building.”
As our plane flew low, I could see we had disturbed a large group of bats which swooped out of the top window and then flooded back in. “This is my central storage area for the valuable collections; I have secure rooms for the gun collections and old Indian artifacts gathered on the ranch. In the past, when we had to remove a structure, anything stored in those old buildings is in the attic of these barns. There is lots of work for you there.”
It had been nearly an hour since we began flying over the corners of the ranch. We landed by the truck.
Charley drove us back and we entered the house.
“I have been living in this place for all of my life.” he said.
“It was built in 1878 by Charles Sanders and it is four levels filled with things dating back to 1878. I can’t exactly tell you what is in here, as I have lived with it all so long that I am lost. I am not sure any more if anything is old or new. There are rooms and rooms on the lower levels that we have locked down and which are filled with old things. That is where I want you to begin, he said with determination. I’ve been putting this off all of my life. Thank God you are you are here to dig me out.”
I grabbed my case from the rental car, which contained the tools of my trade: lights, a camera, notebooks, numbers, a measuring tape, magnifying glasses, tick tacks, black lights, a jewelry testing kit with electric diamond tester, antacids and Advil, gum, white cloth gloves, canned air, a micrometer, anything and everything that one needs to examine treasures with.
We spent the rest of the morning setting up a work area for me in the entry way. I set up my computer and photo area. When that was finished, Charley lead me through a long hallway and down an oak paneled stairwell.
The stairs were….
He seemed to be energized at the prospect of having me dig into the collections.
“I really do not know what is here, he began…the trunks and at the bottom of the stacks…things that have been there for 100 years. I have always taken them for granted.
Our steps echoed as we descended, smelling the comforting earthy smell of a dry stone and mortar basement. We turned a corner into the massive rooms that lay before us. I discovered that there were several large rooms surrounding one common area of about 30’ x 40’ feet. This new place had a fine acrid smell, which was a mixture of the ancient hardened wax on the oak flooring and the pungent odor of moth balls. It was much like you would picture in an old dark county museum, only with much more. Everywhere you looked, there were stacks of treasures, wooden crates and barrels filled with cellulose packing resting on oak furniture, a large saloon back-bar sat at one end and was covered with the wildest mix of items ranging from crystal, art glass, Indian pottery and Sterling silver to photographs, guns, and sport trophies.
Charley pointed out a bullet hole in one of the pillars.
There were Indian relics and ten or twelve musical instruments, including autoharps, melon back mandolins, trumpets, accordions and violins. One wall had three old horn phonographs sitting alongside a mechanical pipe organ and a tall mahogany cased Regina music box. It had large brass discs with hundreds of holes that produced the music of angels.
A jar sitting on a stand held about fifty gold coins. “This house was a stage stop”, Charley said as he held the jar up and shook it. “My father found those inside the old well, when he was excavating on day. We can only assume that someone felt the need to throw them down the well, to protect themselves from who knows what.”
This all amazed me. Magically, all of these things were not a display placed here for historic effect, but rather, they were the derelict possessions of the dead. When you are on a ranch and if an item is there, then it was hauled there at great expense. When you are done with it, you don’t just haul it away to the dump, as there is no dump within thirty miles. After 140 years, it had gotten to be very interesting.
One entire corner was filled with box after box of antique dolls, their fixed stares pointed in odd directions, as if they were eels poking out of a dimly lit ocean floor. There were wardrobe cabinets that I pulled open, filled with elegant ladies’ Victorian dresses – a red velvet gown, men’s shiny black beaver fur top hats, engraved gold-headed coins, black high top shoes, collarless shirts….swallow tail coats. I pulled one of the large men’s coats out and the sickly sweet aroma of sweat and mothballs made my stomach ache. It is a strange phenomenon, but a coat can be 200 years old and the sweat smell will remain from its very first owner.
I poked my head under an archway at one end of the hall, and Charley flicked on the light switch for me. “This was Grandfather’s ranch office, which he used when he was not in town.”
This room was majestic, and was as orderly as the day that Charles Sanders blew out the light and closed the door. There was a large ranch chair made of elk antlers in one corner and hanging from one of the tines was a holstered pearl-handled Colt pistol. His large oaken desk had paneled sections and a roll top. The ink blotter, pens and inkwells sat on green felt next to a small stack of books. On the wall over the desk was a lithograph of Teddy Roosevelt riding a charging horse into battle. A massive chandelier with greenish white Vaseline glass globes dominated the room. It illuminated into the opposite corner of the room, which was fitted with an immense Brunswick Monarch pool table bearing cast iron lion’s head legs. This was flanked on two sides by heavy leather easy chairs and a leather and oak fainting couch. For a moment I caught the smell of cigars.
High up on a wall, flanked by elegant lithograph portraits of Medieval knights and ladies, resided a seven-point bull elk head flanked with an enormous large Big Horn sheep ram, shot in the great peaks of the Canadian Rockies. The guns that shot these fabulous beasts were in a case at one corner – I could see the outline of a Model ‘86 Winchester and .30-.40 Craig.
The remainder of the room was lined with barrister’s oak bookcases with glass doors, covering thousands of beautiful calfskin and Moroccan leather bound volumes, their gilded titles gleaming in the dim light.
There was an alcove to one side with oak and leather captain’s chairs and a library table. These faced a three-sided area lined with several hundred file boxes, all filled with letters and correspondences. Above the cases were large photo portraits in gold frames of Grandfather Sanders, his foreign in-laws and his beautiful Scandinavian bride. They stared down at me, and it seemed as though they watched me with disdain. A large desk sat below the portraits of two beautiful young women, one dressed of the 1880’s in a high neck gown with a brooch at her neck. Her delicately hand-tinted blue eyes were piercing and her blond hair curled up on her head, like chiffon on a cake. She was stunningly beautiful, but her face was unhappy as it looked just over my shoulder, staring my way from any distance or angle. The portrait of the other was that of a legendary beauty – soft, bright and alert. She had a very whimsical smile and wore a soft, white garden hat. These women were timeless beauties. The pasteboard file boxes below were beautifully covered with flecked paper, designed to look like marble. The spine of the first one bore a paper tag and was written upon, “January, 1875” and the last was “February, 1923.
“Have you read all of these? I’ll bet there is some fabulous history in here,” I asked.
“None of them,” he said. “As a child, my father never allowed me in here. When I inherited everything, I honored his wishes and have stayed out of Grandfather’s papers.”
“Do you want me to appraise them? I’d have to disturb them.”
He looked at me with his piercing eyes and large eyebrows. “That is why you are here, Tim,” he said quietly. “I am going to donate these to the State Museum, but I need to finally know what this is all about.”
Without another thought, he was committed to break his promises, to disturb this record. I reached in and pulled out one or two of the files and gently flipped through the letters. Each was beautifully written with India ink and attached to its original envelope, which had been carried by steamboat, stage and Pony Express. The stamps were beautiful, but the cancellations were the much more valuable, hand-stamped all over Colorado Territory.
“Well… by now you have seen a good selection of what we have, what are your plans?”
“I want to begin here in the house,” I began. “This seems to be the heartbeat of the ranch, it’s the information center, and so I will begin here and then decide which other collections will be best to appraise. This room will help me get my bearings. I might appraise it by year, maybe by family. I don’t yet know, but somehow I’ll devise a system. I’ll let you know when I get there.”
“Good – Okay then, I’ll let you get started! I have cattle to feed and I’ll be back early this evening.”
To Be Continued ….Next Month