Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mr. Bendo I Presume?

Business once again took me to Chicagoland and wedged into the business aspects, I had a goal of seeking out more Muffler Men. When I arrived at the airport on Thursday morning I didn't think things boded well because of the foggy weather but the plane actually left...and arrived on time!

I had a list of 3 Muffler Men that I was going to try to find but ended up only having time to get to one. This one is referred to as "Mr. Bendo" because of the bent piece of metal in his hands. It's actually a muffler pipe and Mr. Bendo lives atop an auto repair shop so this particular Muffler Man is not only an original but has not been re-purposed. A true original! Mr. Bendo is located not too far out of downtown Chicago on west Grand Ave. If you're ever in the area stop by and say "hi" to Mr. Bendo.

The work part of my trip was short but successful and I flew back to Colorado on Friday afternoon. Friday evening the circle of friends attended a concert to hear Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, John Haitt and Joe Ely. It was a different type of concert in that there was no back up band, and the entertainers all played acoustic guitars. They sat side by side and took turns each singing a song they wrote. It was an enjoyable evening.

The evening also provided "Too Tall" Jeff with an add-on to his nickname. For some reason "Too Tall" wore two watches on his left hand...he said he couldn't decide which to wear so he wore both. Instantly he was renamed "Two Timing, Too Tall" Jeff. I suspect the whole thing was an inside joke between he and Karen, but the moniker perpetuity!

Sunday morning I was up early and on the trail of western history. Maybe not your average mainstream history but history none the less.....Keep reading this blog and you will learn interesting things.....not necessarily things you can use elsewhere, but interesting.

My first bit of western history was to visit the grave of John L. Dyer in Castle Rock, Colorado. John Dyer was an early Colorado pioneer. He is also called "Father" John Dyer and "The Snowshoe Itinerant". He was a preacher and to support himself in the mid 1860's he delivered mail between gold camps high in the Colorado Rockies. At the time Norwegian skis were called "snowshoes", and he used these to deliver the mail in winter over 14,000' mountains. I guess you could say he was one of the first professional skiers in Colorado. His likeness is portrayed in a stained glass window in the Colorado State Capitol and he was inducted into to Colorado Ski Hall of Fame.

His son, Elias is buried in the same cemetery. Elias was a judge in the Leadville, CO area and became embroiled in a feud that started over water rights and escalated out of control. Judge Dyer was shot to death in his own courtroom. He knew he was in danger and the day before he was shot he managed to slip a letter out to his father, John, which in part read:

"Dear Father, I don't know that the sun will ever rise and set for me again, but I trust in God and His mercy. At eight o'clock I sit in court. The mob have me under guard. There is no cowardice in me Father."...."I die, if die I must, for law, order and principle; and too I stand alone."

The killers were never brought to justice and John Dyer brought his son's body back to Castle Rock and buried him in the family plot.

My final bit of western history for the week is, I admit, on the weird side but you should expect that from me by now. Before returning home, I drove to the Littleton, CO cemetery to visit the grave of Alfred Packer the famous cannibal of the west. Alfred and a group of five other would be gold miners tried to navigate the mountains in the dead of winter in 1874. Alfred was the only one to make it out of the mountains alive and folks thought he looked a little too "well fed" for the ordeal he described. Read about this famous western history episode here.

Alfred's grave is covered with a slab of concrete to prevent curiosity seekers from getting out of hand. I'm not sure what's going on here but if you look at the picture of his headstone you will see that people have put pennies on the top of it?? There was also a guitar pick next to the headstone? My stock of weird knowledge cannot explain this. If any of you have a clue about this....leave a comment.

This might come under the heading of "poor taste" but one of the restaurants at the University of Colorado in Boulder is named the Alferd Packer Grill...check out the menu!

No travel coming up this week so I'm afraid I won't be able to do any more Muffler Man hunts, but fear not, I'm always on alert for weird in any form and who knows, maybe some more homegrown weird will be featured next?

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Ahh, the Alferd Packer Grill! I was once a frequent patron as the radio station I worked for was located right below it. I can tell you that the food is about as appetizing as the story of Alferd Packer. As for the pennies on the graves, that has nothing to do with him specifically. Some people leave pennies on graves b/c of an old tradition (Roman, I think) that you have to have coins as part of an acceptance into the afterlife. In AP's case, I'm sure he needs all the help he can get! I've also heard some people do it as a tribute to the dead that their grave has been visited. I've even heard that some people think coins on graves is a sign from the deceased that they are ok. So there you go, take your pick on what explanation you like best.


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