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Mohave Indian Ronald Jones Murders John Lee Stokes Witch Doctor 1937. An Incomplete Story




An extraordinary story I wish I knew more about. Press photos here from 1937 show Ronald Jones, age 37, a Mohave Indian (or member of the Yuma tribe, both have roots in the area now known as Colorado) as he was awaiting his trial for murder. Typical saturday night fight on the Rez? Not quite. Mr. Jones defense claims the murdered person, John Lee Stokes, age 68, was a witch. That's right, a witch doctor. He had apparently bewitched others on the reservation near Parker, Arizona as well. I was able to locate a subsequent article in the LA Times which indicates Ronald Jones accepted a 12 year sentence. I can not find that he was released after completing his sentence. Oh...the handwritten note on the reverse of the photo indicates he "hacked" his fellow tribesman to death. Shamanism was a spiritual practice of many, if not all of the original Americans but I certainly don't know the Shamanistic characteristics of the tribe here. Nor do i have any idea how the Justice system of the United States prosecuted a member of First Peoples outside of their own system of justice. Doctoral students? Here is a big plate of story for you.

Pair of small press photos, original, dated 1937 Collection Jim Linderman

NOTE: an informed reader sent the following: It does not address this particular case, which is so interesting as the murder of a presumable tribal leader was involved(?) but he covers the general rules of reservation law. Thanks!

I refer you to a U. S. Department of Justice publication, Policing on American Indian Reservations. Having grown up in New Mexico, I was taught the basics of reservation justice during my junior high school days (New Mexico History) due to the many reservations in the state. I refer you to chapter 2, page 9 (pdf page 21) of the DoJ document above. Tribal justice systems only have jurisdiction over crimes committed on tribal lands. The offender must be an American Indian (although there are exemptions). Finally, the crime can't be a serious one like murder. For major crimes, e.g. felonies, the Federal system has jurisdiction, not tribal courts or police. The laws cited include the Major Crimes Act of 1885 and the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.

Indians in the U.S. are dual citizens, not sole citizens of a separate sovereign nation. Indeed, Chief Justice Marshall referred to Indian nations as semisovereign or "domestic dependent nations" in 1831. Members of U. S. Indian nations are U. S. citizens at their root. This is how they can, and are, appropriately, subject to the U. S. Federal justice system.

The OTHER Bob Dylan Christmas Album (!)


In the mid-1970's, around the time of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks album, tape traders and fans of bootleg records such as the Basement Tapes were frantic about a set of tracks rumored to be a Bob Dylan Christmas Album. It even had the title "Snow Over Interstate 80" and track listings. Not only that, it was rumored he also recorded "Silent Night" which was to be the single release. A good story, but alas, years later the truth came out (and so does his REAL Christmas album) New Musical Express, that Brit rag which thankfully brought us the fabulous Sex Pistols only to end up forcing the abysmal "New Romantics" fad on us a few years later are to blame. In 1975 they reportedly ran a false article, a hoax...and the full story is reprinted HERE on Searching for a Gem, the great fan-run Bob Dylan recordings site which covers his rare records. If you don't want to read the entire article, the "lyrics" to the title track follow:

"Arabella talks so sweetly
Her Chevy's broken down

As the snow piles on her windshield
Winston's back in town ... "


Doesn't sound so bad! And the new Christmas disc? Well...it's for charity. And since many songsters release a Christmas album the third or fourth year of their success, at least he waited this long. What's not to like? Except that it fails to include "Silent Night" so I'm still waiting. The REAL disc (and all the Dylan you could want) is at his official website HERE. However, Searching for a Gem probably knows more about his music than the label does. That's what fans are for, after all.

Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb

At the Circus in Black and White


"Pop's Midget Friends" on reverse Snapshot c. 1940 Collection Jim Linderman

See Also THE WONDROUS WORLD OF FRANK WENDT

"Real-Pen" Bible Calligraphy Salesman Sample



A "Specimen Page" from the Pen-Art book Bible Pearls of Promise published in 1887. I have also included the corresponding page from the actual book. Look close and you will see slight differences, most evident on the head of the top dove. I do not know if the sample page was enhanced with pen, or if the effect is achieved by the "new pen-ink" process being touted.

Salesman Sample Specimen Page from Bible Pearls of Wisdom Real-Pen Work Publishing Co. 1887 Collection Jim Linderman

See Also OLD TIME RELIGION blog

Peruna and the 50 Million Dollar Art Endowment


Peruna was a prohibition tonic. Otherwise known as booze. It was 28% alcohol, that's a pretty stiff drink. At one time the elixir was banned on Native American reservations by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for that very reason. It was claimed to cure nearly everything you can find on WebMD, but all it did was make you feel warm inside and slur your words. For a dollar a bottle. Peruna was at one time the largest selling proprietary "medicine" in the United States, due largely to the innovative advertising techniques of Frederick Schumacher. I presume the "Cotton Queen" show above was one of his projects. Peruna was spending one million dollars on advertising and that's more than enough to hire as many minstrels, cowboys and tuba players you need. I believe the minstrels here are one "Hink" and "Dink" as a duo with those names toured midwestern states claiming to be WLN radio stars in the late 1930's. Like another recent post of mine, early radio plays heavily in this story...why, for god's sake, the performers dressed in blackface for a RADIO show is beyond me, but then I guess they all slicked up for the camera here.

Peruna faded away... maybe because the "kick" was reduced to 18% alcohol in response to pressure from the AMA and others. Today, it lives on only in the form of the the kicking horse mascot of Southern Methodist University, and yes, that's where they got the name. As for Schumacher? HIs swill tasted bad but he had good taste. He left a 50 MILLION DOLLAR estate to the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, now the Columbus Museum of Art. That's an awful big gift from a bootlegger, but I'm sure they would prefer the term "philanthropist" in Ohio. And they do have Renior, Matisse, Monet and Weegee!

Peruna Promotional Photograph 1935 Collection Jim Linderman

Eugene Bilbrew A Return Visit to the Studio on West 42nd Street








Of all the posts on this blog, the ones generating the most hits are the series I did on vintage sleaze illustrators of the 1960's, in particular the profile and pictures of work by Eugene Bilbrew. So much for my attempts to uplift the masses. I aim to please, ALL ARE NOW COLLECTED ON THE SITE VINTAGE SLEAZE

Bilbrew, an African-American School of Visual Arts student (!) fell into bad company and even worse habits. As he slipped into heroin addiction, his work became even more bizarre. He moved to the rear of a porno bookshop on the deuce. The mob-run publisher he worked for was busted out of business, so he sold his drawings to no less sleazy publishers such as Wizard, Satan and Chevron. Most of these are from Satan. A pall-bearer hits on the widow. An unlikely prison visitor tempts caged psychopaths. A rogue cop harasses an amorous couple out on the beach too late. A shop-class goggles wearing professor aims his student's motorcycle "headlights" into the wind. And of course, the extra-flamboyant dancer against a lime green wall "trips" and falls into the lap of his modern art loving suitor. Never mind that the text had absolutely nothing to do with the cover illustration, this is kitsch of the highest order. These all date to the late 1960's. Several have "saw-cut" slashes, which means they were returned to the distributor unsold. I can not imagine why.

To his credit, I suppose...Bilbrew was one of the few artists doing multi-racial covers at the time. (and the hair-impaired, for that matter) I don't think it helped sales.

Group of 1960's paperback cover illustrations by Eugene Bilbrew. Formerly collection Jim Linderman

Silhouette Parade (and a Shout Out to John)








Circus Parade by Flanagan, c. 1920 Collection Jim Linderman

The Art of Old Time Religion








To say the least, the use of Christian religious iconography in a sincere manner has not been the stuff of contemporary artists or art collectors. On the contrary, and in the last few decades in particular, artists have taken delight in lampooning the depiction of all things bible. You can probably name a few of them without thinking, as opportunistic politicians frequently use their work to raise funds. Whether their motivations were born of genuine artistic skill and talent, or merely a way to appear clever and attract attention is up to the viewer and critic. For my collection plate donation, the most appealing and interesting "contemporary religious art" came from studio Warhol. Sincere or not, his last supper paintings which I saw beautifully installed in NYC were striking, modern and beautiful. All the more "controversial" pieces from the era appeared lame, obvious and contrived by comparison. They do even more so today.

As I discuss in the introduction to Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Photography and Music 1890-1950 (Dust-to-Digital) there is a notion that sincere religious artists, regardless of medium, often work harder when they are depicting renditions of their faith. The gospel singer strains to reach a higher note, the mural painter uses precision when attempting to achieve God's perfection and the glazier never leaves loose leaded panes in a piece behind the pulpit. Whether these practitioners of religious craft use iconography to preach or to make a living is moot... it could be both.

The most prolific "religious" artist of this century is certainly Howard Finster, the late folk artist from Georgia, who created nearly 50,000 individually numbered works before having the brush (and Sharpie) pried from his cold fingers. It has been a common understanding that despite his seemingly sincere attempts to convert heathens though his work, a collector of his eccentric paintings who has actually been saved has not yet come forth to testify. Rather, his work has been appreciated for the most part by smug non-believers who found his work quaint rather than convincing.


I started collecting religious ephemera as an outgrowth of folk art and vernacular photography. My own beliefs don't exist beyond a rudimentary trust in the scientific method, but I do believe OTHERS believe, and that makes the material fascinating. Elaborate obsessive doodles of outsider art, shaking and sweating evangelists and tax-dodging street corner churches have always seemed a sort of performance art to me. Who determines what is saved, sacred or sane? It's all fine with me even if not fine art...and when it isn't any good, it is at the least still interesting because it was a good try. I may lean solidly towards the smug side of art appreciation, but there is always a story with each work I find. Faith or fraud, the fevered brow produces some pretty interesting product.


Running the gamut from silly to sacred, eccentric to evangelical (I could go on) there is a wealth of spiritual flotsam sitting in the shoe boxes of history, and I will present it one day at a time on old time religion. Objective reporting seems to be a disappearing along with newspapers, but I aim to be journalistic. If a preacher sullied the farmer's daughter and left town with a sack of money, so be it. Just like Jesus said, no one is perfect, and it seems particularly true in this milieu. One thing we CAN give thanks for is federal prosecution of mail fraud. Whether the material presented is pathetic or profound, it exists in great big abundance. One doesn't look far for a message of faith in this country. From rear bumper fish to door-knocking Jehovah's, we are looking at one big industry here...and big industry makes lots of things that take up space. I certainly do not need to prosthelytize. All manner of bible salesman, radio preachers and lobbyists have beat me to it. But I can dig up some cool things and probably dig up a few things folks would rather have buried too. Let's see!


Follow OLD TIME RELIGION Here

Photos from Paste Magazine Review of Take Me to the Water


Untitled (Baptism) Collection International Center of Photography, gift of Janna Rosenkranz and Jim Linderman 2007
HERE

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together





The unfamiliar jargon and sheer multitude of options is overwhelming. Ombre, cordet, guimpe, organdy? Velvanna, nubby, sport fingering, wool-o-nyl? I can't tell where a trademark meets a technique.

Peter Pan Yarn Sample Card c.1955 Collection Jim Linderman

At the Circus in Black and White


In the tradition of F. W. Glasier, Dull Tool Dim Bulb incorporates a new mini-series, "At the Circus in Black and White" I will post an amateur vernacular photograph of the sideshow weekly.

Untitled snapshot "Woman, Monkey, Man, Dog" anonymous c. 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

J. Charles Jessup, Convicted Preacher with a Triple-neck Mosrite guitar







Charles Jessup was married to a 15 year old girl while still married to his third wife. Rev. Jessup was a border radio fixture for years, sharing time on a mega-powerful station operating just across the Rio Grande (and outside of U. S. regulations) at the same time as Wolfman Jack. Robert Duvall cited him as an influence on his film The Apostle, and others have compared him to Elvis, but then Elvis was never convicted of mail fraud and using ill-gotten contributions from loyal listeners for cock-fighting.
Jessup barnstormed God's airways with mountain music, a squeaky voice and an insatiable sexual appetite. Taking in ten million dollars, he claimed was to help the Mexican people, he instead "llenarse los bolsillos" which is Spanish for "line your own pockets." And there are folks who worry about Mexicans coming here? Cars, Seaplanes, real estate...whatever supposed pleasures awaited his followers in the afterlife, he was taking full advantage of in the present.
Not to be outdone by his own brother's double-neck guitar, shown in a photo here...he ordered a custom made THREE neck guitar from the Mosrite Factory which surfaced a few years ago. I am not sure what he used to play it with, but perhaps his young wife can tell us. Amazingly, he continued to appear on other evangelist's programs after serving his sentence (at least one of which still operates in my home state) and they welcomed him as an inspiration! I include here several photos of Jessup and his posse with a scan of their 78 rpm record (which unfortunately I have not heard as God has not yet provided me with a working turntable, but he will, I believe)



JIM LINDERMAN'S LATEST BOOK IS THE BIRTH OF ROCK AND ROLL AVAILABLE NOW FROM THE PUBLISHER DUST TO DIGITAL AND AMAZON.  ALL KILLER, NO FILLER!  A MUSIC BOOK LIKE NO OTHER.
A double blog post here and on "old time religion"

Photo excerpts from "Heaven and Hell" "My Life's Story" "A Stirring Message on Death" all circa 1945-1950 by J. Charles Jessup, and "Preach the Word/I'll Meet you in the Morning" by Jessup Brothers on Jessup Brothers records, 78 rpm. All Collection Jim Linderman

Things to Build





Images from The Family Fallout Shelter June 1959 Collection Jim Linderman

Look Up



Chalk Drawing by William A. Bixler 1933
See also old time religion

Time to Bring in the Big Guns (Meet the Press)


Original Glossy Press Photograph 1953 Collection Jim Linderman

Bazooka Joe and the Tijuana Bible Eight Pagers (You're kidding, right?) NOPE







Wesley Morse created Bazooka Joe. Joe and his gang started about the same year I started, and every one of the bonus fortunes came true! But, as so often happens here at Dull Tool Dim Bulb, Morse had a hidden agenda. Morse also drew those "8-pagers" or Tijuana Bibles which showed prominent figures of the day hitting on gangster molls, waitresses and starlets! I guess Mr. Morse liked to work small and let Dad have a little fun too! Some half-dozen have been identified, Morse holds the distinction of being one of only two artists working in the tiny dirty genre to have been identified.

In the 1990's after Morse passed away, Joe got "wigger" pants.


Group of Bazooka Joe comics Collection the Neighbor Kid

NOTE: KIRK TAYLOR sent the following link to his GREAT site on the artist.
http://www.taylormorsecollection.com/