|Priscilla next to a $2.5 million Bugatti|
Thinking his long-term goal was coming into focus, Duke had purchase the Twin Rocks property a few years earlier from a pair of brothers, who, as a matter of principal, never sold anything. Old trucks and Caterpillar tractors rusted in the desert sun as the family bone-yard steadily grew. Spent oil cans and fuel barrels proliferated next to the dilapidated equipment, and worn tires accumulated by the gross. Having been raised during the Great Depression, they likely felt the need to safeguard every potentially useful item for future use. Caution was their watchword and thrift their rallying cry. They however, had developed a cash flow crisis and reluctantly determined to convey something to remedy the situation. Duke was ready with the necessary greenbacks, and after months of serious negotiations a deal was struck. Despite overwhelming odds, Duke determined to build the enterprise inspired by his early experiences. Disregarding all those around him who assured the resolute entrepreneur he would never succeed, he pressed on. As the fall of 1989 approached, he was ready to throw open the elaborately carved doors and welcome the throngs of people who would surely support this gem in Bluff City. About that time Priscilla appeared.
After she arrived, Priscilla and I began drawing up a plan for the trading project we had inherited. Calling it a “plan” may actually be giving us more credit than we deserve. In any case, preparing for the patrons who seldom came, we knew enough to unlock the doors in the morning, clean the glass, vacuum the carpet, polish the turquoise jewelry, straighten the Navajo rugs and lock up in the evening. My paternal grandfather, Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Simpson, liked to say, “I spent a year in Bluff one winter.” With the fog of almost 30 years clouding my memory, I recall the first six months at the trading post lasting about a decade. Priscilla and I wandered round the store like specters, searching for tasks, no matter how small, to keep us occupied. After a while we had a loom constructed and she began weaving in her spare time. Often I would sit by, watching the design evolve and imagining the finished product. Thread by thread Priscilla wove herself into the textile of the trading post, becoming involved in almost every aspect of its day-to-day operation. She quickly became the warp that holds us together, the weft that colors our days.
At this point we have all been together so long that, disregarding political correctness and polite social conventions, Barry and I refer to Priscilla as our, “Right Hand Man,” our “Sterling Silver Sibling.” We are a team, a well-oiled, smoothly functioning, piston driven southwest art selling engine. In truth, all too often we chuff, belch and misfire, but for the most part our mechanics function comfortably. With such a compelling history behind us, Barry and I thought nothing would ever come between us, and this relationship would continue until we all crossed the river together. He and I, however, have become increasingly concerned as Priscilla mentioned contracts, agents and distribution rights. Lately she has begun going to Twin Rocks Cafe every morning for hot tea and . . . toast. Barry, the monarch of metaphor, the king of hidden meaning, wondered aloud whether there were ominous implications inherent in this new habit. As a result, when Priscilla wasn’t looking, we scanned the tealeaves and inspected her wheat bread for incriminating signs. We found nothing. Finally, we confronted her directly, asking, “What's going on?” Channeling Yogi and the History Channel at the same time, she replied, “What? Nothing, we are a pretty good pair of three; like American Pickers. Wanna' get tattoos?"
With regards Steve Simpson and the team;
Barry, Priscilla and Danny.