Friday, July 29, 2016

A Pretty Good Pair of Three

As Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Lately Barry and I have been observing what is happening around Twin Rocks Trading Post and have grown suspicious. Not only has Donald Trump coopted our national consciousness, Priscilla, our old friend, trusted advisor and best buddy appears to be stealing our thunder. After a recent Tied to the Post article wherein she was quoted, one longtime reader emailed to say, “Without Priscilla you clowns are toast!” Shortly thereafter, I observed a woman take Priscilla to one side and not so quietly inquire, “Why don’t you write the blog? Surely you can do better than those two jokers!” When I showed her the email, Priscilla just chuckled. When I asked about the in-store conspiracy, she nervously blushed. As anyone who has been through the Kokopelli doors will testify, Priscilla is indispensable to our dis-organization. Barry and I understand we would be sunk without her. We trust her totally, and she has our full faith and confidence. That irrefutable fact notwithstanding, after recent events, Barry and I believe trouble may be afoot. Our worst fears were recently confirmed when a customer arrived and immediately exclaimed, “Priscilla!” The visitor then hugged Priscilla first, like Barry and I are Spam sandwiches and Priscilla is roast mutton and taters.

Priscilla next to a $2.5 million Bugatti
It was September 20, 1989 when Priscilla, a 33 year old waif, showed up looking for work. At the time Twin Rocks Trading Post was nothing more than a dream, a cement pad and a few bundles of boards tacked together. Duke had purchased the land several years earlier with the idea of resurrecting a scheme he conceived in his youth. As a young man he had watched the Ute and Paiute ladies from White Mesa and Allen Canyon making sumac baskets while reclining at the foot of Sunbonnet Rock. This unusual rock formation is located just east of the towering pillars from which the trading post takes its name. As Duke relates the story, this basketry was ceremonial in purpose and only the wives of medicine men were permitted to make it. The designs generally featured anthropomorphic figures dressed in brightly colored outfits and sporting long hair tied in braids. Years later, when he asked those elderly woman to recreate the weavings he remembered from his adolescence, Duke was advised their husbands had died and the ladies were, therefore, no longer authorized to weave. Subsequently, however, the basket makers, believing that particular aspect of their culture was dying, determined to recreate baskets with similar patterns.

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.

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