Over the years, the Zephyr has published innumerable articles on Edward Abbey. Below, we’ve assembled links to as many as we could find…
Quiet Times at Arches National Monument: Lloyd Pierson and Lyle Jameson remember Arches in the 1950s…by Jim Stiles
“For Lyle and Lloyd, it’s the road. “None of this was here of course,” pointed out Lloyd as we rolled through the Entrance Station. “The paved road, the visitor center, all of it except Bates’ house (former superintendent Bates Wilson who lived in the stone house now adjacent to the visitor center), was a part of Mission 66, the big nationwide construction project to improve the facilities at parks and monuments. Actually, the first section, where it switch-backs up the cliffs was begun by the C.C.C.s (Civilian Conservation Corps) in 1939 or 1940. Lloyd remembers that the first C.C.C. camp was set up on the site of the Atlas pond, “but they must not have been here long because they didn’t get very much done.” And for good reason. In December 1941, the United States entered the war and everything got put on hold for fifteen years.”
“My dear friend Edward Abbey died ten years ago on March 14, 1989. He was only 62 years of age, about three years older than I am. As I approach 70 years, I realize the preciousness of the extra time he was not allowed to enjoy as I have. His death, ten years ago, seemed an unbelievable nightmare to me. It’s been an emotional and intellectual struggle without him, and I deeply feel the loss we all have shouldered.
I wish I could rise above this. Your sudden leaving on this great journey caught me unprepared as I’ll not be able to see you for a while. You came into this country alone; you departed alone. But while here, you left us a lasting legacy. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me.”
“EDWARD ABBEY’S collection of essays was originally to be called “Desert Music.” Ed was always trying to help out young artists and writers and based on a single cartoon I’d given him the previous winter, he put in a good word for me with his publishers in New York…”
“I’m not much of a prophet. I suppose the conflict between conservation and development will grow more intense each year with the pressure of a growing population and economic demands. That’s all I can see in the future, more conflict, more arguments, more shouting.”
“The world keeps turning over, again and again, faster than any of us dreamed possible. As technology continues to shrink the world, its newer citizens embrace the collective over the solitary. Solitude feels like isolation for many of us in 2013 and it has no place in the Brave New West.”
“The wine came. I’ll take a guess and say it was a good merlot. But the staff at the Sundowner had seen fit to place the bottle in a bucket of ice cubes. Abbey was gracious enough not to embarrass the waitress but when she’d left, Ed grabbed the bottle by the neck and pulled it from the bucket.
‘For Christ’s sake,’ Abbey moaned. ‘Typical Moab. Doesn’t anyone in this town know that you DON’T chill a red?'”
“But has Abbey’s myth, almost a quarter century after his passing, become something distorted and disconnected from the real man and the life he lived? Have we selectively picked and chosen and subsequently disregarded his own words when they failed to reveal what we wanted him to be?”
“Fifty-four years later, while sipping a Polygamy porter on the porch of his house in Pack Creek Ranch, Sleight glares up against the La Sal Mountains and shakes his head. ‘The government desecrated the very thing they were set up to protect! It was unjust,’ he says.”
“Well, I didn’t really get into serious trouble until Abbey arrived in ’59 and then the shit hit the fan. I had met him before briefly at the university, but then in ’59 we got together with a vengeance. The developers were moving in and that was the origin of what they call the Monkey Wrench Gang.”
“So much for adulation. The purpose of this missive is to straighten out some of Ed’s fiction which is based on facts or at least to present these facts as actually happened and as we knew them. Future analysis of Ed’s writings need these facts so they many better understand his approach to writing.”
“It had previously been a rental and for several years, at $100/month, was winter quarters for legendary Seasonal Park Ranger DOUG TREADWAY. It was the site of many poker games that included ED ABBEY. (if any of you out there have pics of the Ranch House BEFORE restoration, The Z would love to see them…JS)”
“I believe that Jack Burns, a character in several of Edward Abbey’s novels, is in effect a time traveler from the pre-agricultural world. The hunter-gatherer societies that inhabited that world thrived for nearly 200,000 years and constituted the basic environment of human evolutionary adaptation.”
“After the tumultuous decade of the 1950s–the Charlie Steen Decade–Moab and Grand County slowed down a bit. In 1960, Grand County’s population had tripled in ten years, to more than 6000, and the more optimistic of that population thought the Big Boom might go on forever.”
ED ABBEY’S Birthday—-January 29, 1927. He would have been 85 years old today. (An essay by Stiles on Abbey from 1999)
“Edward Abbey changed my life. He saved me from becoming a Republican. Twenty-five years after a friend of my father’s handed me a worn out copy of Desert Solitaire and a decade after his death, Ed Abbey is, to me, an honest hero in a time and a world where we don’t allow heroes.”
“For years the official ‘visitor center’ at the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park was this tiny trailer at Hans Flat, about 40 miles down a dirt road from Utah State Highway 24. There were always rumors in the late 70s that this was, in fact, THE trailer that Ed Abbey inhabited at Arches NP in the 1950s.”
“It’s almost looking like Spring at Pack Creek Ranch. The lawns are greening up. The horses are looking like they’re feeling their oats after a long hard winter. Splashes of color—flowers! Dot the landscape. But where’s Sleight?”
“I was leaning down and so it blew my hip off or parts of it and my buddy was beheaded. I woke up three days later in a hospital ship and everything was white. I was unconscious for three days and it was white—I saw this white figure with beautiful long blonde hair and I said, ‘There is a heaven, goddammit.'”
“The Museum is not easy to miss. Located at the intersection of Mill Creek Drive and Spanish Valley Drive, known to locals as Chicken Corners–the Gateway to Spanish Valley as it were–T.K. Arnold has managed to squeeze 250 vintage Volkswagens onto a two acre lot that he bought almost 30 years ago. It is his pride and joy. Others would like to kill him and scour his collection from the face of the earth, but Arnold takes all the criticism in good stride. ‘They just don’t know how to have a good time…I’m having a good time.'”
letter to John Gardner, 4/5/82
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