At the climax of what valley people called “Park Extension,” one of the Rockefellers hired a local man to buy up ranches in the upper valley to save that region from settlement--saving a few choice places for himself, of course. The climax came when Rockefeller told President Franklin Roosevelt that he didn’t want to keep paying taxes on those lands. You take the land and add it to Teton Park. Roosevelt thought it over, acted under authority granted to presidents, from at least the time of Teddy Roosevelt to establish National Monuments. He accepted the deal, labeled the new federal lands Jackson Hole National Monument.

The climax came when Rockefeller
told President Franklin Roosevelt
that he didn’t want to keep paying taxes
on those lands.
You take the land and add it to Teton Park.

The valley was in an uproar. Under the guidance of the local banker, Buckenroth, and other conservative merchants in town, and in total agreement with cattle ranchers the opposition looked quite formidable. Olaus, my dad, and I met Buckenroth raging out of the Post Office. He stopped Olaus to tell him the awesome news. Olaus had a different view of the situation, but he listened, said a few words and we went on. A few days later Almer dropped in on his way home to tell about a meeting at Buck’s house to decide on action. The phone rang, Buck answered and everyone present listened to him rage. Finally, he hung up, came back to the living room,. stepping on the cat’s tail enroute. The cat yowled and carried on as if the end of the world had come. Almer slapped his knees and laughed, telling Olaus and me about the cat.
      Later, the ranchers took action, selected a few Herefords from Spring Gulch herds and other places and drove them onto National Monument land. Wallace Beery was among them, lead actor in a movie using the Tetons as background. The ranchers were happy to welcome him--- the more publicity the better. Park rangers leaned on their pickups and watched the drive. They and the ranchers all knew that grazing leases had been grandfathered into the deal Roosevelt made with Rockefeller. The drive was one hundred percent a publicity stunt. Riders on the drive were armed with pistols. On the way home they pulled them out and shot at ground squirrels and cans and bottles. I don’t know whether any targets were hit. Pistols are not the easiest firearm to hit things with. On my summer as a ranger-naturalist in Teton National Park I sometimes drove the family station wagon to work, sometimes I was driven there and then had to hitch a ride back. One evening Wallace Beery picked me up in his big, black car. At the bench road leading down to Moose and Snake river bottoms a herd of horses crossed the road. Beery’s car bumper clipped one of the horses on the hock. Beery mumbled, “They shouldn’t let horses run loose like this.” My understanding was, and is, that livestock--sheep, cattle, horses-- on open range have the right-of-way.
      I have only begun to reach into the deep well of “characters” in Jackson’s Hole. Today the scene is very different. Many workers have to commute to this over-dollar-charged locale. The saying is that the zillionires are driving out the millionaires. Everything--air, water, land, livelihoods are subject to wild market forces as the ancient Wyoming tradition persists that anything the federal government does is evil. We are, therefore, driven like sheep to slaughter, our precious solidarity as a people trampled, trumped, terrorized.

     ARCHIE TEATER. The Scene--Sage flats near Snake river, Archie at his easel painting the Tetons. Several people watching. I saw him touch a fine paintbrush to a pale pink paint on his palette and apply it oh so delicately to a snow patch near the top of the Grand Teton. I could sense the intense pleasure in that stroke. Archie painted that way, all of his senses at play. He didn’t want a likeness, he painted from his imaginative heart and mind.
    Once Olaus heard him say, “I’m getting more Renoirish all the time.”Some of his paintings used to hang in Jackson Drugs, high up near the ceiling. I doubt that many people noticed them. Archie drifted into Jackson’s Hole from Idaho. I never found out what he did there. One rumor was that he was a sheep herder.

     One of his paintings in Jackson Drugs was certainly Renoirish, a night scene in front of the Cowboy Bar, trees and lawn of the square across the street. People whooping it up. Not realistic, imaginative..The painting pulsed with fun.. Archie said, more than once, “Oh, we used to have fun back then.”

     FRED BROWN. Rumor: Fred was directly related to John Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame. Whatever the truth of that, it was a fact that he was Teton County’s one outspoken socialist...also a cowboy, mountaineer and ski jumper and downhill racer.
      At a campfire, after supper, on the Idaho side of the Tetons, National Forest territory. Olaus and I and Fred were building a small log cabin against a huge rock that formed one side of the cabin. Fred would use it next winter for his new career as a mountain guide. We had the walls up; Olaus and I trimmed and notched the logs while Fred felled the trees with an axe. No chainsaws. We would complete the cabin the next day.
      That evening, sitting around a low fire, Fred and Olaus in a mild argument. I listened. It was about socialism. My dad kept harping on how dishonest FDR was. Fred didn’t care about that, he talked of the virtues of cooperation replacing rampant competition, both at home and abroad. One of his complaints has stuck with me all these years. “When Dad died I had to buy a coffin. I noticed that dollar signs filled the mind of the mortuary owner, nothing else. Dollars.” That’s not an exact quote, but you get the picture.
      So, it’s all about dollars, just as Fred said. No, we can’t weasel out of it. Profits rule us. We are owned, let’s face it, Jackson’s Hole, a place full of characters, some of it put on, to please the dudes, but others just naturally and stubbornly real.

    FROM THEN TO NOW... I’m going to switch gears now, to 2009.     More troops and mercenaries in Afghanistan and in the recent elections a U.S. warplane accidentally dropped a ballot box stuffed with votes for the status quo. And drones: I keep hearing. “Drones? What are they ?” No, it’s not the fault of citizens; it’s the lack of full reporting, Ernie Pyle style in WWII, that keeps us sluggishly glued to the TV, pretending we are all a bunch of dummies.
      Yesterday at the Saturday anti-war protest, I had a conversation with a veteran who told me that he’d just heard the wife of an infantry soldier .in Afghanistan say that he had been assigned “Point” for the usual reason---the former point scout, the one who goes first in the attack, had been killed. His wife, back here in minimum security land, was in tears. She was sure her husband would be killed too. The veteran had no comforting words for her. I told him I knew what she feared and I had no comforting words either.And now we hear that reporters wanting to be “embedded” with troops have to undergo examination of their writings and life history, conducted by a private contractor--the very contractor that coordinated lies about WMDs that led up to the invasion of Iraq. For ”Journalists” who want to be embedded, the only way for them to get anywhere near the places where explosives and bullets reign, ought to be ashamed of themselves. Where are the Ernie Pyles when we need them. Ernie, by the way, after a distinguished, independent reporting job from the European fronts felt compelled to join the troops in an assault on a beach in the Pacific. A bullet found him.
      Reporters, with a few exceptions, do not report individual calamaties---the details, such as the appointment of that infantryman to be the next Point. All we hear from them, especially after screening by a private corporation, are rosy courage stories, and of course, the boiler plate issued from the mouths of officers who don’t dare tell the horrific “little” truths about combat, about death, about life-long wounds, about wedding parties attacked by drones, about attacks on funerals for civilians killed in yesterday’s drone attacks, about faulty intelligence.
      In a word: details. Without details, combat is an abstraction, drained of fear and revulsion.

The veteran had no comforting
words for her.
I told him I knew what she feared and I had no comforting words either



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