Letters from strangers what a surprise!

     I have got some supprising letters from people who were complete strangers.  I think I'll start with Hawk Boughton.  I first stumbled upon Hawk in a set of books I started collecting called Foxfire.  Foxfire came about by a young teacher accepting a position in Rabun Gap-Nacooche high school in Georgia.  This teacher taught English and Geography to ninth and tenth graders among other duties in a student body of 234 kids.  Meeting apathy and general distrust of a new teacher He decited to throw out the books of potery and take a new direction.  He preposed that the kids publish a magazine which they approved.  They had to finance the project their selves since the school had no money for the project.   they raised four-hundred dollars and were ready to start.  Next came the decision of what to publish.  This being in the heart of the Appalachians it was decited that working in groups of four to six they would interview the older people in the area and using written words, tape recorders and cameras record their life and ways of doing things before it all faded away.  They had enough money to publish six hundred copies and sold them all on the first printing.  Quickly printing six hundred more they all sold.  Eventually after amassing several years worth of material they aproached a printing house and at the time I stopped buying them had published eight volums.  These books do not read like they were written by Kids.  With these books I could build a wagon and it's wheels, or a whiskey still with the recipes.  Also covered are the old peoples stories and beliefs written in their own paticular style of speech and inflections , they are great books. 

     Ok, now back to Hawk Boughton.  I first incountered Hawk in book five of the Foxfire books.  The kids were interviewing flintlock gun makers.  Hawk showed up in the article, as a gunmaker and more importantly for me a fellow buckskiner.  Hawk's first name was never mentioned just Hawk because he was a master tommyhawk thrower.  I then bought the first of four volums of  "The Book of Buckskining"  A virtual hand book to the new particapen in the field of buckskning.  In the first book there was a article written by Hawk on how to throw a tommyhawk.  I didn't have a tommyhawk yet nor a target for that matter.  I memorized his instructions by route.  Then at my work place I gathered some scrap material and fasioned a hawk and had a excelent welder friend of mine to finish it for me I fashioned a handel out a peice of hard rock maple dunnage.  I made the blade to long and the handel too long but it looked good to me.  A black powder gun store in near by Buena Park sponsered a Chivorie for black powder enthusist.  I went with my wife and walked around and looked at all the people in their outfits and  the equiptment on display and watched every body do their things.  Some fellows showed up with some  eight inch thick peices of tree logs and set them up.  Then they started throwing their hawks.  I stood to the side and observed their skill.  I have never been able to insert my self into other peoples activites uninvited.  So I waited untill they finished their sport and moved on to other things and the area was pretty well deserted I went to my car and retrived my monsterious hawk.  Returning to the range I steped to the target and paced of five steps then marked the spot on the ground vith my toe took the extra step and turned cocked the hawk behind my right shoulder, steped forward ahd threw it at the target.  It flew through the air made one revolution and THUNK it stuck square in the middle of the target, much to my supprise.  I really didn't think I would even hit it.  The Hawk was so heavy it really buried its self in there real good and was stiff to remove.  As I was pulling it a young man walked up dressed in dockers  and shirt, and asked can you teach me how to do that.  I told him I could try, he had just bought a much smaller hawk  from a vendor there.  I walked him through the process like the pro I was not,  and he stuck it on the first throw also.  I wanted another chance to throw but it was not to be.  I wound up giving lesson to some other new comers for forty minutes.  Finally the big boys decided they wanted their target back.  They were throwing double turns and one and a half turns.  Something I did not learn untill later.  I had to go home and make my own target out of some logs I was going to split for fire wood.  I taught my son and daughter to throw hawks I made for them, My daughter's hawks were so small, because she was only nine at the time, they looked like toys, she still has the rusty little things today.  I later after a few years found a advertisement in one of my buckskinning magizines for Gourd seeds being sold by Hawk Boughton.  I didn't really need the seeds but took the opprtunity to order some from him, and told him about reading about him in the Foxfire books and about learning to throw through his article.  Also about my experence of my first throw and giving those lessons.  I recieved my seeds and a four page letter from him it was a really nice reply.  He told me about being a member of the American Mountain Man Socity, a eleite group of individuals           envolved in the sport.  Each with a special skill.  I was later to meet some of these guys at various functions.  but that is maybe another story later on.

     I always read my magizines front to back all the way through.  In one they started talking about a book called Born out of Season, written by a Marshal Ralph Hooker.  He had walked the Santa Fe trail by foot carrying a Daniel Boon rifle he owned.  I finally found the book at a local black powder gun store which I bought.  Turns out Mr. Hooker was born and raised in my home town in Missouri.  He not only told of this walk but of ridding the Chisome trail with his grandson.  He also gave a very interesting account of the history of Carthage naming places and people I had heard of as a kid.  Someone later wrote to the letter section of the magizine asking for  Mr. Hookers address which they published, something I had not thought to do.  I immediatly wrote Ralph who was in his eightys at the time praising his book and telling of my history in Carthage and naming some of my older relitaves he might have known.  I also told him of my daughter and my envolvment of buckskinning.  He sent me a very nice letter in return and a post card of him with some of his rifles standing in front of a old log cabin that he and some young fellows had disasembled in Arkansa and rebuilt in Web City Missouri.  I still have that letter and cards stored with the Hawk Boughton letter. 

      Another Boghton story occured a few years later.  My Daughter and I attended a large gun show at the Los Angeles fair grounds before the county board of supervisors banned the shows.  A fledging group of wild west shooters known as the Single Action Shooters Socity,  A shooting club of cowboy action shooters numbering over 10,000 world wide today, put on a wild west show with riding, roping and all kinds of stunts.  A fellow named Grey Otter did a tommyhawk throwing demonstration, using a young teenaged girl as a target.  After the show ue went down and introduced ourselves.   I told him the story about my first throw and my corrospondence with Mr. Boghton.  Grey Otter laughed and said yeah I know Hawk, I taught him how to throw years ago.  Grey Otter had lost his hair due to Scarlet Fever  and had a braid of it that he glued to his scalp Pawnee style.  These are just a few of the people I have met this way and I treasure each and every one of them.  Well once again the spellchecker say no misspeled words found, it must be as ingnorant as I am, so you are on your own to deciper what I have tried to say, yours ramblingbob

One Response to “Letters from strangers what a surprise!”

  1. shelly Says:

    i need two dressers now!

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