Page 331. " where thunderheads were standing sheared off from the thin dark horizon "
Thunderheads above the Grand Canyon
Creative Commons AttributionThunderheads above the Grand Canyon - Credit: Talbot Troy

Thunderheads are cumulonimbus clouds, spectacular cloud formations that can be seen just before or during a thunderstorm.

They usually form at quite low heights, growing vertically instead of horizontally with the base of the cloud extending for several miles across.

Page 333. " This country's at war "
The sunken battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941
Public DomainThe sunken battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941 - Credit: U.S. Navy

On December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, America officially entered World War II after President Franklin Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and called for a declaration of war against Japan.


Page 333. " HE CROSSED THE BORDER at Columbus New Mexico "

Columbus, New Mexico
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeColumbus, New Mexico - Credit: Rodan44
Columbus is a village in Luna County, New Mexico. Named after the 15th century explorer Christopher Columbus, the village has a population of about 1,700.

Page 334. " He rode into Deming at midnight and rode the main street from one end to the other "

Deming, New Mexico sometime in the 1930s
Public DomainDeming, New Mexico sometime in the 1930s - Credit: Rogers family

Founded in 1881, Deming is the county seat of Luna County, New Mexico.

Deming was an important point of entry on the U.S.-Mexican border until the borderline extended further south following the Gadsen Purchase of 1853.

Page 334. " he crossed in the evening through the low foothills of the Florida Mountains "

Florida Mountains, New Mexico
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeFlorida Mountains, New Mexico - Credit: Aileen's Pics
The Florida Mountains are a small mountain range which extend north-south through eastem Luna County, southeast of Deming, New Mexico.

Page 344. " That’s John Slaughter in that picture at the end yonder "
John Horton Slaughter
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumJohn Horton Slaughter - Credit: Nancy J. (Manuel) Lara
John Horton Slaughter (or Texas John Slaughter) was a Civil War veteran, Texas Ranger, scout, cattleman, and member of an Arizona group who built a ranching empire in West Texas, westem New Mexico, eastem Arizona, and northem Mexico. He served as sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, which includes Tombstone, from 1887-1894.
John Horton Slaughter (Oct. 3, 1841 - Feb. 16, 1922)
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumJohn Horton Slaughter (Oct. 3, 1841 - Feb. 16, 1922) - Credit: Nancy J. (Manuel) Lara

Standing barely 5 ft 6 inches tall and a notorious gambler, Slaughter made an unlikely officer of the law. Nevertheless, he would go on to become one of the legendary lawmen of the Old West.

Slaughter was later immortalised in the Wonderful World of Disney TV series Texas John Slaughter in the 1950s.


Page 344. " That’s Apache May. They brought her back from a Indian camp they raided, bunch of Apaches been stealin cattle "

Apache May was the adopted daughter of John Slaughter and his wife Viola. She was discovered by Slaughter, allegedly abandoned, during a raid on an Apache camp in Mexico in May 1896.

It was claimed that when Slaughter found the girl she was wearing a skirt made from an election poster stolen from the house of a victim of an Apache raid. Whatever the truth of this, the Slaughters continued to fashion dresses out of posters of various kinds for the young girl to wear. Tragically, she would die in 1898 when one of these dresses caught fire as she was playing near an open flame.

Page 345. " The ashtray was from the Chicago World's Fair and it was cast from potmetal and it said 1833-1933. It said A Century of Progress "
Poster for Chicago World's Fair 1933   
Public DomainPoster for Chicago World's Fair 1933 - Credit: United States Library of Congress

A Century of Progress International Exposition was the name of the World's Fair held in Chicago from 1933 to 1934 in celebration of the city's centennial.

The theme of the fair was technological innovation.



Page 345. " There was a panelled oak pumporgan against the wall "
Western Cottage pump organ
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWestern Cottage pump organ - Credit: Joe Mabel

A pumporgan (also called a parlor, reed, cabinet, or cottage organ) is a smaller, more portable form of pipe organ. They were widely used in smaller churches and in private homes in the 19th century.

Page 345. " Villa’s raid on Columbus New Mexico in nineteen sixteen "
Aftermath of Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico in 1916
Public DomainAftermath of Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico in 1916 - Credit: W.H. Morne Co

On 9 March 1916, Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa ordered around 500 of his revolutionaries to make a cross-border attack against Columbus, New Mexico. The raid was conducted largely because of the U.S. government's official recognition of the Carranza regime. They attacked a detachment of the 13th Cavalry Regiment, seizing 100 horses and mules, and setting part of the town on fire. 18 Americans and about 80 Villistas were killed.

The attack resulted in the U.S. sending 12,000 soldiers into Mexico to apprehend Villa and almost sparked off a full-blown war between the nations after Carranza objected to the presence of American soldiers on Mexican land.

Page 345. " the drought and die-up of eighty-six "
Dust storm caused by drought conditions (Midland, Texas)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDust storm caused by drought conditions (Midland, Texas) - Credit: Marion Doss

Drought conditions plagued farmers and ranchers of Texas, along with the rest of the Great Plains and West, from 1884-86. The crisis, exacerbated by a winter blizzard, reached a peak in 1886.

Page 345. " trailing north the corriente cattle "
Corriente cow
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCorriente cow - Credit: Ellen Levy Finch

The corriente breed is descended from cattle brought to the Americas by the Spanish in the late 15th century. Some breeders raise them for their meat, although they are primarily used today as sport cattle for rodeo events such as team roping and steer wrestling.

They are well adapted to the arid regions of the Southwest since they require less water and thrive upon sparse open range.

Page 346. " He went to work for the Hashknives except that it wasnt the Hashknives any more "
Aztec Land & Cattle Company cow punchers, Holbrook, Arizona (c. 1877-89)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAztec Land & Cattle Company cow punchers, Holbrook, Arizona (c. 1877-89) - Credit: Marion Doss

The third largest cattle company in North America, the Aztec Land and Cattle Company was better known as the Hashknife Outfit, because their brand resembled the old hash knives used by cattle camp cooks (see bookmark p.347).

The cowboys that worked on the ranch gained a reputation for lawlessness, with rustling, train robberies and gunfights prevalent in the Arizona area. In 1886 alone, there were twenty-six shooting deaths on the streets of Holbrook, home to only about 250 people at the time. The Hashknife cowboys were later immortalised in the novels of Zane Grey.

After a severe winter blizzard hit northern Arizona at the turn of the 20th century, killing thousands of Hashknife cattle, followed by a dramatic drop in cattle prices, the company began to liquidate its holdings. The ranch was sold to the Babbitt brothers of Flagstaff in 1901.

You can find out more about the Hashknife cowboys here.

Page 346. " They sent him out to a linecamp "
Line camp bunkhouse in Texas
Public DomainLine camp bunkhouse in Texas - Credit: National Park Service

Line camps were isolated outposts positioned along the boundaries of vast ranches.

Before the open range system came to an end with the introduction of barb wire fencing towards the close of the 19th century, cowboys were stationed in these camps to ‘ride the line’. This meant turning back cattle that were straying from the ranch property, tending to the cattle, and watching out for rustlers. After fencing was introduced, line camps became less common but were still used on larger ranch properties.

Page 346. " the Little Colorado "
Little Colorado River, Arizona
Creative Commons AttributionLittle Colorado River, Arizona - Credit: combusean

The Little Colorado River runs through the Painted Desert region of Arizona.

Page 347. " They never sold him the brand though, did they? "
Hashknife brand
Creative Commons AttributionHashknife brand - Credit: Alan Levine

The Hashknife brand originated in Weatherford, Texas, in the 1870s. The design was inspired and named after the knives used by cattle camp cooks to cut beef and vegetables into cubes to make hash. 

A major advantage of using this design for a brand was that it was difficult for rustlers to superimpose another brand on top of it.

Page 348. " The barman fished a pack of Lucky Strikes from his shirtpocket and palmed them onto the bar and slid them down to the soldier "
Lucky Strike advertisement (Life Magazine, January 14 1946)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLucky Strike advertisement (Life Magazine, January 14 1946) - Credit: Fugue

The top selling cigarette brand in the 1930s, Lucky Strike changed their signature dark green packaging to white in 1942. In an advertising campaign which used the slogan 'Lucky Strike Green has gone to war', the company claimed the change was made because the copper used in the green colour was needed for World War II (in actual fact, the more neutral white was introduced to attract female smokers). 

In any case, Lucky Strike would continue to employ militaristic imagery in their advertising through the 1940s, as can be seen in the embedded video.

Perhaps no coincidence, then, that Lucky Strike is the brand of choice for the patriotic barman who scorns Billy for his failure to enlist.



Back cover of the November 1932 issue of Popular Science
Creative Commons AttributionBack cover of the November 1932 issue of Popular Science - Credit: Marxchivist
Lucky Strike cigarette ad from Popular Mechanix Magazine in 1938
Creative Commons AttributionLucky Strike cigarette ad from Popular Mechanix Magazine in 1938 - Credit: Nevada Tumbleweed


Page 349. " I'll bet it'd mean somethin if it had that risin sun on the collar and they was comin down Second Street about ten abreast "
War Flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1870-1945)
Creative Commons AttributionWar Flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1870-1945) - Credit: Vibracobra23

A reference to the insignia of the Imperial Japanese Army, as well as to Japan as the 'Land of the Rising Sun'.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese sentiment ran high in America, aided in no small part by government propaganda. In terms of crude racial stereotyping much of this propaganda was not so far removed from the anti-Semitic images emanating from Nazi Germany.

The embedded video contains a clip from a 1943 Batman feature entitled Slaves of the Rising Sun, demonstrating how deeply anti-Japanese sentiment had infiltrated American popular culture throughout the war years.


World War II US Army poster
Public DomainWorld War II US Army poster - Credit: US Federal Government
US propaganda poster, encouraging Americans to avoid waste as part of the war effort. The caricature may be based on Hideki Tōjō
Public DomainUS propaganda poster, encouraging Americans to avoid waste as part of the war effort - Credit: US Federal Government

Page 349. " He drifted into the north Texas panhandle "

Map of Texas Panhandle
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMap of Texas Panhandle - Credit: H20
The Texas Panhandle is a region of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east. The Handbook of Texas defines the southern border of Swisher County to be the southern boundary of the Texas Panhandle region, though some consider the region to extend as far south as Lubbock County.


Page 350. " By the spring of the third year of the war there was hardly a ranch house in all of that country that did not have a gold star in the window "
Service flag in the window of a home
Public DomainService flag in the window of a home - Credit: Marjory Collins (Library of Congress)

First created in 1917, the blue star service flag displayed in the windows of homes where a family member was serving in the armed forces. The blue star became gold if a service member was killed or died on active duty.

First used in World War I, they became especially popular during World War II. Their popularity waned during the contentious Vietnam War, but they have since come back into use.


Although the U.S. had the lowest casualty rates of the major powers in World War II, New Mexico proportionately suffered the loss of more servicemen than any other state in the nation.

Page 350. " a small ranch out of Magdalena New Mexico "

Magdalena, New Mexico
Creative Commons AttributionMagdalena, New Mexico - Credit: jclarson
Magdalena is a village in Socorro County, New Mexico. The population was 938 at the 2010 census.