Bill Frank RobinsonBill Frank Robinson

Just an old desert rat living near the California Nevada border. They call me a hermit and I won't deny it. One time a Paiute man tracked me down to tell me some tourists saw me walking in the middle of the desert and wanted to know who I was and where I was going. He told 'em I was only Bill and I wasn't going anywhere. So simple and so true. We both had a laugh about that 'un. .


White Mountain and the high desert near Bishop California © 2013 David Coyote
White Mountain and the high desert near Bishop California © David Coyote

The Power of Laughter
© July 11, 2013
Bill Frank Robinson

spacerOld Mose Wheland lived in the Red Hill area all his life. In 1939 the US government offered him a house and one acre of land. All he had to do was move to town and give up his isolated existence. “Hell no”, he exploded, “that would be a sell out!” So while his neighbors moved to town Old Mose and his wife stayed behind where they raised their children. The family became known as that Red Hill Bunch — the last of the Paiute holdouts.

spacerBy 2008 all the kids had moved to town and only Old Mose and Mattie remained hidden in the hills. Their one holiday was to the Paiute Palace Casino for the Fourth of July fireworks and a barbeque dinner.

spacerJuly 4th, 2008 saw Old Mose driving his ancient pickup into the casino parking lot. Hot on his bumper was a highway patrol car with red lights flashing and siren screaming. A red-faced trooper leaped from his vehicle and raced up to Old Mose as he stepped down from the driver’s seat. “Didn’t you hear my siren? Are you deaf?”

spacerOld Mose, dumbfounded, stumbled back into the side of his truck and stood staring at the policeman. The crowd moved from the barbeque pits and surrounded the pair. One man asked, “What’s wrong officer?”

spacerThe officer, startled, looked all about and said, “He can’t carry a passenger in the bed of his truck. That’s against the law.”

spacerA chorus of angry murmurs rumbled through the air as the circle tightened. One voice stood out, “That’s Old Mose and Mattie. Mattie always rides in the back. You better leave them alone.”

spacerThe patrolman raced back to his car and shouted into his hand mike. Soon sirens were coming from all directions. A bevy of highway patrolmen and sheriff’s deputies faced the crowd with rifles and batons in their hands. The angry crowd surged forward.

spacerPee Ja, the bear-like dog from next door, was disturbed by the noise and strangers in the neighborhood. She charged into the middle of melee, slashing, barking, and growling. The lawmen were driven back, cursing, and swinging their weapons at the whirling dervish in their midst.

spacerLinda, a single mom, raced in pursuit. “Pee Ja, stop it! Come here to me right now!” She seized her dog’s collar and began dragging her home.

spacerA voice from the back of the crowd shouted, “Linda, your dog is as bad as your kids.” Laughter filled the parking lot. The tension was broken. Everybody but Linda was amused; she didn’t have any bad kids.

spacerThe police let Old Mose go with a warning, but in the interest of public relations they looked the other way as Mattie rode in the truck bed to the end of her days.


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