Category: Biography

Sam’s Rocks

Philosophy and politics make lively conversation. But if you take them too seriously, they can snap a few wires in your brain. Such seems to be the case with John Samuelson.

Samuelson was born in Sweden in 1873. He lived an adventurous life at sea, according to his stories of being shanghaied, shipwrecked, and captured by an African tribe. In 1927 he immigrated to the United States, drifted inland, and staked out a homestead in the Mojave Desert.

On one part of his 160 acres was a low hill piled with granite boulders. Samuelson kept busy fetching water from a nearby spring, and building a modest house out of the plentiful rocks on his land. But his mind was on fire with philosophy and politics. So in his spare time he ventured to the low hill with the granite boulders, with chisel in hand. And there he memorialized his views by carving them into the rocks.

“The Rock. Of Faiht (sic). And Truht (sic). Nature. is. God. The. Key. To. Life. is. Contact. Evolution. is. The Mother And Father of Mankind. Without Them. We. Be. Nothing. John. Samuelson. 1927.”

As lapidary as his views were, his command of the English language was limited. And so the epigraphs were mangled by spelling and grammatical errors. Nonetheless they’re decipherable enough to show that this Swede was a controversial thinker.

The epigraphs on Sam’s Rocks contain much that people might agree with or disagree with. But it doesn’t matter whether someone’s philosophies are agreeable or disagreeable. If they take them too seriously, they will go mad.

“Wake up you tax and bond slaves. A politician is a bird that gets in on the tax payors (sic) pocketbook for a fat rake of and his free keep’s. He lead’s you by the noose with one hand with the other he digs in your pocket. a freind (sic) of the banker and big business why.?.”

In 1928, John Samuelson officially filed on the homestead he had spent a year building and chiseling out. But his application was denied. An official discovered he had not obtained American citizenship, and the law forbade non-citizens from owning a homestead.

He left the Mojave Desert and all of his hard work, for Los Angeles. But he wasn’t forgotten. He had befriended the writer of Perry Mason fame, named Erle Stanley Gardner. And Gardner wrote about him in Argosy magazine, and in a book entitled, Neighborhood Frontiers. Gardner was fascinated with John Samuelson, because the old Swede was crazy and entertained him with fantastic yarns about his adventures at sea.

In 1929, at age 56, John Samuelson went to a dance and got into a fight. He shot two men, killing one of them. But he never stood trial, because he was quickly judged insane and sent to the bughouse. A year later he escaped, and the madman fled north to Washington State. He eventually landed a job in a logging camp. And in 1954, at age 81, he was killed in a logging accident. He must have been very physically fit, because not too many people work as loggers, at that age.

“The milk of human kindness aint got thick cream on it for all of us. Ask Hoover.”

Samuelson is no more, but his legacy lives on in a dusty old book written by Erle Stanley Gardner. And also in Sam’s Rocks. Sam’s Rocks lie in an obscure location in the Mojave Desert. But not as obscure as pre-internet days. A little googling can help anyone find them.

There is a fear that if too many people learn of this spot, and it becomes popular, taggers and vandals might destroy this unique monument to a cerebral madman of the West.

So if you are the hiking type and want to visit them in person, do what I did. Investigate diligently. Be persistent, and you’ll eventually find them. And if you give it that much effort, I feel hopeful you will respect your find, and enjoy it harmlessly.

“Religion is a code of moralls (sic) for us to live by no more, hell is here on this earth no other plase (sic). Moast (sic) of it we make our selfe (sic). As to haven (sic) find it in a lifetime. Nothing proven after death by preast (sic) or scientist?”

Who the Hell Am I?

We haven’t played Who the Hell Am I? since January. And everyone failed miserably, as I remember. However, Carolyn, at joyroses13, won the contest with a half-point. But she cheated. Which is pathetic.

But I want to give everyone another chance, so how about we play the fun and exciting game again, of Who the Hell Am I?!

In this game you get 10 clues to guess the name of a famous person. These clues are numbered countdown-style, 10 to 1, with the first clue numbered 10. Your score is determined by the highest numbered clue that evokes the correct answer.

At the end of the list you can click a link for the answer. However, this link is numbered zero, so if you haven’t figured out the answer by the time you click it, you get no points.

Who the Hell Am I?

10. I was born in Glendale, Arizona in 1925. My father was a drunk, and my mother was a Paiute Indian. She divorced my dad when I was 12. My maternal grandfather regaled me with many fascinating stories of the American West, while I was growing up. He was an inspiration because later, I would achieve great success writing and singing songs about the Old West.

9. My one and only wife’s name was Marizona, and we were married for 34 years, until the day I died.

8. I served in the Navy during World War II, and in the Solomon Islands I learned to play the guitar. There, I fell in love with Hawaiian music and later, in 1957, recorded an album entitled, Song of the Islands.

7. After World War II, I pursued a career in music, and in 1952 I recorded a #1 Country hit entitled I’ll Go On Alone. My career took off like a nitro-powered race car after that, and I was eventually named to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

6. I recorded 18 #1 hits during my career (two were #1 in Canada), 11 albums that went gold or platinum, and was named Artist of the Decade, for the 1960s, by the Academy of Country Music.

5. Even though I was a famous country singer, many of my hits crossed over to the pop charts, including one in 1957 about a heartbroken teenager in a white sport coat, who was stood up for the prom.

4. In 1961, I won a Grammy Award for an album entitled, More Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.

3. I loved fast cars, and competed in 35 NASCAR Grand National Series races, finishing in the top-10, six times. One of my race cars was a ‘34 Ford coupe named Devil Woman.

2. My last NASCAR race was in November, 1982. I died one month later, at age 57, after failed quadruple bypass heart surgery.

1. My signature song was a 1959 Grammy Award winner about a cowboy who loses his life over a Mexican girl, who works in a West Texas cantina. This song was featured in 2013, in the series finale of Breaking Bad. The episode was entitled Felina.

0. So, who the hell am I? For the correct answer, click this link.

And if you’re up to a little fun, here’s a youtube link to this artist’s signature song, as featured in the Breaking Bad finale.

W.C. Who?

Yesterday we played a game where we tried to guess the name of a famous actor. The answer was W.C. Fields. Apparently only one person got the answer, on the last clue. But she cheated a little, so she only got a half point, rather than a full point.

Congratulations Carolyn, at joyroses13! Your half point has won you this trophy: 🏆 and this blank check: 💶.

One contestant admitted he’d never heard of W.C. Fields before. Have I given away my age with this post? Has the Fields name actually disappeared from the memory of most people younger than me? Damn, now I know I’m old.

W.C. Fields was, in my opinion, one of the greatest comedians of all time. He’s right up there with Groucho Marx and Bob Hope. You’ve heard of them, haven’t you? No? Sigh.

Not only was Fields a great comedian, but in the early years of his show business career he was hailed as the world’s greatest juggler. And he was also one hell of a trick-shot pool player.

Well, his 140th birthday is coming up on January 29th. So to honor this great comic, and to try to keep his memory alive, I’m introducing him to those youngsters who’ve never heard of him. The following is a scene from the 1934 film, The Old Fashioned Way, showcasing Fields’ juggling talents.

Notice that near the end of this scene he appears to accidentally miss a cigar box. Whether or not it was intentional, he amazingly recovers in an instant by picking up a replacement from the floor. Don’t blink your eyes or you won’t catch it.


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