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When The Doper Roper Cleaned Up Mohave County

February 7, 2014

Dealing with a tricky subject in the book. There's an ugly side to every little town.


Race Back In The Day
   Kingman wasn't perfect. Like most of America in the 1950s and 1960s, there were virulent pockets of racism (some would argue there still is). I talk about my own family's prejudices and how it affected a black family, the father was stationed at the Air Force radar base. But I didn't want to just throw my mother under the bus for her views on the matter, so I thought I'd better cast a wider net. That led to this True West Moment which will run in the book as well:


Several who have read this have flinched and said it's not funny, but it's the truth! Or, at least, more true than most would admit. But, my friends and family in Mohave County didn't restrict their ire to ethnicity, which is exactly why I created this dude:

The Doper Roper Cleans Up Mohave County
   Mohave County cowboys had a tough time accepting non-conventional types with long hair and—heaven forbid!—bellbottom pants! I know this because, as a member of a rock band, I found myself in the crosshairs more than once. I wasn't alone. I created the character The Doper Roper in 1972 as a reaction to the bellicose attitudes of my Kingman cowboy cousins and their disbelief at my betrayal of the manly traditions of the past. Grantham P. Hooker, or D-R, as we called him for short, was based on several Kingman area cowboys, most notably Buzzy Blair.


The Doper Roper Roping Hippies Off The Hood of His Pickup

We're missing the scene where D-R pounded nails into his hood and wrapped bailing wire into tight little stirrups so he could lean out into the wind like that.


"Heiffer dust!"

—Grantham P. Hooker

Views: 150

Comment by Stan H on February 7, 2014 at 3:06pm

My father, an Okie Democrat, spoke often of his trips from Oklahoma to California before, during, and after the Dust Bowl. He had gone out with a friend first, then made two or three more trips geting his family out there. On his second trip, they had pulled off to the side of The Road, set up a litle camp, and laid down to get some rest.  About midnight, a state trooper woke him by kicking the camp gear all over the place, making a hell of a noise. Once everyone was awake, the trooper said they had ten minutes to be out of there ot he would haul the whole lot of them to the local jail. They were loaded and gone in 9.

He said he never stopped any longer in Arizona than necessary after that incident, even later in the 50's. He had a sister that married and moved to Florance, AZ and he would not even go there to visit her. I think he had gotten rousted in Az more than once.

Comment by Bob Boze Bell on February 7, 2014 at 3:09pm


   Great story! Thanks.

Comment by Christopher Zimmerman on February 7, 2014 at 6:01pm

My family and I had some similar experiences driving through the South back in the 60s.  My father was a clean-cut Air Force pilot, but he had AZ plates on his car.  We were stopped by the local sheriff one night as we traveled through Alabama and were escorted to go see the "judge"--who had to be woken up.  Had to pay a fine on the spot.  Not sure what the charge against my father was--probably just being a yankee.  Talk about scary.  

Comment by Stan H on February 8, 2014 at 8:31am

Thanks to you, BBB. Your postings about Route 66 have brought back a flood of old memories, mostly stories I grew up with. My father made many trips across that old highway, sometimes with the family, sometimes by himself, a couple of times just he and I. I have been writting down as many of his stories as I can remember. My wife (born in Winslow, so a true Route 66 child) is presently working on a book set in the Dust Bowl days, ala Grapes of Wrath and she will be incorperating some of my old family stories.


Keep up the good work and I will be watching for the end results.



Comment by Margaret-Anne Moore on February 8, 2014 at 12:54pm

bob, you mentioned the way people from Oklahoma were treated in Arizona, especially as shown in the movie  "The Grapes of Wrath."  It was sometimes even worse at the California-Arizona border.  I understand that there were regular  "customs"  stations at the border--and they stopped everybody, not just people from Oklahoma.  I saw newsreels of the long line of cars waiting to be  "prosessed"  at the station.  At least one newsreel showed a car turning around and going back the way they came because the people were forbidden to enter California!  I also understand that some drivers managed to locate roads from neighboring states that went through areas that were not thickly-populated, and they were able to enter California by such roads without interference or  "customs"  stations.  This situation led to a case being heard before the United States Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court outlawed the practice of individual States's setting up virtual  "customs"  stations at their borders.  My father told me that he heard that someone in another State was en route to California to visit a relative who was very seriously ill, and was delayed at the border for five days.  By the time he was able to enter California and to get to where his relative was, the person had died.  This would have been a very interesting situation if people traveled by airplanes as extensively then as they do now!  Can you imagine the chaos that would have ensued if the State of California had instituted such a system at some of our State's major airports and made travelers wait for days on end to see if they were  "worthy"  to enter the State???



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