Thursday, June 27, 2013

Assassinating John Wayne

Marion Robert Morrison was born in Winterset, Iowa, on May 16, 1907. At age four, his family moved to Los Angeles. He was a gifted athlete who lost his football scholarship at USC due to a body surfing accident. Soon, he found work in small bit parts at local film studios, where he eventually changed his name to John Wayne.

John Wayne appeared in 142 motion pictures, often in Westerns as a heroic character, and won an Academy Award for his role as a U.S. Marshall in the movie TRUE GRIT.

Throughout his life, John Wayne was a staunch political conservative, opposing communism and politically liberal viewpoints of view.

He passed on to the Great Beyond in 1979 due to stomach cancer.

According to a book titled JOHN WAYNE -- THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH by Michael Munn, there were three assassination attempts on Wayne's life.

In 1949, Joseph Stalin (communist dictator of the USSR) learned about John Wayne's anti-communist fervor from Russian filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov during a peace conference in New York. Stalin soon decided Wayne should be killed.

The plot to assassinate John Wayne was also reported by Russian filmmaker Alexei Kapler (who had been imprisoned by Stalin) and Russian filmmaker Sergei Bondahuck, later confirmed by Gerasimov.

According to Munn's book, John Wayne's good friend, legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt, had "saved his life" in the early 1950s. The FBI had discovered that Russian agents were being sent to Hollywood to assassinate Wayne and notified him of the problem. Supposedly, Wayne told the FBI to let the agents show up and he would deal with it. Wayne then devised a plan, with help from a screenwriter named Jimmy Grant, to dissuade the assassins from carrying out their plans.

While the details of the incident were never revealed to Munn, the prevailing rumor was that a group of stuntmen abducted the agents and drove them to a beach where they staged a mock execution. Thereafter, the agents supposedly remained in the USA and worked for the FBI.

Subsequently, Wayne rejected any FBI protection and relocated with his family to a more secure house surrounded by a large wall. Thereafter, a group of Hollywood stuntmen pals infiltrated communist cells in America and learned of additional plots to kill Wayne

In 1953, another attempt on Wayne's life was initiated in Mexico by a communist cell when Wayne was filming the movie, HONDO. This plot also failed.

Joseph Stalin died in 1953 whereby Nikita Krushchev became the new communist leader of the USSR.

In a private meeting in 1958, Krushchev told Wayne that he had cancelled Stalin's orders to assassinate him. "That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order."

The third attempt on Wayne's life occurred in 1966 when he was visiting U.S. troops in Vietnam. An enemy sniper who had been captured claimed, "There was a price on John Wayne's head, put there by Mao Tse Tung (communist leader of China).

To some John Wayne was a grand hero, emblematic of American values. To others, he was a symbol of what was wrong with America, as a self-righteous bully who conquered others through force.

From FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA by Hunter S. Thompson -- "John Wayne is a final, rotten symbol of everything that went wrong with the American dream -- he is our Frankenstein monster, a hero to millions… The brainwaves of 'The Duke' are like those of the Hammerhead Shark… He is a ruthless stupid beast with only one instinct -- to attack, to hurt & cripple & kill… John Wayne, a cowboy movie actor whose only real talent was an almost preternatural genius for brainless violence. The Duke wasn't satisfied with just killing people; he beat them into bloody, screaming hamburger."

Love him or hate him, John Wayne was bigger than life. He was a proud American who understood that communism was a form of human slavery, serving the bureaucratic masters who rule the Government Plantation.

More government control means less individual freedom. Power does not corrupt people -- position of power attract corrupt people. Those who yearn to control others, even if they regard it as benevolence, are simply demanding the right to create their own version of heaven on earth. The struggle for freedom never ends.

Whether or not John Wayne was a hero is highly debatable.

Perhaps the true heroes are those who go gently through life treating others with tolerance, compassion and forgiveness.

Quote for the Day -- "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." John Wayne

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is never free.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Locating Lost Treasures

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a treasure hunter. I imagined it would be a grand adventure with the remote possibility of actually striking it rich someday.

In my 20s and 30s, I spent my working hours sitting at a desk writing computer programs. At age 42, I turned my back on the rat race of big city life and spent about six years prospecting for gold in Central Arizona.

One day, I stumbled upon an old man who lived in a school bus on a dirt road at the southern base of the Bradshaw Mountains, between Congress and Stanton, about 60 miles north of Phoenix. He was barefoot and shirtless, and had such hard skin it looked like he was weatherproof. He had more tattoos than teeth and his eyes twinkled when he spoke, either madness or glee -- I could never quite tell.

We were both wary loners and became friends over time. He spent his summers in Oregon, along the Rogue River, and his winters in Arizona, buying gold from prospectors at 80% of spot.  Paid cash.  No questions asked.

He claimed he had encountered an ancient Indian woman many years earlier who confided in him that her tribe had picked up most of the loose gold nuggets from the top of Rich Hill (near Congress, AZ) and hid them in a nearby gully to discourage white settlers. He appeared to believe the story and swore he never told another soul about it.

Lucky me.

Prospectors are like fishermen; the big ones always get away. I had heard many tales of lost treasures from dusty old coots but this one had an air of possibility to it.

I never spent any time searching for this lost cache of gold nuggets. However, during my research, I did learn that Rich Hill initially had gold nuggets the size of eggs scattered about the top and that the local Indians had a reputation for hiding gold to discourage white settlers. Perhaps there’s some validity to the story after all.

Incorporated within one of my novels, A BAD RUN OF FATE, is everything I know about this lost cache of gold.  It’s not listed in any treasure atlas that I've seen. I did at one time own two mining claims, the Redledge and the Three Chinamen, which were near the waterfall mentioned in the novel. The map coordinates and other recorded claim information within the story line are taken directly from the original claims.

To my knowledge, all other facts and locations within the narrative pertaining to the potential location of the treasure are accurate. Naturally, all characters (other than historical) are fictitious.

In the story I chose a specific waterfall, which exists only during heavy rainstorms, as the precise location of the treasure because it seems like a logical place. It sure would be strange if it’s actually there – I never did check it out.

Since I no longer hunt for riches, I expect a 10 percent share of any find resulting from my material.

I now live in Fulton County in northern Arkansas, where there also seems to be a couple of lost treasures in the immediate vicinity waiting to be discovered. According to the U.S. Treasure Atlas, Volume 1, the following is true.

SHARP COUNTY (Page 79) – In 1907, 6 or 7 bandits robbed the Frisco freight train at Mammoth Spring, loading a wagon with several crates. Two trainmen died in the incident. According to witnesses, the bandits headed toward Tick Ridge (or the head of Cold Spring Creek). The loot was placed in a cave and the entrance was dynamited shut until they could return and split it. All the bandits were captured and served long sentences in prison, never to recover the cache. In 1936, a former prison guard began searching for the cache, spending 10 years in a futile effort. He revealed that the train robbers were a gang of burglars that worked Gary and Bloomington, Indiana, Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri. The gang had hidden all of their accumulated loot, including jewelry, gold & silver coins and gemstones, in the cave.

IZARD COUNTY (Page 85) – A cache of gold and silver bars worth $110 million (worth much more today) and known as the Madre Vena Treasure is located in the Pineville area of Izard County.

In my experience, the real treasure is in the hunt itself -- any finds are merely frosting on the cake.

Happy hunting.

Quote for the Day -- "It's not the years, it's the mileage." Indiana Jones

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including A BAD RUN OF FATE. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where lost treasures wait to be discovered.