Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Arriving at Tinkertown

What I learned form the cowboy poetry reading at Tinkertown, a roadside attraction near Sandia Crest, is this.  It came to me as I stood up, facing 30 friendly faces, and about to read three poems on my life out west for a Cowboy Music and Poetry Festival.  If the child who loved horses, who rode Mr. Bones at Milt Selznik's stable at Schenly Park on Beechwood Blvd. on Sundays, riding around that ring for what seemed like, and probably was, years, coulda seen me.  If that child could have seen me dressed in my pink spangled cowgirl shirt, and reading next to a real cowboy singer, Steve Cormier, a storyteller, Slim Randles and historian, Bob Julyan, she would have been so happy.

It was my first visit to Tinkertown, and profoundly fun.  What is Tinkertown, you might ask and why do you keep repeating the name?  It is a roadside attraction, and that is good enough, lovingly gathered or carved dioramas of cowboy gatherings, Navajo villages, and a circus, all assembled by the wild Ross Ward, gone these 12 years from early onset Alzheimer's, but vibrant and well tended as his legacy.  It also has a great and award winning book now, Leaving Tinkertown, by Ross's daughter, Tanya Ward Goodman and published by my dear UNM Press.

Tinkertown with its bottle walls and sailing ship, you'll just have to make the trip to see it. It's a family affair, kept alive by Carla Ward, his widow, and staffed by various family members.  I was so touched by the invitation to read, the book, the great welcome with snacks (or "nacks" as my granddaughter says) and the care taken to preserve this roadside gem.  I got my fortune read two times by the fortune teller who costs a quarter.  We followed around a Chinese family with two engaged and adorable children.  Next time I'm taking the grand kids.

The reading netted hundred of dollars for the local East Mountain High School debate team. I netted
a great day cruising with my side kick, Big Mike, and bought a little tunic at a shop called Heaven in Madrid.  When you enter the Belgian shopkeeper says, "Welcome to Heaven."  It sorta was that kinda day.

You CAN get there from here. Go through Madrid, stop for coffee at Java Junction where intelligent and interesting young staff will chat you up, the go another 23 miles to the Sandia Crest Road  and another 1.5 miles to Tinkertown.

That little girl in Pittsburgh is so much happier now. She even recalls that Milt Selznik lived to one hundred and got on a horse for his birthday.  He was the Jewish cowboy of my childhood.  The day became a heaven of people who followed their bliss, the cowboys, Ross Ward, Milt Selznik, and my own calling to poetry.  Viva Tinkertown.  Long may it give smiles and fortunes.