KAY-OH-TAY GOOD ["LITTLE BROTHER"]  HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR   2/28/04

What an utterly charming - enchanting - story.
David  [McReynolds]

 

 

It was late May, 1959.

The New Mexico state trooper -- brown uniform, brown cap, boots, holstered revolver -- stepped out in front of my station wagon on that remote mountain road right on the New Mexico/Arizona border, and held up his hand to stop me.

"What in Hell is this?" I thought.  I stopped, not particularly worried.  I
was an Arizonian, had Arizona license plates.

He came over, looked into my vehicle.  Then he saw my coyote.  And his face creased into a million smiles.  "What a right nice little Kay-Oh-Tay," he said.  We visited for some pleasant minutes.  He spoke in what a linguist told me later -- in my own case, in fact -- is a Southern Highlands accent. It ain't Deep South, but it's getting there.  We are not Eastern Yankees.

I had done some favors -- hard fought ones -- for some folks in the Nebraska Sandhills country.  When I was about ready to leave, I was given two tiny male coyotes as a gift, their eyes still closed.  A litter had just been dug up and, with the exception of my two -- the biggest and the smallest -- the other seven had all been killed for five dollars bounty apiece.  After one sleepless night, I found a mother dog with a litter.  We wetted the two little coyotes down, rubbed them against the dog pups,
and put them into her family for a few days.  None of the dogs knew
the difference.

Then I headed out to Utah and on to the Arizona/New Mexico border country. I had a flat tire, opened one window to make certain the coyotes had cool air -- and, as I changed tires, the little coyote took off.  But the
biggest, Good, stayed.  The great Mine-Mill copper strike -- from Butte to
the Mexican border and some other places as well -- was looming, along
with a major Mine Mill labor defense case. With a lot of other good
folks, I had a lot to do on behalf of Mine-Mill and I also had my M.A. in Sociology to finish at Arizona State University.  Good -- Kay-Oh-Tay Good -- was with me for all of those things.  See this link, partly drawn from a long article I published:  "IUMM&SW: The  Good, Tough Fight" in the October, 1960
issue of the Left magazine, MAINSTREAM
http://www.hunterbear.org/repression.htm

I headed back to my home town of Flagstaff, temporarily.  Once there, Good and I were not in the family home more than two minutes before Dad's pet parakeet was gone -- gone forever.  Dad took it well enough and held nothing against Good -- or myself.  Then I took Good to our vet, Dr Keithly.

Dr Keithly gave Good all the necessary shots that any Canine needed.  Good then urinated all over his wall.  "Just like a dog," said the Doc, and
poured himself and me as well two fingers of good whiskey.  He also gave me, in conjunction with Good's rabies shot, a Coconino County dog tag and a certificate which, among other things, labeled Good a dog. "Goes with the rabies shot," he said.

He and I and others all thought that was funny as Hell. [But as I learned
later, it did have its very good and helpful uses.]

Then I was down at Tempe -- in the Phoenix orbit -- enrolling at ASU and
getting set to do anything I could on behalf of Mine-Mill. I rented a modest one-level apartment house in a setting where, with one exception, everyone was very friendly.  For his own protection, Good was on a thirty foot chain in the back yard.  Interesting things occurred.

Although his eyes -- and that of his brother -- had been totally closed when the infant pups passed into my hands, Good proceeded to dig a perfect coyote den.   He worked on it with all the zeal of a self-employed miner pursuing Gold. [Of course, I always brought him at night and he ate his dog food on the couch.]  During the day, he grabbed birds that came too close and occasionally an understanding neighbor's stray chicken.  Anything outside that he didn't eat, he buried and always remembered -- a  classic wolfish trait.

His coyote howls were perfect and he did them night and day.

The Great Mine-Mill Copper Strike began at the end of that Summer of '59 -- against Anaconda, AS&R, Kennecott, Magma, Phelps Dodge.  Concurrently, the so-called and phony "Conspiracy Trial" against the top IUMMSW leaders  -- involving alleged perjury on the non-Communist affidavits required by the Taft-Hartley "slave labor act", began in Denver. The "conspiracy" indictments  had laid dormant since November 1956 and were now activated by the Federal government [and the copper bosses] to coincide with the long  expected strike.

We were showing -- with much frequency -- the great Mine-Mill film, SALT OF THE EARTH -- depicting the bitter, hard-fought, predominately Chicano and ultimately successful IUMMSW strike which occurred from October 1950 into January 1952 against Empire Zinc in Grant County, New Mexico.  Its powerful themes -- worker rights, minority rights, womens' rights -- are universal for Any Time.  [I still show it today. ] During this Great Copper Strike and the "Conspiracy Trial", the FBI and other witch-hunters made every effort to prevent our showing the film and holding meetings -- kept some newspapers  from carrying our ads, got some meeting halls cancelled out from under us,
broke into my car once [the film wasn't there].  But we always persevered and continued showing Salt to large audiences.  We showed it in union halls, churches, colleges and universities, other meeting halls.

In addition to showing SALT, we distributed thousands of the extra-long
copper-colored leaflet, Letter From Arizona Copper Workers, and spoke
extensively on the strike and the "Conspiracy Trial" at many, many regional meetings.

Juan Chacon, male lead in SALT and president of the Amalgamated Bayard District Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers  [Local 890] in Southwestern New Mexico, sent me a very welcome, on-target telegram:  "Success will be ours in the long run."  He was right.  Mine-Mill won the copper strike in January 1960 and, although the
IUMMSW leaders were found "guilty" in December 1959 at the hysterical trial at Denver, the United States Supreme Court threw out the convictions in 1966.  [In fact, Mine Mill won every single Federal case brought against it.]

While all of this was going on, I was doing my M.A. in Sociology -- and a
good job, if I say so -- very grateful that every one of my professors
supported my Mine Mill work.  My Advisor, originally from the Utah copper
country, was extremely encouraging.

But I always got back home to take care of my Kay-Oh-Tay.  And he took care of me.

And on that home front, Good -- also widely known by now as "Little
Brother" -- was developing a large following of his own.  People came over frequently to take his photo. Children loved him and he them. And  ASU zoology students and profs were regulars with tape recorders to record his howls.  His thick and fluffy tail wagged constantly.

But then one  day, there were hard knocks on the door.  A Tempe police
officer, red-faced and portly, was huffing and puffing.  I recognized him as the son of a woman across the street who I had long suspected was neither a friend of Kay-Oh-Tay Good, nor me.

Pompously, ponderously he informed me that Tempe had a city ordinance
prohibiting possession of wild animals within the city limits.  "Get rid of
that coyote or we'll take him away."

Clarence Darrow never did it better.  I looked at this Foe -- this pathetic
foe -- and grinned.  "What do you mean, coyote?" I asked.  "He's a dog."

The cop uttered a profanity.  "Well," said I.  "Hang on a moment and I'll
damn well prove he's a dog."

I brought out the Coconino County dog tag certificate that good Dr Keithly had given me  [along with the dog tag] when Good had gotten his rabies shot. It clearly identified Good as a male dog.

"Legally registered as a dog," said I.  "Go fight it out with Coconino."

There was a long silence from the officer.  Then, turning, he snarled, "I'm
seeing the City Attorney."

I went to see Jim Struckmeyer, also of Tempe, a good lawyer friend whose father was Chief Justice of the Arizona State Supreme Court.  Jim
complimented me on my handling of the situation and assured me of his
assistance should that ever be needed -- which he doubted.  Never heard
another word on any of that.

I was in Flagstaff for a visit. A physician friend of my folks and an accomplished photographer, took a number of excellent photos of Kay-Oh-Tay Good. Little Brother's impressive coat was long, gray, silver-tipped. All of this took place in our garage, into which we had packed large quantities of snow and a blue cloth backdrop and a myriad of pine tree branches.  A year later, my folks saw a wildlife photo magazine with Good on the cover.  The doctor's award-winning
photo and yarn was that he'd waited patiently for many hours by a remote water hole.

In May, I finished all of my M.A. work -- and became the first person to get that particular graduate degree in Sociology at ASU.  I paid $25.00 --
foregoing the opportunity to hear Barry Goldwater as commencement speaker -- and had my [copper colored] diploma mailed to me.

And by then I was at work in an extremely remote and isolated area right on the Arizona/New Mexico border.  On the Arizona side loomed the White Mountains; in New Mexico, the Mogollons.  To the south lay the
Clifton/Morenci copper mining district.

And then, admittedly with initial shock, I realized that Little Brother had
grown up.

She came to us, tentatively at first in the late afternoons and then more
boldly -- a small yellowish Arizona female coyote.  And Good was at first
awkwardly responsive.

And then they went off together -- but he came back.  And then, one day, he didn't.

For what was left of that Summer, they were seen several times by
cowpunchers and miners and woodsmen:  the big coyote male -- with his
leather collar and his tag -- and the small female.  Word had spread fast and no one would conceive of harming them.  A year later, Summer of '61, a younger brother of mine riding his horse about ten miles from where Good had departed with finality, saw Kay-Oh-Tay come out of some pine trees and follow him.  By now the collar and the tag and the female were gone. My brother fed him biscuits. 

Then Good moved on.

And in that Summer of '61, Eldri and I left Arizona for Mississippi and the
beginning of our Great Adventure.  Driving of all things, the 1957 Arizona
champion drag strip car -- with surrealistic designs painted on both sides
and pulling a smallish U-Haul trailer -- we went slowly eastward through New Mexico and then Texas and finally Louisiana on the second night. There, the mists rose and flowed from the very ground like ghostly armies.  About 2 a.m. we passed through the border town of Tallulah and then hit the Mississippi River, traveling the old and long and relatively narrow bridge.
 

Suddenly, my headlights picked up the images of men standing on the
Vicksburg, Mississippi end.  As we drew closer, they came into the center of the bridge, one of them holding up his hand  to stop us.  They were heavily armed.

We stopped.  They looked us over very carefully -- checked the basic inside of our trailer.  Then they charged us one dollar toll and coldly waved us on -- on into Mississippi.

I remembered, of course, the New Mexico state police officer whose face
exploded into a whole complex of a million friendly lines when he saw my
little coyote.

And I missed then so very deeply -- and I still do -- my Kay-Oh-Tay Good, my Little Brother always.


HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR]  Micmac/St Francis Abenaki/St Regis Mohawk

In the mountains of Eastern Idaho
www.hunterbear.org

When you cut to the bone  and cut away the college degrees, academic and other titles, published books and articles, ours is essentially a working class and Indian family.  We consistently join unions  -- and we always support them with the greatest vigor.

It's critical to always keep fighting -- and to always remember that, if one
lives with grace, he/she should be prepared to die with grace.

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