A pair of three
As Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
Lately we have been observing what is happening around Twin Rocks Trading Post and have grown suspicious.
Priscilla, our old friend, trusted advisor and best buddy appears to be stealing our thunder.
One longtime reader e-mailed to say, “Without Priscilla you are toast!”
Shortly thereafter, I observed a woman take Priscilla to one side and not so quietly inquire, “Why don’t you write the blog? Surely you can do better than those clowns!”
When I showed her the e-mail, Priscilla just chuckled. When I asked about the in-store conspiracy, she nervously blushed.
As anyone who has been through the Kokopelli doors will testify, Priscilla is indispensable to our dis-organization. We understand we would be sunk without her.
We trust her totally, and she has our full faith and confidence. That irrefutable fact notwithstanding, after recent events, we believe trouble may be afoot.
Our worst fears were recently confirmed when a customer arrived and immediately exclaimed, “Priscilla!”
The visitor then hugged Priscilla first, like the rest of us are Spam and Priscilla is roast mutton.
It was September 20, 1989 when Priscilla, a 33-year-old youngster, showed up looking for work.
At the time, Twin Rocks Trading Post was nothing more than a dream, a cement pad and a few bundles of sticks tacked together.
Duke had purchased the land several years earlier with the idea of resurrecting a scheme he had conceived in his youth.
As a young man he watched Ute and Paiute ladies from White Mesa and Allen Canyon making sumac baskets while reclining at the foot of Sunbonnet Rock.
This unusual rock formation is just east of the towering pillars from which the trading post takes its name.
As Duke related the story, this basketry was ceremonial in purpose, and only the wives of medicine men were permitted to make it. The designs generally featured anthropomorphic figures dressed in brightly colored outfits and sporting long hair tied in braids.
Years later, when he asked those elderly women to recreate the weavings he remembered from his adolescence, Duke was advised their husbands had died and the ladies were, therefore, no longer authorized to weave.
Subsequently, however, the basket makers, believing that particular aspect of their culture was dying, determined to recreate baskets with similar patterns.
Thinking his long-term goal was coming into focus, Duke had purchased the Twin Rocks property a few years earlier from a pair of brothers, who, as a matter of principal, never sold anything.
Old trucks and Caterpillar tractors faded in the desert sun as the family boneyard steadily grew. Spent oil cans and fuel barrels proliferated next to the dilapidated equipment, and worn tires accumulated by the gross.
Having been raised during the Great Depression, they likely felt the need to safeguard every potentially useful item for future use. Caution was their watchword and thrift their rallying cry.
They, however, developed a cash flow crisis and reluctantly determined to convey something to remedy the situation. Duke was ready with the necessary greenbacks, and after months of serious negotiations, a deal was struck.
Despite overwhelming odds, Duke determined to build the enterprise inspired by his early experiences. Disregarding all those around him who assured the resolute entrepreneur he would never succeed, he pressed on.
As the fall of 1989 approached, he was ready to throw open the Kokopelli doors and welcome the throngs of people who would surely support this gem in Bluff.
About that time Priscilla appeared.
After she arrived, Priscilla and I began drawing up a plan for the trading project we had inherited. Calling it a “plan” may actually be giving us more credit than we deserve.
In any case, preparing for the patrons who seldom came, we knew enough to unlock the doors in the morning, clean the glass, vacuum the carpet, polish the turquoise jewelry, straighten the Navajo rugs and lock up in the evening.
My paternal grandfather, Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Simpson, liked to say, “I spent a year in Bluff one winter.”
With the fog of almost 35 years clouding my memory, I recall the first six months at the trading post lasting about a decade.
Priscilla and I wandered round the store like zombies, searching for tasks, no matter how small, to keep us occupied.
After a while we had a loom constructed, and Priscilla began weaving in her spare time. Often, I would sit by, watching the design evolve and imagining the finished product.
Thread by thread, Priscilla wove herself into the textile of the trading post, becoming involved in almost every aspect of its day-to-day operation. She quickly became the warp that holds us together, the weft that colors our days.
At this point we have all been together so long that, disregarding political correctness and polite social conventions, we refer to Priscilla as our “Right Hand Man.”
We are a team, a well-oiled, smoothly functioning, piston-driven Southwest art selling engine.
In truth, all too often we chuff, belch and misfire, but for the most part our mechanics function comfortably.
With such a compelling history behind us, we thought nothing would ever come between us, and this relationship would continue until we all crossed the river together.
We, however, have become increasingly concerned as Priscilla mentions contracts, agents and distribution rights.
Lately she has begun going to Twin Rocks Cafe every morning for hot tea and . . . toast. We wonder aloud whether there were ominous implications inherent in this new habit.
As a result, when Priscilla wasn’t looking, we scanned the tea leaves and inspected her wheat bread for incriminating signs. We found nothing.
Finally, we confronted her directly, asking, “What’s going on?” Channeling Yogi, she replied, “What? Nothing. We are a pretty good pair of three.”