Granville King, the wily old Desert Fox
A Legend of his Own!
Author: Monika Wescott / Photos: Gary Wescott
Note: In January 2012, Four Wheeler Magazine published its 50th anniversary issue. Originally, the editor asked me to write a personal account of our friendship with Granville King, the wily old Desert Fox. His series, From the Backcountry, and ours ran at the same time and were the most popular in Four Wheeler’s history. Unfortunately, editors changed, and the new one was no longer interested in this article which was sad. That’s why I decided to publish this tribute to our old friend Granville on our website. Monika
He is gone but not forgotten together with his faithful companion, Superdawg. Our lives touched for a short few years (1984-1989). It was mostly a long distance pen-pal friendship, a kinship of fellow writers and entrepreneurs risen out of mutual respect, of people who dared to follow their dream and ignore the warnings of well meaning relatives or as he might have said, didn’t give a rat’s ass of what other people thot.
We visited him twice down in Baja and felt among the lucky ones as he, according to his own account, shot every third visitor. Just to be on the safe side, the first visit was well announced. He wrote back on his funky old Underwood Five typewriter:
6 Oct 85
By all means, do slip by but do not send me PLANS. Why? Because anyone who sends PLANS never shows up. A little note a couple months later, „something came up“. Plans detract from my freedom and I’ll not have it (them?)!!! 100% of Planners do not show. Because I sit and pout and can’t go anyplace and so forth and worry about The Onslaught. If they’d just not show and be done with it, it’d be perfect! And not not say anything about it previously.
Come on by loosely. If I am here, I will be here; if I am not here, I will not be here. If I am not here, I’ll be back within a half day, or at worst, overnight. Creep down in the drywash, get sand on yore feet and wait for huge dawg to attack when I return. Chances of my being here? About 95.78 percent. Or greater. Sorry about this, men, if it steers ya to New Mexico. Nicer here. Dawg will lick ya all good. I will be soul of hospitality. For two days or less. After that, guests all are shot.
So come on; whatcha gotolose except life???!!
We arrived with two kilos of giant fresh shrimp just off the boats in San Felipe, a bottle of Tequila and chicharrones (fried pork skin) for Superdog. That did the trick, and we were allowed to stay.
Granville lived in a tiny trailer. A sun shade connected to a simple shed. Projects in various stages abound. The old Underwood sat on his desk and mounted above was a B&W TV adorned with huge cardboard dog ears. (He was hard of hearing.)
In response to my thank-you note:
2 Dec 85
Dear Monika and Ol’Whatsisname,
Thank you for your most gracious note…..
The day after you left that demmed flappy tail (chipmunk) got back in my storage, re-filled all the poison cans with bolts and so forth and is now making a mess of the place. I put out traps. The bastard sticks paper into’em, torn from my nail bags,springs the traps and then dines to’s heart’s delight! The fuggah goes up against a wall with a blindfold and a last cigarette when I catch’im! Maybe torture first. Otherwise everything is just fine.
Thanks for mailing my letters. It is a good thing to have letters mailed. Letters that are not mailed do not get delivered. Well, out to my flappy tail problem. Ah’m a-not a-gonna take everything out of the place again! …. Details.
24 Sep 86
Gotchure very good note of Aug 31 and thrill to the stuff you and old watsisname’re doing all the time. Your stuff in the mag is so good, excellent art, fine leadin stuff and all. Pleasure to read your good garbahge.
Sorry to hear you descend to the Ways of Evil—Word Processor kinds of things. A man is not a man and a lady is not a lady if they can’t beat up on the typewriter, hear it hit, throw the carriage back, whap on them keys and generally PARTICIPATE in the Creation. Shoot, you rest your lil paddies for a second on the keys of an electric and you’ve just typed the Gettysburg Address, in yiddish—or something similar.
To think that Gary has brought you to this, a quiet, wideyed, innocent Swisser snared in the toils of decadent American technocracy and such stuff. White slavery, that’s what it is, white slavery. They got laws about this……!
Love your expression „cringe my teeth“. And your note, “SP?” thereafter. Beautiful; leave it just the way it is. Never heard of anybody cringing their teeth; but dammit, they outta do it! You may not be totally beyond recall by MacIntoshes if things like this can come out. Do that on the Word Processor and a evil hand comes out of the top and extracts 0.34 oz of blood from your left wrist. No room for spontonaiety. (Put “SP?” behind ANY of my words….except did not cringe my teeth until just recently.)
Well, give’em hell in the race (Baja 1000). Who cares how many pore Mexican9s you run over unaware of the crazy race, or how you ruin MY road to town which is shitty to begin with. Sob, sniff. Or how many flappytail chipmunks you disturb or how many coyotes become deranged. Take your hard hearts and go! (Maybe I’ll get a ride too someday; gotta new fire suit and helmet just for it two years ago. But we didn’t go.)
Love and kisses,
15 June 87
Yore wife’s writing me notes again. Did you know that? Kinda sneaky, huh? Anyhow, it’s a nice card from the country of the coocoo clocks a purty lookin’ place with flowers, green bushes and all such schidt. Her immortal words, „cringing my teeth“ appeared in the opening line of my June 87 Backcountry without any credit given of course. Sorry about that. But if a guy can forget long enough where he heard something it’s OK to use it creatively.
Dawg and I doin’ good for first kinda hot day (87) of the year. The temp’ll be in and out until July when it gets a tad more serious and hangs mostly in the 90’s. Cuts seriously into drinkin’ because with booze or beer in ya, ya sweat too much.
Gottum solar panel at last; neat, keeps batteries up without much brain work by ol Dad.
Hasta la By, bye,,,,,
21 Sept 87
Dear Gary y Monika,
Received yrs of July 30 and it do seem like I should just stop marveling at the wonderous type used therein and beat upon my machine.
Besides, Stewart (Editor of Four Wheeler) said you might be sneaking in with some story idea and to stand on trail with shotgun which tells ya a lot about John Stewart.
Come on down when you getchure strength up. They are, in fact, trying to pave the road (the new road, not the one running more inland which we natives refer to as the „old“ road. And the road below me beyond Puertocitos is passible and even good all the way down to Calamague or to where you intersect the Chapala road which takes you to the blacktop coming down from Ensenada (Mex 1?). No more infamous Tres Hermanas!
However, as you know, this Mex “paving” business goes in fits and starts and sometimes they seem to have torn up more than they’ve done. So not the Cadillac, huh?
Supermuncher sends regards. Ah sends regards. Various coyotes send regards.
A few months before we left for South America (1988/89), we wanted to do a final test run with The Turtle III and drove down to Granville’s haunts, two brand new Honda Quads in tow.
He was pleased to see us. We again had to park down in the nearby sand wash. Can’t say I was happy. It was slightly raining, and there were angry black clouds hanging over the nearby mountain range. During the night, instead of visions of sugar plums I had nightmares of a flash flood roaring down the arroyo and The Turtle floating downstream into the Sea of Cortez.
Granville soon enough showed up at our camp, empty cup in hand. We feasted on shrimp dipped in melted butter. Pouring over a Baja map we decided to head for the mountains the next morning and hunt for gold. At least, that was Granville’s side of the story. (Both Gary and Granville wrote their versions of our memorable visit.)
Off we went. Granville on his old wheels and we, two novices on quads, drove up this mysterious canyon. At one point Granville declared: This is the End. Well, while the guys were trying to get their wheels up a huge ledge to further explore the area, I just drove around and much to their surprise, was waiting for them above. I had packed a lunch including carrot sticks which Granville worked well into his story, so much in fact that the artist drew a picture of me on a quad munching carrot sticks! Granville had to make frequent potty stops. One time, he accidentally mooned me and was very embarrassed about it. This resulted in his second tale of our visit. Quite funny!
He sent us a photo copy, which was part of his next Backcountry column:
The next proof that Dawg’n Friend were on a grand, new step-function was out tripping with The Turtle Expedition. I made a coy bush stop, primly pointed away from our lady, which is only proper. She, the lil devil, coasted silently over and softly laid the cold front carrier of her ATV against my bontiful white butt as I stood with sweat pants down (inthose you gotta pull’em down no matter what plans you have). Gad! She’s seen my white butt! Hastily I yanked’em back up and mumbled/scowled for the rest of the trip while she guffawed coarsely from time to time.
I mulled it over after she’d left and I finally realized this also was part of maturation step. Because for years at my inadequately shielded Go Place I’ve hadds nagging worry. Anyone with a 100 power telescope could view butt with no trouble from that cabin over there a couple miles. I have felt great unease at a time that should have been serene and peaceful.
But no more to worry. The worst has happened; She has seen! My virginity is shot. And I soar onto the plateau like an eagle; I’ll waggle that sucker all over the place. I’ll moon every porpoise, every sea gull and pelican. Today, the Sea of Cortez; tomorrow the world! In a very ecstasy of step-functioning I solemly stand before this typewriter, yank down gym pants and moon the typewriter. Take that typewriter! Glory spreads throught the land!
The above copy was included in the letter below:
11 or so Jan 88, or so
Dear Gary and Seductive Swisser,
Come to think it over I hadda helluva good time with you guys! Much learned (like how to get bikes past Deadman rock if ya just foller the Swisser) and much thanks for all good advise.
My next Backcountry is about your visit, …. about our trip for gold. I worked in some water coming down canyon and a possible flash flood we face to help the tale along. And of course some funnies. Thot you might wish to know just in case you also detail the trip; you might want to work in the possible flash flood thing. Or whatever.
Good to have had you here. Always welcome.
12 Feb 88
Dearest Monika, (If the Bearded, Benovelnt Giant needs some „Dearests“ let’m get’em elsewhere!)
Anyhow read yore wrattin’ in yr note and put aside (now cannot find and when the Great Auctions are held of MW’s letters I will be out porbably $10,000 but thasslife and who needs money anyhow) and decided not to wratt since I already did a big one you must have by now and why should we have letters passing in the post and all such.
But ah deecided to wratt anyhow as warmup for mah column; already did the „Turtle Expedition Strikes Again!“ last month which’ll be in May, 88 mag I guess and so, since „The Turtle Expedition II“ may not swing, gotta wratt a different something. Gawd only knows what.
So ah ah’m wrattin’.
I think it is important to say that words of yours have provided me a considerable joyosity. You mentioned seeing my bontiful, cute (?), white butt; and, in fact, you damn near ran over it as I recall. This inflicted upon me considerable trauma, for a moment. (Migawd, she’s seen my white butt, etc!) But when all came to rest and I thot it over a tad more I thought, This here is a good thing. Probably.
Anyhow, you and the BBG (see above for spellout) clarified my head a whole bunch and I am now a better person for your visit. I feel glory breaking out all over my bod.
Well, I just knew you hadda know this or I wdn’t wratted it. I cringe my buttocks back into the seat and go back to the column. Luv ya!
While in South America, more letters were exchanged, and we were looking forward to another visit after the SEMA Show in November 1989 but it wasn’t meant to be. As far as we know, Granville had an accident with his dune buggy and was killed on October 25, 1989. The last letter he sent us is dated:
Like, early Sep 89…..
Whattalottaschit! About comin’ down here. No problema! Just tell me in time ahead and I shall be here, even though it fuggin’ be raining but you can have the “dry” wash and yore bodies will be brot back in when the storm dies away. Isn’t that a good feelin’ to know yore bodies will be brot back in? Brings tears to mah ojos (Spanish, y’know).
Weeeel, now I can throw away this Carne Sada invite as I apparently did any accompanying letter. And the ball is in yore court……
I love Monika,
We did drive to Baja after the SEMA Show and stopped at his old haunts. Much had been cleared out but we rescued a lonely Cadillac hub cap (he loved driving his Cadillac up to San Felipe) and Superdawg’s chewing bone. Both adorn a wall on our Bodega and remind us of our old friend.
We miss you Granville, and I love you too,