I come from a long line of rebels and I mean that in every sense of the word. When the federal officers came to Payson in 1934, they came to kill the cattle. Their reasoning was that there were too many cattle in the country and the overabundance had caused the price to fall. If they killed the cows, beef would again be in short supply and the price would come back up. My granddad, Floyd Pyle, did not comply with the government’s directive. He moved his cattle into the deep hidden canyons of the Mogollon and kept them there until the feds were gone saying, “I don’t know a hell of a lot about economic theory, but I know when tramps are roaming the country hungry and willing to work, the solution is not to eliminate the food supply.”
My dad, Gene Pyle, was also a bit rebellious. He became involved in Army Intelligence during World War II, something he didn’t talk much about, but he said enough to let me know that what he learned in the service strongly colored some of his viewpoints.
On one rare occasion I was doing some homework for a high school history class (I was never big on homework). Dad looked at what I was writing and told me, “We knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming two weeks before it happened. We had broken the Japanese code and had what they called purple machines that deciphered the code. He later gave me a book to read, “The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor,” which covered the subject in detail.
Gene was generally known around Payson as a rancher, lion hunter and a helluva cowboy, but there was a lot more to him than that. He read, I should say devoured, books and magazines, and could quote passages from what he read and give the name of the book and page number.
My Uncle Malcolm told me, “Your dad took a test in the military at Lincoln, Nebraska. He passed it nine points in the genius class, but what makes it amazing is that they gave the test outside on picnic tables.” Malc went on to tell, “The wind was blowing sand and they had to hold onto all the papers to keep them from blowing away.”
To say Gene Pyle was politically aware is like saying Secretariat was a racehorse. During the late 1950s, and until he passed on in 1989, Gene was constantly writing letters to congressmen and telling anyone who would listen that we were moving toward a slave state. He did anything he could to fight the socialist agenda and could never understand why others would not join him; why they couldn’t see the problem. A few did, but most thought him a political radical and Gene lost a number of friends because he would never give up the fight. Rebel he was, but he was right.
During the last few years I have heard time and again almost these exact words from many of his old friends. “Your dad was right. I wish I had paid more attention to what he was telling us. We should have listened.”
“Yes, I tell them. You should have, and you should have acted!” Most of these people are justifiably worried their grandchildren will be living under a totalitarian regime and they don’t like it. This brings to mind one of the passages my dad used to quote from Winston Churchill.
“If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
I think Gene Pyle said it better. His words were: “I may die in a slave state, but I am not going to live in one.” One of the chief criteria as to whether or not we live in a slave state is whether or not we have freedom of speech. As far as I know, the First Amendment is still in effect and I am just carrying on an old family tradition when I take advantage of it. So to those who would question my right to write my horseback opinions, kindly observe the sprig of mistletoe pinned to my shirt tail.
Como Siempré, Jinx