Jinx Pyle was a storyteller, cowboy, historian and published author. I met Jinx Pyle when I was dating my husband Jim West. Jim had started a little band called Junction 87. Jinx would show up and be welcomed on stage to join in real country music. At our wedding, Jinx and Jim on guitar and Billy Ichida burning up his fiddle, gave our marriage a real country send off.
Jinx and his lovely partner/wife Jayne had a little western store here in town on Main Street called “Git A Rope!” In 2002 it became the name of their publishing company. Jinx’s stories brought to life the forgotten generations of mountain cowboys. His books shared the history of four generations of Pyles hunting mountain lion and bear to protect their cattle that ranged from Star Valley to Clear Creek north of the Rim. As his amazing wife, Jayne says, “he is a man who knows first hand of what he writes. Jinx captures not only the history, but the logic, irony, guts, lore, and humor of the Pyle Family and other cowboys and hunters who rode the Mountain Country. He has heard the stories that came before him and seen the land through the eyes of his grandfathers. More importantly, he has lived the life.”
Jinx was always generous with his treasure box of the family legacy. When I’d ask him to tell me about our town’s history so I could create my own scripts for Payson’s 125th anniversary, the Haunting of Main Street Grill, Kohl’s Ranch Ghosts, etc. I was transported on an incredible journey back in time. Jinx would talk about his grandfather’s accounts of being the guide for a world famous novelist Zane Grey. Main Street Grill has changed hands over the years, but Jinx told me about how it was the first U.S. Post Office here in Payson where the mule train stopped. He said it was also a brothel and gave me legends of a body being buried in the well. When I was writing a script for Kohl’s Ranch, he told me about the MGM Lion that was being transported back to California. The plane crashed near Kohl’s Ranch and the women nursed the lion back to health so it could finally be brought home to Hollywood.
When Jinx told a story, you were carried back in time with his unique unpolished country style. His book’ “Mountain Cowboys: a history of Arizona’s Rim Country,” is displayed in the Smithsonian Institute. You can’t beat that for winning the hearts of America by, as he puts it, “telling what he learned from mountain cowboys while on the back of a horse.”
What I will miss most about Jinx is his honesty and inability to be anything but his own authentic self. You knew where you stood with no apologies. He was an American veteran and a proud family man. He was a man of integrity and grit. Together with Jayne he honored and celebrated what the partnership of love and marriage is all about. Thank you Jinx for your gift that will keep on giving through your legacy of the American cowboy.
Kathleen Kelly, Payson