Thank you for the lovely article about Raging Sage in "Gift Wrap" (November 30). We have, in the two years we have been open, been deeply appreciative of your support and of the support of your readers. Thank you so much, and thank you to your readership, for your kind and steady support of all our efforts, be they coffee beans, baked yummies, pottery or crafts ... or just ambiance.
The wooden meditation benches that we offer are not made by our master pastry chef, though, who can barely keep ahead of the demand for his luscious goodies. The benches are constructed by Gary Patchell, who is one of our early-morning bakers and husband of our roaster, daughter and co-owner, Shelby Patchell. The woods for these benches are hand-milled by Gary in his home workshop.
As a 40-year Tucson resident, having moved here at too tender of an age to remember my birthplace, I consider myself to be a native. I always look forward to articles about the Tucson of my youth, or even of a time before I was around. Guess I have that "parochial sense of pride" you mentioned in the "Newsreel." However, I also read such articles with a bit of trepidation, as I always seem to catch some piece of historical untruth or revisionism. Unfortunately, "Death By Misadventure" (December 7) was such an article.
First of all, there was one glaring (at lest to me) error unrelated to place. Consider these two quotes: "Master Sergeant Francisco Palacios had joined the Air Force in 1950, not long after graduating from high school in Puerto Rico." Then, later in the article: "Sergeant Francisco Palacios, then (in 1969) 46 ..." So, either he was 27 when he graduated, or the first statement is simply not true!
Now, the errors with local flavor: "Denny and his friends often ate at drive-ins, including the popular Johnie's Big Boy." This is an amalgamation of two different local eateries of the time. Bob's Big Boy, part of a California-based chain, had about a half-dozen locations in the Tucson area, including the one my family was frequenting at that time at 22nd Street and Wilmot. The other, and the one I assume the author was referring to, was Johnie's Fat Boy, a purely local establishment with two locations, at 22nd and Alvernon and at Speedway and Craycroft. A Johnie's, minus the drive-in and the "Fat Boy" tag, survived into the '90s at a 22nd Street location down the road from the original.
"KTKT, a local Top-40 AM station, played progressive rock for a few hours late every night." Right format, wrong station. It was Top-40 powerhouse KTKT's competitor, the usually lower-rated but always hipper KIKX 580, that dared to go "acid rock" late at night. The program was called The Open Lid. Try getting that title by the consultants today!
While these may seem like little things, the problem with factual errors in a story is that they tend to make one wonder about the veracity of the story as a whole. That said, my other difference of opinion with the author is in the local importance he places on this case. "The Palacios case remained Topic A throughout the summer," he writes, but in my recollection this was simply not the case. While I was young at the time, I was precociously aware of what was going on in the world around me. I simply do not have much, if any, memory of this case. In contrast, the Charles Schmidt murders of three years prior, which were mentioned, did enter my consciousness at the time, even though I was even younger in 1966 than in 1969.
I would speculate that, unlike the lurid and brutal Schmidt case, this case was popularly seen as a tragic example of a father becoming enraged by what was in his eyes a dangerous, drugged-out thug taking his daughter away and, yes, having his way with her. The "crime of passion" angle would certainly make it more understandable to the average person, even without the hippie vs. military man overtones.
That said, the article was certainly a worthwhile read (although I thought the illustrations were abysmal), and I was left wanting more information. Is Sergeant Palacios alive today? And what became of Jean? Did she ever forgive her father? It would have made for an even better piece to have some follow-up to the original events.
Tom Miller responds:
Michael Adkins suffers from the same affliction all good readers do. I myself am guilty of it as well, catching errors in local dailies and--shut my mouth--a certain weekly all the time.
As to Palacios's dates, your math is correct. It's something I caught after the book went to press and is in line for correction in the second edition. Francisco Palacios joined the Air Force in 1950, as reported, but it was shortly after his marriage, not his high school graduation.
As for the nomenclature and intersection of Johnie's, the place I refer to was popularly known as Johnie's Big Boy. Whether that was how the phone book or the Health Department license listed it, I do not know.
Finally, the family tree of radio stations from that era that you present in the original, uncut version of your letter is most impressive, but in fact, the station I referred to was indeed KTKT. The late-night show went by the highly unoriginal name of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and was co-hosted by Bob Gilnick and Jack Bruce, the latter now a local businessman. Until your letter, I'd never heard of The Open Lid on KIKX.
Francisco Palacios died in April 1987, according to attorneys and Social Security records. I know nothing about his daughter's feelings or whereabouts following her father's trial.
I appreciate the care with which you read that excerpt from Jack Ruby's Kitchen Sink: Offbeat Travels through America's Southwest.
First, I'd like to thank Tom Miller for "Death By Misadventure." Yes, it brought up some sadness at the loss of my brother and at the same time left me feeling that perhaps he didn't die in vain. There are those that still remember.
I'd like to share a bit of Dennis Murphey that has never been printed, not in this article and not in The Assassins by Elia Kazan. For he was much more than a "Tucson hippie."
Dennis grew up without parents; he and I, his younger sister by four years, were tossed from foster home to foster home, back and forth between mother and father with the occasional aunt and uncle thrown into the mix. Raised from the age of 10 by grandparents who did the very best they could with two energetic troubled youths, Dennis was the protector, nurturer, mother/father to me, rescuing me on many occasions from the adult perverts/sexual offenders who called themselves foster parents. Denny stepped in and took the brutal beatings that were aimed at me while I hid in the background watching helplessly.
Denny was kind, and fun, shared his musical interests with his baby sister, told me my first "dirty" jokes, let me hang around with him and his older friends, teased me but only to the point of brotherly love, most of the time not to tears. This led the adults that were taking care of these two children to feel afraid of his "druggie" influence on me. They were scared that he might lead me into these activities, not understanding that his role in my life was that of protector and even though he was into the Grateful Dead/Janice Joplin lifestyle he would see that his little sister was guarded from those very things.
The last time I saw my brother was sometime in March of 1969 at my aunt and uncle's house. I was not allowed to go anywhere with Denny and he was not exactly welcome in their home due to his teenage "incorrigible" label. The morning of May 25, 1969 I was awakened by my uncle Marion with the news that "Denny is dead."
There was no funeral due to the upheaval threatened by the "hippie" community. There is no grave or marker to visit. There were no ashes spread to allow closure for family members. There is still a tremendous hole in my heart, a deep longing to see, touch, hug, kiss my brother.
And although I do connect energetically with him often and do understand the "bigger picture, higher story," I have often felt sadness that all that has ever been printed about Dennis Moore Murphey is about how he was tragically murdered, not a word about what a huge impact he made on his sister, on his friends, the love he so desperately wanted and never knew he had. He just wanted to belong to something, to someone, to experience unconditional love. He has that now; what a shame he had to go to such lengths to know it.
I would like to celebrate his life by wishing him a happy birthday this December 14, 2000. He would have been 50 years old.
--Tomi Murphey Wertheim