Keep a Light On

“Even you should be able to remember that much.”

If I opened my mailbox today finding a letter addressed to me from Jesus, what would it say? I can only speculate.

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Dear Michael,

A brief but important message:

Your parents and grandparents are fine. They say hello. Aunts and uncles echo the same. Several friends give you thumbs up. Those furry and feathered friends of yours; they’re romping around the mansion grounds. All ten of them miss you dearly.

I see you are doing well. Being upright is good. You’ve definitely been eating. That isn’t the case for millions throughout the world. At times you forget. I’ve blessed you with ample food. Remember those folks not as fortunate next time you complain about a cold burrito.

Looking over your life history there were many times I shook my head. Your judgment between right and wrong went haywire on numerous occasions. I had to get your attention more than once. Still do. Often times with leather boot instead of woven sandal. Have to constantly stay on top of you Mr. Hankins. You have some spiritual growing to do!

You’ve been concerned about what’s going on in this world. Who isn’t? Do not be afraid. Things will be okay. Until the day of reckoning, continue to pray for friends, family, strangers, and enemies. Yes; enemies. Read your Bible. I know you’ve failed to do that. There are people praying for your health Michael. Return the favor!

Wherever you go, know that I’m with you. I see your every move. I know your inner thoughts and secrets. Never forsake me. You asked me into your heart. I reside within. Each time you enter a place where I’m not welcome do not fret. Man has neither the power nor wisdom to keep me out. Those who rebuke my presence are fools. Vengeance is mine.

Using the Heavenly scale of eternity, you’re less than an eye blink away. No one knows the year, month, week, day, or minute. I know precisely the millisecond.

Michael, remember that harsh words, verbally and written, cut deeper than a double-edged Gillette® razor. That last line has you smiling. Yes, I have a sense of humor. You got yours from me.

Follow my commandments. There are but 10. Even you should be able to remember that much.

I’ll keep a light on!

Love,

Jesus

PLUCKED FROM THE ASHES

“It’s more than just a gun!”

Firefighters struggle to get Mt. View Sporting Goods fire under control (January 21, 1976)

Sometimes stories come out of the blue. Unlike those compositions, this one was plucked from the ashes:

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I’m not sure why I was given Herman’s rifle. Glenn, Charlie, Andy, and Philip are the hunters in our family. They deserved the weapon more than me. These guys are lesser halves to Joleen’s four sisters. Joleen is my wife of almost 43 years.

Killing animals and butchering them isn’t something I do. I hold no ill towards those that choose such. My friends and family hunt solely for subsistence. In my opinion, a grocery store meat-counter works great for harvesting steaks; the best part being they come fully wrapped.

Several years ago for reasons unknown Joleen’s mom picked me as ‘keeper of the gun’. The prized weapon belonged to Bonnie’s late husband, Herman Freeman. For those needing specifics it’s a 1972 Sako – Finnbear Deluxe – .375 H&H Magnum. For folks needing less data,

“It’s a bear gun!”

My late father-in-law Herman Freeman.

I covet firearms for mechanical and historical significance more than anything. An ancestor of mine, William Hankins, was partners with Christian Sharps during the American Civil War. The two entrepreneurs teamed up to create the Sharps & Hankins Firearms Company in Philadelphia. I’m fortunate to possess several rifles and pistols they manufactured.

“If only those weapons could talk!”

Seeing Hankins stamped alongside Sharps is meaningful to me. Christian Sharps is undoubtedly one of the finest American gun makers to ever live. The Sharps & Hankins partnership lasted but a few years. Research shows them going separate ways about the time William Hankins’ wife Elizabeth died in 1866. William didn’t live much longer. He passed away in 1868.

I’ve always been intrigued by guns of the Old West. To own a Colt pistol or lever action Winchester owned by Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, or Lucas McCain would set my world on fire. The pinnacle of my collection is a U.S. surcharged Brown Bess musket from the Revolutionary War. An original bayonet is still attached. The weapon literally reeks of early American conflict.

I’ve never been attracted to sporting weapons where collecting is concerned. When Bonnie gave me Herman’s hunting rifle I was humbled, yet not sure what to do with it. The Sako didn’t fit with firearms I possess. Even so, I carefully placed it in my gun safe for protection. Every so often I’ll remove it to lubricate metal components including polish the stock. It goes back inside once this work is done.

Gun’s home for the past several years.

One afternoon while reading a book on early Alaska gold mining a thought crossed my mind. Herman’s rifle possessed unique significance where Anchorage’s past is concerned. Much of the gun’s heritage I knew. Other data regarding the place it came from was obtained from Loussac Library newspaper archives.

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Mt. View Sports Center began operation in 1961. It was originally located at 3130 Mountain View Drive. That’s basically a suburb north of Anchorage. Soon after opening, the store became a must stop for hunters and fishermen from all over the last frontier. Residents from Fairbanks, Kenai, Seward, and Glenallen came to shop. After arrival, many out-of-state visitors purchased firearms, fishing equipment, licenses, plus other sporting equipment. Business was brisk.

Early evening on January 21, 1976, when the store was closed, a fast moving fire broke out. Newspaper accounts show it was a major blaze. Bullets exploded from inside the structure blowing out front display windows. Most of those early explosions undoubtedly came from heated cans and bottles of reloading powder and cleaning solvent. There were so many blasts that merchandise ended up on a sidewalk and in the street.

An article in the Anchorage Daily Times mentioned police and firemen taking cover throughout the ordeal. Bullets were ricocheting and pinging like those in a western movie. I recall driving by as firemen mopped up the scene. It appeared nothing could have survived. I was wrong!

My father-in-law told me one evening he was going to a fire sale. All the surviving items from Mt. View Sports Center were to be auctioned off. He was eager to look things over hoping for a good deal. I accepted an invitation to tag along.

From my perspective none of the charred weapons looked salvageable. Most of them appeared to be burned beyond restoration. Once vibrant and shiny, the bluing on barrels and receivers was now tarnished from heat, smoke, and water. Herman came upon the carcass of a rifle that caught his fancy. He took his right thumb rubbing it over the floorplate. Silver inlay hid under black grime.

Removing additional residue, an artist’s representation of a strange looking animal with long round horns appeared. It was surrounded by botanical leaves. Herman believed it to be an African Waterbuck. I jokingly declared it a four-legged Phoenix. The gun’s wood stock was totally charred. Particles of black ash fell from several locations.  I initially viewed the rifle as nothing more than burnt toast. My father-in-law saw different. Through his eyes he’d found a diamond in the rough.

Silver inlay was hidden under fire blackened smudge and grime.

When the auction was over Herman walked away with his prize. On the ride home I rolled my truck window down along with opening a vent. An odor of doused campfire permeated chilled air. My father-in-law was so elated in placing the winning bid I doubt he noticed.

For safety reasons, Herman realized the action and barrel needed to be inspected by a professional. Alan “Jerry” Giradet of Lock, Stock and Barrel gun shop was the best gunsmith in Alaska at that time. His business on Muldoon Road was located in a building my father owned. Herman took all metal components to Jerry for analysis. Mr. Giradet proclaimed the barrel straight and true, with breech and action uncompromised by heat. Herman was elated with the news.

The first thing accomplished in restoring the gun was removal of the charred stock. I helped clean all metal components in diesel fuel to remove soot, smudge, roof tar, and other contaminants. The metal was given a coat of WD-40 to help keep it from further rusting. 

He began working on these parts using fine emery and crocus cloth. Herman attempted to re-blue the action and barrel with subpar results. Lock, Stock, and Barrel once again came to his rescue. It took Jerry several weeks to perform his magic. The pieces looked good as new when finished. Mr. Giradet was an Army WWII survivor having learned his trade in the service. My father-in-law was a Navy veteran from the same conflict. Both men understood the importance of firearms where freedom is concerned.

Alan “Jerry Giradet’ was undoubtedly the best gunsmith in Alaska before his passing.

Sometime during the restoration process Herman ordered a new French walnut stock. A good deal of money was spent on that. When the box arrived there was not much inside other than a slab of unfinished wood wrapped in protective paper. He chiseled, shaped, sanded, and finally contoured it to fit the receiver. Herman consumed a huge amount of time working on the stock alone. He’d sit in the living room watching “All in the Family” while sanding away.

After adding a variable power Leupold scope and then having it bench tested by Jerry Giradet, the Sako was ready for test fire. I rode with Herman on his airboat up the silty Matanuska River until we came to a sand bar near the glacier. That’s where we beached the craft. He walked a good distance before setting up a paper target. I remained at the boat with sandwich, candy bar, and bottle of pop.

When it was time to shoot, foam ear plugs were inserted. I knelt while he went prone on the ground, using a tree stump to support the Sako. With each detonation of a brass cartridge sand jumped all around my feet. That’s how much concussion the big .375 had. Herman eventually walked out to retrieve his target finding all shots in the black. The scope crosshairs were dead on. Without question my father-in-law is the most accurate shooter I’ve ever met. Others say the same. Offered a chance to fire the gun I declined.

"It's more than just a gun!"
I’m merely ‘posing’ with the powerful rifle having never shot it.

Looking back I still can’t say why I ended up with the rifle. Undoubtedly it was one of Herman’s most prized possessions. I’m probably the only person knowing full history and then some. Perhaps that was reason enough for Bonnie to choose me as custodian. There are no plans to sell the Sako even though it has significant monetary value. Calloused yet caring hands bringing the gun back to life are no longer here. Jerry Giradet and Herman Freeman have permanently left the building. In a few more years the heirloom will be passed on to another family member; handed off to someone hopefully understanding,

“It’s more than just a gun!”

* The biggest survivor of that 1976 fire is Mountain View Sports. The business is still going strong at a location on the Old Seward Highway. This story could not have been told without the relentless sleuthing of Diana Sanders, Pamela Painter Jones, and Kathy Sievert.

My late father-in-law Herman Freeman’s beloved Sako .375 H&H magnum.

LEFT in ALASKA

Tragic tale of an Army soldier and his prized automobile.

1968 Plymouth GTX formerly owned by SP4 James Boggs

I’ve been a Mopar guy forever. It’s an addiction of sorts. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Ford’s and Chevy’s. I’ve owned both, but I do prefer Chrysler over all other brands.

My first Mopar was a wrecked, 1969 Plymouth Road Runner. A classmate at East Anchorage High School, David Church, hit a telephone pole with it creating a horseshoe imprint in the front bumper and grille. I installed the Plymouth’s 383 engine, 4-speed transmission, and differential into a 1954 Chevrolet sedan. All other salvageable parts were stripped and sold. The transplant breathed new life into my old Chevy.

Soon after completing that project, a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T came roaring my direction. I talked mom into buying the Dodge, with her taking my recently purchased 1970 Chevrolet Camaro in trade. I was happy to be rid of the Camaro as it was a tortoise in disguise. Slow & Steady suited mother just fine.

The Charger served me well, although it had a ferocious appetite for high octane fuel. City police seemingly placed it on their Most Wanted list. I was constantly pulled over. Most stops were warranted, yet on the other hand some weren’t. My Dodge looked fast sitting still!

In the summer of 1972, I spotted a gray 1968 Plymouth GTX on the Glenn Highway. The car was jacked in the back with extended spring shackles. The young driver wore a military-style-haircut. His wife or girlfriend with infant children rode with him. I followed the muscle-car into town for a closer look.

Weeks later I came across the same Plymouth on Ingra Street at a red light. I was cruising in my Charger most likely having just washed it. That was standard procedure on weekends. This time the Plymouth contained 3-male-passengers instead of a woman and kids. The fellow riding shotgun took a long drag on a cigarette, quickly flicking ashes out an open window. He glanced over pointing a finger straight ahead.

A quick stoplight to stoplight race ensued with me severely beating the crippled Plymouth. Most likely the GTX owner “banged gears” quite often. His engine puked blue-smoke indicating something was amiss. The car was deathly-ill in the oil-consumption-department.

Turns out, Boggs, the fellow owning the Plymouth, worked at Fort Richardson with several soldiers I knew. His co-workers Don, Chuck, and Jim turned wrenches at Wonder Park Texaco when they were off duty. I was employed at the station during my high school years. I was a gas pump jockey. My father and his business partner Isaiah Lewis owned the place.

Don Weber was the red-haired soldier who sold me his ’54 Chevrolet sedan. This was the car I owned a couple of years before the Camaro and Charger. I drove it during my high school days. It was lifted on all corners much like a 4×4 truck. Don’s the only G.I. whose last name I still remember. Chuck drove a fast 1970 Chevelle. Jim was his best friend.

A fellow called Boggs stopped by on occasion to top off his tank.  Boggs owned the Plymouth that I raced with my Charger. He’d talk trash with his buddies, Don, Chuck, and Jim, for several minutes before leaving. Wonder Park Texaco was a favorite place for Army and Air Force car fanatics to hang out. I lost contact with all these guys after I graduated from high school.

Two years later an ad appeared in Penny Saver for a 1968 GTX. The advertisement mentioned it had a 440, a 4-speed transmission, and a Dana 60 differential. Price was $600.00. I desperately wanted that Dana 60.

Quickly dialing the listed telephone number, a man gave me directions on where to find it. He was at work and couldn’t meet me, yet seemed fine with my checking things out. The address was a small log-cabin off West 15th with a one-stall detached garage. The home was likely built in Anchorage during the ‘40’s.

Opening a rickety garage door, I instantly recognized the Plymouth. No other GTX in town came close to it in appearance. It was the same car driven by Boggs. Remnants of a military sticker remained on the front bumper. Someone had made a poor attempt with a razor blade or knife to remove it. Its Indiana license plates had been taken off and placed on the dash.

The car’s 440 Magnum engine was partially disassembled. Cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, intake manifold with carburetor, including other parts were stashed in the trunk. The odometer read 110,000 miles indicating the Mopar had covered lots of ground.

I stopped by Turnagain Chevron at Old Seward Highway & Klatt Road where the seller was employed. Handing him cash, he presented me with a clear title. The fellow was supposed to tow it to my house with his company wrecker, yet weeks later the promise went unfulfilled. With help from my brother-in-law, Gary Adair, we pulled it home using a rope.

All five ashtrays in the Plymouth contained cigarette butts. Smoking was common for servicemen back in the day, and the seats and headliner reeked of secondhand smoke and nicotine.

The person I purchased it from mentioned a sad story associated with the GTX.  Unfortunately, he never relayed the specifics to me. A brief meeting to finalize our transaction was the only time we met.

Searching for the guy many years later hoping to learn the mystery, I couldn’t locate him. Even without his help I’ve uncovered information on my own.  It was an old vehicle registration that eventually put me on the right track.

Undoubtedly Boggs had significant mechanical ability. I assumed he was the one who built a clever gauge and switch panel, locating it above the GTX rearview mirror. Much care was taken in the construction. Aircraft quality stainless-steel tubing connected the oil-pressure-gauge to engine. A chrome push-button switch was installed for starting. Tin work and riveting on the panel was precise and professionally done. All electrical-wiring was hidden from sight.

As I previously mentioned, I purchased the Plymouth for its Dana 60 rear end. The beefy component was needed to go underneath the 1954 Chevrolet. Plans were made to strip and sell all the extra parts. Over the next few years the automobile sat underneath a blue tarp waiting to be dismantled. Fortunately, that never happened. As more and more time went by, I decided instead to resurrect the car.

Both fenders had rust, including the rear quarter panels. I purchased new fenders from Anchorage Chrysler. They also supplied me with left and right quarter panels. A body shop owned by a friend did the work.

Modifications by me include a supercharged 426 Hemi with added 4-wheel disc brakes for improved stopping power. The transmission was rebuilt, with a heavy duty Borg-Warner clutch and pressure plate installed for durability. Well-worn seat covers were exchanged for new ones including new carpet. I performed all the chassis cleaning with a wire brush and electric grinder. There was plenty of hardened mud underneath.  I needed a chisel to remove some clods. When the project was done, I added a small United States flag to the rear window. Something inside me said it was the proper thing to do.

The finished car wasn’t a picture perfect restoration by any means. A buddy, Jeff Thimsen, repainted the body in gray-lacquer. Today, nearly 40-years after having been sprayed, it looks much the same as when Boggs owned it. Aesthetically speaking, time and dust took a toll on the paint.

People snicker and sneer at the nicks, dings, and visible body flaws. I refer to them asbattle scars. But there’sa tragic ending to this story, that remains macabre 44 years after it happened:

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James Henry Boggs was going through hard times. Only 24-years old, the specialist fourth class was a mechanic assigned to the 109th Transportation Company at Fort Richardson. He had three small children and a marriage on the rocks. When James’ young wife unexpectedly departed Alaska for Indiana taking the kids with her, he became despondent.

Anchorage in January is a terrible place to be alone, especially for those with drinking problems. Lack of sunlight and extreme cold can make life miserable and depressing. Add to that the plight of owning a car that wouldn’t run. James was without wheels at a time when he desperately needed them.

After receiving orders in February transferring him to Fort Hood, Texas, Boggs became emotionally unglued. He called his parents 5 times that Friday.  Army officers counseled him hoping to calm him down. Unsuccessful, they decided to leave him alone. Their decision was a fatal one.

Late Friday night, on February 8, 1974 after leaving a seedy 4th Avenue bar, James encountered 2 people on the street. One of them he knew from Fort Richardson. This soldier had a less than stellar military record having gone AWOL the previous year. The young men came across as partiers looking for a good time.  That was a fallacy. They had devious plans laid out instead.

 Lots of excess alcohol was consumed that evening. Drugs were used. Intoxicated, Boggs was intentionally led to a secluded spot behind the Alaska Native Hospital. Easily overpowered by his “friends”, they slit Boggs throat with a knife to near decapitation. Then they placed a 38-caliber pistol to James’ head and fired. Everything went according to plan.

The young soldier’s decomposing body was found several months later dumped in a pile of snow and ice. Thankfully, his killer and his accomplice were caught and prosecuted. An initial charge of first-degree-murder was surprisingly reduced by the Anchorage District Attorney Joseph D. Balfe and Assistant District Attorney W.H. Hawley to second-degree-murder.  According to court documents, presiding Judge Seaborn J. Buckalew Jr. seriously questioned that decision. Court room records show he believed the killing was an execution.

 The admitted killer, Gregory Allen Wolford, was given the maximum 20-years behind bars.  Nicholas Lee Pelkola was sentenced to 6 years for his part. Neither Wolford nor Pelkola served full terms.

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James Henry Boggs was a hardcore Mopar guy. His 1968 Plymouth GTX, next to wife and kids, meant lots to him. Records show he bought the vehicle soon after entering the service. Many G.I.’s purchased automobiles prior to being deployed. In Boggs’ case, it was a 13-month tour in Germany.

In 1971, James and his family made the long 3,000-mile-trip to The Last Frontier. In the 70’s the infamous Alaska/Canada Highway was still mostly gravel and mud. Recently married, James and Hazel would’ve been nervous, yet, on the other hand, extremely excited about their journey. Little did they know that in 3 years, James’ promising military-career would end in such horrific fashion.

Owning this vehicle and finally learning its full history has been eye-opening. For me it’s hard to fathom that I had known Boggs, never realizing he’d later been killed. I hardly read newspapers or watched the news back then.

Unfortunate events sent the car my direction. Things weren’t intended to go that way. Most likely after the Plymouth’s engine went sour, SP4 James Henry Boggs planned to replace broken parts.  He would’ve repaired and then driven the Plymouth back down the Al-Can Highway to Texas, to ultimately join his wife and kids.

Sadly, fate made sure that never happened.

Photo circa 1968

LOST IN OATMAN

“A Denmark beautician and his wife built that pyramid in hopes of obtaining eternal life.”

Pyramid house in Oatman, Arizona – Photo credit: Nicole Luna

When friends and relatives stop by to visit us in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, my wife and I have a plan of sorts. Without question we’ll take them first to see the London Bridge. That’s a prerequisite. Tourists love to stroll beneath the structure marveling at European architecture and craftsmanship. Our guests are no different. While they’re walking and gawking I sit and wait. It’s amazing what a person can see and feel perched on a concrete bench.

I’ve tried to act as bridge expert while down there, telling more gullible visitors about a movie filmed in ‘The English Village’ called, The Boston Strangler. The majority of them know it’s a ruse, yet I’ve hooked a few unsuspecting believers.  Occasionally I toss in the epic tale of a bridge worker named, “Chip”, who accidentally trapped himself inside the structure during reconstruction. Although grossly untrue, the statement warrants undivided attention from those listening.

It never fails that someone will ask if the poor man escaped. I tell them with straight face that being a stone mason, he eventually chipped himself out of trouble. It takes milliseconds for most to discover they’ve been had. Others never figure things out until my wife, Joleen, informs them. Taking our guests to dine at one of several restaurants on ‘The Island’ culminates my London Bridge tour. Someone has to entertain these people and I love doing it!

Breakfast at a swanky uptown diner is always included in our plans. There’s never been a visit where doggie boxes weren’t required. Out-of-town guests are constantly overwhelmed by the abundance of grub. They’ll say with utter amazement that they’ve never seen so much food on a plate. I won’t name the establishment yet will offer a clue, “Paw prints lead to the front door.”  Having visitors bring their ‘boxes’ back to our place saves Joleen from having to fix lunch or dinner. I wasn’t supposed to mention that.

Time is put aside in driving friends or relatives around town before heading to Parker. A scenic cruise across the Parker Dam into California is a must. Donkeys are constantly on both sides of the road including the middle. It’s akin to McCulloch Boulevard during a Desert Storm Street Party. Although I know few pertinent facts about Parker, I create unique ones to entertain our visitors. On one excursion I informed friends from Alaska that Parker was named after Fess Parker; the infamous Daniel Boone actor. There was no reason for them not to believe my spiel. It sounded good enough that even Joleen fell for it.

A trip to Oatman, Arizona is generally reserved for the final day. I attempt to line things up perfectly so our visitors don’t miss the gunfight reenactment. That’s my favorite part of visiting this place, other than watching burros steal food from kids and elderly people. Much like a thirsty donkey, I enjoy grabbing an ice cold drink at ‘Judy’s.

An Oatman visit is the perfect opportunity to practice a little tomfoolery.  I make sure to stand in front of onlookers when gunshots first ring out. Quickly dropping to the ground, I’ll act as if a chunk of hot lead struck me in the pelvis. Moaning profusely helps with the deception.  At the sound of pain, some sucker will gasp, believing live rounds were mistakenly loaded and fired. Quickly jumping up I’ll proclaim it was only a ricochet. That garners a few laughs.

Although not part of the skit, it adds unwanted drama to the gig. I’m sure the ‘Oatman Ghost Rider Gunfighters’ find my stunt distasteful. On one occasion after being given the evil eye by a couple of them, I ducked into the Oatman Hotel.  That turned out sweet because I purchased a jar of Arizona honey and an ice-cream cone while there.

There’s something peculiar about Oatman that nearly all visitors overlook. I’m not referring to the stench coming from the town’s public restroom. Tourists never fail to mention that. The peculiarity I’m talking about is the pyramid constructed on a hill directly overlooking Main Street. It sits directly on top of a mine shaft.

Other than locals knowing about this pyramid, most people don’t notice or care. No one’s ever asked me about the unique residence. That’s fine because I didn’t have an honest answer for them; until now.

Mr. Henning was born in Denmark. The man spent a good portion of his early life in Paris, Rome, Vienna, Madrid, and Majorca. He was an accomplished beautician in those locales. Herman performed hair and makeup magic on actors, celebrities, shahs, and other influential clientele. He eventually became bored, finding that wealthy people were basically unhappy individuals. Being around them brought him down.

Herman Henning was a different kind of person. I don’t mention that in a bad sense. Let’s just say he marched to the beat of a different drummer. He was an odd fellow much like this writer.

Herman made note of going on a picnic with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. That seems to be one of his more uplifting moments where dealing with Hollywood elite is concerned. Henning journeyed to America in 1965 with wife Lydia to escape the madness. Traveling across the U.S. they wound up in California before settling in desolate Oatman, Arizona. They quickly fell in love with the place.

“They have everything so there isn’t anything left to live for!”, he told a reporter.

I found the majority of information regarding this couple in an Arizona Republic newspaper article by, Steve Daniels, dated October 8, 1985. Mr. Daniels arranged a short interview with the Henning’s for his manuscript.

When Herman and Lydia relocated to Oatman he immediately began plans for a combination pyramid/home. Being a health consultant including beautician, Henning thought there were magical as well as spiritual powers associated with a pyramid design. Herman Henning was an advocate of astrology, metaphysics, architecture, and holistic healing all rolled into one. There’s no telling what else he rolled. During Henning’s interview reporter, Steve Daniels, disclosed that the man smoked generic cigarettes. The word generic has many connotations. We’ll leave it at that.

Local residents were not impressed with Henning’s undertaking. Rumblings were heard throughout the community regarding potential dynamiting of his structure. Such devilry had been done to a couple of businesses over the years. Townspeople thought the pyramid design would not blend in with ‘ghost town’ decor. Here tell there are still a couple of Oatman old-timers feeling that way.

Sun and weather have aged things to perfection.  The 4,000-square-foot monstrosity from a distance appears much older than its 34 years. This helps it blend in with prehistoric buildings below. Wood trim appears to be cracked and warped. This same blemishing occurs to flesh. Lizard skin is often used to describe such. Overall though, the dwelling looks to be in great shape.

Henning’s pyramid faces true north. The slope of the walls has been perfectly aligned to 57 degrees, 52 minutes, and 12 seconds. Herman Henning informed Steve Daniels, that the alignment was to maximize effectiveness. The man went on to claim the pyramid made a big difference in his life. He didn’t elaborate other than say he could hear burros braying in the street below. Without question that’s better than listening to caged Chihuahua’s bark in someone’s backyard.

I wanted to interview Mr. Henning. The gentleman would be 97-years-old. An Oatman business owner told me that he’d passed away some time ago. I found no record of such. If Henning’s did depart this world, magical powers of the pyramid failed once again where eternal life is concerned. We saw that happen with the Egyptians.

Next time friends or relatives roll into Havasu, Joleen and I will make it a point to haul them to Oatman just like the others. With added history in my memory bank, I’ll be able to point to the hills and say with unquestionable intellect,

“A Denmark beautician and his wife built that pyramid in hopes of obtaining eternal life.

They’ll either be impressed by my knowledge or call me a liar.

As I mentioned earlier, one of Herman Henning’s ultimate reasons for constructing a pyramid was to harness special powers from the heavens. Only Mr. Henning can say for sure if this worked. Unfortunately it appears he left town permanently. On a quizzical note, perhaps he’s merely lost in Oatman and can’t be found?

If Henning’s pyramid does generate unlimited energy, a portion of it might be tapped to help with the community restroom dilemma. Perhaps a few solar panels placed on top of the unusual building, with electrical wires extending downward to the brick outhouse could be arranged. Celestial current would then be utilized to power-up giant ventilation fans.

I’m absolutely positive should Herman Henning ever return home, and had to enter that public facility, he would not hesitate one iota in saying,

“Go for it!”

My guests would thank him for the gesture!

Pyramid house circa 1985. – Photo credit: Steve Daniels