Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Update & Poem from Ken

Today, Monday Dec. 13, was a surprising anticlimax. I had somehow come to believe a radiation procedure would take place today. Instead, today was an interview with a radiation/oncology specialist and a rundown on a highly specialized radiation procedure that will take place Dec. 22. In the interim, another MRI will be performed Dec. 15. Both of these will take place in Los Angeles at Kaiser's facility there, a very impressive place. I feel I'm in good hands. We won't drive up those days. We'll take the train. In a very nice gesture, Kaiser has apartments across the street from the radiation facility for use by out of town patients free of charge. We'll take advantage of their generosity. More when I know it.

(Last Wednesday at 3:00 a.m. Ken wrote this poem in cowboy jargon. Phee)
by Ken Graydon, December, 2010

Now we’ve all heard the word that the almighty Lord
Doesn’t send you a thing you can’t take.
Just reach down inside and you’ll find he’ll provide
What you need to succeed some bad break.
If you sit there and whine you’ll be sure to resign
And that will be no use at all
And I’ve often heard said that what don’t make you dead
Makes you stronger when your back’s ‘gainst the wall
For each tribulation there’s a grand explanation.
That it’s left up to you to discern
And sooner or later in the depths of each crater
There’s some wonderful secret to learn.
No use in cryin’. You’ve got to keep tryin’.
The answer just lies deeper down.
When He hands you a big’un if you keep on diggin’
There’s some treasure deep down to be found.
I know men of faith say whatever he sayeth
Comes true when you’ve shelled to the cob
And he’s give me this task for which I did not ask
‘Cause he figures I’m up to the job.
Considerin’ this matter I guess I should be flattered.
I s’pose most men more pious would be.
But, sisters and brothers, if I had my druthers
I wish he’d quit braggin’ on me!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Email from Phee Sherline:

As you may know, Ken Graydon has been diagnosed with cancer which isn't good news at all. Treatment starts Monday, December 13th with high beam radiation focused on a brain tumor. That's the first step. We don't know what's next.

editors note: Please feel free to leave well wishes and comments here in these posts. I will make sure that Ken & Phee know about them. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Message from Ken Graydon

Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Well, folks, now we know. The Dust Bunny’s got fangs. Turns out it’s not old valley fever scars but something a bit more insistent. Treatment of one or two methods will start soon, which one is yet to be determined. In any case, we go forward. There is a lot of music to be made. It will be. There is much enjoyment to be enjoyed. It will be.

Let’s face a truth. We are all terminal. We just don’t know when. In my case, I’ve already had seventy-seven good years run and I am looking forward to the rest of it.

I am forever overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of support from all of you. If I do not acknowledge each of you personally, please forgive me. It will be simply because there are so many of you that I may not be able to keep up.

I particularly want to thank everyone who stepped into my spots in Death Valley ‘49ers Encampment. All reports are that you people absolutely glowed. I am forever in your debt.

All of you in Songmakers and in San Diego Folk Song Society and all the rest of you, your caring means so much more than I can find words for. I am left with a very inadequate “Thank You” which does not begin to discharge my obligations.

I pledge to you, we are not finished. We will be back . As the old song says, “All things shall perish from under the sky. Music alone shall live never to die.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

2010 Encampment a Success!

Thousands of Death Valley admirers gathered in Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells last week to take part in the 61st Annual Death Valley '49ers Encampment.

Fair weather, great music and quality art work were the most talked about topics at the Encampment this year. Tepid 75 degree days allowed participants to comfortably enjoy all of the outdoor activities and the star-filled night skies were perfect for a late night dip in the warm Furnace Creek swimming pool.

Entertainers Dave Stamey and Sourdough Slim returned this year to share their wonderful music. Newcomer Belinda Gail was a big hit with the audiences. She sang her heart out all week, what a trooper! And of course, the Encampment just wouldn't be the same without the classic harmonies of Chaparral. They even treated us to a gospel tune accompanied by past Master of Ceremonies Dick Hilleary.

The Invitational Western Art Show showcased a variety of very talented artist. Every booth wowed viewers as they stopped in. We can't wait to see what new pieces each artist will bring next year!

Most importantly, our Annual Art Auction raised needed funds for our Education and Scholarship Programs. Thank you to all who bid on artwork.

Consider joining us next year!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Website Launched!

Welcome to the new and improved Death Valley '49ers website. We hope you find it full of the information you need to make your trip to the annual Encampment an easy and fun experience. Some of our new features include:
  • This fantastic Blog!
  • An off-site photo album full of great photos from our members and enthusiastic fans across the country.
  • An interactive Calendar showing Death Valley related events throughout the year.
  • Information about the State Registered Landmarks that we have dedicated.
  • An expanded News section.

Have fun viewing all we have to offer and please tell your friends about the Death Valley '49ers!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Boss of the Plains Hat

Henry Stetson & Hugh Tolford

Did you know?
The son of a Philadelphia hat maker created the first cowboy hat in 1865. His name was John B. Stetson, now known as the inventor of the cowboy hat.
As the story goes, John B. Stetson and some companions went west to seek the benefits of a drier climate. During a hunting trip, Stetson amused his friends by showing them how he could make cloth out of fur without weaving. Stetson used the fur from hides collected on the hunting trip. Kneading the fur and working it with his hands, dipping it into boiling water, spreading it out, kneading it, and dipping it again, he created a soft, smooth piece of felt. Using a technique that has been known since the beginning of modern civilization, Stetson amazed his friends by using the only material he had at hand--fur.Stetson made a unusually large hat out of this fur-felt. He then wore the hat for the remainder of his hunting trip, at first as a joke, and then grew fond of the hat for its protection from the weather. He and other cowboys of the west ended up liking the idea so well that Stetson soon manufactured and sold a hat true to his original idea. Since his hunting trip, J.B. Stetson intended his new hat creation to be for the cowboys that he came to know in the west. Thus, the creation of the first cowboy hat..............character and sun block for the men of the west

2006 Encampment Cloisonne

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The Death Valley '49ers is a non-profit, membership organization established in 1949. Our purpose is to promote interest in and the preservation of all matters relating to the history of Death Valley.
We support this purpose through the publication of historical keepsakes, newsletters, and books; education and scholarship programs; special events such as the annual Encampment and history conferences; and active research and preservation of documents important to the history of Death Valley.
Keep history alive and join us today!