RING AROUND THE SUN
By Nelson Martin
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Coot Boldt and Narlow Montgomery sauntered across the wooden bridge into Juarez. Coot was dead set on honoring a lifelong friend’s resolve that the pair aid him in running munitions to Pancho Villa, while Narlow held back. A legless lad on a board with skate wheels in the gritty dust of Juarez Avenue tugged at Narlow’s trousers whose galluses must have been tied to his heartstrings. He bent to drop a dollar in the boy’s cup. The boy’s death-glaze-black eyes gleamed up, demanded more for Mexico than a coin.
Coot and Narlow began shipping German-made Mausers and cartridges by rail to their contact in Tornillo, Texas, downstream from El Paso on the Rio Grande. German spies and operatives along the border were busy assuring that Uncle Sam embroiled itself in Mexico’s revolution and kept its long blue nose out of the European War. President Wilson’s munitions embargo dried up Villa’s supply, but the Federales sources were limited only by the government’s ability to crank their presses. Coot and Narlow ignored the embargo, flying munitions deep into Chihuahua in a Curtiss Pusher biwing. Would they be caught by US border guards and be the government’s guest at Leavenworth, or shot while fleeing from an arranged Federale escape?
Nelson Martin is a native of southern New Mexico, west Texas, and the northern Chihuahua region. He tramped, fished, and hunted their deserts, eager to share their dust and pungent aroma after a drought, recalls steam locomotives with eight-foot driver-wheels racing south out of Las Cruces toward El Paso, and witnessed a jaguar coming out of Chihuahua on the rail line along the border to Columbus just past the West Portrillo Mountains, isolated to this day.
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