What History Taught Me

Jim Hatzell, Artist

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The Artist Ride is going stronger than ever after 26 years. It is held once a year at the Shearer Ranch, 20 miles north of Wall, South Dakota. About 150 authentic Old West models provide scrap for the artists. The ride is so popular that we now have to set limits on how many artists can come each year. Right now we have slots for 50 artists.

I prefer my manual film camera for the rich darks and lights (thanks to back lighting). Also, digital cameras have a sensor that corrects the “mistakes” it thinks I am making in my images.

My daddy always told me work hard and show up on time. Also, wear comfortable shoes.

I got the history bug at a very early age. I was tutored by my great-great aunt (born in 1879), who used to tell me stories of her mother feeding the Indians in her backyard in Illinois. I also grew up hearing war stories. My father’s cousin, Leslie Short, was credited by Admiral Nimitz with shooting down the first Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor. My father Boyd was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in a B-24 Bomber in WWII. And my uncle Jack Flavin served with Gen. Patton.

What most people don’t know about me is I was offered a job as a cartoonist for Mad Magazine by Al Feldstein in 1997. I turned the job down because it meant moving to New York City.

The first time I visited the...

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