A Page Out of the Book Cliffs
Page 19 – Ink Harris – Part 8

I’m a day or two late getting this “PAGE” typed up. My son, Orion and family, invited us to join them camping in La Sal Pass over the past weekend, partly to get out of the heat and partly to celebrate my birthday. The camping was great, with nice rains each day. The rib steaks and peach cobbler were a real treat. Officially becoming of Medicare age was not the highlight of my weekend though. I could happily have put that off for about 20 or 30 years. It was so nice up there that I stayed an extra day.

This morning while slurping coffee, my good old buddy Brownie called me. He was traveling to Grand Junction with his fairly new bride Jan. He said they had been listening to the Moab radio station and heard DJ Bubba playing a Johnny Cash song called “Cisco Clifton.” Brownie said it was about Ballard Harris and his Cisco “Fillin” Station. I’m not sure if the DJ figured that part out or if Brownie did, but after googling it up and taking a listen, it does sound like it must have been talking about Ballard Harris’s place.

Many of you know that Ballard had a couple of gas pumps in front of his colorful little store near his house at Dewey Bridge, where he hung out after retiring from UDOT in 1975. But fewer may know that he had a gas station west of Cisco on the north side of Highway 6 & 50 for many years, prior to moving to Dewey full time. According to the song, a big black Cadillac spent $7 there in 1967. The ballad goes on to tell of the good man Johnny Cash called “Cisco Clifton” working at his station a mile and a half outside of town. That fits with where Ballard Harris was in business. In the song he was selling regular, wiping windows and pumping up tires, while the locals played checkers inside. Then the interstate passed him by and things got tough. There is certainly a true story there.

More about Ballard Harris later, but I’m not quite done with his dad, Ink Harris, quite yet. I’ll give you a little more from another letter he wrote to his good friend Harry Ballard in England. This one is dated Dec. 5, 1921 and sent to Chichester, England from Green River, Utah. It begins:

Dear Friend,

It has bin a long time since I wrote to you, but I haven’t had any thing good to write so I just neglected it. Our range war has got to be very searous. Oscar Turners Man (Charley Glass) was tried and turned loos for killing that Man last winter and they have taken a change of venue to Sanpeet Co. in my case, it will come up some time in January, it looks like we are going to have more trubble this year. There is lots of feed on the desert this year but the French and Greek Sheepmen are determand to take the mesas away frome us and we are just as determaned they wont do it so you can figgar out what that means if they persist.

I hate awfuly to get into any more trubble but I hate a lot worse to be run out of my home by a lot of dam Alians. So I expect the big thing will come off as soon as it snows. We have had one of the best years we have had for a long time, lots of rain last summer and fall and no snow up to date. Cows are in good shape and the calf crop was pretty good but they are not worth anything. I didn’t sell any thing last spring, but will have to let go next spring. The Moab State Bank got me for $6000.00 cash when it broke and put me in bad shape, guess I will pull out of it some way. Everything is dead all over the country. The oil men are still drilling in a place or two but as yet they have not struck any thing and I don’t think they will, but I hope I am mistaken…

Ink then goes on to discuss some real estate business in Thompsons and asks after Harry’s family before finishing the letter with this:

Old Mase is down here this winter staying with McPhersons. The old fellow is breaking pretty fast. I saw Oscar Turner while in Moab. He is beginning to look old like the rest of us.

Well I think I have told you about all there is to tell. Wishing your family a happy Chrismas and a Prosperis New Year. I am as ever your old friend, G.A. Harris

In the next installment we will see how things turned out in the trial of the men who shot Ink’s horse out from under him. Until then, I hope all you good folks keep doing a little serious rain dancing.

ByBy AJ Rogers