Lowe, Guns, and Music

David Brown

Hachita Liquor.

I recall a similar adventure with musica in the dying town of Hachita in the winter of what was about 1974. Lowe, Mike Robinson and I had just spent a snowy night camped in the Florida Mountains where Mike had collected a series of chaparral plants. Wanting to warm up while we labeled the plant specimens I drove us to Hachita in search of a place to get a needed cup of coffee and out of the wind. This was my first field trip out of state with Lowe and I hadn't yet realized that he traveled without coffee, food, or any amenities whatsoever (he had spent the night under a blanket of cloth and snow). The prospects for relief in Hachita didn't look too promising, however, as a crew was then removing the railroad tracks leading into town. But we were in luck! The main store, which was a bar, was open and serving beers to two cowpokes who were entertaining themselves telling lies and listening to western music coming from a juke box.

Sitting down we dumped the plants on a pool table and got to work. Lowe explained that we were botanicos and to shut off the music as it's loudness was distracting. The response was the juke box being fed a roll of quarters and a turned up rendition of Hank Williams. Lowe, didn't say a word but got up and unplugged the cord from the wall. 10 seconds later it was back in the socket.

Lowe then got up and pulled the cord out of the juke box.

I knew we were in for a fight as there was 3 of them and 3 of us. But they looked mean and pretty tough -- capable of going after us with broken bottles I figured.

But then Lowe explained in the nicest voice possible that he needed to concentrate and apologized for his pique with western music. He gave the proprietor a $20 bill to re-attach the cord. I couldn't believe our good fortune as he talked them down.

I had another experience or two observing his ability to pacify people who he outraged minutes before. A story with Ray Turner in Sonora comes to mind. Lowe used to carry a bag of coins he called the "Nino Bag" He would find a perch in the central plaza, gather a contingent of kids around him, and take the coins out of the bag. He would then place a coin of a denomination worthy of an illustrated reptile with the understanding that he would pay that amount for every specimen brought in. This worked fine until it got to be siesta time and he closed the banco with boys still out collecting. Boys bringing in critters to his hammock were instructed to vamoose as the bank was cerrado. The response was several boys standing back, out of range, and tossing pebbles at the napping giant. When one of the pebbles bounced off his nose Lowe rose up and fired his .22 pistol over the heads of his tormentors. Not knowing the pistol was loaded with bird shot the kids scattered home. All of the gringos did likewise not wanting to face the wrath of a contingent of mothers and going to jail. But, when revisited the next day, there was Lowe standing in the plaza as if nothing had happened. I never did know how he got out of that one.

The moral of these and George's accounts is that Lowe had an uncanny ability to talk his way out of outrageous situations that he created. There never will be another one like him.