Papa Moody and the Bear: Natural born storytelling, a crazy and TRUE near-death tale, and my family
Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. The costumes, the candy, and hanging out with all my friends and family are the best! We always watch The Legend of Sleepy Hollow too. It's the cartoon, Disney version, voiced by Bing Crosby (I've linked one of my favorite songs from the show above). Aside from being just a great little show, Bing Crosby is the reason it's my favorite Halloween show to watch.
A lot of my favorite childhood memories have Bing Crosby's voice in the background. It doesn't feel like Christmas until I've heard him sing White Christmas.
More than though, he reminds me of my great-grandfather, Glen Moody, otherwise known as Papa Moody. Papa was an avid hunter and fisherman, loved the outdoors, and cherished his family. He believed Big Lake, Arizona to be the most beautiful place in the world. It is said regularly that he was loved by all who knew him. I've often heard of his storytelling abilities. He passed away before I was born. Every memory ever relayed to me of him was one of fondness, laughter, and pure joy.
My mom would always tell me that Bing Crosby reminded her of Papa. It wasn't until I was older that I asked her why. It turns out, not only do they bear a passing resemblance, but their voices sound alike as well! Bing was always playing in our house because he was keeping the memory of our family alive.
As a storyteller myself, I love hearing tales of my family and the people that have come before us. Papa's most famous story was about a bear that almost took his life. One of my relatives, Brent Quinn, at the age of twelve, had the foresight to hide a reel-to-to real tape recorder behind the couch when Papa was telling the story and captured the tale in his own words. I would like to share it with you now, exactly the way he told it. I'm going to include Brent's introduction and notes, though the formatting is from me. As it was before I got my hands on it, it was all one, very long paragraph, haha! Many of the phrases were separated by ellipsis in the original version, I assume to show Papa's pausing in the telling. However, I've edited those out, for the most part, to make it more readable. I've also added a few more pictures of Papa, including one with a bear. It should be noted that this is not "the bear," but a different one. I hope you will enjoy the story as much as I have over the years!
A Bullet To Revenge
by Brent L. Quinn
The ridges, canyon, trees and stream witnessed the fierce fight between beast and man, near our famous and well known "Angle Apple Orchard." If ever there was a Davy Crockett amidst us, the Graham County Guardian reported, it was on this day when Glen Moody of Thatcher, the co-owner and meat cutter of the Thatcher Market, received a call from his friend Bob Angle pleading for help. Could he bring his hunting hound dogs which were badly needed, and could he break away from the store and help track down this large black bear which was destroying apple tree limbs with his brute size and strength and was dragging a trap and chain and a broken off log. Glen, with outdoorsman blood flowing in his veins was eager to assist. Quickly he found two of his kids to run the store; his business partner, Gordon Stowell, had just been operated on and was still in our community hospital. In no time he had loaded up his best dogs and headed up the winding road of Mt. Graham. He didn't take his rifle for it was out of season and he figured Bob had a rifle, having set out traps.
This piece of history happened the week of August 7, 1961, according to Gordon Stowell's personal journal, whom his son Norman Stowell of Chandler, Arizona, was so kind to research for this history just two days ago. Glen was 54 years old.
In Glen's own words... recorded by myself, Brent Quinn, a nephew, at the tender age of 12 years old, having just acquired a small reel-to-reel tape recorder. I hid it behind the sofa couch in Glen's living room as he recounted his escape from the jaws of death to his brothers and sisters who had traveled to be with him and offer their care and love. Here is his account of the events which took place:
Upon locating the bear I hollered to Bob nearby. "He's right here, get him! Get him! Below us."
So he came down there and shot him, and after him you know, and I said, "You better shoot him, Bob. The dogs will never catch him if he gets loose."
About that time, I looked right at the bear, and Bob snapped on him with his pistol. His bullet cylinder was partially empty. Then one of my dogs made another run in on him, but with his brute strength he broke the chain on the trap, pulling the dog in to him, chewing and biting the dog which was yelping and squealing and squalling for all his life.
I said, "Shoot him, Bob! Shoot him, he's killing that dog!"
And again, Bob takes aim and snaps his pistol... another empty cartridge amongst the howling and squalling. He had been cocking his pistol and un-cocking it to find a good shell.
Then another dog came running in to distract the bear, allowing the injured dog to break free. By this time, Bob fired off two more shots while this ruckus was going on. That is when the dogs beat it. They headed for camp. I didn't see them nowhere.
The bear, now being free, took off running in the opposite direction. That is when we took out after him, without a hound dog in sight.
It only took moments to realize that Bob was struggling to keep up with that bear. I said, "Give me that pistol. I can catch him."
So I grabbed the pistol and started running when Bob hollered something about shells. I quickly open the cylinder, and it looked like they were all empty. I saw a good one. So I moved it around so it would go off when I cocked the gun again.
That's when I broke and run. I must have run a good fifty or hundred yards, when I seen my oldest dog. He had the bear stopped. He was rushing in and rebounding in defiance of the bear snarls and growls.
It only took a second to realize I was pretty close to them, so I drew a bead down right in the middle of him and pulled the trigger. He didn't show any signs at all that I hit him and so he took off running again. So I looked in this old gun again, and there was just one bullet left, one bullet left between me and this ferocious beast. So, like a fool, I twirled the cylinder around and took out after this bear, with another man's pistol I was most unfamiliar with.
So I was running along amongst the trees and the brush, watching where the steel trap on the bear's paw was stirring up the ground, staying on his track as to not lose him, when all at once, I could hear this old hound dog just a short distance away. He let out a blood-curling yelp, following by constant yelping. This savage bear tore off this dog's complete hind end with but one swipe of his front paw.
As I came running in there, I seen this bear at the exact same moment he seen me, and just as quick as he seen me, he moved around behind a dense thicket of oak brush, apparently to conceal himself.
Then all at once, he came. He lowered his head and stuck it straight out. It reminded me of a goose. That's exactly what he looked like. Another acquaintance of mine said he had a bear charge him and it reminded him of a rattlesnake. And so he did. He stuck his head straight out and here he came.
I looked back behind me and all around and I didn't see a dog no-where. "Well," I said, "this is me. This ain't no dog, this is me he's after."
And as he was coming he wasn't growling or anything. He was just coming as fast as he could, with this one trap still on his front foot. He had broke the chain off of it. And I don't know, but it looked like he was coming without me knowing it. And so here he comes in sort of a half-moon shape like that.
And somebody said, "you'd better get out of here." I don't know who I was talking to, but somebody was talking to me. Then they said, "what if you miss him?"
And I said, "I'm not going to miss him."
And so here he come, and I stood right there as close to Joe's leg there. And I jabbed the pistol right between his eyes (4 feet away) and pulled the trigger, and he didn't even slow down. I just cut his skull when the bullet glanced off of his head. I wasn't used to this little pistol of Bob's and it jumped a little. I didn't know if I was going to stop him or not. I had to stop him. I had but this one shell. After I fired this one bullet... I didn't have any plans after that.
I just got my body turned like this to run, when he caught me right here in my leg. You can see the scars right here. I kind of went a hopping along on one leg in a half-circle trying to free myself, and that is when I went to hollering at Bob.
Right then he (the bear) jerked me down under him and I fell on my stomach. That's the only thing that saved me. If I had fell on my back, I wouldn't be here right now.
He then moved further up on me and sank his mouth here on this cheek right here. I could feel his tusk type teeth sinking through my meat and flesh right then. That was the dangdest feeling I ever had. He kept opening up his mouth as wide as he could and then tear through my flesh again and again.
That is when I went to screaming, "Bob! Help, help me, he's got me, Bob! He's killing me, Bob!" And then I realized that was exactly what he was doing... and was going to do.
Boy, I sure came to life. And I tell you, I really came alive. I was trying to get my feet up under me, with the weight of this monstrous animal.
That's when he caught me right here, sinking all four of his largest teeth into my spine. He just missed my spinal cord by fractions. The doctors said, "if he had moved over that much (1/4th of an inch), you wouldn't be here telling no stories. That would have broken your spine right in two."
When he bit me there I somehow got my feet back up under me, and boy I was a raven loony-tie then. I was a jerkin' and twistin' and I still had this pistol in my hand, and I think I was squeezing the trigger at the same time I was hitting and jabbing him with it. And I knew it was empty. And I just went to squirming and twisting and tearing, and I just knew the next bite was going to go through my throat. And I was waiting for it, and I was trying to keep my head away from his mouth, and I got up on my feet then.
We were both standing up. He had his good arm around me. And with all my exertion still yanking and turning and twisting... His one paw must have been dead and had no feeling in it, for I came out on the side the trap was on.
And of course I thought of lots of things right then. I knew he had me, and it flashed through my mind how I was going to die. And a funny thing, what I saw... I saw my wife and I saw my kids and I thought of lots of little things, you know. But what burned deep in my mind... I could see all of the guys I was raised with in town, telling how this bear killed ole Moody. That burned in my mind more than anything. I could see ole Daley (Ned), and Nat (Hoopes) standing on the corner telling how this bear killed Moody up there, I could just see them talking about it and everything. It all flashed back in my mind... I guess it wasn't a second.
And then by now I was just about in a black out I guess. I was just twisting and jerkin and turning, and all at once I sensed my shirt tear. I was in such a frenzy, I didn't know what I was doing I guess. I was just trying to get rid of him, that was all. I heard my shirt tear... I sensed my shirt tear. And I sensed his weight off my back. I felt the weight kind of leave me.
That's when I came spinning out this way, on the side with his numb paw. I sensed I was free. It happened so fast. I thought maybe I did break loose of him. So I started to run to see if I was free sure enough I was. I was free from him, and believe you me, I was scared then.
I started to run and I started to run towards Bob. I was still hollering for help.
Bob heard me holler and thought I had killed the bear and he had stopped to get his horse and pick up the chain tied to an oak log which he had drug around some oak brush where the bear had broke it loose and then he was going to head toward me across the canyon. He was just taking his time. Bob didn't have a gun or anything. But he was on his little horse and he might have been able to run up there and try to save me had I not gotten away.
Anyway I started running a little ways upgrade, toward where Bob was, and boy I was scared then. I knew he (the bear) was going to catch me and pull me back down again. That scared me worse than anything, cause I figured I would have to go back through it all again. I had given up once I knew he had me. I didn't want to be pulled down again.
I started to running, and I had to see what he was doing, and how far away I had gotten. And I turned like this and when I did I liked right down his throat.
He had his mouth this wide. I could see his tonsils and everything. And he was trying to close his mouth down on this other cheek on my behind. And believe you me, if ever you ever seen somebody throw'd a rainbow in the body, I DID! I just fell over like a half-moon like that, trying to keep away from his teeth and his jaw. I just kept running like that. I don't know what kept me from falling over on his back.
You know he did me just like he did all of the dogs he chewed up. After they went to yelping and got away, he'd chase them a distance of fifteen or twenty yards and let them go, figuring they were going to get away from him and so he would let them go. He did the same with me. I stayed ahead of him just long enough, he thought I was leaving. And I was if he was going to let me!
And that is when he stopped and stood there for a second, you know. I kept going away from him, and all at once he turned. When he turned to go back, that is when I stopped.
I stood there for a minute, and I said, "Well... I'll wake up in a minute. I've had these sorts of dreams before. A damn bull after me or something. This is a nightmare, that's all it is. I'll wake up any minute now."
And I looked down and there I still had this pistol in my hand. And I could feel the blood from where he had bitten me oozing out and trickling down to my shoes.
I stood there and looked and here came old Bob over the hill about a hundred yards or so. I hollered at him. He came over to me, and I says, "oh, God, Bob... He got me." I says, "he got me."
And he said, "what did he do?"
I said, "he charged me. I didn't even shoot till he was against me and I didn't even slow him down." I said, "I don't know how bad I'm hurt and I'm too scared to look."
And I was too scared to look. I figured he had chewed me up already enough to kill me, but I got away from him.
"Well you had better get to a doctor."
I pulled up my pants leg then, and there was those big ole holes, teeth holes in me. I said, "do you have any more bullets?" I says, "we'd better get that bear."
He puts his hands in his pocket and says, "that's all I've got." I know there was four bullets cause we shot four times afterward.
So I loaded up this pistol and started out on this trail, a hobbling along.
Bob said, "come here, you're in no shape to follow that bear. You get on this horse."
So he took the gun, and I said, "now you watch out for him Bob. You got no dogs to keep him off of you, and he could just be laying and waiting for you. You be careful."
So he started off seeing where the trap was hitting, and following along.
So I got on the horse, and told Bob, "he is heading over to Wet Canyon to where the water is."
So Bob dropped off heading into Wet Canyon and I took the horse out and around a ways. Just as he dropped down out of sight, as I was coming around, I heard a racket. And I could hear the bear. It sounded like it was running. And I heard another racket. It was a loud racket and I didn't know what it was. I couldn't imagine what had happened.
I went to hollering at Bob and I hollered three times. He never did answer me. I thought to myself, "this bear was waiting for him and reached up and grabbed him before he could shoot him."
So I kicked this ole horse to speed up and I didn't know what I was going to do when I got there. And just before I got there he shot. Then he shot again. Then he hollered. I thought, "that is good, he must have gotten him."
When I got to where I could see better. There was the bear down across by the creek just a going around in circles and chewin and digging and biting himself.
Bob says, "well he's not going any place now I knocked him down."
And I walked down there to him. I said, "give me that gun Bob. I'll take care of him." And I shot and shot again and then the gun was empty. Mind you the gun was empty.
Bob says, "that was all that I had."
I said, "well he's done for anyway."
He (the bear) started pulling himself along to a pool of water in the creek bottom, and slid into the water like a turtle you know. And he lifted up his head above the water for a little bit. Then all at once he started going down. Finally his head went down under the water, and bubbled there until he stopped breathing.
Bob said when he come up on him, he was just getting out of that place of water and was going over to climb up a tree. There was a piece of tin there and the bear slid down on it. That's when he shot at him, and that was the strange rattling noise I heard and couldn't figure out what it was. That is when the bear stood up on his hind legs and came walking straight at Bob, and he leveled down on him and hit him right in the chest. That is what knocked him down.
And so we just left him there in the water and Bob says, "you better go on to the doctor."
I pulled down my overalls then, to see how bad I was back here, and meat was hanging out everywhere.
I headed down to the orchard ranch house and called my wife (Verma). Gordon Stowell, my partner in the Tatcher Market, had just gotten operated on and was in the hospital. That's the first thing I thought of. "Lordy, what will we do if they have to put me in the hospital? What will happen to the store?" I told her to get Waldo (our son-in-law) and go down to the store, that I had just been chewed up by a bear and I don't know how bad I'm hurt. I just know I'm chewed up and that's all.
So I got into my truck and drove straight to the doctors and they overhauled me down there. The doctor told me to make out my will and get my finances in order, as he was sewing me up and dressing my wounds.
"If the bear has rabies," he continued, "there is nothing the medical world can do for you."
Needless to say, it was a long, long wait to have the bears head sent off for testing. The tests came back negative. The bear was not rabid.
Glen's life would go on to be a great husband and father and friend. This is a true story. This happened in our midst. Glen was 54 years old. Here is a picture (right) of a different bear he killed during bear season on our mountain. He told his bear story a thousand and one times. The favorite hang out for all the Thatcher school kids was to stop in the Thatcher Market, but a bottle of stawberry soda pop and sip it while Glen excitedly shared his fantastic story of escaping from the very jaws of death. All who knew him will forever be grateful that his life was spared for he quielty helped the hungry... and would send them on their way. His legacy will never be forgotten... his life shines on through our good deeds. I'm proud to be his nephew and to have named my son after him. To this very hour... I miss his voice, I miss his smile... I miss his kindness... I miss his love.