Eighty years after the Scopes monkey trial in Tennessee, some people are still uptight about Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution.
There are those who want to believe that the Book of Genesis is a literal history of how the world began–the only history of how the world began–and they feel that evolutionary theory threatens their beliefs.
Fortunately, this is America, and anyone can believe anything he chooses to believe. At least, that’s what I was always told.
John Scopes was a Tennesse high school teacher accused of teaching evolution, in defiance of Tennessee law. His trial in 1925 was a five-star media circus, pitting golden-tongued orator William Jennings Bryan, the lead prosecutor, against defense attorney Clarence Darrow.
Darrow made a monkey out of Bryan, but Scopes was convicted anyway. The Tennessee Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, but only because of a technicality, leaving the evolution dispute out there so that science teachers and Christian fundamentalists can arm-wrestle over it eighty years later.
I was not around in 1925, but one of my heroes was. Dick Wick Hall had been a prospector and newspaperman around Wickenburg–a genuine Hassayamper.
Then, about 1904 or 1905, he founded the town of Salome, sixty miles west of Wickenburg, beside what would be the Arizona & California Railroad, when it got built a few years later.
Hall opened a service station he called the Laughing Gas Station, and started a newspaper called The Salome Sun, “made with a laugh on a mimeograph.” He wrote often of California-bound tourists passing through Salome in “the Tin Lizzie,” the Model T Ford. I saw a 1925 Model T in Wickenburg Monday, and a handsome thing it was.
Hall said he had a pet frog who was seven years old and couldn’t swim; the frog had to carry a canteen. It was one of many colorful stories Hall invented about Salome and surrounding towns.
The Saturday Evening Post, the most influential general interest magazine of the times, began printing Hall’s humor. At the time of the Scopes trial, Hall’s writing was appearing in several magazines, and The Salome Sun was a nationally syndicated newspaper column.
Salome had become two places–the small town which still exists today, and a fictional town peopled with Hall’s bizarre desert rats.
Although there was no 24-hour TV news in 1925, Hall apparently got tired of the Scopes circus, and wanted to put it to rest, so he wrote the definitive word(s) about evolution. He used a lot of random capital letters, claiming the lower-case keys had broken off his old typewriter.
The Best Proof of Evolution is All Around us Right Now. It started in the Garden of Eden, where All of our Other Troubles started–and it was Eve’s Fault. If Eve hadn’t of Forced Adam to eat that Apple and Swiped the Fig Leaves, we wouldn’t all be going Broke today buying Clothes and everybody might be Living in the Garden of Eden today and Eating Big Red Apples and Enjoying Life.
When Adam and Eve got run out of the Garden of Eden and no one left to watch it, the Cows and Jack Rabbitts and Burros all broke into the Orchard and eat all the leaves off the Apple Tree…The Apple Tree got Tired of having all its leaves eat off all the time, so after awhile it commenced to Grow Thorns instead of Leaves to Protect Itself–and that’s how come the Arizona Cactus originated, all of which Proves that Evolution Is and that Salome Now Is in the vicinity of Where the Garden of Eden Once Was.
That’s pretty convincing, but I like this one better:
Arizona at one time was All Under Water Two or Three Thousand Feet Deep. Now the Water is about Two or Three Thousand Feet Deep Under Arizona, which is pretty good Proof that some time or other we turned Bottom Side Up. The Whole World must have been Pretty Sick on the day Arizona was Born, and it Heaved and Twisted around and Groaned a Lot–and what it finally poked up through the Ocean is Now called Arizona.
When the Water all run off on Arizona’s Birth Day, it left a lot of Strange Sea Animals running around here in the Sun and Hot Sand where the Ocean once was, among them being Lobsters.
They must have felt kind of Foolish at first, but they had lots of Stick-to-Itiveness and hunted up some shade and when the days got Hot and the Water Scarce, they got to running around Nights and Hiding under the rocks in the day times. In the course of four or five Million Years, maybe Ten, there being Plenty of Time Out Here, and not needing their Swimming Tail no longer, they gradually wore it all off, dragging it around on the rocks and in the sand….
When their Tail had got all wore off to a Point, they made a Stinger of it, to Protect themselves with, which was Sensible to them and more use than a Swimming Tail our here in the Arizona Sage Brush and Sand.
That’s How Come it all Happened, and by the time the first folks come to Arizona, about everything here had grown a Horn or a Thorn or a Stinger on it, including the Beast and the Birds, and the snakes and the Trees and the Cactus and other Reptyles.
A Scorpion is just a Lobster that has lived in Arizona a Long Time–and that is All there is to all this Evolution Talk. If you don’t believe in Evolution, just pick up a Lobster with one hand and an Arizona Scorpion with the other–and I’ll bet a dime to a Dough Nut Hole that you can Feel the Evolutionary Element in the Tail End of the Scorpion with Both Eyes Shut.