One Hump or Two


September 2, 1927
San Francisco 

May 26, 1976.  On that day I was exposed to Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Save Hollywood, an event that catapulted my nine year-old brain into a fantasy world of 1920s Los Angeles, an event that pushed the movie I’d seen the previous weekend into the back of my psyche.  That previous picture still roams around and pokes its stinky, furry head out once in a great while.  Like now.  That cinematic masterpiece was called Hawmps!

The 127-minute F-Troop episode that is Hawmps! (wherein camels, or “hawmps,” as Slim Pickens calls them, win slim Pickens’ heart, and Jack Elam chews scenery, and look! there’s Denver Pyle) concerns itself with the role camels played in opening the western territory, courtesy of the United States Army.

With the War Between the States, and subsequent demise of the Camel Corps, Bactrians and Arabians were set loose, and feral camels became the stuff of legend.  Authenticated wild camel wanderings by and large ceased in the early 1900s.

But yesterday, September 1, a group of San Francisco financiers—A. C Mattel, Robert F. M. Duncan, William Leib and Lloyd Stevens announced their intention to hunt camels in the deserts of Arizona.  The paper discusses briefly the history of just why there happen to be camels therein (according to local historians, a hundred camels and sixty Arabs were imported from Arabia, but the plan failed because the Arabs disliked their jobs and went home; far be it from me to doubt the local historian of 1927, but it’s interesting to compare this account with Wikipedia’s).  “Backers of the proposed expedition in search of survivors expect historians and scientists to be interested in the venture.”


Then, today, the collected adventurers were contacted by one Arturo Carillo, who, thirty-three years ago, while making a mail trip from the Harqua Hala to the Vulture mine, captured what he considered “the last of the camels." Unable to find a buyer for the animal, he turned it loose.  This has heartened the intrepid camel seekers, and there are many more; A. C. Mattel, of the Honolulu-Consolidated Oil Company, said he has been swamped with letters from sportsmen all along the Pacific Coast seeking the chance to join the expedition.


No follow-up, unfortunately, as to the outcome of our dashing, pith-helmeted bankers’ trip into the blistering wasteland (it’s also unclear as to whether they planned to merely observe, or capture the camels, but I fear their intent was just to blast the poor beasts with their Remingtons for some rec-room head-mounting). 

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