Better to be Shott than Nott

By Don McAlavy: CNJ Columnist

I got my dratted Federal Income Tax form in the mail the other day, as did millions of others. It reminded me of what someone said: “This is a country of faith. On the installment plan you can buy what you can’t afford. On the stock market you can sell what you don’t own, and on the tax form they take away what you haven’t borrowed yet.”

And that should be followed by this one: “We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful, and have done so much for so long with so little we are now qualified to do anything with nothing!”

The following is something I used to carry in my billfold until it nearly wore out, and I’d like to share it with you. Maybe you know who was killed in this famous duel.

WHO WAS SHOT? “A duel was fought in Texas by Alex Shott and John S. Nott.

“It was reported that Nott was shot and Shott was not. No doubt it’s better to be shot than Nott. There is a rumor, however, that Nott was not shot, though Shott admits he shot Nott.

“It may appear when the trial comes off that the shot Shott shot shot Nott. Or, as accidents with firearms are not uncommon, it is quite possible that the shot Shott shot shot Shott himself. In which even the whole affair would resolve itself into its original elements and Shott would be shot and Nott would be not.

“We think, however, that the shot Shott shot shot not Shott, but Nott, thought it is still hard to be certain who was shot and who was not.”

I just hope I don’t get shot for repeating the above nonsense.

“Big Windy,” a friend of mine, said this winter of 1923 has been the coldest in 15 years. But “Big Windy” says it is nothing compared to the winter back in 1918 here in New Mexico.

He tells that a farmer neighbor of his near Grady was burning tumbleweeds and it got so cold that flames leaping up froze solid. The farmer broke the flozen flames off and piled them in his barn like cordwood. Came the spring of 1919 the flames thawed out and turned into ordinary fire again.

It set the barn afire and spread to the house and from there started a prairie fire which burned off half the grass in Curry County.

Now I believe that could have happened, but as a historian I think he got his dates mixed up and “Big Windy” was really talking about the great prairie fire in 1906.


Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:

dmcalavy@telescopelab.com