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The Imus Ranches: Theme and Variations

Here’s a question for the S.A.T. "The Imus Ranch is to Southwestern Ranching as the Imus in the Morning show is to: (A) Meet the Press, (B) WWF Raw, (C) Manufacturing Consent, the movie, or (D) The Dunciad." Your answer will determine whether you go to Yale or to Bowling Green.

For students of popular culture, Don Imus is indeed a problematical figure. On the one hand he ranks among what Forbes magazine considers an American elite. In its list of the top hundred celebrities last year, Don placed 77th in what Forbes calls Power, just behind George and Barbara Bush and ahead of Emeril. His 10 million dollar salary made him 64th on the Wealth score (although that leaves him some $700 million short of qualifying for its list of the Richest Americans), and his Status among TV and radio personalities has him in a three-way tie for 20th with Arnold Palmer and Dr. Laura. Back in 1997, Time magazine considered Don one of the 25 most influential Americans.

On the other hand, Don’s personal style in radio ranting and raving, has drawn much criticism for being anything but uptown. Listen to Newsday columnist Robert Reno who characterizes Imus’s style as "half-educated and playfully racist" and it gets worse:

"I don't know anybody in broadcasting -- well, maybe Rush Limbaugh -- who can have more opinions with less intellectual authority. Pat Moynihan at his worst is less pompous. A dog-dropping floating in a punch bowl is more profound.

Which brings us to the reason we're all supposed to forgive Imus for being a common, vulgar lout -- the Imus Ranch. Can anyone imagine the confusion of a sick child being told he's going to be sent to Mr. Imus' ranch? He'll say, "Who's Mr. Imus?" and the parents will have to say "Never mind. That's something you'll learn when you're older."

Well, I’m older and giving a different slant on Imus’ place within the oxymoronic category of the Popular Elite, by sketching the place of his ranch within Southwestern Ranching, is what I’m after. I think Don’s effort can be set in a different context from either Forbes’s or Robert Reno’s.

For one thing, four generations of Imus family members have ranched in the West. [handout] [full disclosure] This is not the case with the families of the media moguls. Steve Forbes’ own 150,000-acre Trinchera ranch, northeast of Imus’s in Las Animas county, Colorado, goes back only to his father Malcolm’s trophies, along with the collection of Fabergé eggs, 12,000 toy soldiers, an island in Fiji, a chateau in Normandy, and a palace in Morocco. Ted Turner’s El Vermijo ranch in the same county -- only a small part of the 1.7 million acre-holdings of America’s largest land owner -- at best compensates for the South Carolina farm his father lost before his tragic suicide.

Since these media celebrities out west don’t go very far back, I want to compare and contrast the Imus practices with some historical forms of stock raising in the region. These modes of ranching may be, in fact, as good a starting place as any for distinguishing between popular and elite cultures. On the one hand the colonial and postcolonial elites of both England and Spain have ranched in the American southwest, employing practices distinct from those of ordinary folks, whose ways are suggested by the fact that Karl Marx’s daughter, Eleanor Aveling, chose, for a study of the American proletariat, the cowboy and his lowly work. [Aveling, Edward Bibbins, and Eleanor Marx Aveling, The working-class movement in America (1891) ]

David Cannadine, in The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (Random House, 1999), comments on the Migratory Elite among them during the height of the British Empire:

"The first country that beckoned gentlemen emigrants in large numbers was the United States. By the 1880s, it had recovered from the traumas of the Civil War; the economy was booming; the western prairies were being opened up; and British investment was pouring in, to reach $2,625 million by 1899. During the 1880s, sixty British companies were formed, most decked out with titled and ornamental directors, to raise cattle and settle land in the Midwest. Many young patricians, like Lords Rosslyn, Dunraven, and Rodney, went out there in person, seeking fun and fortune on the prairies. So did Moreton Frewen, who was extensively involved in ranching, from Texas to Wyoming. So did his friend, Hugh Lowther, the future fifth Earl of Lonsdale, who sold his contingent reversionary interest for £40,000, invested it in cattle companies, and went out to join the party. And so did the fifth Earl of Aylford, who squandered away his family fortune by gambling, racing, and extravagance, and died in Texas at the age of thirty-six, ‘one of the worst examples of the English peerage.’" . . .

"As well as these corporate enterprises, some patricians bought property as individuals. One such was the fifth Earl of Airlie, who was a major propagandist on behalf of upper-class emigration, and acquired 2,000 acres in Colorado for his younger son, Lyulph Ogilvy, who made a successful career raising cattle and horses, and whose descendants live there to this day. Another, who operated on a rather large scale, was John Sutherland Sinclair, who emigrated in 1875 at the age of nineteen, and in 1891 unexpectedly inherited the landless earldom of Caithness. By then, he was farming an ‘enormous acreage’ in North Dakota and, although he returned to take his seat in the House of Lords, he preferred to live in America, close to the source of his wealth, and finally retired, incognito, to Los Angeles. But he was outdone as an emigrant territorialist by William Scully, the fifth son of a Catholic Irish landowner, who first visited the United States in 1849-50, and gradually began to accumulate land. By the end of the century, he owned 220,000 acres in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska, which had cost him well over one million dollars." [pp. 430-1]

No one has a better nose for the ways of these elites than Stephen Birmingham. His book America’s Secret Aristocracy (Little, Brown, 1987) chronicles the "century-long era of the true Californios, the first white settlers, the rancheros who brought with them in their veins the true sangre azul of the Catalan and Castilian grandees of 17th and 18th century Spain and who used the ennobling titles of Don and Doña." In particular Birmingham described "the way just one family, that of Don Nicolàs de Den, and his wife, Doña Rosa Antonia Hill de Den, and their family lived on their Rancho Los Dos Pueblos, outside Santa Barbara, in that halcyon period between 1840 and 1860." [p. 181]

The floors of the hacienda were of tightly packed earth, but they were covered with thick rugs from Persia. In the main dining room, fifty people could be seated in richly upholstered high-backed chairs to admire Doña Rosa’s table settings. Her silverware – the pistol-handled knives, the three-pronged forks – was the heaviest available, and she was particularly proud of an Irish Georgian silver tea service, a family heirloom of her husband’s that was polished daily by the bare, damp palms of her Indian servants. . . .

Though Don Nicolàs had married a major heiress, he was by no means an idler. He was a dedicated rancher, and since their marriage in 1836, he had increased the value of the Rancho Los Dos Pueblos enormously, adding to its herds of cattle, improving the quality of its beef and the price it could command at the marketplace, and adding to the stable of Thoroughbreds until they numbered more than two hundred, while his cattle were virtually uncountable at more than 25,000 head. By the 1860s, he had acquired . . . 114,000 acres of the finest ranch land in California. [p. 186]

Even the homegrown American aristocracy, such as it is, does things differently from the commons. Kevin Starr in Americans and the California Dream (Oxford, 1973), provides examples of both an elite approach to ranching and its proletarian opposite:

"Certainly something larger than life . . . had developed on the great ranches of California, especially those holdings under the ownership and personal management of pioneers of energy and purpose like Don Benito Wilson, Don Abel Stearns, and Martin Murphy. Diversified in their industries, employing scores of men bound together into an economic and social hierarchy, the great ranches of California resembled feudal baronies, having as their underlife very ancient modes of loyalty, dependence, and service. Over a hundred men, for instance, employed in such subdivisions as wheat, vines, fruit, sheep, cannery, apiary, sawmill, nursery, poultry, and the like, staffed the 26,000-acre Rancho Del Arroyo Chico in the Sacramento Valley, owned by John Bidwell, who in 1841 had led the first wagon train into California" [pp. 196-7]

Kevin Starr goes on to sketch the other end of the social scale of ranching:

"A significant part of California’s rural population—called Pikes or Pikers, after Pike county, Missouri, where most of them were supposed to have originated—seemed degenerate. ‘He is the Anglo-Saxon relapsed into semi-barbarism,’ said Bayard Taylor of the California Pike. ‘He is long, lathy, and sallow; he expectorates vehemently; he takes naturally to whiskey; he has the shakes his life long at home, though he generally manages to get rid of them in California; he has little respect for the rights of others; he distrusts men in store clothes, but venerates the memory of Andrew Jackson; finally, he has an implacable dislike to trees.’ The American yeoman, in other words, the noble son of the frontier whom Thomas Jefferson Farnham had predicted in 1844 would one day raise up a mighty race on Pacific shores, seemed by the late 1850s to have arrived on the scene as poor white trash." [p. 192]

The Pikes had their own agricultural practices, and Kevin Starr finds in Stephen Powers’ memoir Afoot and Alone (Hartford, 1872) another portrait:

"With the exception of the Santa Clara Valley south of San Francisco, and Napa and Sonoma counties north of the Bay, rural life impressed Powers as resembling – for the lowest strata of society – the conditions of a peasantry after a long, cruel war: ‘mean huts of cottonwood logs, barely high enough for a man to stand erect therein; a can of wild honey, inside; a half-eaten carcass of venison hanging from a mighty oak, outside; a gaunt and sallow woman, with some almost naked children – that is the picture.’" [p. 193]

And the Yalie geologist Clarence King, in Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada (Boston, 1872), was moved to patrician judgment on the Pike phenomenon:

"If, as I suppose, we may all sooner or later give our adhesion to the Darwinian view of development, does not the same law which permits such splendid scope for the better open up to us also possible gulfs of degeneration, and are not these chronic emigrants, whose broken-down wagons and weary faces greet you along the dusty highways of the far West, melancholy examples of beings who have forever lost the conservatism of home and the power of improvement?" [ibid.]

These sketches of the social extremes engaged in ranching in the West may suggest a framework for judging the Imus family’s place on the elite--popular continuum. As we will see, the first two generations were serious stock raisers, although, like many agriculturalists, they had to branch out in order to make a living in a time and place where cash was scarce. The two more recent generations have spread their efforts even more broadly to include nostalgic hobby ranching, real estate speculation, therapeutic recreation, gaming the government, and retail trade in clothing and foods.

Cholame Valley, California 1854-1880s

Imusdale on old maps of Cholame Valley, lying astride the San Andreas Rift Zone between the Salinas Valley to the west and the San Joaquin to the east, was named for the Imus families who were the first settlers in the valley, arriving in 1854. The brothers Charles, William, and Edwin Imus came from Santa Cruz with pack and saddle horses, followed later by the Imus sisters, Eliza, Harriet, Melvina, Minerva, and Sarah. They were among the twelve children of Hiram Imus Jr., who crossed the plains from Illinois in 1849. Father and grandfather, both named Hiram, remained in Santa Cruz, where they tended their 90 acres of orchards on the bottomlands behind the Mission. Hiram, Jr. represented Santa Cruz in the California Assembly in 1860, and was a pillar of the community.

Later his children married and raised families in Cholame. The brothers were stockmen squatting on considerable land in the area, and after the Homestead Act of 1862, they legitimately entered a couple of quarter sections. But in 1872 the state legislature passed tough laws to deal with the squatting rife in California. The Monterey county sheriff sold five pieces of Imus property, amounting to 1,529 acres, for back taxes. Its assessed value was more than $300,000 in our money. Earthquakes, a diphtheria epidemic, and new fencing laws also took their toll. While his married sisters remained in Cholame, William sold his homestead in 1880. Meanwhile his brothers had gone to Arizona in 1875, driving 200 head back up the Old Spanish Trail and wintering in the meadows of Las Vegas. They then went down the Colorado river, crossed at Black Point, and went on to Camp Willow Grove, a former army post they had bought in eastern Mohave county.

Mohave County, Arizona 1875-1909, and the 1940s

Large numbers of prospectors had rushed to northwestern Arizona with discovery of gold near Prescott in 1863. Friction soon developed between settlers and the Walapai tribe. In 1866, Anglos killed a respected Walapai leader and a brief war erupted. U.S. troops waged a harsh campaign, burning Walapai rancherias, destroying crops and food caches. By 1869, the most recalcitrant leaders had surrendered. (Dobyns and Euler 1960, 1970).

The defeated Walapai were interned at Camp Beale Springs in 1871 but removed three years later by the army to La Paz, on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. There diseases killed many; miserly government rations left others hungry; and the labors of hay cutting and ditch digging in the sweltering lowlands were arduous. In 1875, the Walapai fled this riverine internment to return to their accustomed territory. (U.S. Congress. Senate Walapai Papers 1936).

During the brief absence of the Walapai, Anglo ranchers like the Imus brothers had colonized the habitable areas, taken over springs, and started to herd cattle over large tracts of grassland. Unable to return to their traditional subsistence lives, Walapais looked for jobs in the mines and ranches. A 900,000-acre reservation, representing only a fraction of their original land, was established in 1883. There is still, in fact, a small group of Walapai whose ancestors adopted the Imus surname while working at the Willows.

In 1876 the Imus brothers’ ranch was taxed on 160 acres; its 21 horses, 220 cattle, wagon-harness, 8 hogs, and tools were assessed at about $47,000 in our dollars. William Imus joined his brother Edwin in 1880, after the eldest brother had died. William bought out his sisters’ interest in Charles’ estate. He later served twice in the Territorial Legislature. Here is the biography he gave at the time:

"Mohave county has as her representative in the Assembly William Imus, familiarly termed at home 'the war horse of Hackberry.' A Democrat of the old school, and an active supporter of the party's principles, he yet is filling his first office. Mr. Imus was born at Galena, Illinois in October 1832 and was reared in the same county, where his father owned a saw mill and farm. In 1849 he left Illinois with his father, by ox team, for the journey across the plains to California. But Mr. Imus did not tarry with the Sierra placer mines. A practical lumberman, he pushed on to Santa Cruz county, on the coast, and there attacked the virgin forest of redwood. The younger Imus for a year tried mining, but, though moderately successful, turned back to the redwood forest for greater profit. He has many interesting tales of his early California experiences--how he, as a boy, raised one season 3,000 sacks of potatoes, which he sold for 9 cents a pound, a gross return of over $30,000 for a single season's work, and how he and a partner made about $20,000 on a single cattle drive from Los Angeles north. In 1855 he went to ranching in Monterey county, where he lived for 27 years. In 1859 he married Miss Sarah Rucker. Of the four children born to them only one is living, the stalwart son [John Imus] now the Assembly Sergeant- at-Arms…. In northern Arizona no cattle-raising firm is better known than is W. Imus & Son, and in Los Angeles and elsewhere on the coast extensive holdings are to be found in the firm's name." [Twentieth Legislature, Territory of Arizona, Arizona Archives]

The youngest brother, Edwin Imus, located his ranch down on the Big Sandy river and played a role in the development of the region, serving as Mohave County Superintendent. He left a large family, who have been prominent in northern Arizona affairs down to the present day. [p. 295. History of Arizona. Rpr. NY: Lewis, 1958. ]

In 1898, William’s son John married Dora Grounds, daughter of William Franklin Grounds, who had the most extensive range in the region. But she died five months later at the age of nineteen. As a transition from Arizona to California, William Imus and other Mohave county ranchers leased 32,000 acres north of Bakersfield in 1900 to hold their cattle nearer the markets. John remarried in Fresno in 1901, this time to his second cousin Sara Miller, whose father’s modest ranch lay in Lookout Wash just east of the Willows. William sold out the Arizona operation in 1909 and moved to Los Angeles, to a house on the corner of 7th and Figueroa where the Citibank Plaza now stands. At the time of his death in 1911 his estate was valued, in our money, at about $600,000. I might contrast this with the present holdings of Charles Grosvenor, aka The Duke of Westminster, who owns half the Wells Fargo Building in downtown L.A. He also holds 17 acres in Silicon Valley, as well as Annacis Island near Vancouver, B.C. He is a major owner in downtown Melbourne, Australia, but the core of the Duke's holdings is 300 acres in central London, including half the Mayfair District, most of Belgravia, and Grosvenor Square where the U.S. Embassy is one of his many lessees. [L.A. Times, 9-85]

Perris Valley, Riverside county, California, 1910-55

Another of Kevin Starr’s books, Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (Oxford, 1985), suggests that Riverside at the turn of the 20th century was the next insanely great thing in citriculture and Mission Revival architecture. The palatial Mission Inn and the extravagant County courthouse, all built on the land of Don Juan Bandini’s former Rancho La Jurupa, offered a fantasy attraction to newcomers, including a considerable British expatriate colony in Arlington Heights. By the time John Imus moved his farming operation to the county, the available land was in the Perris Valley to the southeast. There he built two houses and barns and laid in the latest irrigation equipment. He was farming 224 acres of potatoes, employing his sons, as well as 15 to 20 men during the 60-day harvest season, at the time of his death in 1925. He also owned the Westrade Apartments on Alvarado Blvd. across from Westlake, now McArthur, Park, thus adding the role of bourgeois rentier to that of rancher. And he owned a house in Redondo Beach. In current terms, the probate evaluated his estate at over $1,300,000.

John’s sons, William Charles and John Donald, regrouped after his death and converted the Perris land to figtree groves. They built a cannery and sold fig jam under the Figadota brand. But the Depression overcame them and the cannery was closed. William Charles was an employee of the Manhattan Beach Water Department in 1945, when his horse kicked him to death in his stall. John Donald had married Frances Moore, a beauty and minor socialite, in 1939 and took up cattle dealing, while their sister Irene got a history degree at UCLA. During the War, Don, Sr. was able to sell beef to March Air Force Base. Although his leased yards never approached the whitewashed splendor of the nearby Louis B. Mayer Farms, where the MGM mogul raised thoroughbreds for racing at Hollywood Park, they did give him a basis for a nostalgic return to Arizona to lease part of the former Willows holdings. His sons Don and Fred grew up in transit between a rambling hillside house in Perris and cabins on Willow Creek. But an expensive divorce took even this hobby business away after 1955. According to a book by Kathleen Tracy and Rick Joyce, Imus : America's Cowboy (1999), Don, Sr. descended into alcoholism. I last remember him hawking his watercolor paintings of western scenes to Wilshire Blvd. galleries in L.A. He died alone in a motel in Twenty Nine Palms in 1962. Today the Willows Ranch is operated by a partnership headed by Stuart Anderson of the Black Angus Steakhouse chain. It ranges over 9,000 deeded acres checkerboarded among leased state lands.

Reader’s Digest, San Miguel county, New Mexico, 1998-present

We come now to Reader’s Digest, San Miguel County, New Mexico and a new and different ranch phase of Don Imus’s career. That career has been closely followed by the press, including Life, Esquire, Time and Newsweek; indeed, there are two books about it, and reconciling the discrepancies in their accounts would be real work. I can say that Don’s charitable efforts go back a ways. In 1973 he emceed the 'One to One' festival, at Madison Square Garden, a benefit for the mentally retarded. And many radio- and telethons since. Beginning in 1990, he has headlined a radiothon with WFAN that has raised millions to benefit the CJ foundation for SIDS and the Tomorrow’s Children Fund. These efforts resulted in the completion of the Don Imus/WFAN Pediatric Center, a seven-story facility in the Hackensack University Medical Center.

Don’s association with that hospital seems to have led to the therapeutic angle for the ranch. Concerning the high purpose of that 810 deeded- and 3,000 total acre enterprise, I will quote from Imus’s own description on the website of a local Albuquerque radio station, KBTK, 1310 AM "The Talk of the City":

"The Imus Ranch is an authentic working cattle ranch nestled in the rolling hills of New Mexico below a majestic mesa near Ribera, fifty miles [south]east of Santa Fe. The ranch provides kids, with cancer or serious blood disorders, as well as children who have lost brothers and sisters to sudden infant death syndrome, the experience of the great American cowboy.

"The kids spend an average of 10 days working side by side with ranch wranglers doing all of the ranch chores: rounding up our Texas Longhorn cattle, herding and feeding the sheep, petting Jack the Buffalo and his friends, learning to ride horses and rope calves. In short, participating in the dawn-to-dusk rhythm of the ranch.

"Not that it's all work: we're privileged to have prominent artists from the Southwest demonstrate their crafts ranging from Navajo rug-weaving to Anasazi pottery-making and sand painting. Also, both headline country singers and local cowboy poets often drop by. No swimming pool. No tennis courts. No television. No "cookie-cutter camp" jive. Just hands-on love, hard work - and a lot of fun. By the way, we're all in this together. Each group of kids becomes a part of an extended family living for their entire stay in the main ranch house.

"It is important to note that when children suffering from these hideous diseases are exposed to the activities of programs like The Imus Ranch, it not only changes their lives, in many instances the experience can actually contribute to their healing. That's The Imus Ranch. It can become part of your legacy and together we can change these kids' lives forever." Don Imus

It’s true that Fred’s bull, River Wide, won a prize at a competition in Houston, but the Imus ranch is a working ranch in quite another sense. It is the only one of the media celebrities’ spreads that includes an operating television studio, from which Don’s part of Imus in the Morning sometimes broadcasts.

Some additional financial facts are available from the nonprofit corporation’s IRS form 990, which says that it had raised over $12,600,000 by 1998 along with another $400,000 in interest and had spent $221,000 on management and $76,000 on fundraising. Construction of the ranch was expected to cost at least $8 million. They anticipate further corporate sponsorships and donations, foundation grants, individual gifts, and perhaps government grants. Their law firm, Copilevitz & Canter of Kansas City, specializes in non-profit ventures and telemarketing. A separate retail enterprise, the Autobody Express in Santa Fe, sells western wear, and is said to gross $10 million annually. Grocery stores distribute Fred’s all-natural salsa and Imus Brothers’ Coffee. It is to be expected that after his retirement from the media, the ranch will absorb much of Don’s time.

The Imus Ranch has had its downside too, particularly in its relations with the surrounding communities. Don and Fred had to reimburse the state of New Mexico $6,696 for bulldozing a 19th-century adobe house, barns and corrals from state land without getting permission. "’It was never our intention to get something from the state that we weren't supposed to get,’ said John Silver, a lawyer for Imus Ranch. He said the Imuses will also pay for a survey of remaining historical and cultural sites on state land that is part of the ranch." [Newstar 4 Aug 1998]

And according to La Jicarita, a community newspaper for the regional watershed,

State Engineer Tom Turney, without recourse to a formal hearing, denied [Don’s application] to transfer 100 acre feet of water from the lands of Francis Gusler in the village of San Miguel to [the ranch]. Turney personally showed up at a meeting of more than 100 community residents concerned that the transfer could impair already existing wells throughout the community. Members of the El Valle Water Users Coalition said they also invited representatives from the Imus ranch to attend, but none did so …While coalition members were delighted by the state engineer's decision, they said that they intend to keep a close eye on the Imus operation in the future. Many area residents fear Imus may still attempt to purchase existing water rights in the area which could imperil their wells or acequia water rights. [La Jicarita May, 1999]

Now Don is apparently suing the Guslers to reclaim $10,000 he deposited for those rights.

Like the vaster holdings of his media fellows, the Imus ranch can be an occasional nuisance, although it would have go a stretch before it could match Sam Donaldson’s brass.

In 1993 Sam Donaldson, of ABC, described himself in an interview as being in touch with the concerns of the average American. "I'm trying to get a little ranching business started in New Mexico," he said. "I've got five people on the payroll. I'm making out those government forms." Thus he understood the travails of the small businessman and the annoyances of government regulation. Donaldson, whose base pay from ABC is reported to be some $2 million a year, did not point out that his several ranches in New Mexico together covered some 20,000 acres. When doing a segment attacking farm subsidies on Prime Time Live in 1993, he did not point out that "those government forms" allowed him to claim nearly $97,000 in sheep and mohair subsidies over two years. William Neuman, a reporter for the New York Post, said that when his photographer tried to take pictures of Donaldson's ranch house, Donaldson had him thrown off his property. "In the West trespassing is a serious offense," Donaldson explained. [The Atlantic Monthly; February 1996; "Why Americans Hate the Media"; 277: 2, pp. 45-64.]

There’s more. On the David Letterman show, Donaldson took the opportunity to rail against plans for the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf: "Now the people who live in New York City, God love you all, think it would be fun to have wolves in New Mexico. You'll never see a Mexican wolf on my land," he promised. "You may see newly spaded ground." Unlike Sam, Steve Forbes and Ted Turner have done some good with their ranches in their own ways, but Don’s place offers an unusual benefit in the health-care arena, and it is a broadcasting breakthrough, inviting the viewing public into the precincts of one form of ranching. From there Don can continue to sling his irreverent brand of media gossip. And, of course, it’s a nice place to hang out, if his horse doesn’t kill him.

Don Imus’ efforts, then, would seem to fit right in with the historical family pattern: exploiting the available natural resources, finding new markets for new products, working the political system – as well as playing occasional hardball -- and, in our time, accessing the far greater availability of cash and credit. In all of this the family seems to have aimed at the high end whenever it was in sight. Neither blueblood Dons nor redneck Pikes, the Imuses and their ranches belong rather to a pushy middle class of hustling aspirants to a better life, always willing to test the limits of the system and the patience of their betters.

In a way, it all goes back to the first Imus in America, another William, who emigrated from England to the Connecticut colony in the 1760s, married well, and started to settle down in New Milford, when those nasty Patriots came along. He was clapped in irons for three months in 1776 for loyalty to king George, and, after figuring out which way the wind was blowing, he wound up in Arlington, Vermont, where he grudgingly served three days in the local militia and earned 12 shillings. After the Peace of Paris in 1791, he joined his neighbors in petitioning the Crown for compensation for their losses in the revolution, William claiming 67 pounds. They were roundly rejected for their transparent attempt to game the generosity of His Majesty.

Richard A. Dwyer

Salt Lake City, Utah

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