My Teacher Wears a Cowboy Hat and Boots- For Tonight’s Class He Lectured With Guitar and Harmonica

I can blog about my big toe and rude telephone trees, but I’ve been completely lax in blogging my experience in going back to the classroom. This semester, my wife and I have been taking an Arizona History class, offered at Maricopa’s Scottsdale Community College.

What is remarkable, is the teacher, and reason for taking the class, is a local/state legend/icon named Marshall Trimble. He’s taught at Scottsdale likely since they erected the first classroom and my buddy Jack who grew up here had him as a high school teacher at Coronado likely 30 years ago…

So more then teacher, he is living history, having grown up in the little town of Ash Fork, west of Flagstaff, and steeped in cowboy culture, augmented by his years at Arizona State University, working as a trail ride entertainer, and likely doing billions of singing stints in cowboy bars up and down the state. For who knows how long, he has been the Arizona State Historian (deemed a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress).

He has a grace and sly humor that is so genuine, and it has been a please to sit in class Tuesday nights, and listen to him spin stories and share legends of Arizona history, from pre-historic culture up to political gaffs of not so long ago. Each week we would glide in, with an energy I am jealous of, sift through his notes, and then do a stand up performance. dressed in cowboy jeans, boots, and hat. On a good night, he’d close with a cowboy poem.

That is right, me, Mr I Hate Lectures, was more than happy to sit through weekly two hour lectures, because they were done with storytelling flare, and were just darn interesting. This ranged from legendary women of the old west, to the Indian wars, to the “real” stories of the OK Corral, to the closing of the West, and the wacky tale of how Arizona came to be. Mostly it was history via the people who made it. And with a bit of cowboy exaggeration. Heck, Marshall wrote the book.

And tonight, the last class, was a closing treat; he and a female singer did a 2 hour set of cowboy/cowgirl songs and poetry. Invigorated by the Walk the Line movie just out, we got a rocking Johnny Cash set (along with a story of seeing Johnny perform a local set before he got big “Imagine people were out to 2 Am dancing to Johnny Cash!”). A hoot was the Dean Cook song about restrooms and tourists going down the Grand Canyon, “Where do You Go When There’s No Place to Go on the Bright Angel Trail”. The sad song about Jocko the Clown. And more I cannot remember.

So if you ever get a chance to hear Marshall sing at a saloon in Prescott or elsewhereere, sit back and enjoy the show.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Boy I wish you could have gotten his permission to podcast some of the classes! Maybe you can do a podcast interview and have him retell some of the best stories he related during the term. This sounds like a great experience. It reminds me of the best course I took as an undergrad, from a Professor Showalter who was a visiting professor from Colorado College, and a military history expert. I could have sat and listened to Dr Showalter talk all day long, he was just amazing. Unfortunately lecturers like that don’t come around too often, but when they do and you have the opportunity to learn from them, it can certainly be a great treat! Glad you had this experience!

  2. Wes, the thought briefly flashed through my mind that evening. But this whole semester, I tried deliberately to drop my technologist hat where I hope to digitally capture and share everything, and tried to make it my own experiences.

    Okay, that sounds like an excuse.

    He’s only done a small amount of recording work. I will consider pinning him down for an audio interview for our spring publication.

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