Part 60: The Partners

Today is Sunday, January 10, 2021. This Week blew up on January 6th, which began with the historical news that the runoff in Georgia ended with a victory for Jon Ossoff, who will be the first Jewish senator from that state, and Rev. Raphael Warnock, who will be the first Black senator.


On that Wednesday, right before noon, Congress convened to officially certify Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. What happened next isn't a big surprise to those who understand the words "inciting a riot" which one could argue has been going on for the past four years. Trump had a rally planned on that day called the "Save America Rally" in Presidents Park at the Ellipse. Thousands were there to support Trump's claims of election fraud, and when it was over, they left the rally to stop the certification process. It took about an hour from the time rioters arrived at the Capitol to breach all police barricades and flow into the legislative building, where they broke glass, looted, and spread feces on the walls. Here's a rough timeline:

By 1:10 pm, rioters began grappling with police on the Capitol steps.

1:33 pm, Rioters crossed Statuary Hall, the chambers that separate the house and senate.

2:00 pm, the gates of the east and west sides of the Capitol were breached. Rioters scaled walls with ropes and busted down doors.

3:03 pm, rioters are photographed on the senate floor.

At 3:13 Trump tweets: "Remember, WE are the party of Law & Order."

By 3:34, Ashli Babbitt, a military vet, attempted to gain access to the Speaker's Lobby through a broken window. Police and secret service repeatedly warned her to stop. She was shot in the neck and died.

Finally, at 3:51 the DC National Guard was mobilized.

4:17 pm: Trump tweets a video where he says he won in a landslide, and tells the rioters that "We love you, you're very special...I know how you feel." Then he told them to go home.


More of what went on is being uncovered, such as the murder of a Capitol police officer, two pipe bombs that were uncovered, and images of people in positions of power who were caught on camera in the riot. Private companies Facebook and Twitter have banned Donald Trump. I stress that these are private companies because freedom of speech is not what many Americans seem to think it is. Also, we are still deep in the pandemic. I know a few people who have had their first round of vaccines, but the roll out is a mess.


Let's move on. Now, back to Riley Shepard. I've been going over some of the contracts he made with people.


We moved to Porterville, California in 1979. By 1980, my father, Riley Shepard, had managed to wrangle two local men to invest in the "Encyclopedia of Folk Music". I've photographed pages from the agreement, which looks like a legal document at first, but on closer inspection, there are some strange clauses and questionable math.


Below is a photograph of me (left) with my older sister from around that time in our parent's shared work studio in downtown Porterville. I wrote on it for my father, "Love, from your family" because the portrait of our parents is on the right and I thought it would be a good gift for him, since we had no family photos.

The dogs belonged to my sister. The collies were named "Bonnie and Clyde". Dad loved that movie, almost as much as he loved "The Producers".




By the time we moved away from Hollywood, and then Oxnard, there had been other investors, a music executive named Paul Wyatt, a lawyer named Matt, and perhaps even the old man who called our house when I was a kid, and told me that my father was a crook. Riley had also promised "shares" to a man named Joe Tanzman, who worked on all the sheet music for the project. Those are only the people I know about.


A few years ago, a downtown copyrights lawyer gave me an hour of his time, free of charge. He looked over a small pile of my father's contracts. The lawyer knew immediately that some of what my father was passing off was not correct. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how generous this attorney was going to be, and I didn't bring this one, below. Hopefully by next week I'll have someone who deals with contracts look this over and I'll have more notes.


The last page I photographed was a letter to the Fresno Library, where the two men who signed this agreement attempted (and I'm guessing they succeeded) to snatch back a copy of "The Encyclopedia" that Riley had donated. Remember, part of this work is also in the Library of Congress, so I'm not sure why the two men were so upset. The whole deal was so hard to untangle.









By the time this letter, below, was written in 1991, my father was back in Porterville after years of living in different places to avoid this situation with Jim and Ted. He left abruptly (without telling my mother or anyone) in 1984, moved to Bakersfield, then Hanford, then Fresno, where he donated his work. After my father's death, a librarian from the Fresno Library contacted me on the "Riley Shepard, Cowboy" Facebook page. She'd known him around the time he donated the "Encyclopedia" and wanted me to know how highly she regarded his work, and his devotion to research.


I wonder how Ted and Jim even knew that "The Encyclopedia" was in the Fresno Library?


What continues to fascinate me about this situation, more than what my father did, is how many people went along with it, like how many people go along with the lies politicians tell.


These two men, Ted and Jim, believed they were going to make money from a gigantic encyclopedia on folk music in the 1980s. Looking back on all of it as an adult, it's the people that got "sucked in" to Dad's tornado that interest me. Are some people easier targets than others? I've always had a strong interest in cults. I love books on that subject, and I love documentaries about cults. There's one that I watched three times, it's called "The Source Family" and I recommend it. Only recently did I understand that probably my desire to understand cults and why people get so lost in them relates back to the hold my own father had on other people.


Fun fact: "The Cult Awareness Network" was an organization created by deprogrammer Ted Patrick, who wanted to help people recognize cults when they encounter them. It was founded in the wake of the November 18, 1978 deaths of members of the group "Peoples Temple". Sometimes, at first, cults may seem like any other church, or sometimes a personal or professional "empowerment" group. Patrick wanted to help us all understand what the warning signs are. Anyway, members of the Church of Scientology bought the network and renamed in the "New Cult Awareness Network". What about that? Jeez.


My father always said that he could've started his own religion. Once, he said, "At least I didn't do that.", which was a confession of sorts, only I didn't see it that way then.


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©2020 by Stacya Silverman.

All photos on this site were taken by Thomas Schworer or David Hiller unless otherwise noted.