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Part 60: The Encyclopedia of Folk Music, Investors, Copies of Riley's Agreements, The Fresno Library

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 at least 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, or so I thought at the time.

The dogs belonged to my sister. The collies were named "Bonnie and Clyde". I don't remember the Russian Wolfhound's name. Dad loved that movie, "Bonnie and Clyde" almost as much as he loved "The Producers".

By the time we moved away from Hollywood, and then Oxnard, there had been other investors, music executive Paul Wyatt was an early investor, then the old man from the trailer park who called our house when I was a kid, and Riley promised "shares" to Joe Tanzman, who worked on all the sheet music for the project. My mother told me early on that there was no way everyone could make money from the massive project, plus it was unlikely that a series that size would be taken on by a publisher. So by the time we moved to Porterville, the encyclopedia already had several backers.


A few years ago, a lawyer gave me an hour of his time, free of charge. He looked over a small pile of my father's contracts. He 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 (investors in Porterville) 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 the two investors, Jim and Ted. Riley took off abruptly (without telling my mother or anyone) in 1984, moved to Bakersfield, then Hanford, then Fresno, where he donated his work to the library.

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 of folk music, 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 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, and believed for so long that someday they'd make their money back. The amount of money Riley got wasn't a lot, just a thousand here or there. I'd say they were just having fun being involved with something creative, but in the end, they wanted their money, and came after him for it.


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 back then, I didn't see it that way.

Next, blog 61: Dad tries to coach me to sound like his receptionist. I was twelve. Also, Leslie shows up at our house in Oxnard...I took photos of her with my Brownie camera.


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