Media Life: Guitar discovery pleases cowboy legend’s Auburn great-grandson

New face in News10 forecast; Shanghai music lineup awash in nostalgia
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Sometimes things get lost and then get found again. And sometimes there’s a story there. Take a guitar that Hollister’s J.R. Guthrie had hanging on his wall since the early 1980s. It wasn’t much to look at, with a warped body and stains on its birch frame. What was on the back made it kind of interesting to its owner. Carved into the wood was the name “C.B. Irwin.” When Guthrie died last year, his widow, Susanne Guthrie, was curious and took it to a guitar repair shop to perhaps learn a little more. Luckily, she took it to the right shop. And her curiosity has landed the instrument in a hallowed place in Cheyenne, Wyoming’s Frontier Days Old West Museum – via an Auburn descendant of a man who cast a giant shadow over the plains. As it turned out, guitar repair technician Steve Wilson was able to find out plenty about Charles Burton Irwin and helped reunite what has turned out to be a prized guitar with Auburn’s Keith Walters. Walters is Irwin’s great grandson and appreciative of the legacy he left in Cheyenne and Wyoming. Irwin – at 6-feet-four-inches and nearly 500 pounds – was a rancher and racehorse owner who befriended the famous of his time – from Teddy Roosevelt to Gen. John “Blackjack” Pershing to “Buffalo Bill” Cody – while carving out his own niche. Most famously, Irwin sang and may have played the newly discovered guitar at the funeral of infamous frontier lawman Tom Horn In 1903. And the horse on the Wyoming license plate is based on his own ride, Steamboat. An expert roper, Irwin is a member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Old West Museum is in the midst of building a wing to display more than 300 Irwin historical artifacts and 500 photos. Guthrie was looking for a good home for the guitar and Walters was more than amenable to the idea of displaying it at the museum with the rest of the Irwin keepsakes. For Walters, the find in Hollister, is the missing piece in the collection of his great-grandfather’s most historic artifacts. SHANGHAI REUNION UPDATE Just a reminder on the Shanghai reunion coming up Saturday at the Auburn Events Center – and a correction. Media Life was remiss in the superlatives when one of the former Shanghai house bands playing at the reunion gig was mentioned. Instead of "fabulous," we should have said the Incredible Torpedoes. Fabulous nonetheless, they’ll be joined by an assortment of musicians from the Blue Flames, Banana Boogie Band, Lefty and more. Richard Yue, former co-proprietor of the Shanghai, now promises commemorative T-shirts for everyone and plenty more memorabilia to get nostalgic over. The shebang starts at 3:57 p.m. and wraps at 11:57 p.m. Yue is also promising some quiet “geezer” time for folks who want to get some talking in before the tunes. NEW FACE IN THE FORECAST Who’s that new weather forecaster on News10? That would be Ken Barlow, most recently of Boston’s WBZ-TV. Barlow moved earlier this month into the chief meteorologist slot with co-anchors Dale Schornack and Cristina Mendonsa during the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. news periods. Before his four years in Beantown, Barlow was meteorologist with KARE-TV in Minneapolis for 15 years. Barlow is a self-described “weather geek” who will be taking advantage of the Northern California weather to run, bike and swim in between his prognostications. He’s a family man, with three children.