What do David Bruening, Lionel Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Fred Harvey, Bonnie and Clyde, Geronimo and Georgia O'Keeffe all have in common?
Scratch your head for a moment; the answer follows ...
Answer: They're all featured with capsule summaries of their lives in Don Bullis's latest book, "New Mexico Historical Biographies."
At 1¾ inches thick, it's a monster of a book - called "the Sears catalog of New Mexico history" by Paul Rhetts, the Rio Grande Books publisher of Bullis's tome. Rhetts calls the book, "the most important book on New Mexico history since Ralph Emerson Twitchell." Twitchell, who lived from 1859-1925 and spent a good portion of his life in the Land of Enchantment, naturally has an entry in Bullis's book (page 715).
Back to that intriguing list of names atop this story:
• Bruening (1918-2010) served as the first mayor of Rio Rancho (1982-85).
• Taylor was a key member of the original Denver Broncos in the old AFL and calls Rio Rancho his home.
• Douglas starred in a handful of movies filmed in the state, including "Ace in the Hole" and "Lonely Are the Brave."
• Harvey was famous for making railroad travel elegant.
• Bonnie and Clyde are the two notorious bank robbers who once hid out in Carlsbad.
• Geronimo, the famous Apache Indian leader, was born near the Gila River close to the Arizona-New Mexico border and knew his way around the Southwest.
• O'Keeffe was one of the state's most-famous artists.
Basically - if that word can be used to describe a book that is more than 800 pages - this "official" New Mexico Centennial Project of Bullis's is an encyclopedia of the people in this, the 47th state of the Union about to celebrate 100 years of statehood in early 2012.
It is a cross-section of those who have had an influence on life, and sometimes even death (see Bonnie and Clyde) here, starting before the first Europeans arrived here around 1540 through early 2011.
Bullis compiled two volumes of "New Mexico: A Biographical Dictionary." None other than Tony Hillerman called it "the book we have been hoping Don Bullis would write, and it's even better than we expected."
Bullis combined large portions of the two volumes and another 400 to 500 names for this book. That upped the ante to more than 1,500 people in New Mexico's history. Plus two animals and two ships.
"It grew and grew and grew," says Bullis.
The biographies are listed in alphabetical order; indices in the back of the book list people by topic (artists, business people, crime victims, etc.) and alphabetically.
Bullis will be appearing at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, at 2 p.m. on Oct. 15 to talk about his book and sign copies.
By the way, Bullis has an entry in his book, too. It's on page 102, notes the year of his birth (1939), gives a brief account of his life, which includes his stint as town marshal in San Ysidro - and denotes him as a "New Mexico Nomad."