Quincy Tahoma the Lady’s Man

Post by Vera

Quincy Tahoma snapshot

A cocky Tahoma during the 1940's

Quincy Tahoma was a hit with the ladies. All through his life they flocked around him. Valentine’s Day might just have been his favorite holiday after Christmas, the date that he adopted for his birthday. Not that he did anything to discourage the attention.  Now we would not want to say he was vain, but while still a school boy, Tahoma did spend some of the money he made selling paintings on “hair slick.” Joe Sando, who grew up to become an expert on Pueblo history and author of many books, told me that the younger boys like Joe, used to sneak into Quincy’s dorm room at Santa Fe Indian School and “borrow” some of the pre-mousse hair stuff–most likely “Brillcreme, a little dab ‘l do you.” (If you are humming that advertising jingle, we know how old you are!) And the boy WAS good looking. Oh, my.  So many people have commented to us about his thick, wavy dark hair and his friendly smile. It is captured well in photographs that he liked to hand out to friends.

Quincy Tahoma

Quincy Tahoma. Check out his right eyebrow.

We can’t say for sure, but the well known photographer T. Harmon Parkhurst, who gave Tahoma a place to work in his studio near the Santa Fe Plaza, probably snapped some of those pictures.

Because so many of these photos, and others have come back to us, we know that the Navajo painter handed them out frequently. Now does that sound like a modest, retiring gentleman to you? Nah. Quincy Tahoma KNEW he was good looking. The picture shown here came from the daughter of his old friend, Kee Yazzie, but most of the pictures we retrieved came from old girlfriends.

Charnell wrote about a visit with one of the first people she found who knew Tahoma personally. Quincy had a serious, and rather surprising, romance with Jean Wallace (McSwain). A couple of people have told us stories about a Navajo girlfriend at Santa Fe Indian School, but after he left school, as far as we know, most of his girlfriends were non-Indian.  There is a romantic tale about the attraction between Tahoma and a quiet Pueblo girl which her mother put an end to, but that girlfriend, now a widow and a grandmother, is not talking.

Nina Bogard, on the other hand, was happy to talk to us and tell us about her summer fling at a guest ranch.  She was only 16 and thought that Tahoma was in his mid-twenties, but he was actually about thirty. They both enjoyed horses and riding and spent happy days on the ranch where her mother had a summer job. She gave us photographs and a long letter that he wrote to her.

Quincy and Nina in 1946

According to Harrison Begay, Taoma had a fling with a rich white woman from the East who came to New Mexico looking for sexual adventures with the “exotic” Native American men.  Artist Begay told us the story about the woman who took Quincy on a merry ride (quite literally) through northern New Mexico and Arizona. Quincy thought she was serious, and bought a ring and took a train back east to track her down, but she turned him down and sent him back to New Mexico.

You see, Quincy Tahoma was a hopeless romantic. He really wanted to get married, and he fervently pursued one possible mate after another, never with success.  He painted pictures for them, gave them his photograph, gave them elaborate gifts, somehow managed to hide his drinking sprees from them, but he remained single to the end of his life.

You can learn more about the romantic side of Quincy Tahoma in our book, Quincy Tahoma: The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist, published by Schiffer Books in April 2011. We even print a couple of pages from the love letter to Nina, and show you photographs of  Jean and Nina.

Do you have any theories as to why Tahoma apparently did not  pursue Navajo girls or women? He always claimed that he did not know his clan, although we believe he did learn as an adult that he was named for his mother’s clan. Would that have stopped him? Was he attempting to fit in to the white society? Did he not feel worthy of diné families because of his drinking and because he lived in a different society? We would like to hear your theories.

This entry was posted in Biographical Research, Girl Friends, Navajo and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Quincy Tahoma the Lady’s Man

  1. Jane Boursaw says:

    Love those photos! He reminds me a little of a young Ronald Reagan.

  2. NoPotCoooking says:

    He’s almost got an Elvis smirk on his face in that close up photo!

  3. sheryl says:

    Love those old photos. He certainly does look like he’s up to something…

  4. pen4hire says:

    Of course he was living in the Elvis era, and he clearly was one of those cool guys who emulated The King. Sounds like you all would be as intrigued, as the ladies back then were.

  5. Ruth Pennebaker says:

    Hmmmm. Looking at him, I have to wonder: Do you think he really wanted to settle down?

  6. Susan says:

    I’m curious about how a reasonably attractive man would wind up single after pursuing so many women with romantic gestures like that. Did he have bad breath? Or a drinking problem? Or maybe a reputation that made women dubious of his intentions? Seems like he would have eventually found The One.

  7. Charnell says:

    Actually, Elvis was just at the beginning of popularity in 1955, a year before QT’s death. I have a picture of Elvis and my 13-year-old sister in 1955 when mother (a journalist) interviewed him. I, in the typical wisdom of a 17-yr.-old, thought he was a little over the top and declined the invitation to tag along. Duh!

  8. Alexandra says:

    I, too, wondered why he never married. Hopelessly romantic and artist do not fit together too well, I’m afraid.

  9. Roxanne says:

    Well, I’m sure at the time handing out photos like that was pretty unusual, but think of it this way … most of us have online avatars that are photos. Maybe he was just VERY ahead of his time in terms of “social networking.”

  10. Sounds like such a good looking, charismatic guy who enjoyed meeting women would have a hard time settling down to just one.
    Love all those photos.

  11. pen4hire says:

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who did not appreciate Elvis. Still don’t.

  12. pen4hire says:

    What a great comment, Roxanne. I have thought that Tahoma would have taken full advantage of social networking.

  13. pen4hire says:

    Jeanine: When you see the book, and the letter he wrote to Nina, you’ll see that he seemed to really want to get married. And we heard from other friends stories about girls he really wanted to marry. On the other hand, he didn’t seem to stay broken hearted too long. He moved right on to the next warm body.

  14. pen4hire says:

    I know you’ve said you want to read the book, Alexandra, and you’ll really enjoy all the romance stories.

  15. pen4hire says:

    Susan. He definitely had a drinking problem. And seemed to pick out unattainable women, besides.

  16. Donna Hull says:

    What a handsome man. I’m surprised that he never married. Great post!

  17. Funny, he seems temperamentally very similar to Jack Kerouac, my favorite alcoholic tortured hopeless romantic artist (although Kerouac managed to marry three times).

  18. Kristen says:

    What amazing photos that you’ve been able to find. He does sounds like quite the ladies’ man. And what a smirk on his face.

  19. pen4hire says:

    Thanks to all the 21st century ladies who still think Tahoma was killer cute. And Kristen, we owe a huge debt to the many people who knew Tahoma and were willing to share their memorabilia. Some sent us pictures to make copies and then said, “Just keep them and use them however you think is best.” Eventually, all the pictures and notes will be going to a public archives somewhere so others can share.

  20. Pingback: Champion of My Heart » Blog Archive » Book Review: Quincy Tahoma

  21. Nina Bogard says:

    Hey, I’m Nina Bogard – not the one above, but I thought I was he only one 🙂

  22. Pingback: Book Travel Bargains to Oscar Movie Sites

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *