BrianRxm Coins on Television 4/29
Death Valley Days - Phantom Procession (1963)
Chinese coin solves Mexican supernatural mystery
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This episode of "Death Valley Days" shows an old Chinese provincial coin.
"Death Valley Days" was a half-hour television series which was produced for local television stations
and ran from 1952 to 1970.
All of the episodes had a host who introduced the story.
The host for the first 13 years was the "Old Ranger" (actor Stanley Andrews) who appeared as an
old west lawman.
This episode "Phantom Procession" was first broadcast on April 12, 1963.
The story is a tale of ghosts and the supernatural and is set in 1883 in an area along the
United States - Mexico border.
Death Valley Days
1. Title
The program's logo of a Borax twenty-mule team was present on all episodes.
The Old Ranger appears in front of a desert scene and introduces the program:
Death Valley Days
2. The Old Ranger introduces the program
He appears to be wearing a belt buckle with a silver dollar on it.
Howdy folks, I'm the Old Ranger
The Southwest has more than its share of tales of the supernatural.
There's the famous story of the phantom State of Carrizo, the Lady Ghost of Vallecito,
or the tall tale of the Dancing Skeletons of Yaqui Wells, to name just a few.
But one of the strangest tales of all comes from down near the border is the
ancient legend of the "Phantom Procession".
In 1883, lone American rider Corbin is thrown from his horse, is found by a Mexican brother and sister,
Miguel and Maria, and taken to their small house and tells his story to the pair.
Death Valley Days
3. Corbin explains to Miguel and Maria
He tells the pair that he was headed for an area named Ajos and Miguel tell him that he was at the
Campo Santo or The Valley of the Dead and warns him that he should not cross the area alone at night.
Maria tells him that it is a foolish local superstition.
A hundred years ago the Mission Purisima Concepcion and the Mission San Pedro y San Pablo
were destroyed in an Indian uprising.
Padre Garces and everyone in the mission were massacred.
All that remains today are the graves in the Campo Santo.
Miguel adds:
And the ghost of los padres, señor.
They rise up from those graves, wearing their long, gray robes, and carrying
lighted tapers and chanting.
"It's the procession of the dead".
Corbin expresses doubts, "It is nonsense. I do not believe it".
Miguel's American friend Miller arrives and the two men head for a local bar.
Death Valley Days
4. Maria and Corbin discuss things
Maria tells Corbin that Miller is a American Army deserter and local low-life and that he has been
filling Miguel with "get-rich quick" schemes.
Miller returns with Miguel drunk and takes him inside.
He then returns and tries to assault Maria but is stopped by Corbin.
Death Valley Days
5. Corbin confronts Miller
Corbin, Maria, and Miguel head for town to talk to the Padre (Roman Catholic priest).
Death Valley Days
6. Corbin and Maria meet the Padre
Corbin announces that he plans to return to Ajos and the Padre warns him not to.
That is a place of lost souls, lost men, a godless place filled with homeless people.
Corbin says that he is going anyway for the usual reason (gold?).
However, he visits Ajos during the daytime, and finds a coin.
Death Valley Days
7. Corbin finds a coin
The coin is a Chinese coin with a square hole.
Death Valley Days
8. The Chinese coin
This coin is a Chinese Empire "cash" coin from Kwangtung Province, also known as Canton,
now as Guangdong.
An example of a China Kwangtung Province cash coin
China Kwangtung cash coin
9. China Kwangtung Province cash coin, undated
The coins were struck at the city of Canton without dates but between 1890 and 1908.
They are usually made of bronze or brass, around 24 mm in diameter and weigh around 2.70 grams.
There are many varieties including ones with round holes and square holes.
They have also been reproduced more recently for sale to tourists and collectors.
Corbin returns from Ajos to the town and sees the pair and the Padre.
A man drives a cart into town with a human body that he has found.
The body is identified as and buried as an "Unknown Chinaman, died July 17, 1883 at the Campo Santo".
The Padre and Corbin discuss the stories and Miller interrupts to exclaim:
The curse of the dead - massacred by the Indians a hundred years ago.
I've seen that procession of the dead with my own eyes.
Skeletons in flowing robes, chanting demons, and a force of evil that would turn your stomach to ice!
Corbin asks Miller if he's seen the ghosts then why is he still alive and Miller replies "lucky".
Corbin mentions that the dead man was wearing "Chinese slippers" and shows the coin to the Padre.
Death Valley Days
10. Corbin shows the coin to the Padre
Both agree that it is Chinese and Corbin suggests that there is a rational explanation for the events
and that they and some townspeople visit the Campo Santo at night.
At the site, they watch and see the procession.
Death Valley Days
11. The phantom procession
Corbin fires a rifle into the air.
Death Valley Days
12. Corbin gets their attention
Two of the hooded men begin firing guns back.
Death Valley Days
13. Hooded gunfight
The two "ghosts" are shot, ending the gunfight.
Death Valley Days
14. Unmasked
The two gunfighter "ghosts" are unmasked and are found to be Miller, dead, and Miguel, dying.
The others are found to be Chinese men.
Corbin explains that some Chinese men pay large sums to be smuggled in to the United States,
and Miguel confesses that he and Miller were managing the smuggling ring.
Corbin sees Maria again and they ride away.
Death Valley Days
15. The Old Ranger returns
There are people living today who claim to have seen the Phantom Procession,
and to have heard the ghostly chanting in the Valley of the Dead.
Who is to say what is true or untrue about the legend?
Stanley Andrews as the Old Ranger
Tony Young as Corbin
Miriam Colon as Maria
Eugene Iglesias as Miguel
Harry Lauter as Miller
Edward Colmans as Padre
Director: Jesse Hibbs
Writer: Barry Shipman
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