Climax Chew

Rufus Nephew, better-known as Climax Jim, was the darling of the Arizona press during the late 1890s. Thanks to the fertile imaginations of the old timers who knew him and the newspaper reporters who embellished and enlivened the activities of this likable street-wise kid from the east coast who matured into a notorious escapologist, rustler and rascal.

His colorful confrontations with the law weren’t exactly the stuff of legends but they kept readers thoroughly entertained.

He picked up the nickname Climax Jim because his favorite chew was the popular Climax Chewing Tobacco. It was advertised as “The Grand Old Chew,” and was a favorite of 19th century baseball players and evidently at least one cattle rustler.

His reputation for using a chaw resourcefully reached new heights when he was arrested for altering a check and trying to cash it. When his trial came up the check was placed on a table in the courtroom as Exhibit A for the prosecution.

During the trial his lawyer got into a nose-to-nose argument with the prosecuting attorney and during the chaotic distraction, Climax Jim ambled over to the table and stuffed the check into his mouth.

The judge finally restored order and directed the prosecuting attorney to present Exhibit A. When he reached for his primary evidence, it was nowhere to be found. A few feet away Climax sat there in his chair and chewing his cud with all the innocence of a choir boy.

The case was dismissed for lack of evidence. As he was leaving, Climax, with all the aplomb of a muleskinner, spit Exhibit A into the judge’s personal spittoon.

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