November 26, 2002
I actually saw Bill Tilghman move last night! Pretty amazing. When I did my last book, Bad Men: Outlaws & Gunfighters of the Wild West, I came across the nugget that the Old West lawman Tilghman (played by Sam Elliott in “The Last Town” which was on tv a couple years ago) had made a movie called “Passing of The Oklahoma Outlaws” and in it, he used some of the actual outlaws he was up against, like Arkansas Tom and Henry Starr. I became very interested in finding a copy of this movie but when I canvassed my friends and experts they all told me, “No copy has survived.” And one of them added something about rotting canisters in the basement, etc. So imagine my surprise when one of our subscribers told me he had a copy. At first I was quite skeptical because we are always getting these wild claims, like, “I’ve got baby pictures of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in a playpen together. Wanna see’em?” And then they send ‘em, and they’re so fake, or wrong, you hate to tell ‘em, but when you do, they end up hating you and threatening to kick your ass, but that’s another story.
So, I kind of shined it on, and told the guy to send me copy of the film, never really expecting to get it. Lo and behold, yesterday in the mail I got a packet from Tommy Phillips from Choctaw, Oklahoma. I came home, popped it in the VCR, and there he was, the legendary Bill Tilghman, re-enacting the gunfight at Ingalls (the Classic Gunfight that’s in our current issue). Needless to say the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end. One of the many surprises is how big the hats were. I have always believed the big Tom Mix style sombreros didn’t come into fashion until the mid-twenties, but here they were bigger than watermelons in 1915! And with the Tom Mix crease.
I finally went to bed around 10, and Kathy said to me, “What’s wrong? The short hairs on the back of your neck are standing up.” I said, “I just saw Bill Tilghman move.”
Kathy grunted, “You crazy Old West nuts.” She should know. She’s a therapist.
“The ancients have stolen all our best ideas!”
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