May 28, 2003
There’s this rumor going around that I hate Wyatt Earp and it’s being spread on the internet, etc. Most of it stems from the current issue of True West (July) and an article I wrote called “50 Things You Didn’t Know About Wyatt Earp.” We just got a letter from a disgruntled reader saying all of the “Things” about Wyatt Earp in my article were negative and why do I hate him? I wrote three replys and E-mailed them to Meghan at the office this morning. She will choose which one goes into the magazine (mostly based on space allowance) but you get to read all three:
• I prefer the Man not the Myth.
• I feel your pain, but if the title of my article was “50 Things You All Know About Wyatt Earp” then you would have read all about Earp’s brave and courageous life. To borrow and bend a Huxley quote: “The great tragedy of popular history is the slaying of a beautiful folk hero by an ugly fact.” In this case there were about fifty.
• My grandfather, Bob Guess, was a legendary cowboy from Crow Flat, New Mexico who died just before I was born. As I was growing up almost everyone I met regaled me with stories of his cowboy prowess and stalwart character. I idolized him as a kid, but as I got older I asked my mother to please tell me something negative about him because I was afraid he didn’t really exist. My mother sighed and said that during the depression she came home early from school one day and her father was in the yard with a neighbor’s cow. He was getting ready to butcher it and he told my mother to go in the house. I felt so much relief to know he was human. And so it is with Wyatt Earp.
I have many stories to tell from the trip. How I want to be Paul Andrew Hutton when I grow up. A tour of Billy the Kid’s town at midnite. How the Elfego Baca statue sketches went over (think Fabio). Gossip from the Alamo set (think Disney and cussing and $80 mil). Who picked up the tab at Tinnie? How the taping for the History Channel went? And all the exciting naps I took at Casa de Patron!
“Life is too short for a long story.”
—Mary Wortley Montagu
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