Wednesday, July 15, 2015

109 Cracks! at The O.K. Corral

July 15, 2015
   Let's be perfectly clear here: I don't buy the argument that John Flood made up anecdotes and events to pad out the Wyatt Earp manuscript. He stretched anecdotes and exaggerated like crazy (see yesterday's post on Wyatt waking up before the gunfight), but all with Earp's blessing. The very idea that Wyatt was somehow duped or out of the loop is laughable. This is Wyatt's story as he and Sadie wanted it to be told. Granted, there's a ton of BS in here (Wyatt claims he bagged John Ringo for example) and Sadie altered quite a bit of landscape to keep herself out of the picture, but the basic premise of every chapter and every event covered in the 348 pages comes straight from the horse's mouth. That is my opinion.

 Daily Whip Out: "Wyatt Earp Gets To Fighting (As Ike Heads for The Exit)"

   That said, it's hard to believe Wyatt Earp could tell the story of the gunfight in Tombstone and get so much of it wrong. For one thing, Wyatt drew a map of the location of the fight (which is printed in the manuscript) and where everyone stood. Incredibly, Wyatt has the fight taking place in the rear of the O.K. Corral! As we reported in True West magazine recently, that map of the wrong location recently sold at auction for $380,000! Now THAT is ironic.

   As I have previously reported there are tons of CRACK! (in my book, "The Illustrated Life & Times of Wyatt Earp," published in 1993 and revised in 1996, I have the number of "Crack!" mentions at 101, but upon closer inspection (thanks to Mark Boardman for letting spend some quality time with his copy), I have accounted for 109 CRACK! mentiones and one BANG!, as in bullets fired by the participants!). The newspapers from back in the day lists the number of shots being fired at approximately 30, which is plenty. I can easily see that this could be Earp and Flood, acting on the advice of William S. Hart, or Tom Mix, or perhaps a screenwriter who tried to help out with the project: "Trust me, the people who love Westerns love to see the word CRACK! You can't put too many in your narrative. Load it up."

   Here's how Wyatt describes Doc pulling both triggers on the Wells Fargo shotgun:

   "'Doc Holliday and his popgun!' he was furious with the ridicule that was in his mind [Wyatt is assuming Doc will be ridiculed for missing with a shotgun], and raising the weapon above his head, he flung it far across the street."

   And here are a couple of scanned pages to prove to you that I am not exaggerating on the number of CRACK! mentions:

Let's Get Crackin'!


 I count 16 on this page.

   And even more cracks:

And a staggering 26 on this page.

   As if the massive amounts of CRACK! needed justification, Wyatt and Flood add this detail: "So rapid were the flashes that the heat of the metal extended back into the butts of the forty-fives until the palms of the gunners began to burn."

   Then, perhaps because Earp and Flood think we may be tiring of the CRACK!, they switch to this:

   "ing! ing! ing! "Look out Morg, look out! you're gettin' it in the back!" shouted Wyatt Earp as streaks of fire commenced flashing from Clayboure's gun through the front window of the photograph gallery."

   If I had to guess, I would say the ing! is a ricochet? And, by the way, no capital letter there, it's "ing! ing!" as in, confus-ing!

   I believe Sadie read the manuscript over and over and I also have a strong hunch she read it aloud to Wyatt and you might make the claim he didn't care what it said, but I think that is wrong. Here again, is the preamble to the book:

   "He has tried to tell the facts and incidents as they were lived and fought; nothing has been exaggerated. As dictated, personally, by Mr. Earp to the author, the story is told, almost, with exactitude: in many instances, the vocabulary representing his precise words. . .Truth, correctness and vindication constitute the purpose of this narrative."
—John Flood

And all I can add to that with exactitude, is "Crack!"


  1. Is this the place to pun that John Flood was obviously a crack addict?

  2. That's a lot of reloading, unless they really could fire twelve rounds from a six shooter. Not to mention carrying all that lead in your pocket. Ha!


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