Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Truth About Wyatt Earp

July 18, 2015
   Still wrestling with the truth about Wyatt Earp. Why is it so important to me? My mother's side of the family doesn't even like him, so it seems weird on a certain level to be so obsessed with what he did and what he did not do.

   John Gilchriese said to me, "You won't like him. He's not who you think he was" And, by the way, Gilchriese knew John Flood intimately.

   We now know Earp was invovled in prostitution, to what degree it's hard to say, but when a newspaper says, after his second arrest, that he's "an old offender," you kind of have to admit where there's smoke there's usually a smoking, paid for, vagina.

   He took credit for a variety of things he didn't do. He didn't kill John Ringo. He didn't disarm Ben Thompson. He didn't stand off the Johnny Behind The Deuce mob all by himself. He may not even have killed Curly Bill.

   Still, when he was in his prime he was bold and by all accounts, a ladies man. All of this played into the painting I finished this morning.

Daily Whip Out: "A Troubled Young Stud"

   I really shouldn't like him. I hate historical fakery with a passion, but,  Gilchriese was wrong: I have a very good idea of what he did and didn't do and, in spite of that, I like him. For starters, we love the same thing. In the Flood manuscript, he tells us twice what he loves, and here it is for the second time:

"The same desert that thrilled him through and through, at old Tucson, and the same blue sky: there isn't any blue like it anywhere, and Wyatt Earp loves it, and the sunshiny sun and the sands that blow upon him"
—John Flood on the last page of the 348 page manuscript on Wyatt Earp


  1. I wouldn't hold those prostitution charges against him - I think prostitution should be legal anyway.

    How many of our old Western characters would we really like as people? Most are famous for being killers or at least, violent. We accept that, and we have to accept that they might not be nice people. We don't have to like them to be fascinated about them.
    It seems that Wyatt had plenty of friends over the years, so those people liked him. Being the quiet type, and not a blowhard, is to his credit. And anybody who appreciates the desert like that, can't be too bad.

  2. Good points. I still like him as people, though. I have a hunch he would be fun to talk to about many things. Just a hunch.

  3. "If one has to judge people, such as Wyatt, then, do so by the standards of their time"

    That said, how many of us could have gone through what they did and even survive?..I have to, at least, give them something for making it as long as they did..

    So, he did not always tell the truth at the end, and he would not be the first to manipulate the truth..I am not surprised..

    It never occurred to them that one might study them for years and have access to historical records they never dreamed would see the light of day..We can come to a more informed research conclusion that way..

    I am fascinated with them all from long ago "good or bad"..That's how we got to where we are today because of their "life history" and our interest and fascination with their story..
    “Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors"--Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. I think meeting Wyatt Earp would be no different than meeting anyone you have only know by reputation. We have an expectation of people by what we know about them, and usually draw a little different conclusion by what we see in them. I've thought of this many times. I know he was not Hugh O'Brian, and I have always considered that he would be a hard man to figure out, but I think I would like him.

    1. I agree Kevin. All the points here are well taken. If you could sit down with him and ask one question, what would it be? What is the one question you want answered?

    2. Wow, that would be a tough one, but I think I'd have to ask him; "What was it about Ike Clanton that made you think he would give up Billy Leonard and the others for the Benson stage robbery?" I personally think that, more than any other single event, and there were many, lead to the shootout in October 81. That was a bad call on Wyatt's part. I know there are many things I'd like to ask him, but that one has always bugged me for some reason.

  5. Yes, we hate to admit it but Wyatt could be dumb like a fox, and sometimes just dumb. Wasn't the smartest move and, as you said, it led to everything else.


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