Tombstone: Too Tough to Die

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When you hear the name Tombstone, it makes you think of gunfights on dusty streets and the romance of the Old West with characters like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. Tombstone itself was formed around an area called Goose Flats, after a prospector named Ed Schieffelin, discovered a wealth of silver in 1877. He was warned of only finding his “tombstone” while searching for his treasure.

Tombstone is legendary for many things but none more so than the most famous shootout in the History of the American West…the Gunfight at the O.K.Corral. The gunfight itself happened at about 3pm, Wednesday, October 26th, 1881 in a vacant lot behind the corral in Tombstone. About 30 shots were fired in about 30 seconds. The gunfighters, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, Virgil Earp and Doc Holiday fought Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, Billy Clairborne, Ike Clanton and Billy Clanton. Ike Clanton and Billy Clairborne (who later claimed he had been unarmed though reports credit him with shooting one of more times) ran away from the fight, unharmed. Both McLaurys and Billy Clanton were killed and Morgan Earp, Virgil Earp and Doc Holiday were wounded.

Of all these infamous Cowboys of the West, Doc Holiday has always held the most interest for me personally. Wyatt Earp was quoted once saying “He was a dentist whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit…” Famous Gambling legend Bat Masterson (one of my favorite tv shows as a kid) was quoted as saying “Doc had but three redeeming traits. One was his courage; He was afraid of nothing on Earth. The second was the one commendable principle in his code of life, sterling loyalty to friends. The third was his affection for Wyatt Earp”.

Doc stood about 6 feet tall and despite all movies, he was a fair haired, platinum blond, built long and lean. Doc’s weapon of choice in his early days was an 1851 Colt Navy revolver given to him by his Uncle. Later in his western career, he carried a nickel-plated .41 caliber Colt Thunder or the .38 caliber Colt Lightening, both double action pistols. He never chose to use a shotgun but was handed one by Virgil Earp during the famous battle, which after firing one shot, threw down the gun in disgust and jerked the nickel-plated Colt, his favorite weapon.

Doc is known to all of us (who’ve watched the most recent Tombstone movie) as a bit of a wise guy with sayings like “I’ll be your Huckleberry” and also making reference to the term “Daisy”. Eye and ear witnesses present at this shooting say that when confronted by Frank McLaury at the gunfight, Doc’s reply to McLaury’s challenge “I’ve got you now!” was “Blaze away! You’re a daisy if you have”! Back then the slang “Daisy” referred to “the best in it’s class” or condensed to “the best”. His celebrated line “I’m your Huckleberry” was also a slang term meaning “I’m just the man you’re looking for”!

It was my privilege to walk down the same streets once walked by these legends and get to see this famous old town. The old courthouse is completely intact, along with the gallows in the courtyard. Allen street is still dusty, lined with buildings from the past, including the spot where the O.K. Corral stood. I looked very much the part as I walked it sporting my new black “Wyatt” hat while holding onto my newly minted “Tombstone Sheriff” badge. Sadly, my mystique wore off quickly when it blew off my head in a strong wind (or was pushed off by an old ghost) and I had to chase it damn near that whole street. I’m sure this “City Slicker” made the “Townies” days. 😉

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6 Responses to “Tombstone: Too Tough to Die”

  1. my favorite western was the Rifleman. He stood for good in the old West. I wouldn’t look at him sideways if I was an Outlaw. Great pics partner.

  2. Howdy padna, the pics are awfully purty. Who’s the handsum buck under the Oriental Saloon sign?

  3. He was a cutie yb! He even asked if he should stop for me. I think he saw me lose my hat and took pity!
    I’m guessing he was one of the many actors they have to make people feel like they stepped back in time.

  4. missyogini Says:

    I love the skies in your pics. They really pop! I am busy packing…going to move next weekend. It’s a little stressful with the holidays and all but well worth it. Hope you have a very nice Christmas. Best wishes for the new year too!

  5. Glad the move is well worth it. Change can be a very exciting thing. Best wishes to you M.Y. and to your family for a very Merry Christmas! H

  6. Nice site you have here. enjoyed the photos. thanks for stopping by mine. ramblingbob

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