Friday, October 26, 2007

Today In History - The Shootout At The OK Corral

Yep it was on October 26 in the year 1881 that this famous shootout took place. The story has been told, retold, written up in newspapers, in pulp magazines, in novels telling tales of the west, and on the silver screen again and again and again. So I am not going to tell you about it again. Let it just suffice to say that this was not a pace down the street toward each other, then slap leather, draw and fire television cowboy gunfight. Nope, it was the real thing, down and dirty, and fought by hard men willing to kill one another. In the end the lawmen prevailed.

I will add this: Many years ago, in 1991, I was on a temporary assignment in Tucson, Arizona. Late one Saturday morning when I was off, I decided to take a ride to no place in particular. Driving around the desert back then was nice, mostly because the area between Tucson and Tombstone was virtually empty of houses. When I saw the sign for Tombstone, I got sort of a chill, don't know why. Then I thought it might be nice to go to Tombstone and have a shot of Tequila where the Earp brothers, and Doc Holiday had drank whatever it was they drank. I figured it would be nice to make a toast to them in one of their stomping grounds. It was not an overwhelming urge to have a drink, not even much of an urge for that; but it was a might powerful urge to visit Tombstone in their honor. So off to Tombstone I turned. As I got nearer and nearer, I kept getting the overwhelming feeling that my visit there would be something special; and believe me I do not usually get any sort of special feelings like that, nor do I believe in any of that heebie jeebie hoopla.

I soon arrived in Tombstone, and I parked my car on a back street right away. Then I got out and walked to the main street, and headed toward the main part of town - yes I had been there a few times before and knew the way. As I was making my way up the street, two guys start yelling at each other, then start a shoving match. I stood back and watched, and hoped it would stay at the level it was and not elevate. Suddenly one of the guys pulls out a gun and starts shooting the other guy. No show going on, no one else watching except me and a couple of other tourists. I figured oh shit this is it and I started to make my move behind cover, and started to go for the hip, and was about to say "police don't move" when the guy who was 'shot' started laughing like a hyena. One of these guys had on western garb (but not like for a show, just the hat, boots, jeans, and the other guy looked more like a regular Joe. Neither one of them ever realized how close I came to possibly shooting the shooter. A split second more of that guy playing dying/dead and my pistol quite possibly would have been out, and pointed at the 'bad' guy. What would have happened after that had he not obeyed commands might have resembled the results of that long ago day at the OK Corral. Lucky for me it was not my day to have a 'shootout'.

As it turned out, I headed over to my car, took my pistol apart, locked part of it to the frame of my car with a chain. Figured it was better not to be armed at the bar. Then I went back to the main street and headed to the Crystal Palace Saloon (as I said I had been there before and knew the way). Then I had a Tequila and a large beer. It was very refreshing, and a nice diversion from what could have taken place a few minutes earlier. As I drank, I tipped each glass to those hard men from bygone years. As I was enjoying my beer, I was extremely surprised to learn from the bartender that the particular day I was there was the 110th anniversary of the Shootout at the OK Corral! I decided to have another Tequila and beer, then I wasted spent a couple of hours walking around town and watching a reenactment of the shootout. Guess who played one of the Clanton Gang in the show. Yep you guessed it - the guy who did the fake shooting when I had arrived in town. How ironic it would have been for him had he wound up like they did on that particular day. I was, and still am, quite thankful I never had to take any further action other than I going to get a beer and a shot, and enjoy my day like any other tourist.

All the best,
Glenn B

1 comment:

jennifer said...

I am rolling, as we witnessed something similar. We also went to the shootout at the OK corral and the actors used my son in the presentation!!! Way cool. Thanks for the today in history!
Jen