Everyone knows the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the OK Corral. It’s possibly the most iconic story out of the “wild west.” But there are many more stories yet untold. I’ve been following the trail of this one for a while. Doc Holliday. Wyatt Earp. Bat Masterson.
Where did they meet? How did Doc Holliday — legitimately a D.D.S.(doctor of dental surgery) and apparently a good one — wind up best friends with Wyatt Earp and his brothers? How did this polite, educated gentleman become a gunfighter and a gambler? When did Bat Masterson get into the mix?
John Henry “Doc” Holliday (August 14, 1851 – November 8, 1887) became a gambler and gunman out of necessity.
Not quite the killer his reputation made him out to be, Doc’s reputation was part truth, mixed with a lot rumor and publicity. Often credited with killing people he never met, the rumors were fueled by Holliday’s own publicity.
He wasn’t fond of killing people. Being a notorious gunman made it less likely he’d be challenged. He was famous for shooting opponents in the hand or foot, thus ending a duel without killing anyone.
Doc Holliday was otherwise known as a mild-mannered, well-bred southerner who would have rather been a dentist. Except for being tubercular. Tuberculosis is a career ender for a dentist.
Exactly how he met the Earp brothers and with which of the many Earps did he connect first? Lots of speculation, but no evidence that can stand up to scrutiny. When and where did Bat Masterson come into the mix?
Bat Masterson is a great character. He pops in and out of the story, shows up in the nick of time to pull someone’s iron out of the fire, then disappears back to his own story. Sounds like a supporting actor Oscar to me.
The OK Corral has been done to death. Can I convince someone to write this story? No zombies, no werewolves, no vampires. Let’s keep it all human, in the just-before-the-turn-of-the-century west.
Interesting Factoid: Doc Holliday was a cousin by marriage to Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With the Wind.”
There is history for which the facts are known. We don’t know who said what, but we know the players, dates, locations. Documentation exists.
Much — maybe most — history is not straightforward. There is no evidence. No indisputable documentation or trustworthy testimony. You might as well print the legend because that’s all you’ve got.
Sometimes, you can pick your favorite version of the tale. Or write your own. One is as true as another.
The story of the Jonestown Massacre is true. From it grew a saying everyone uses. “Drink the Kool-Aid” or “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” I wonder how many people who say it so casually, referring to products, buying into a corporate culture, or political philosophy, realize to what they are referring?
I’ve written this before, but this is a major revision and it bears repeating. It’s true. It happened. We need to make sure it never happens again.
Drink (or don’t drink) the Kool-aid
The popular expression “drink the Kool-Aid” has become a common verbal shorthand in American business and politics. Roughly translated, it means “to blindly follow or accept a set of beliefs.” At work, it means you endorse what your bosses tell you. In politics, it means you fully buy into the platform.
It carries a negative connotation, but not as negative as it ought.
Kool-Aid was the drink for children on summer afternoons in the 1950s. The saying is now just bland rhetoric, stripped of its context and thus the horror it ought to evoke.
The Peoples Temple
Jim Jones, cult leader and mass murderer, was a complex madman. A communist, occasional Methodist minister, he founded his own pseudo-church in the late 1950s. He called it the “Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church,” known in short as the “Peoples Temple.”
The lack of a possessive apostrophe was intentional. The name supposedly refers to “the people of the world.” Jones called it a church, but it was a twisted version of a Marxist commune. At first, it combined with miscellaneous Christian references Jones used in his diatribes, er, sermons.
It was not a church. The Peoples Temple was a straight-up cult requiring total personal commitment, financial support, and absolute obedience. The characteristics which define a cult.
Jones was the leader. A homicidal maniac, but he had positive qualities. Jones and his wife, Marceline, favored racial integration. They adopted kids from varying racial backgrounds and were the first white family in Indiana to adopt an African-American boy. They also adopted 3 Korean children, a Native American child, and a handful of white kids. They had one child of their own.
Jones called his adopted kids the “Rainbow Family.” He made a name for himself desegregating institutions in Indiana. Before you get all dewy-eyed, note that this climaxed in murdering these children.
The Peoples Temple expanded through the 1960s. Jones gradually abandoned Marxism. His preaching increasingly focused on impending nuclear apocalypse. He specified a date — July 15, 1967 — and suggested after the apocalypse, a socialist paradise would exist on Earth. Where would the new Eden be?
Jones decided on Redwood Valley, California. Before the expected Big Bang, he moved the Temple and its peoples there.
When the end-of-the-world deadline came and went, Jones abandoned his pretense of Christianity and he revealed himself as a madman using religion to lend legitimacy to his views. He announced “Those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion must be brought to enlightenment — socialism.” Prophetic words in view of the fact that Jones was a drug addict .
As media attention increased, Jones worried the Peoples Temple’s tax-exempt religious status was in danger. He was paranoid about the U.S. intelligence community — with good reason.
In 1977, Jones moved the Temple and its people again. This was a major relocation. He took them out of the United States and resettled everyone in Guyana, a poor South American nation. He modestly named it “Jonestown.”
It was a bleak, inhospitable place. On 4000 acres of poor soil with limited access to fresh water, it was too small for the number of people it had to support. Jones optimistically figured “his” people could farm the new utopia. He had put together several million dollars before getting to Jonestown, but didn’t share it with his followers. He barely used any of the money at all, and lived in a small, bare-bones shack.
All Hell Breaks Loose
U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown in November of 1978. Rumors of peculiar goings-on were leaking out of Jonestown. Ryan decided to investigate the allegations of human rights abuses in Jonestown.
Ryan didn’t go alone. He took a contingent of media representatives including NBC News correspondent Don Harris and other reporters, plus relatives of Jonestown residents. During his visit, Congressman Ryan talked to more than a dozen Temple members, all of whom said they wanted to leave. Several of them passed a note saying: “Please help us get out of Jonestown” to news anchor Harris.
If the number of defectors seems low (there were more than 900 people in Jonestown), but the congressional party was unable to talk to most of the “fellowship.” It’s impossible to know how many might have wanted to leave.
Ryan began processing paperwork to repatriate Temple members to go back to the States. In the middle of this, Ryan was attacked by Don Sly, a knife-wielding Temple member. This would-be assassin was stopped before injuring Ryan. Eventually the entire Ryan party plus the group of Jonestown defectors drove to a nearby airstrip and boarded planes, intending to leave.
Jim Jones had other plans. He sent armed Temple members — his “Red Brigade,” after the Congressional party These creepy “soldiers of the Temple” opened fire, killing Ryan, a Temple defector, 3 members of the media, and wounding 11 others. The survivors fled into the jungle.
When the murderers returned to Jonestown and reported their actions, Jones promptly started what he called a “White Night” meeting. He “invited” all Temple members. This wasn’t the first White Night. Jones had hosted previous White Night meetings in which he suggested U.S. intelligence agencies would soon attack Jonestown. He had even staged fake attacks to add a realism, though it’s hard to believe anyone was fooled by the play-acting.
Faced with this hypothetical invasion scenario, Jones told Temple members they could stay and fight imaginary invaders, or they could take off for the USSR. Another tempting alternative would be to run off into the Guyana jungles. Finally, they could commit mass suicide as an act of political protest.
On previous occasions Temple members had opted for suicide. Not satisfied, Jones had tested their commitment and gave them cups of liquid they were told contained poison. They were asked to drink it. Which they did. After a while, Jones told them the liquid wasn’t poison — but one day it would be.
Indeed Jim Jones had been stockpiling cyanide and other drugs for years. On this final White Night, Jones was no longer testing his followers. It was time to kill them all.
(Don’t) Drink the Kool-Aid
After the airstrip murders outside Jonestown, Jim Jones ordered Temple members to create a fruity mix containing a cocktail of chemicals that included cyanide, diazepam (Valium), promethazine (Phenergan — a sedative), chloral hydrate (a sedative/hypnotic sometimes called “knockout drops”), and Flavor Aid — a grape-flavored powdered drink mix similar to Kool-Aid.
Jones urged his followers to commit suicide to make a political point. What that point was supposed to be is a matter of considerable conjecture. After some discussion, Temple member Christine Miller suggested flying Temple members to the USSR.
Jones was never interested in escape. There was only one answer he would accept. Death. Lots of it. He repeatedly pointed out Congressman Ryan was dead (and whose fault was that?) which would surely bring down the weight of American retribution. An audiotape of this meeting exists. It is as creepy as you’d expect.
Then it was time for the detailed instructions which the followers followed. I will never understand why. Probably it means I’m not insane.
Jones insisted mothers squirt poison into the mouths of their children using syringes. As their children died, the mothers were dosed too, though they were allowed to drink from cups. Temple members wandered outside where eventually more than 900 lay dead, including more than 300 children. Only a handful of survived — primarily residents who happened to be away on errands when the mass suicide/massacre took place.
Jones, his wife, and various other members of the Temple left wills stating that their assets should go to the Communist Party of the USSR.
Jones did not drink poison. He died from a bullet to the head. It’s not clear if it was self-inflicted. Jones likely died last or nearly so. He may have preferred a gun to cyanide, having seen the horrendous effects of death by cyanide.
In the wake of the tragedy at Jonestown, the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” became a popular term for blind (or not-so-blind) obedience. Temple members had apparently accepted their cups of poison without argument or objection. Various accounts say the beverage used at Jonestown was mostly Flavor Aid, sometimes “Flav-R-Aid”). It doesn’t matter, does it?
Kool-Aid was better-known than Flavor Aid. It was introduced in 1927 in powdered form, so when Americans thought of a powdered fruity drink mix (other than “Tang”), “Kool-Aid” sprang to mind.
Kool-Aid and Flavor Aid were at Jonestown, but the phrase “(don’t) drink the Kool-Aid” is popular lingo. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Does it help sell Kool-Aid?
I never touch the stuff.
I’ve written about Jonestown before, but given the state of politics today, not only in the US but around the world, it bears repeating. It’s a cautionary tale for our times, reminding us where fanaticism leads. Over the course of history, fanatics and those who blindly follow without questioning those who lead, have caused millions of deaths. Untold misery. Incalculable harm. It isn’t harmless. It isn’t “just blowing off steam.”
King Richard III’s remains have arrived at Leicester Cathedral ahead of his reburial. His funeral cortege entered the city at the historic Bow Bridge after touring landmarks in the county.
Cannons were fired in a salute to the king at Bosworth, where he died in 1485. His coffin will be on public view at the cathedral from 09:00 GMT on Monday. He will finally be reinterred during a ceremony on Thursday. Richard’s skeleton was found in 2012, in an old friary beneath a car park.
For those of you who like to follow archaeology and history, here’s the Richard III update.
Drew Barrymore has been working regularly on Turner Classic movies with Robert Osborne, discussing and introducing classic movies. Her face has changed in recent years. Now she looks like a Barrymore.
That’s no small thing because she is this generation’s only representative of what is the longest running act in show business.
Several families have two or three generations of actors and a couple of families have three or more generations of directors. Only one has been on stage and screen for more than 100 years, the royal family of stage and screen, the Barrymores.
As of this writing, Drew Barrymore is her generation’s only working actor. John Drew, Diana, Drew, and John Blyth are the only descendants of John Barrymore who became actors.
Garry and I were trying to guess how many acting dynasties include at least three generations, in which at least one family member in each generation has done something noteworthy as an actor. Not as a director, producer, or writer. Only actors.
Define “noteworthy” please!
It started when we noticed a Capra listed as a crew member of an NCIS episode. Garry wondered if this was a fourth generation of Capras. There was a Frank Capra I, II and III, so it seemed likely to be members of the same family. The Capras are directors. No actors, so they don’t count for the purposes of this post.
Reality shows do not count. Non-speaking and cameo roles do not count, nor does work as a TV announcer, talk show host, or sportscaster. Mere celebrity does not count. Only acting.
The Barrymore genealogy is complicated because it is extensive. There have many marriages and a slew of children. Most of the men in the family are named John, which doesn’t make it easier to follow the trail.
Other acting families are even more confusing. Actors marry each other, divorce frequently, and have children by many partners. They adopt and raise children from former marriages and from spouses’ former relationships. It’s hard to keep track and sometimes, relationships intertwine to such a degree it’s impossible to say to which family a particular person belongs. Not unlike European royal families.
If you count only acting families — and only family members who have had a real acting careers — the number of entries in the field are manageable. You’ll quite a few 2-generation families. A handful of 3-generation families.
Only one family has four generations of working actors.
Drew Barrymore is the family’s current representative.There are many other family members, but none are acting, as of this writing. It doesn’t mean they or their offspring won’t enter the family business in the future. It’s quite a legacy. Talk about family pressure.
If you want to see the other families, or at least most of them, you can look them up. Google “multi-generational acting families“. Wikipedia has a good write-up, but omits significant British families.
The Barrymore family reigns. No other family comes near the prominence or longevity of this family of actors.
Wikipedia’s entry on the Barrymores includes actors and non-actors. There are quite a few family members who are not in show business. The acting family members are in blue.
Fly-on-Wall to Chief: Hey, pssst. Look out on the horizon. See those white sails?
Chief: Those white things? Sails you say? They look like boats with a tepees on top. Haven’t seen any of them in a while. Well, maybe not ever. Who do you figure they are?
Chief: What’s a European?
Fly-on-Wall: Sickly white-skinned people with weapons and disease. They can kill you without even trying. They’ve come to destroy you, take all your land … that’s if you survive their diseases.
Chief: Get outta here. How bad could it really be? We’re healthy and strong. We get plenty of good food and exercise. Those ships don’t look so big or dangerous.
Fly-on-Wall: They are BAD. Evil. You should kill all of them before they set foot on shore. Really. No kidding.
Chief: What about hospitality? We don’t treat visitors like that. We welcome visitors.
Fly-on-Wall: Make an exception. Don’t welcome these. You’ll be sorry. Very very sorry.
Chief: You know, you’re just a bug. How do you know all of this?
Fly-on-Wall: I know things. I’ve been a fly on the wall for a long time in a lot of places. Don’t let the bastards off their ships. Burn them, kill them. They aren’t your friends. They bring illness, destruction. The end of everything good.
Chief: (Whack) (Splat). Flies. They always think they’re so smart.
America was born bankrupt. We won a revolution, but lost everything else. Our economy depended on Great Britain. We produced raw material, but England turned materials into goods.
Not merely did we depend on the British to supply us with finished goods we could not produce ourselves, we depended on British banks, shipping, and trade routes.
Everything has a price and we had no money. We hoped we could reach an agreement with England short of war and had there been a different monarch on the throne, we might have been able to. Despite the Massachusetts “Sam Adams faction” most colonists felt at least some allegiance to England.
We had no “American identity” because there was no America with which to identify. What colonists wanted were the rights of free Englishmen. A deal should have been reached, but George III said no. It was war. England lost their wealthiest colonies and we were born.
How did we win the war? George Washington did an amazing job considering what he had to work with. And then, there were the French.
French military support was the key. Ships, guns, mercenaries. It was a loan we agreed to pay back. The French revolution was a stroke of luck indeed. Afterwards, when Napoleon suggested we repay our war debt, we said “What war debt?” Phew.
What Did We Have?
Slaves and land. Sugar and rum. Most slaves lived in the south, but were brought here by New England sea captains. Held in New York, and Boston, sold to slavers at northern markets, they were then sent south to be resold to individual owners. Our entire economy was based on slaves.
The new-born United States had no factories, no national bank, currency, credit, courts, laws, or central government. Even before 1776, slavery was the polarizing issue in the colonies. When it came time to write a Constitution, it was obvious abolishing slavery would doom it, so slavery became law, laying the groundwork for America’s bloodiest war.
87 years later, more than 600,000 lives would be the butcher’s bill for that “deal.” It would twist and distort American history, shape our politics, society, culture, and social alignments. Its legacy remains. When you dine with the Devil, bring a long spoon.
Welcome to the Blackstone Valley
People needed work. Trade goods. If this country was going to develop into anything, it needed reliable sources of income.
Slave and rum might work for a few, but most settlers didn’t own ships. Moreover, slaving was never a profession for “nice folks.” Decent people might live off the labor of slaves, but actually buying and selling people was more than they could stomach.
As great minds gathered in Philadelphia to draft a document to build a nation, other great minds sought ways to make money. It’s the American way.
As the Constitution went into effect in 1789, the American Industrial Revolution took shape on the banks of the Blackstone River.
Moses Brown had been fighting his own war. He was battling the Blackstone. With a 450 foot drop over a 46-mile course — an average drop of about 10 feet per mile — the Blackstone River is a powerhouse. Not a wide river, its sharp drop combines with its narrowness and meandering path to give it much more energy than a river of this size should generate.
As the Constitution was gaining approval, Brown tried to build a cotton thread factory in Pawtucket, RI at a falls on the Blackstone River. He was sure he could harness the river to power his mill, but at the end of 1789, the score stood at Blackstone River – 1, Moses Brown – 0.
America had her welcome mat out in those days. We needed people. We weren’t picky. All immigrants were welcomed, a stroke of luck for Moses Brown.
In December 1789, Samuel Slater — a new immigrant from England — began working for Brown. Slater was an engineer with years of experience working in English textile mills. In less than a year, he built a working mill on the Blackstone River. America’s first factory was open for business.
Mills sprang up everywhere along the Blackstone. From Worcester to Providence, its banks were lined with mills and factories. More sprouted by the Merrimack and eventually, everywhere in New England where a river ran.
The Blackstone Canal
What made the Blackstone a natural for generating power made it useless for shipping. Horse-drawn wagons were slow and expensive. It took 2 to 3 days over dirt roads from Worcester to Providence.
When winter came, the trip was impossible. All of which led to the building of the Blackstone Canal.
What Does This Have To Do With Slavery?
Mills brought employment to the north. It created an industrial base which would give the north the ability to fight a civil war and win. It started with the river, continued with a canal, expanded with railroads. Which is why the Blackstone Valley is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution … a revolution that brought the U.S. into the modern world and positioned us to become top dog on the international scene.
The canal system remains largely intact. Trails along the canals where horses towed barges are walking paths. Barges are gone, but small boats enjoy the open stretches of canal and river.
Railroads were the game-changer. When rail arrived, the canal was abandoned. Business boomed.
By the end of the 19th century, the Blackstone River was lined with mills and factories. The Blackstone supplied the hydro power and in return, the river was used to dispose of industrial waste and sewage.
By the early 1900s, the Blackstone River in Massachusetts was grossly polluted. This was also the beginning of the end of the textile industry in the northeast and the beginning of mass unemployment in the north.
As of 1923, the majority of nation’s cotton was grown, spun and woven down south — and that’s where the mills went. One by one, they closed, never to reopen. Without its mills and factories, the valley’s population began to shrink.
In 1971, the Blackstone River was labeled “one of America’s most polluted rivers” by Audubon magazine. It was the low point. Time to clean up the mess.
We’re still cleaning up. Although not as bad as it was, the watershed isn’t clean yet. Against all logic and reason, waste-water is still being discharged from a sewage treatment plant in Millbury. It’s hard to fathom the reasoning, if any, of those knuckleheads still pouring sewage into our river.
Good news? The birds and fish are back. American eagles nest in my woods. Herons and egrets wade in the shallows to catch the fish who breed here. The river is alive, if not entirely well. An apt description of our nation too.
For your Daily Downer, WordPress is offering up a peach. You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side. What a great prompt. I haven’t had any juicy nightmares recently. Just obnoxious, worrisome, nagging unpleasant dreams. Not real nightmares.
Lacking a juicy nightmare of my own, I thought we might take a little trip to Merry Olde England. This should give everyone nightmares and have you running for any door. Even the one which leads into the dark tunnel.
Acts I and II
Drawing and quartering was (the public) part of the grisly penalty anciently ordained in England (1283) for the crime of treason. Before they got to this part of the orgy of pain and agony, professionals had been privately torturing the traitor on the rack for weeks, months or years. Enhanced interrogation has a long, proud heritage.
The show’s finale often took several days. Its most important feature was that the star of the show had to be alive to fully participate in the event. He or she would be brought near death many times, then revived.
Ordained in England in 1283 for the crime of treason, this form of “execution” remained on the books — entirely legal — until 1867.
The full punishment for a traitor included a variety of creative mini-executions, none of which ended in death. First, Mr. Traitor was drawn. Which meant he was tied to a horse and dragged to the gallows. It was probably some kind of sledge. The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I (2nd ed., 1898; reissued 1996) indicates it was a way to deliver the live body to the hangman.
Act III, the Finale
The remainder of the punishment left the executioner with a few choices, based on what he thought the crowd would most enjoy, would cause the most agony without actually killing the object of his attentions, or both. These choices included hanging (not to the death) and/or live disembowelment and burning of the entrails (while the subject watched).
For the finale, you could take your choice of quartering — by tying each limb to a different horse and spurring them in different directions. Or, if that was impractical (not enough horses? insufficient room?), there was always a final beheading. Anyone who thinks the British are not a creative people, this should dispel that myth.
As for escaping the nightmare through one of 3 doors? I don’t think so. Just one door leading to a black-robed dude carrying a scythe. He will welcome you. At that point, Death looks like Mother Mercy.
I’m not making this up.
The first sentence of drawing and quartering was inflicted in 1283 on the Welsh prince David ap Gruffudd, whose punishment for myriad crimes included being drawn for treason, hanged for homicide, disemboweled for sacrilege, then beheaded and quartered for plotting the king’s death.
In 1803 Edward Marcus Despard and six accomplices were drawn, hanged, and quartered for conspiring to assassinate George III. And finally, the sentence was last passed (but not carried out) on two Irish Fenians in 1867.
Are we having nightmares yet? Great! My job here is finished. Have a great day!