The Old West is one of the most romanticized periods in American history, but as is often the case, there are some serious differences between the hype and the reality of what was. Here are some things I’ve noticed about the Old West.
Political Correctness wasn’t a thing
If you’ve read much about the Old West or saw the movie, Tombstone, or the Kevin Costner version of, “Wyatt Earp”, you’ve probably heard that Old West legend, Doc Holliday’s female companion was called, “Big Nose Kate”. That doesn’t seem particularly flattering. Of course, it could have been worse. What if another part of Kate’s anatomy was big? Things could have gotten really ugly.
Of course, there is an upside to calling people by their most prominent physical characteristic. It makes them easy to pick out in a crowd. For example, if people had only heard about Big Nose Kate and hadn’t actually met her they could pick her out. Then again, being mistaken for Big Nose Kate might upset some women. People in the Old West had to improvise when meeting people, after all, there were no name tags back them.
The NRA would have hated Wyatt Earp
If you’ve watched pretty much any version of Tombstone, Wyatt Earp or the OK Corral you probably recall the Earps went down to the OK Corral to take the Cowboys guns away. Obviously the NRA would have had none of that. Also, the movies often show cowboys having to check their guns when they come into town. The idea was keeping a handle on guns would help curb violence. Just think if the Old West sheriffs did things the other way.
I’ve never seen a western where the sheriff tells a bunch of cowboys coming into town, “Boys, this is a rough place. Better get yourself some more firepower in case there’s trouble.”
Why were so many old guys called, “Kid” in the movies?
In any number of westerns you’ll find one of the characters called, “Kid”. He could be, the Pecos Kid, the Oklahoma Kid, Colorado Kid, Sweetwater Kid, or even the Meatloaf Kid, but they usually have one thing in common: They’re way too old to be called, “Kid”.
As a case in point, James Cagney starred in the1939 movie, “The Oklahoma Kid”. Cagney starred in the title role and was about 40 at the time. Honestly, some of the guys that starred as, “Kids”, in westerns could have transitioned from that role straight into a role in, “The Over the Hill Gang.”
While I enjoy watching westerns, the Old West wasn’t a place I would have wanted to live. I’m not even sure how much I would have enjoyed visiting.