Things I Still Wonder About Life in The Old West
Ahhh, the Old West
how we love it. We love the Old West to such an extent, that we still get a silent thrill of watching early Westerns that helped to make Hollywood rich when a time when money was really money.
Gunsmoke, Bat Masterson, The Lawman, and The Rifleman were just a few of the famous westerns that are still shown in re-run's on almost every cable and satellite system available. My personal favorites were: Gunsmoke and The Rifleman, just to get my "two cents in."
The plots that were written
for these Westerns were believable enough in the beginning. If it had not been for us growing from our child-like innocence, believing everything on television, to reaching adulthood when reality was similar to a grandfather whose steps although slow, but caught up to us to open our eyes to the truth about television shows and how they were written.
"It's tough finding out that not everything in early Westerns was just make-believe."
- Kenneth Avery, 2016
In Old West Westerns
there were plenty of horses for the Western-lover. And plenty of wagons with or without a covering for fans of Wagon Trail starring a stern Ward Bond, once a very-noted Hollywood actor who is still known for his role in Sargent York, starring Gary Cooper.
I loved Roy Rogers' horse, Trigger, the Lone Ranger's horse, Silver, his partner, Tonto's horse, Scout and so on and so on. Some Hollywood writer or producer must have seen a light bulb go off over their head because the scripts were sometimes written to make these hero's horses have impressive talents and able to follow the most-complex commands.
One horse even his his own show. Do you remember, My Friend Flicka? I do. Horses, wagons, and a simple life for everyone who lived and worked in the Old West in Hollywood's viewpoint.
It wasn't too long
before more bucks were made available by Hollywood film studios, MGM, Paramount and the Hollywood film standard, Warner Bros. Studios who churned-out television westerns by the boxcar for every week's devoted fans of the Old West shows they sunk millions into producing not just for our enjoyment, but for the hefty advertising revenue made from successful Westerns as:
- Cheyenne -- with Clint Walker
- Bronco - - with Ty Hardin
- Rawhide - - with a young Clint Eastwood.
- Maverick - - with James Garner, Jack Kelly and a young Roger Moore.
- The Rifleman - - with Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford.
- Gunsmoke - - with James Arness, Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver and Ken Curtis.
to name just a few of the block-buster television Westerns that I grew up loving.
"If I had been born in and grew up in the Old West and had to punch cattle or herd sheep to make a living, I had much rather find work in a store, bank, or early newspaper that came to the Old West. I love animals too much to see them slaughtered for food or clothing."
- - Kenneth Avery, 2016
And if you were migrating
to the Old West from "back East," as most Western folk would say, you would have to either work on your own farm to have food and shelter or raise sheep or cattle for necessary cash to live a good, easy life on the Western plains that soon became the Sante Fe's and Dodge Cities of Western folklore.
Were these occupations a lot of fun with the guys? No. Hardly anyone had any fun except for how Hollywood wrote the drunken fights that cattle drover's would eventually start when turned loose into a town such as Dodge City, Kansas, after a three-month drive through all types of weather, personal conflicts over grub, money, and a trail boss who treated the men like dirt. Yes, the saloon owners, (e.g. "Kitty Russell," aka/ Amanda Blake, on Gunsmoke), sure made the dough alright. All that they did was nod to the tough "bar keep," (e.g. "Sam," played by Glenn Strange, Gunsmoke), and out came his double-barreled shotgun and out went the troublemakers.
If things got really rough, in walked a stern "Matt Dillon," played by a stern-talking James Arness who was perfect for this part, and things quietened down for a little while or in Western-speak, "for a spell."
Be honest. Did you love Westerns like I did?
I said all of this to say
that there were
Things I Still Wonder About Life in The Old West
Things such as:
- You never saw "Gil Favor," aka/ Eric Fleming, trail-boss on Rawhide actually pay his men. Or get those huge bucks for all of the cattle he delivered to the cattle towns.
- "Lucas McCain," never missed when challenged to a gunfight outside in the middle of North Fork, where he and son, Mark aka/ Johnny Crawford would visit occasionally to buy supplies and to have dinner at "Miss Hattie's," a boarding house in the town.
- "Matt Dillion," aka/ James Arness never lost a fist-fight. In my older years, I would have loved it, even for the reality factor, if he had lost just one fight.
- "Matt Dillion," aka/ James Arness never made his move on "Miss Kitty," aka/Amanda Blake.
- What happened to all of the cattle that the drovers would always lose during a sudden lightning storm or certain stampede?
- Why did Will Hutchins, aka/ "Sugar Foot," always study to be a lawyer, but never took a test to be a lawyer?
- The shoot-out's were pretty much the same. Some rowdy gang would storm into a peaceful town sending the fearful townsfolk into hiding while the brave sheriff and his one cowardly deputy would make a stand against the rough gang, but from there it was a lot of falling off horses, rolling in the dirt streets and the sheriff and cowardly deputy shooting at them at point blank range and MISS.
- If true Western men and women literally drank as much whiskey as they did on some of these Westerns, hardly any of them were alcoholics. All except "Louie," the town drunk on "Gunsmoke."
- Where did the gang who ran "Wagon Train," end up each week? I never knew. Did you?
And the number one point of aggravation about Life in The Old West was: