Tombstone, Arizona is known for one thing. On October 26, 1881 at around 2:30 on a very chilly, windy, overcast afternoon with the threat of snow, eight men faced one another, guns drawn. A minute or so later, three men were dead or dying. One had fled the scene. The other three were injured. Only one man, Wyatt Earp, remained standing, unscathed.
Within minutes of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, newspapers throughout the nation were breathlessly reporting the story. Reporters were dispatched from Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. The ensuing Spicer Inquest became one of the first modern day celebrity trials, with the 1880s version of “Camp OJ” awaiting Judge Wells Spicer’s verdict.
Tombstone, Arizona became a household name.
The moment Hollywood was invented, Wyatt Earp was hunted down like a wanted man. Indeed, he was wanted, as an adviser for the newborn movie industry. Twenty-five years after the Gunfight at the OK Corral, the genre of the “western” was born. Tombstone, Arizona, then floundering, was put on life-support, ready to be revived nearly a century later.
Once upon a time Tombstone was known as the Town Too Tough to Die. These days, though, there are some locals who are calling it the Town Too Dumb to Die. One wonders what mindset would induce the newly elected mayor to begin enforcing “code,” some ancient, some middle-aged, and some new, against flourishing businesses in what appears to be an attempt to force these business into closure? Then, the mayor turns his newly appointed “city marshal” on various business owners, tourists, and townspeople.
No, we’re not talking 1881, John Behan, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and the OK Corral. This is modern day Tombstone.
Up until a few weeks ago, modern day Tombstone had been a wonderful concoction of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright funny. It is one of the few places in the world where you hear gunshots and don’t bother to run for cover. Men dressed up like Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, Doc Holiday, John Behan, John Clum, John Ringo, Curly Bill Brocius, the Clantons and the McLaurys roam the streets. No - they swagger along Allen Street, in a gallant attempt to recreate one of this nation’s most infamously romantic periods. Once in awhile a woman well-dressed in period costume can be seen, but most of the "women" who stroll the wooden streets of Tombstone are attired (or not) in the Hollywood version of what a “well dressed” saloon girl should wear, overflowing corset and all.