Billy the Kid is my kind of Cowboy
This issue of Living in the West explores the love affair we have with the great American Cowboy. Call them cowhands, cowpoke, cowpuncher or buckaroos, billions of dollars have been spent chronicling their storied history. With his Stetson hat, sunburned face, weathered dungarees and boots of leather, the cowboy has gone from a ranch hand to a blue color icon. In fact, America’s love affair with the cowboy has been around longer than the name “cowboy” itself. But I’m taking a left turn here because when talking about the old west, the only thing America loves more than a Cowboy…is an OUTLAW. I’m not referring to some 13th century, tight wearing, black-death carrying, tunic sporting, pan-pipe playing aristocratic Duke making a name for himself by his publically labeling his over taxed “tenaunts" outlaws for not paying rent. I’m talking about old west outlaws. Frontier outlaws. Gun toting’, barrels blazing, mustache growing, cattle rustling’, whisky drinking, Hell-raising outlaws! Outlaws pushed the limits of society and the law. They worked hard at “thieving” and even harder at not getting caught. From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Belle Starr and Jesse James, outlaws were the Wild West’s “hero’s” whose exploits were spun around campfires and kitchen tables from generation to generation. Earning their reputations by marauding, robbing, rustling, gambling and murdering, frontier outlaws were as admired for their criminal activities as they were for not getting caught-and not getting caught was a huge part of the outlaw mystic. Running from the law and spitting in the face of justice, outlaws were as well known for their adherence to following local law enforcement as Bernie Madoff is known for dispensing sound financial advice. That said, perhaps no outlaw of his time was more legendary than “Billy the Kid.” Billy the Kid was born somewhere between 1859 and 1861. Given the name William Henry Bonney/McCarty. Billy...
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