Thursday, July 29, 2010

Patron Aint

I've sort of been on a Saint bent latterly.  So today I thought I'd introduce you to an Aint.  That's right this guy aint no Saint.  He's the legendary Doc Holliday.

Doc was a Dentist.  Though he claimed to have only practiced Dentistry for five years.  He lived in Georgia principally, until he contracted tuberculosis.  To ease the symptoms and prolong his life he moved west.  In Texas he met Wyatt Earp.  Later in Dodge City, Kansas he came to Earp's aid against some gunslingers and Earp acknowledged that Doc had saved his life.  They became fast friends.

Constantly moving, avoiding the westward crawl of civilization and respectability the Earps and Doc Holliday wound up in Tombstone, Arizona where they fought in the famous gunfight at the OK Corral.  Some time after the gun fight, Morgan Earp was murdered.  Doc jointed the Earps on a vendetta ride seeking revenge on those responsible.

They were law men, gamblers, and now out laws.  They went to Colorado and finally Doc settled in Glenwood Springs, hoping for healing from the curative waters of the warm springs there.  He died there November 8, 1887.  He was 36.  They buried him in a cemetery on a hill overlooking the city.

On August 5, 2002, I climbed that hill.  It is a steep trail and I wondered how elderly mourners made it up there, let alone the hearse.  Aside from its poor accessibility, it is the second most breath taking cemetery setting I've ever seen.  They don't know exactly where John Henry Holliday is buried but a marker has been placed with a wrought iron fence around his possible plot.

This photo is from a Geocache I established in Doc's honor.  I created the Cache to help others locate this tidbit of old west history.  When I first went there I was taken by the fact that folks had left tokens at his monument.  A shot glass of whiskey and an ace of spades lay there on that day.  It amused me.  It was as if Doc had become the patron saint of sinners, gamblers, drunks and outlaws.  Pilgrims from far and wide come here, pay homage and leave a remembrance.

I set it up as a Virtual Cache.  Typical caches have a hidden container with a log and some trinkets.  Virtual Caches just lead to a place such as this and finders must email the owner with some detail to verify that they had actually been there.  My request for this one is that cachers report what mementos they find left at the monument.  In the eight years since then there have been 374 logged visits cataloging the persistent tributes of supplicants and revelers from who knows where.  They've posted 178 photos recording this amazing, heart warming, mysterious, anonymous practice.

In their anal retentive way no longer allows Virtual Caches.  Interesting since so many logs thank me for placing and maintaining the Virtual Caches I have.  I'm grateful I did because I, with the help of all my caching friends, have chronicled the on going devotion we seem to hold for our heroes from the Wild Wild West.  You can visit Patron Aint and read the logs and view the pictures.  You'll notice that some time in 2004 a new monument was placed at the site.  I liked the old one better.  Seemed more authentic.

You know I don't go in for drinking, gambling and so many of Doc's vices, still there is something about this man who died 123 years ago that appeals to me.  None of us are perfect, but most of us are forgotten.  Hold on, I'm not advocating a crime spree either, so don't go out and try to be the next D. B. Cooper.  What I am advocating is that we remember.  If these guys can faithfully climb that strenuous hill to Linwood Cemetery in all kinds of weather, what can we do?  Can we drop a note to a lonely grandmother?  Can we make a visit to a shut in.  Can we record our memories of ones we've loved and lost?  Wyatt Earp did:
"There was something very peculiar about Doc. He was gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man and yet, outside of us boys, I don't think he had a friend in the Territory. Tales were told that he had murdered men in different parts of the country; that he had robbed and committed all manner of crimes, and yet, when persons were asked how they knew it, they could only admit it was hearsay, and that nothing of the kind could really be traced to Doc's account. He was a slender, sickly fellow, but whenever a stage was robbed or a row started, and help was needed, Doc was one of the first to saddle his horse and report for duty." 
He also said
 "Doc was a dentist not a lawman or an assassin, whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a frontier vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long lean ash-blond fellow nearly dead with consumption, and at the same time the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun that I ever knew."   "I found him a loyal friend and good company."
If Wyatt Earp could so kindly remember Doc Holliday, what might we do?

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