Most people know that Pat Garrett, the sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico and one-time friend of William Bonney, aka, Billy the Kid, shot and killed the kid at Fort Sumner. That occurred on July 14, 1881.
But far fewer people, myself included until recently, realize that Garrett himself was shot and killed 27 years later, on a lonely road outside Las Cruces, N. M. A man named Wayne Brazel, who leased part of Garrett’s ranch and who had a ongoing dispute with Garrett, confessed to the killing, claiming self-defense. He was tried for murder but not convicted.
Garret was essentially broke by then, and was trying desperately to sell his ranch.
There are some historical customs that say Leap Day — the extra day added to the calendar at the end of February every four years — is a lucky day. But that didn’t prove to be the case for Pat garrett.
It still amazes me that this event occurred so close to us in southeastern Utah, a barely over a century ago.
A dispute over a campfire card game, the murder of one of the participants and the search for the accused murderer near Bluff, Utah, sparked one of the last armed Indian conflicts in the United States 101 years ago this month.
It would lead eventually to what became known as Posey’s war, in 1923. But first, it involved posses from Colorado and Utah, a hard-headed lawman from Utah and an aging Army general who was trusted by the Utes and Piutes.
Today is the 190th anniversary of the publication of one of America’s first great adventure novels — “The Last of the Mohicans,” by James Fennimore Cooper. When I was a young man, Cooper also gave me an excuse to dress in “a careless, slovenly manner.”
The book has produced a number of film versions in both English and German. The most recent, and probably the most famous is the 1992 version starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye, aka Natty Bumpo, as shown here in a poster for the movie.
I’m equally fond of another Cooper book featuring Bumpo: “The Deerslayer.” It was published 15 years after “The Last of the Mohicans,” but was actually a prequel. The events described in “The Deerslayer” occurred almost 20 years earlier.
I also freely admit that my approach to men’s fashion comes straight from one of Cooper’s characters in “The Deerslayer”: Hurry Harry. According to the book, Harry’s height “exceeded six-feet four” and he was “unusually well-proportioned.” Since I am 6-feet-4, and when I was young and athletic I could claim to be at least relatively well-proportioned, he seemed like a good role model.
Although his buddy, Natty Bumpo, was a bit of a frontier dandy in “The Deerslayer,” Harry was the opposite. “Hurry Harry, either from constitutional recklessness or from a secret consciousness how little his appearance required artificial aids, wore everything in a careless, slovenly manner,” Cooper wrote, “as if he felt a noble scorn for the trifling accessories of dress and ornaments.”
“A noble scorn” for dressing well. Hurry Harry has always been my role model when it comes to fashion. That’s my excuse for the way I dress and I’m sticking to it.