Monday, October 13, 2014

Homage to Family - Sort of

Tino Luciano aka Doc Holliday from Tombstone Legends
Members of the Tombstone Legends have been live on the stage, filmed a television series, and even full length movie. So, when J and L decided to meet this talented group of actors and dear friends at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California recently, it was an event which the two intrepid explorers knew must be made to fit into their habitually busy schedule.

As members of the Legends, the theatrical group who revisit the days when Tombstone, Arizona Territory, reached its height in fame or infamy depending on your point of view, or more precisely the late Fall and Winter months of 1881 and 1882. We try to keep the spirit of the old west alive. The time when men were men and they lived by a more chivalrous code. Well, for the most part. A time when the gentlemen and ladies truly did wear the latest in Paris fashions in the dust and heat of the Sonoran desert. Ah, but a figure they cut. And, yes, this is the era of the most famous gunfight in the 'old west' even though it lasted only about thirty seconds.
Tombstone Legends meet a few of their namesakes 

Wyatt Earp and Ike Clanton (actually three Earps, Doc Holiday, two Clantons and two McClaurys ) met not far from the OK Corral for a duel. Almost mano y mano except there were a lot more than two men facing each other. There were a couple who ran away from the fight before it started (not on the Earp side) and even Ike Clanton decided once the bullets started flying that it was in his best interest to skedaddle. He lived through that gunfight but ironically was gunned down and killed two years later by another law officer (Jonas L. Brighton) when he refused to surrender after a robbery and thought a horse could out run a bullet.

Obviously Ike never bothered to study physics. 

Back to the topic - the Legends were invited to the event by well known historian and author Nick Cataldo of the San Bernardino County Sun Newspaper. What event? The first annual (love saying that since it's the first) stroll through a cemetery that definitely is a piece of local historical value and what better narrator to lead over one hundred visitors than Mr. Cataldo. He is probably the utmost authority of history in San Bernadino and that is one large county in the United States to know as much as he does.

One of the points J and L always tries to stress is to go and investigate what is near a person's own backyard. There are so many wonderful and exciting venues, historical sites, and just plain interesting places to visit that one does not need to be a jet setter and explore the word for excitement and insight. Just take a few moments and do some local research and that very researcher will find enough items to last a life time to dig into.
The good, the bad, and Behan

So, again why visit a cemetery?

Because that's where the stories are of who was here long ago and not so long ago.

The Legends have never let the remembrance of that gunfight go to the wayside. That fateful and  controversial afternoon of October 26 of 1881 was and is still one of the most defining moments of western lore - good or bad. The troupe decided this event was for them and there was no way they were going to miss it.

Where's this going?

Simple fact - James Earp was the older brother of both Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan  Earp who worked in a saloon in Tombstone on the day of the tragic shoot-out but was not personally involved in that or the vendetta that Wyatt pursued after the younger brother, Morgan, was murdered while playing billiards in March of 1882. James passed away of natural causes in 1926 and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

A quiet moment
Alvira Packingham Sullivan Earp (Allie) is also interred at the same cemetery close to where James lays in rest - she is the long time common-law wife of Virgil Earp who moved to Colton, California in early 1882 (after Morgan's murder) to recuperate from his nearly fatal own assassination attempt back in December of 1881 in Tombstone. He recovered but never regained the full use of his left arm for the remainder of his life.

Paying respects
Hmmm - who pulled off the attempted murder of Virgil and the successful murder of Morgan? It's pretty well known the Clanton's (especially Ike) were behind the bloodshed but no one was held responsible and the crimes went 'unsolved'. CSI wasn't around just yet.

So the Legends paid their respects to the Earp family members but still stayed with the crowd as Nick Cataldo spoke about various important people from the past who were residing within the gated cemetery. The list is long so only two will be mentioned here but if the reader is interested in the rest please refer to the cemetery or the articles well written by Mr. Cataldo in the newspaper.

Randy Rhoads: gone but not forgotten
Consider carefully your mode of travel
Sunny Sue Johnson was an actress who appeared in both Flashdance and National Lampoon's Animal House just to name a coupe of her credits. One of the saddest mausoleums was erected by the family of Randy Rhoads who died in a plane crash in 1982 at the age of 26. He was the lead guitarist for  Ozzy Osbourne after leaving Quiet Riot in 1980. He was on the way to eclipse Jimmy Hendrix as the best guitarist known (according to the records kept at that time) but since he died at a young age as did Hendrix those competition results will only be known by the angels. Rhoads, according to Osbourne at the time was going to give up the rock and roll life and finish his Master's Degree in Classical Music to become a full time music teacher. He believed the life led by most rock and rollers (he didn't drink much, do drugs or smoke) was not to his liking with his Christian upbringing. An errant joy ride in an ill gotten airplane by the band's bus driver ended his and many of his faithful followers future.

What one can learn visiting a graveyard! More than you would expect - go visit, read and mainly enjoy the art of exploring.

It's fascinating what you learn only a few dozen miles from your abode.

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