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One More Thought On The Old West
What follows is not my original thinking. I read something like it years and years ago. Apologies to whomever's thought I am borrowing.
One of the staple plots of the Western movie is the town that is held hostage by bad guys, the classic example being High Noon. In this 1951 classic, an entire town collectively wets itself because a bad guy named Frank Miller and two equally bad friends are coming to settle old scores with Marshall Will Kane. Kane can't get anyone to help him, and surivives only because he is played by Gary Cooper, who can't get killed off in the end.
The real Old West was populated by the bold, the daring, the desperate, and the violent. These were the people who had the cojones to leave the East and take their chances. They were very tough characters for the most part, and they had very little to lose. Many were also Civil War veterans, and were no strangers to guns and their proper use.
The best example of what really went on took place in Northfield, Minnesota in 1876, when Jesse James and his gang of fun-loving cretins decided to hold up the bank. That meant they were going to steal money that people had sweated for and saved, and it pissed off the locals so badly that the whole town armed itself and proceeded to shoot the hell out of the James boys.
Ah well, Gary Cooper looked great in a tux.