A few weeks ago I visited Tombstone, Arizona. Have you been there? It is a sleepy place that at first seems like a town stuck in time. Horse-drawn carriages roam the street; Wood planked sidewalks creak underfoot and one must dodge the horse manure in the dirt streets. The permanent residents of Tombstone, of which there are approximately 1,300, have taken great care in preserving the town made famous by Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and friends and will forever be known as ‘that place where the gunfight at the OK Corral took place.”
On second glance however, the townsfolk have turned the dusty, sleepy middle-of-nowhere town into a tourist trap. All the old saloons, brothels, movie houses, restaurants, thrift stores, etc. have been converted to gift shops with most of the items made in China and t-shirts saying “I shot the sheriff.” Nothing but class. Living on the strength of a 30 second event in 1881. In fact, in two weeks, it will be the 133rd anniversary of the gunfight. Oh sure they’ll have major reenactments and all the kids in town will want to be Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday for Halloween. But it is still a dusty, sleepy place that would be part of the desert if tourists didn’t leave their dollars behind to prop up the local economy.
What I took from my visit to Tombstone was the fact that 1881 Arizona was only about 20 years from in the invention of the automobile and the airplane and modern medicine that may have saved the lives of several of the characters after the gunfight was over. Yet the OK Corral was still a place where grown men killed each other if another looked at them in an odd way or if another tried to pick up his girl. Let alone that prostitution was legal and rampant, everyone in town had a gun, or two or three, and that Tombstone is close to Mexico and rather hot, desolate, and dusty making all the inhabitants of town all a bit cranky.
Yet some things don’t change. Men still get mad with each other over silly things and the sign above could apply to today’s politicians.
But at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves “Did we do anything worthwhile today?” Wyatt Earp thought so. “What can I do tomorrow that will be worthwhile?” And whether it be New York City in 1881 with all its modern conveniences or Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 during the time of Wyatt Earp, the sun will still set and another day will begin tomorrow.