Tuesday, November 8, 2011WILD BILL HICKOK & CALAMITY JANE: The luck of the draw!
Calamity Jane & Wild Bill
WILD BILL HICKOK & CALAMITY JANE: The luck of the draw!
by Virginia Campbell
Two of the most widely recognized and wildly romanticized figures from Old West legend and lore are Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. We may never know the true facts of either of their lives--both were prone to exaggeration and self-aggrandizement--but that's just part of what makes them irresistibly intriguing! Far from perfect, raw, reckless and exciting, they lived in wild times, and their real life adventures are among the wildest escapades in the history of the American West. While their time on earth was short, their legendary lives are forever remembered whenever the glory days of the Old West are revisited.
James Butler Hickok, immortalized as "Wild Bill Hickok", began his life in Troy Grove, Illinois, on May 27, 1837. Fascinated with guns and the romantic lure of the wild frontier, Butler left home at age eighteen and headed West. A stay in Kansas landed him the position of stage coach driver on the Santa Fe and Oregon trails. His skill as a fighter and marksman and his ability to ably handle a gun with either hand soon earned him the nick name "Wild Bill". His varied professions also included lawman, Civil War scout, US Army scout, and performer in Buffalo Bill Cody's famous Wild West Show. Hickok was also a gambler, a drinker, and a frequenter of saloons and houses of ill repute. In his prime, Wild Bill cut a dashing figure. Tall and lean with flowing long hair and steely gray eyes, his calm, determined, and deadly demeanor struck fear in the hearts of many lesser men. Wild Bill's later years were a sad finale for the man's whose exploits made him the first "dime novel" hero of the Wild West Era. His life came to an end at age 39 in the city of Deadwood, South Dakota. During a card game at Sweeney's Silver Dollar Saloon, Hickok was shot in the back of the head and killed by Jack McCall, who believed Wild Bill had killed his brother. McCall was later hanged for the offense. Wild Bill's final poker hand was a pair of eights, and a pair of Aces, which ever since that moment have been known as a "dead man's hand."
The oldest of six children, Calamity Jane was born Martha Jane Cannary on May 1, 1852 in Princeton, Missouri. Her family later moved by wagon train from Missouri to Virginia City, Montana. Martha Jane's mother died along the way, and a year later her father passed away. At the age of seventeen, Martha Jane found herself the sole care provider for her five younger brothers and sisters. For the sake of necessity, she took whatever jobs she could, including working as a dishwasher, cook, waitress, dance-hall girl, nurse, and ox team driver. Later, she would also work off and on as prostitute. Martha Jane was rough and tumble, preferring to dress in men's clothes. She out rode, out drank, and out shot most of the men of her acquaintance. She also known for her kind heart and her generosity with her time in nursing the sick. Martha Jane had a serious, lifelong addiction to alcohol. She chewed tobacco, spent a good portion of her time in saloons, and often told made up tales about her own life. Like Wild Bill, she also appeared for a time in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Martha Jane is reported to have earned the nick name of "Calamity Jane" from an Army captain whose life she saved during an Indian campaign in Wyoming.
Calamity Jane and Wild Bill crossed paths throughout the years, most famously in Deadwood, South Dakota. There have been widely varying versions of the nature of their relationship, with the most speculative tales being told by Calamity Jane herself. She claims to have been married to Wild Bill and to have borne him a child. Others say she was infatuated with him, and he did not return the depth of her affection. What is true is that her dying wish was to be buried next to Wild Bill. Twenty three years after Wild Bill Hickok played his last hand, he was joined in the afterlife by Calamity Jane, who passed away at age 51.They are buried side by side in the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Larry McMurtry, acclaimed author of "Lonesome Dove" offers a touching and intriguing look at Calamity Jane and her era in his book "Buffalo Girls". The book was adapted into a very enjoyable TV film starring Anjelica Huston as Calamity Jane and Sam Elliott as Wild Bill Hickok. Here are the links for more info regarding the book and the film:
For your enjoyment, here are some good eats and sweet treats--no fabrications--just true taste temptations!
"White Heat" Chicken & Bean Chili
3 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinned chicken breasts
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lg. onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 c. frozen white corn kernels, thawed
1 can (15 1/2 oz.) Great Northern beans, undrained
3 cans (4 oz. each) chopped green chilies, undrained
3 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
salt to taste
1/3 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. cilantro, fresh, chopped
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, bring water to a boil and add chicken. Lower the heat; cover the saucepan and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is fork-tender. Drain. Cut chicken into 3/4 inch cubes. In the same saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion; saute 5 minutes. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Stir in the corn, beans, chilies, lime juice, cumin, coriander, pepper and salt. Bring to boiling. Add the chicken. Lower heat. Cook just until heated through. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in sour cream and cilantro.
Bodacious Bacon & Onion Dip
1 lb. bacon
1 onion, chopped
16 oz shredded Cheddar cheese (mild, sharp, or a blend of cheeses)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups mayonnaise
In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb grease. Saute chopped onion in hot bacon grease until pieces begin to brown. Remove onion pieces from skillet with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels with bacon. Allow bacon and onion to cool. In a medium bowl, add cayenne pepper, cheese and pecans to mayonnaise. Crumble bacon and add it with onion to mayonnaise mixture. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Herbed Quick Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup light vegetable oil
In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, milk and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Transfer to a 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. 1 loaf (14 slices).
"Bee My Honey" Snack Mix
1/4 cup honey
8 cups crispy rice, corn or wheat squares cereal
2 cups whole grain "O-Style" cereal
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup butter
1 cup candy-coated chocolate candies
In a large microwaveable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, and dried fruits. In 2-cup microwaveable measuring cup, microwave honey and butter uncovered on high 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until mixture comes to a full boil and butter is melted. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on high 2 to 4 minutes, stirring every minute, until mixture is well-coated and looks glazed. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool. Place in serving bowl. Stir in chocolate candies. Store in airtight container.
Tortellini Supper Dish
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) chicken broth
1 soup can water
2 pkg. (9 oz. each) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 (3 oz. pkg) cream cheese, cubed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 small jar or can sliced mushrooms, undrained
3/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled
Bring broth and water to boil in large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add pasta; stir. Cover; simmer on medium-low heat 8 to 9 min, or until pasta is tender. (Do not drain). Stir in cream cheese, peas and mushrooms. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until cream cheese is completely melted, stirring occasionally. Stir in shredded cheese and bacon.
Causes Virginia Campbell Supports
I live in a very small town with few job opportunities. I would love to be employed in a position which allowed me to promote literacy and put books in the...