Wyatt Earp was a Boomer. As are most of the writers and historians arguing about him in this issue. Granted, the term Boomer has slightly different meanings here: Earp followed the boomtowns in the Old West (thus he was called a “Boomer”) while we historically hysterical pontificators are members of the post WWII “baby boom.” Thus we are Boomers celebrating and debating the value of a Boomer. Make sense?

One thing I had never considered kind of jumped out at me as we were putting this issue together. Just how generational the scholarship is on Wyatt, Doc and Tombstone. When I was starting out in the seventies, one of the top dog historians in the Tombstone field was this guy, a WWII dude. 

John D. Gilchriese was an amateur historian and longtime collector of Earp memorabilia who actually interviewed John H. Flood Jr., Wyatt Earp’s secretary, several times before his death in 1959. Gilchriese operated a Wyatt Earp Museum from 1966 to 1973 at Fifth and Toughnut streets in Tombstone. His massive collection of Earp-related items included Wyatt’s original diagrams of the gunfight in Tombstone and Iron Springs, along with photos, original letters, invoices, checks and business cards from most of the establishments in Tombstone.

Gilchriese was from my father’s gen-eration, sometimes called the “GGs”—the Greatest Generation—because they saved the world from Hitler. 

The contested heir to the King of the Earp world which Gilchriese claimed was Glenn Boyer, was from the Korean War generation. Boyer and his cronies despised most of my Boomer compadres and associates. (Boyer called them “The Fairy Patrol” and other similar terms which you can probably guess.)

See that photo of Wyatt Earp in the rocking chair over my shoulder? That photo was taken when the aging Boomer was 74, the same age as I am in this picture. The dog’s name is Uno and he thinks we’re all crazy. 

No wonder the Millennials have dubbed us, “Okay, Boomer.”

The subtle difference in the term is certainly serendipitous. Or, as Mark Twain so succinctly put it, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” In this case, literally.

“I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation, I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation”

—The Who, 1965 “My Generation”

Strange Bedfellows

John D. Gilchriese, above, poses at the graves of Wyatt and Josie which he located in the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma, California, on March 29, 1956. Glenn Boyer, below, with holster, attempts to intimidate Casey Tefertiller, seated, by looming over him in a heated discussion about the O.K. Corral fight in Schieffelin Hall, in late 2000. BBB poses, below bottom, in his art studio with a framed photo of Wyatt Earp taken when the Boomer was 74, the same age as the author, in this photo.

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