Those men lived by a code that demanded a mutual respect and loyalty among the like-minded, which is why famous gunmen seldom faced off against each other. As the axiom went, “One man was scared, and the other was glad of it.”
Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp hung out in a society of unsavory characters who included prostitutes, gamblers, gunmen, drifters and cowboys. Their mere presence could prevent trouble among the lawless element. The three were not plaster saints, though; once the danger had passed, the “good” citizens wanted them gone too.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write:
Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at email@example.com