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Dragging Wyatt Earp

A Personal History of Dodge City

Robert Rebein

Publication Year: 2013

In Dragging Wyatt Earp essayist Robert Rebein explores what it means to grow up in, leave, and ultimately return to the iconic Western town of Dodge City, Kansas. In chapters ranging from memoir to reportage to revisionist history, Rebein contrasts his hometown’s Old West heritage with a New West reality that includes salvage yards, beefpacking plants, and bored teenagers cruising up and down Wyatt Earp Boulevard.

Along the way, Rebein covers a vast expanse of place and time and revisits a number of Western myths, including those surrounding Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the Cheyenne chief Black Kettle, George Armstrong Custer, and of course Wyatt Earp himself. Rebein rides a bronc in a rodeo, spends a day as a pen rider at a local feedlot, and attempts to “buck the tiger” at Dodge City’s new Boot Hill Casino and Resort.

Funny and incisive, Dragging Wyatt Earp is an exciting new entry in what is sometimes called the nonfiction of place. It is a must- read for anyone interested in Western history, contemporary memoir, or the collision of Old and New West on the High Plains of Kansas.

Published by: Ohio University Press


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pp. 1-2

Praise, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-9

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-11

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pp. ix-x

Many people helped and encouraged me as I wrote this modest volume, and I would like to take a moment to thank a few of them. My family: Bill and Patricia Rebein, David Rebein, Alan Rebein, Tom Rebein, Joe Rebein, Steve Rebein, Paul Rebein; my wife, Alyssa Chase, and my children, Ria and Jake Rebein; my mother-in-law, Andra Chase. Friends and fellow writers: Mary...

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pp. 1-10

Christmas Eve 1990. I’m in a car on my way west across Kansas, the heart of it all, the prairie-bound stomach of the country, headed for a white-frame farmhouse where I know one light still burns in the kitchen. Outside, a cold, dry winter has set in. The Flint Hills are...

Part I

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pp. 11-25

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House on Wheels

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pp. 13-32

The house I grew up in was a sprawling brick affair with a four-car garage, a fenced-in patio, and wide lawns of fescue that stretched off on either side of a concrete driveway that more than one neighbor half-jokingly described as “a parking lot.” It was an impressive house, to be sure, but also a little odd. That oddity had to do, at least in part, with...

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In the Land of Crashed Cars and Junkyared Dogs

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pp. 33-56

When I was a boy growing up in western Kansas, my father and his older brother, Harold, owned an auto body salvage yard in the sand hills south of Dodge City. The place was called B & B Auto Parts, or, more simply, B & B. That was the name of the business when they bought it in 1966, and that’s the name it retains to this day, long...

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The Identity Factory

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pp. 57-75

“Never forget who and, more importantly, what you are,” Monsignor Husman said, shaking a white finger at us where we sat in the front pews of the old mission-style church a mile east of Dodge City’s infamous Boot Hill. “Just because you’re going over to the junior high next year doesn’t mean you can ignore everything you’ve been taught...

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Dragging Wyatt Earp

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pp. 76-90

Hear the words Dodge City, Kansas, these days and you’re apt to think, depending on your age, either of a moribund 1970s TV series—the wildly fictitious Gunsmoke, featuring Miss Kitty, Festus, and Marshal Matt Dillon—or else of a favorite phrase of screen hacks and gleeful...

Part II

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pp. 91-113

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The Greatest Game Country on Earth

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pp. 93-108

Before I knew anything of his Civil War record or iconic death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, I knew George Armstrong Custer as a hunter on the plains of Kansas. This knowledge was conferred on me in fourth or fifth grade, during a field trip my classmates and I took to...

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Sisyphus of the Plains

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pp. 109-122

Every summer between the ages of twelve and seventeen, I worked for my father on the farm he bought in his early forties as part of a larger, midlife upheaval I had no way of understanding at the time. Buying the Knoeber place was a return of sorts for my father, who grew...

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A Most Romantic Spot

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pp. 123-136

August 2005. Just past dawn on a clear, crisp morning, I leave my parents’ ranch on Sawlog Creek and head west across the plains toward Colorado. Later the air will turn hot, but for now I leave the windows on my Jeep Cherokee rolled down so I can feel the wind in my face and smell...

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The Search for Quivira

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pp. 137-150

I first became aware of the Coronado expedition in the middle of third grade, when my teacher, a young nun named Sister Fidel Marie, took our class on a tour of the stained glass windows in Dodge City’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. Most of the saints depicted in the windows—Frances...

Part III

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pp. 151-173

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Horse Latitudes

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pp. 153-163

The worst month of my life was spent in an unairconditioned hotel room in Kairouan, Tunisia, in September 1989. I had no friends and no money, an unfinished master’s thesis hanging over my head, and a case of dysentery so bad I might have died had the hotel staff not...

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Wild Horses

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pp. 164-176

We were on a picnic in a far-flung part of the ranch, a thousand-acre pasture called Name Rock because of the many names and dates, some of them from pioneer days, that had been carved into the limestone bluffs at the property’s west end. My wife’s mother, Andra, was with...

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Feedlot Cowboy

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pp. 177-200

I set the alarm on my cell phone for 3:45 a.m., but anticipation had me up and throwing hay to the horses half an hour before that. Bill Hommertzheim, manager of the southwestern Kansas feedlot where I planned to spend the day as a pen rider, had told me to report for work at 6:30 sharp, and since the ranch was every bit of a hundred miles...

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How to Ride a Bronc

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pp. 201-213

Growing up around horses and ranch people does not guarantee that one will develop an interest in rodeo, any more than growing up around snow guarantees an interest in skiing. However, having this background does at least admit the possibility of such an interest taking...

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pp. 216-225

I had been hearing about the Boot Hill Casino and Resort for months before I finally worked up the enthusiasm to visit the place. Friends and relatives in Kansas would call or e-mail me with equal parts alarm and excitement, saying things like, “Oh my God, you’ve got to see...

E-ISBN-13: 9780804040525
Print-ISBN-13: 9780804011426

Page Count: 236
Publication Year: 2013