Fame is a hussy. Like her sister Luck, she tends to bestow her charms on the unworthy (sorry Frank). If she were a lady like Justice, Bob Paul would be a legendary Western lawman. There would have been a wildly inaccurate but morally uplifting 1950s TV show about him, and the movies would revisit his story over and over at least a couple of times every decade or so.
That kind of honor goes to the likes of Wyatt Earp. Not that ol’ Wyatt’s story ain’t interesting. But seriously, do we need yet one more retelling of the iconic O.K. Corral story? (And if you have any doubts about what a capricious bitch Fame really is, she didn’t even come to Wyatt till he was dead — too late to cash in).
Bob Paul was a real deal peace officer — a pro when there were very few of those. Yet even for Western aficionados, he’s just a footnote to the Tombstone saga. As historian John Boessenecker notes:
“Although he rates as one of the great peace officers of the Old West, Paul is remembered today principally for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and the stirring events both before and after the October 26, 1881, gunfight near the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.”
Well, Boessenecker is fixing to put that right with a forthcoming biography, “When the Law Was in the Holster,” set for publication in October. And to tide us over till then, he offers up an article in Wild West magazine about Paul’s pursuit of the Stein’s Pass bank robbers deep into Mexico in 1888.
I’m not going to bastardize the piece. Read it here and enjoy. It’s a hell of a tale.
Hats off to Boessenecker for giving the great lawman a real biography. It’s bound to be a good ’un. Boessenecker is a fine historian, with a couple of excellent books on California outlaw/lawman history to his credit: “Gold Dust & Gunsmoke,” and “Badge and Buckshot.”