HUNGARY FOR THE WEST
As a former Fulbright teacher and subscriber of your excellent magazine I had the chance to travel to Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah after teaching in a suburban Chicago high school (Hinsdale South) for a year. Since I was a kid, I have been fascinated by the Old West, with all its fateful fights, breathtaking adventures and daring outlaws. So going to the former Wild West was a must for me, something I did not want to miss before going back to my home country, Hungary. I explored the West with my wife and three small kids. It proved an unforgettable experience. As a consequence now I am planning to start my doctoral study on “The Reflections of Railroads on U.S. Literature and Folklore.”
Having returned home, I decided to pay tribute to the Old West, including both the goodies and the baddies of the frontier. Since in my Hungarian high school (Toldy Ferenc Gimnázium) we had a brand new language classroom built, I successfully asked for permission and also funds to decorate it. Now it is called the “Old West Room,” or “The Saloon.” In cooperation with our art teacher, László Varga, we fulfilled our dreams. I selected the photographs (mainly portraits), painted the contemporary U.S. flags, and together we made cardboard Boothill Cemetery gravestones, then put them on foam board, and designed the whole room. Later I myself renovated a wooden chest to look like one of the 7th Cavalry’s supply chests. I also set the time to that of historic Tombstone, Arizona. There is a section for the sheriffs, the outlaws and the American Indians each. We also added contemporary adverts, posters and a map of the present-day United States. To make the room real authentic, we created a jail with bars and authentic jail rules (see photo above). An American Indian piece of pottery made by myself is also part of the decoration.
The saloon has been a huge success with teachers, students and visitors alike. It really is a pleasure for us that our kids do enjoy having English classes in an American environment, which also serves as an exhibition hall. What is more, I was proud to see my article about this room published in the local press, too. I just wanted to let you know that the image of the American West is still bright and shiny, not only in your country but also in a little faraway country like Hungary.
BEN SIPPY OF TOMBSTONE
To start with, I am 81 years old and have been reading and subscribing to about every Western magazine ever published. Now I’m down to one, and that’s Wild West. I have always considered myself an amateur historian of the Old West. After all these years I have a question: Who was Ben Sippy? For years I have read his name in passing.
Grand Saline, Texas
Editor responds: Details about Ben Sippy are sketchy. On Nov. 12, 1880, he ran against Virgil Earp for marshal of Tombstone and won. On Feb. 21, 1881, the territorial legislature began classifying Tombstone as a city instead of a village. “Ben Sippy, the incumbent head local law enforcement…would end up wearing two hats, first as ‘town marshal,’ and then as ‘chief of police,’” Wyatt Earp biographer Lee Silva wrote. “But it is not clear exactly when this change went into effect.” It seems on June 6, 1881, Sippy left the city for a two-week leave of absence, and Virgil Earp took over. City officials found that Sippy had left behind records with, ahem, financial improprieties, and Virgil was doing a good job, so it’s little wonder Sippy vanished and Virgil became chief of police.
Thanks for the great article in the June 2016 Collections department about the Dalton Defenders Museum in Coffeyville, Kan. Two crucial facts are worth mentioning. On their ride into Coffeyville on Oct. 5, 1892, to rob two banks at once, one member of the Dalton Gang sat crooked on his saddle. One of the townsfolk knew that ride, recognized him as a Dalton and alerted the people that possible trouble was coming. Also, a week before the robbery the gang scouted the banks and paid attention to the horse hitching post they were going to tie up to. The days before the job the post was removed for construction, so the outlaws had to move their horse tie up into the alley. Those two facts were more than likely a big part of their downfall.
Love your magazine—I am a 22-year subscriber.
Rodney “Horse” Miller
San Marcos, Calif.
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