Tag Archives: Big Nose Kate

Let Them Eat a History-Themed Cake

5 Dec

Last night, my colleague and his family graciously hosted a “End of the Semester” dinner for the History Department. Faculty and students got together for great food and great times. My job was simple. I was in charge of the dessert.

My wife said that she would order a cake from our local Publix because they make awesome cakes. However, she needed to know how to have it decorated. That is when I came up with what I considered to be a clever idea. Have it say, “This Semester is History!”

Get it? The semester is over, and we are the History Department. Funny, right? At least, that is what I thought. When my wife told the ladies at her boutique, they apparently thought it was corny.

It had to have more than words. We needed something more decorative. That is when I came up with what I considered to be another clever idea. We would put a $20 bill on the cake. Now, this one needs some explaining.

Our students wanted the teachers to have a debate about who should be on the Twenty. Actually, they just wanted to see the teachers argue, and a debate was the only way they could make that happen. Anyway, we held a debate that was open to the public.

The debaters included our resident expert of the Jacksonian Age, who defended Andrew Jackson’s appearance on the bill. There was also our other historian, who championed the image of Eleanor Roosevelt. Our anthropologist, a member of the Choctaw Nation, argued for the inclusion of Wilma Mankiller, former Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

I served as moderator because I study prostitutes of the Old West. As much as I would love to see Big Nose Kate on money, it will probably not happen.

Anyway, the students asked the questions and thought it was awesome to see the teachers go after each other. The debate was serious and funny at the same time. It was certainly the highlight of the semester for the students.

Because of the debate, I everyone would get a kick out of seeing the $20 on the cake.image-4

I have no idea what my wife and her coworkers thought about that addition, but I can imagine.

It is too late to make a long story short, but, to make a long story short, the cake was a big hit. Everyone thought it was clever and funny. Now, I am wondering what that means about the humor of historians.

The Difference Between Sitting on a Horse and Standing on a Rock

22 Feb

The arrival of the latest Cowboys and Indians magazine is always a highlight at our house. It is filled with all things Western – art, history, movies, fashion, decor. It is a must read for anyone who likes the stuff that can be found in the West.

With that in mind, I was surprised to find an article that bothered me. On top of that, it is dumb to let it bother me. After all, it is not about some controversial subject that leads to great debates. It is about the 50th anniversary of The Sons of Katie Elder, a movie starring John Wayne.

The entire thing started off bad with the first few sentences. It goes a follows:

“The first time we see John Wayne in The Sons of Katie Elder, the image is appropriately iconic. After his character, errant gunfighter John Elder, is frequently and sometimes fearfully discussed by blood relatives and mortal enemies for the first several minutes of the movie, he finally appears on horseback on a hilltop, silently gazing down at the graveside gathering for his recently departed, dearly beloved mother.”

What was bad about that? This is my favorite scene from the entire movie, and John Wayne is not sitting on a horse. He is standing on a rock.Katie Elder

Bottom line, if you are charged with writing an article about a movie, then you should watch the movie. Heck, this is one of the first scenes. How can Joe Leydon, the writer, get that wrong?

Anyway, those first sentences got the article on the wrong track, but there is another problem. This movie is not good enough to deserve a 50th anniversary commemoration. It is written with the theme that this was John Wayne’s first movie after surgery to remove cancerous tumors. That is a noble subject and deserves to be written. However, a better article would be about his fight through the years and not focused on this film.

I am a huge fan of John Wayne and will read anything about him. I also understand that other people will do the same. That is why this magazine and others like it do all that can to put him in their pages. I just think that something better could have been written.

What is my problem with The Sons of Katie Elder? The entire thing is filled with bad casting. The age difference between John Wayne and Michael Anderson, Jr. makes the entire thing unbelievable. In fact, one was 36 years older than the other.Katie Sons

I guess that is possible, but Katie Elder must have been one heck of a woman.

Oh yeah, there is one other problem. Who decided to use the name Katie Elder? In the movie, she is described by everyone as the best woman who ever lived. They do not even have the words to describe her goodness. With that in mind, they should have come up with a better name because the real Kate Elder was not filled with goodness.

Big Nose Kate was a prostitute who hung around Doc Holliday. I will not go into the sordid details of her life, but I think about her whenever I watch this movie. Did she turn her life around and move to Clearwater, Texas? Was she such a good person in an attempt to make up for her past? I cannot separate the fictional Katie Elder from the real Kate Elder.

I write all of that to write this. If you are going to write an article about John Wayne then write about John Wayne. If you are going to write about John Wayne’s fight with cancer then write about John Wayne’s fight with cancer. However, if you are going to commemorate one of John Wayne’s movies, then make it one of the good ones.

On top of that, watch the movie first so you can describe the scenes accurately.