Previously on MCC: The most notable event of Day Seven of our road trip was a quick tour through the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. The main attraction is a preserved portion of the original Boot Hill Cemetery, still populated by the original customers, still marked by low-budget tombstones of the Old West.
However, the Boot Hill Museum is more than those preserved historical plots. Beyond that and the spacious gift shop, visitors can also walk along a simulated Dodge City strip mall of the Old West. Some of these shops are inaccessible, but several invite visitors and contain display cases filled with souvenirs and paraphernalia of the Old West. The saloon even has occasional rounds of singing, and waitresses who invite you in for a glass of sarsaparilla, which I was afraid to sample. There’s also a working ice cream shoppe, but the tourism-level prices inspired us to bide our time and fetch snacks later at a Dairy Queen down the street instead.
Not all the contents are vintage 19th-century items. One room is dedicated to TV shows of the Old West in general and Gunsmoke in particular. Their short-sighted gift shop missed a profit opportunity by not offering copies of these objets d’art for sale. What child wouldn’t want to pop Gunsmoke’s Festus…Sings and Talks About Dodge City and Stuff! into their parent’s CD player and listen to it twelve times a day?
On the other hand, I can imagine why the gift shop wouldn’t sell us our very own pistols of the Old West. Too many amateur shoot-’em-ups in the parking lot would disturb the neighbors.
On the third hand, part of me wished we had been permitted to crack open any of these vintage Bibles, just so I could see if any translation other than the King James Version ever crossed the Mississippi before 1900, with or without illustrations.
This steel wonder of the ancient world was called a “typewriter”. They were like computers, except that monitors hadn’t been invented yet, so you had to insert a piece of paper into the roller and pretend it was a monitor. The Internet also hadn’t been invented yet, so after every post, you had to detach your “monitor” from the keyboard, pack it carefully in a thin mailing box called an “envelope”, and then mail your post to the intended recipient. Writers went through a lot of monitors in those days.
(Inventions of the Old West required a lot more effort and imagination than today’s machines that do all our thinking for us.)
Tourists who commit the heinous crime of Bein’ Too Purty fer Their Own Good can be sentenced to Boot Hill jail for a few minutes until they repent of their photogenic ways. My wife is fortunate that I commuted her sentence due to excessive purtiness.
Benches are provided in a few areas if you’re tired of walking. No one is allowed to plop down in this authentic bullhorn chair, a unique trophy for tasteless big-game hunters of the Old West.
I can’t recall whether or not this wreath made of human hair was in their their Native American section. Either way, I thought it was the creepiest knick-knack of the Old West.
The Boot Hill Museum gate stood tall even as we exited for the day and soldiered on to our evening’s hotel in Hutchinson. Note the recurring train motif on the right side, harkening back to our past stops in Lamar and Pikes Peak. I’m beginning to wonder if this means something.
To be continued!
[New readers and completists: be sure to check out the 2012 Road Trip checklist to verify which chapters you have or haven’t read yet. I don’t think there’ll be a quiz later, but it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared.]