This is the 11th day of the 12th month. Now, historically, I am certain a lot has happened on this date through the years. You can just tell how a day smells whether it has a lot of history attached. Sort of like dirty socks, I suppose.
But back on this day…. back in 1872…. something very wild happened. A guy named William stepped to the stage. Specifically a guy named Buffalo Bill Cody. In fact…. his first stage appearance was in a Chicago-based production of The Scouts of the Prairie.
He was different than the rest of the Wild West Hacks…. that were in other shows and movies. Old William Frederick Cody actually played an important role in the western settlement that he later romanticized and celebrated.
He was born in Iowa in 1846. And before he was very old at all… he joined the western messenger service of Majors and Russell as a rider. He was still in his early teens.
He later rode for the famous Pony Express. And then…. during the Civil War… he decided to support the North. So he hooked up with some irregular militia groups. By 1864, he was enlisted in the Cavalry. A teamster for the Union army. I’m guessing…. at this point… he would hawk around a bit… with his buddies. Saying things like “Yippee ki yay.” And. “Yippee ki yo.” And then he’d twirl his guns around and such. Then somebody would say… “Well Bill. That’s gonna’ take you somewhere someday.”
Cody began to earn his famous nickname in 1867, when he signed on to provide buffalo meat for the workers of the Eastern Division of the Union Pacific Railroad construction project. He shot buffalo. Basically.
But he was a heck of a scout too. And he did a LOT of that…. in the western Indian wars. From 1868 to 1872, he fought in 16 battles with Indians. I don’t know if he did…. or if he did NOT…. but I hope he got to actually meet some nice Indians and become friends. Peace Pipe and such.
And all that led him to the next thing. Cody gained national attention with his next deal. Be began serving as a hunting guide for famous Europeans and Americans….. the ones who were eager to experience a bit of the “Wild West” before it disappeared.
And lucky Bill. Yes. As luck would have it, one of Cody’s customers was Edward Judson, a successful writer who penned popular dime novels under the name Ned Buntline. Now here’s my next question. If YOUR name was Edward Judson…. why would YOU pick a name like Ned Buntline as your pen name.
Ned? Buntline? C’mon man.
At any rate, Buntline was impressed with Bill. Cody had a whole bunch of good stories, and was extremely competent as a gunslinger. So…. Buntline made Cody the hero of a highly imaginative Wild West novel published in 1869.
The stage version of The Scouts of the Prairie debuted in Chicago. Buntline convinced Cody to abandon his real-life western adventures to play a highly exaggerated version of himself in the play. And THAT is exactly what he did.
Once he had a taste of the performing life, Cody never looked back. He was once heard saying… “Well. Them there fellas were right. All that cragging around really DID take me some place… some day.”
Cody remained on the Chicago stage for the next 11 years. Buffalo Bill Cody was the hero of more than 1,700 variant issues of dime novels. …. You know. Ned. Bunting. …. And THEN….. his star shone even more brightly when his world-famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show debuted in 1883. It was a big hit, I’ll tell you. Yippee Ki Yay…. and such. The show was still touring when Buffalo Bill Cody died in 1917.
So when a day smells like dirty socks…. it just might have a little bit of history attached to it. Even the Wild, Wild West kind. And the moral of the story? Even if it is only horsing around, and twirling your guns…. and saying things like “Always drink upstream from the herd.”…. If it is your dream…. grab on to that star… and follow.